Journalism and Patriotism
It has also enraged American hawks against the American media. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the military scholar Edward N. Luttwak says the incident was revealed by a pool of unpatriotic American television reporters and the Marine officers who started an immediate judicial investigation, for strict American legalism is alive and well even in the Marine uniform.
This passage stopped me. The reporters are unpatriotic for revealing the truth or deceptive fragments of the truth, as Luttwak puts it but those Marine officers are only being legalistic?
During the Vietnam war, reporters like Seymour Hersh were called unpatriotic for revealing American atrocities. Many people felt that American journalists had a duty to conceal American war crimes, a feeling that is far from dead. It was, and is, all the stronger when such crimes are shocking and sensational. This is why the military prefers embedded journalists to independent ones, who may not cover the war the way the military wants it covered.
But the rest of us should prefer independent journalists, precisely for patriotic reasons. If you love your country, you should want to know what your government and its military arm are doing in your name. Luttwak even acknowledges that we should be thankful, for the last thing we should want are patriotic reporters who would conceal errors, embarrassments, and crimes in our armed forces. But this still implies that candid reporting is unpatriotic but dishonest reporting is patriotic.
An editorial on the same page implies the same thing. It says that the point of revealing the incident seems to be to conjure up images again of Abu Ghraib, further maligning the American purpose in Iraq. Thats reading a lot into a moment of taping a story whose power nobody can deny. Would it have been better to suppress it?
The editorial goes on to complain that the tape didnt show the context of the killing: a ferocious battle for the city against an enemy that neither wears a uniform nor obeys any normal rules of war.... These killers hide in mosques and hospitals, boobytrap dead bodies, and open fire as they prepare to surrender. The Marine had been wounded the day before and had seen a member of his unit killed by an insurgent pretending to be dead.
The editorial asks, Who from the safety of his Manhattan sofa has standing to judge what that Marine did in that mosque? Finally, it condemns the moral abdication of equating deliberate televised beheadings of civilians with a Marine shooting a terrorist, who may or may not have been armed, amid the ferocity of battle.
So the Marine who shot an unarmed man is presumed innocent, while the dead man, in the space of a few paragraphs, goes from being a mere insurgent to being judged, without evidence, a terrorist. All this from the safety of a Manhattan sofa, as it were.
Maybe the Marine had some excuse. But an excuse isnt the same thing as a justification. What he did was a war crime, even if he did it in the heat of battle. Who put him, and thousands of others, in that situation? How many other such acts have been neither reported nor caught on tape?
The answers to such questions dont depend on the particularities of Fallujah, nor on the tactics, however grisly, of the resistance. They depend on the reasons President Bush gave for the invasion of Iraq in the first place: the threat of Saddam Hussein, his alleged arsenal, his alleged links to terrorism. All these reasons have been exploded.
So heres the picture: A superpower, the greatest military power that has ever existed, invades a weak country on false pretenses, deposes its government, excites a popular resistance movement unconnected to the defunct regime then not only complains about the new enemys guerrilla tactics, but uses them to justify continuing the invasion.
And journalists who show us unedifying details about the invaders are unpatriotic.
|Copyright © 2004 by the
Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate
Archive Table of Contents
Return to the SOBRANS home page.
|FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.|