Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Problem With Photo-Op Moments

Is that eventually, more of the story comes out.

In the case of Jessica Lynch, the West Virginia POW, it turned out what happened, in her own words, isn't what was reported (i.e. wasn't what the military allowed to be seen as the "Jessica Lynch Story" made-for-TV movie). Did you know that the Iraqi nurses tried to return her to the US forces, but were shot upon?

Much like the Pat Tillman situation, things weren't what the administration and the DoD wanted us to believe.

They took a story that had the possibility for a feel-good vibe and exploited it for political gain. In both cases, the military took what happened, changed the facts around, invented some, deleted others, and spun it into a story that would make the military look great. Lynch did not fight back, her humvee was hit by an RPG and crashed into the vehicle in front of them. The military knew almost immediately that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire, but they also knew that he was a football player who gave up millions to support his country, and that his valiant, heroic death would embolden countless others to volunteer as well. So they shut everyone up, hid the records, changed the facts around, returned him as a hero (which he was), making the most of the political opportunity that presented itself. Even now, four years later, new details keep getting leaked, little by little, which makes it much less evident the scope of subterfuge put in place, but which is undeniably heinous.

This country needs to rally around a cause. We have for every war - against tyranny in the revolution, to keep the nation together in the Civil War, to stop the threat of a Nazi or Communist world, etc.. Heroes help to do that. But those heroes need to be authentic, not manufactured out of what chance doles out. Jessica Lynch served with distinction. She was a Prisoner of War, a status I have never suffered, nor would I wish upon anyone else. Pat Tillman WAS a hero, but not because of his death or his funeral, and certainly not because of the military cover-up. When you try to make up heroes, it's more likely going to fail than succeed, and it will end up hurting more in the long run than it helped in the short.

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