Joel Stein’s editorial in the LA Times was something I tried to read but the ignorance and self righteous drivel smelled to bad. I got the point quickly. He’s another one of those folks who doesn’t even consider the US Military useful. He would probably be in favor of severe cuts in DoD funding like a certain Georgia peanut farmer. I pretty much ignored the drivel as just that drivel.
Today, while scanning Memeorandum, I saw the maelstrom that was created by his bit of “writing” and checked out some links. For starters, he was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt and Radioblogger has an MP3 as well as the transcript. Just reading the transcript isn’t good enough…you REALLY need to hear the interview to get a handle on the job Hewitt did on this guy. Mr. Stein, here’s your lunch, hat, and ass back.
And then, as if Hewitt didn’t disassemble Mr. Stein already, The American Thinker has a letter from LTC Steve Russell, Commander Task Force 1/22nd Infantry (the folks that dragged Hussein from his hole). Normally I would just leave the link and be done with it but the good Colonel’s letter is SO dead on I’m going to post the whole thing.
Mr. Steinâ€™s commentary on soldier support is remarkable because it reflects more than just his opinion. It may even express a viewpoint.
While most of Mr. Steinâ€™s commentary is indicative of a man who has enjoyed our freedoms with none of the responsibility (by his own admission), he has at least one point of merit. He does not conceal his true conviction. When one considers those that say they support the troops but not the war, it is hard to distinguish which is more harmful to the soldier.
Mr. Stein alludes to this as trying to have it both ways and implies this is a moral cop out. He may be right. It can also be viewed as similar to telling the trash man, â€œThanks.â€ It is seldom sincere. It is just so the trash will keep being taken away by someone willing to do it so one does not have to get his hands dirty.
Mr. Steinâ€™s tragedy is not his clear conviction but rather that he steals freedom from his sacrificing countrymen. He sees no moral dilemma with thatâ€”which is indicative of an attitude prevalent among some self-proclaimed, high-browed, educated types that believe there is somehow a moral superiority in non-involvement. To defend his position, Mr. Stein is critical of what he calls â€˜American imperialism.â€™ To borrow what he surely intended as a denigrating analogy, we can indeed see parallels in attitude if not government and conquest.
Rome had its internal critics. So did Greece. But when the vast majority of Romans began to view the finer points of life as morally superior to the lower points of necessity, Roman youth lost their appreciation for what held Rome together in the first place. Soon, hired or conquered levies replaced Romans in the ranks. Why should Romans fight wars that they could not see any reason for fighting? After all, what impact did they have in Rome?
Eventually, the theory of a moral superiority in non-involvement met the cold steel of non-theoretically superior sword thrusts from Vandals and Huns that replaced Romans in the Roman empire.
I take exception to Mr. Steinâ€™s comment about soldiers ignoring their morality. And as a soldier that has served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, none of those experiences ever made me feel â€˜lucky.â€™ The noble â€˜warsâ€™ and â€˜fightsâ€™ are seldom noble for the soldier. They involve pain and human suffering on a grand scale. Mr. Stein I am quite certain has never killed a man and is proud of that. I have had to kill several men in desperate, close combat while I watched my opponents facial expressions change as life ebbed out of them. I am quite certain that I am not proud of that.
But what separates him from me is certainly not education. Nor is it conviction of purpose. It is indeed morality. But of a nobler kind. No greater love has a man, than he lay down his life for his friendsâ€”even when they act and write unfriendly.
As an American, I no longer draw a distinction of who qualifies to be one or is best suited to appreciate democracy. After serving nine years overseas and on multiple continents, I do not see white or black or Hispanic or Indian or oriental or educated or simple-minded Americans. I only see Americans. Even the unfriendly kind. And when I am old, I will be able to look in the mirror and know that I acted on my convictions to preserve what others will not. Cannot. Do not. And what I will see is a man with a clear conscience and a moral sense of purpose.
I am thankful I do not have to look into Mr. Steinâ€™s mirror.
LTC Steve Russell
And, on Hewitt’s blog he posts a note from a member of our military.
Hugh, Only one word can describe how I feel after reading the editorial by Mr. Stein – sadness. Sadness that such ingorance is still so prevalent in such an educated (at least I want to believe we are educated) society. I am on my 3rd year of active duty deployment since 11 Sep 01. I served 9 years in the Navy during the Cold War, both in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My son Adam, who graduated high school in 2004, is currently stationed near An Najaf, and, by the way, reenlisted for 5 years while in country. He had other alternatives and opportunities and I even tried to steer him in a different direction. Yet, he joined and serves willingly, as do I. By the way, Hugh, lest folks like Mr. Stein think we soldiers are an ignorant lot, I happen to have a bachelors degree in computer science from the esteemed Chapman University of Orange California. I worked 10 years as a software engineer for various companies such as Rockwell, The Soma Group, DCA Services Inc., COM2001, etc. I am working on my masters in homeland security/information security. One of the sergeants in the battalion I previously served with had his doctorate in education. Most soldiers are working on higher education even as they serve in the combat zone. Some of the brightest, best thinkers I have met have been in the military. Ignorant? Stupid? Duped? Foolish? Hardly. I can tell you this, Hugh, we serve because we understand the world around us, we understand reality, and we understand that the best defense is a darn good offense. Hugh, thanks for the interview with Mr. Stein – you certainly laid bare his depth of knowledge and understanding of not only the military, but the realities of the world in general. And should he care to experience some military training first hand, he can contact me at the below numbers or this email. We have a lot of infantry field training coming up this year and we can certainly find a place for him for a couple of days, and I will personally serve as his escort if he agrees. Consider it an open invitation. Best Regards, SSG A. B.
Hewitt says that if Mr. Stein is interested, he will facilitate the meeting. You might want to drop Mr. Stein a note, care of the LA Times, and encourage him to participate.