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April 2, 2006
Word War IBy Greyhawk
(Updated/bumped from 2006-03-31 21:11:55)
It's pretty much a media monoculture (Look at the results of this survey of reporters' political donations: "President George Bush didn't receive a single donation from any outlet or reporter in my search."). Sometimes Bush-hatred leads them to actually wish for American defeat in Iraq. Other times it just produces a one-sided fear of manipulation, in which the media is careful to resist spin from the U.S. military, but not so careful to resist the spin of the other sides.There's an important point that should be made here - much American media coverage from Iraq is designed to discredit George Bush. And this is why reporters can publish claims that US Soldiers tied up and shot a helpless 75-year old woman and a baby in a farmhouse or slaughtered unarmed worshippers in a mosque and then be aghast at claims they are "against the troops". In the minds of most reporters if the soldiers really did butcher babies it's not their fault anyway - it's because of Bush. And gosh, we don't really know who's telling the truth - but we know that the soldiers wouldn't have been there at all if it weren't for Bush.
But GIs don't buy into the whole "we support the troops" claims made by the same folks who want to blame any failure of those troops on their leaders in Washington (whether said troops personally support those leaders or not). GIs tend to take responsibility for their actions (there are notable exceptions, but this statement is true for the large majority) and don't have very high opinions of those who attempt to shift blame. Such attempts are often looked upon with more disgust than the original transgression. It's a sign of cowardice, and that's an unforgivable character flaw in our world, and we don't appreciate those who would deign to take cowardly actions on our behalf.
More from Glenn Reynolds:
Honest and open bias would be better than a uniformly left-leaning media pretending to be above politics -- though, of course, honesty, competence, and fairness would be better still -- but the pretense of neutrality has worn a bit thin nowadays.Indeed.
Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In a way her column last week almost achieves that "honest and open bias" description - but that might be accidental. She certainly reveals much bias, and shares a wealth of bad information. Beginning with the obligatory "I support the troops - not the war" disclaimer (a phrase I first heard just before Desert Storm) she moves to her main theme: the poor were over-represented in the military services in 1999.
Guess last year's data weren't available to her:
Many of today's recruits are financially strapped, with nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor households, according to new Pentagon data based on Zip codes and census estimates of mean household income.A fast read of that Washington Post story on the topic might make you think Tucker is correct. But read carefully and you'll see it confirms my point. If "nearly half" of recruits come from one group, then over half come from another - in this case, that group would be people with higher incomes. ( It also confirms the media bias – the wording used by the Post was a bold attempt to frame the discussion in a manner more accommodating to their beliefs.)
More from Cynthia Tucker:
Ah, but they volunteered, you say. Yes, they did. All the more reason to honor their commitment by making sure they aren't cannon fodder in a dubious cause. They took to heart the shopworn platitudes and easy slogans about duty and honor and service while many who are wealthier did not. Soldiers shouldn't be ill-used simply because they believed in their country and its leaders.Yes, they did volunteer. Most of the lower ranking troops did so after the invasion of Iraq.
It's nice - in a way - to see a merely thinly disguised "workers of the world unite!" speech in opposition to the war, but a well-founded argument that the war was based on thin pretext should probably avoid arguments built on even thinner foundations. And if you're going to claim you're enemy uses "shopworn plattitudes and easy slogans" you'd be well advised to steer well clear of them yourself.
But in a way it's refreshing to find a journalist admitting that her superior intellect and prospects compel her to protect the lower life forms - a written confession that yes, she is the living embodiment of that cliché. The attitude is repulsive - but the candor is appreciated.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 2, 2006 7:11 PM | Permalink
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November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com