Gwnewch y pethau bychain

Maybe it’s just me…

I don’t want to suggest in any way that the honour and attention being afforded Pat Tillman’s death in Afghanistan is in any way unearned. And I should not be surprised that our celebrity-driven culture latches onto a story in which a “name” is involved.

But I sat at lunch and idly watched as Fox News talked about nothing but Tillman’s death. For an hour. With commentary from a variety of journalists and pundits, and a conversation with his old college roommate and a variety of lauds and repeated reference to the multi-million dollar contract that he walked away from in order to join the Army.

And he should be commended for that, to be sure.

But….every single man and woman who has died in the service of this country deserves just as much attention. Every single soldier in our military is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s mother or father, someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife. Every single one of them volunteered to go into harms way in the service of their country.

Over 700 US soldiers (and another 100 UK and other coalition forces) have died in Iraq alone over the last 13 months. Every single one of them was as much a hero. Every single one of them. Why don’t each of them get their hour of television? Why don’t we know each and every one of their names as well as we know the name of Pat Tillman?

Maybe I’m just cynical, and maybe I’m just plain wrong, but somehow the whole spectacle that’s being made of Tillman and his sacrifice leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.

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32 Comments

  1. Hm. The politicization of his death was predictable. The lack of attention that has been paid to the other deaths is astonishing (though with the last several days’ hooraw about the pics of the coffins, there’s been more attention coming in the mainstream media). But let’s not lessen the fact that Mr. Tillman did a difficult thing from conscience. As I mention in my post, it’s not the dying that made him a hero. It was the going in the first place.

    • Absolutely, and I don’t want to take anything away from him. But I find the tone of the media’s attention to this story tawdry in some way.

      From what I have read of Tillman, I don’t think he’d approve of the way his death has been covered, but that’s just speculation on my part.

      • What about some of the not-usually-as-tawdry media (BBC, NPR)? Have you checked out their coverage yet?

        And yes, I think that if we asked WWPS 😛 the answer would likely be “I was just doing what I had to do. I was one of the guys, and they ALL deserve the same recognition.” Too bad we can’t get O’Reilly and Flacks to acknowledge that.

        • What about some of the not-usually-as-tawdry media (BBC, NPR)? Have you checked out their coverage yet?

          A fair point. Yeah, it’s Fox News, and I shouldn’t expect more from them. CNN’s web page seems to have the same sort of splash coverage, though their actual text may be toned down.

          I wouldn’t EXPECT the BBC to make as big a deal of it. Partly becuase the Brits don’t seem to be quite as celebrity driven as we are, and partly becuase even if they were, this guy wasn’t a celebrity internationally or in the UK, so he’s not really going to be more than a human interest story, and hardly the stuff of front page headlines.

          But since my rant was really more about the media coverage’s tone, it’s fair to lay most of the blame on Fox.

  2. There’s a tendency in these days to praise those who die for ideals more than those who die as mercenaries. Unfortunately, there is also a tendency to perceive, partially correctly, most of the current population of the US Army as predominantly mercenary, because of the emphasis the army’s been placing on money for education, etc. Someone who walked into less money than they were offered elsewhere was clearly not joining the army for mercenary reasons.

    I’m not sure I agree with the basic principle; I’ve read Housman. I have a solid admiration for people who take a job they know runs a risk of death and do it well and without complaint because that is their job. And frankly, I am a little dubious about most people fanatical enough to go die for a principle (though I did attempt to join the military at about the same time and for the same reasons Tillman did; got rejected on medical grounds). So I’m inclined to come to the same conclusion you do, but I can understand why some people see it differently.

  3. P.S. Why on earth were you watching Fox News?!?

  4. I’m with you. I don’t want to take anything away from him; he did a hard thing. But so did all the others, and we should be paying attention to all of them.

  5. As a 10 year veteran of the US Army, let me just say “Amen, Brother.”

    Yes, we should remember every one of them. Like we should remember every person who died in Korea, Vietnam, WWII, WWI, and any other place soldiers have given their lives.

    I don’t know if I can agree with the “mercenary” comment. Mercenaries are a very specific type… soldiers in the Army do get paid, but they are not mercenaries. And there are many MANY people in the military who are there because they feel it is the right thing to do, not because they got money for college. I find no problem in financially rewarding those who are willing and able to serve. Considering what their job is, they are grossly underpaid.

    Let’s remember all of our fallen sailors, airmen, soldiers and marines. I salute them for their sacrifice -- May they rest in peace.

  6. Thanks for the link to the list of war casualties.

    From what I read in the NY Times’ coverage of this, the Pentagon has not acknowledged Tillman’s death. So perhaps it’s worth noting that our government would like to pretend no actual person is dying in these wars. There are no coffins, there are no dead people, there are just statistics.

    So as over-the-top as the coverage is and will be -- the NFL Draft will turn into the weirdest thing now, and have absolutley no snese of persepctive at all -- it beats the alternative of every more lack of info from the Pentagon.

    • the Pentagon has not acknowledged Tillman’s death.

      they can’t by law until 24 or 48 hrs (i forget) after the death.

  7. You’re right — it’s always the famous and not-so famous ones we hear about; never the non-famous or unknown. A few weeks ago, there was a little bit of coverage for the man who was one of Demi Moore’s off-screen coaches in “G.I. Jane”. (I forgot his name.)

    Bush’s blackout of any coffin images also rubs me the wrong way. It’s like this covert “shadow war” we’re fighting and we’re not seeing the reality, or the aftermath, of this war. Obviously I wasn’t around during WW II or Korea, and was too young to follow and understand the Vietnam war at the time, so I don’t know what was done in past wars. As morbid as it sounds, I do like the idea of a tote board showing the number of dead and wounded.

    • I know I’m cynical, but I couldn’t help and sneer a little at the story I saw running about “President Bush “moved” by pictures of the coffins.” Like he just now realized that some of those people he sent over there are really dying.

      I’m glad those pictures finally made their way into places people can see them. I saw nothing crass or distasteful (or individually identifying in the ones I’ve seen) in them, in spite of politico protestations about the justifications for the ban.

    • With respect (and coming from a Massachusetts Liberal who would vote for a dead weasel over Bush), the blackout is not Bush’s. It goes back to 1991.

      • Oooh, we can do that? Vote for dead weasels? Dead Weasel for President!

        Maybe somewhat scary that that sounds appealing…

      • OK. It’s not GWB’s blackout. And it’s not Clinton’s either. Quick — Who was president in 1991 during the first Gulf War? George Herbert Walker Bush (GHWB, aka Bush-41) — GWB’s daddy.

        • Yes, just so we’re sure where the blame lies. 🙂

          And further, I gather it wasn’t enforced until an order came down just before the invasion of Afganistan.

  8. Okay, I’ll be the clueless one to ask the stupid question: Who on earth is Pat Tillman?

    (*blush* Be gentle -- I don’t have a TV, and sometimes things are slow to get into the newspaper here…)

    • He was a pro football player for several years. Walked away from it to enlist in the Army shortly after 9/11 and was sent to Afghanistan. Killed in a firefight there Thursday night.

    • Glad to see that I wasn’t the only person who didn’t know who he was… 😉

    • Um…I didn’t know, either. ::shrugs:: I really don’t watch TV much, and avoid day-to-day news like the plague (figure anything -really- important will make its way through regardless).

  9. I agree entirely. The reason I posted about his death is because it provides a contrast to the people who are considered heroes because they can hit a baseball or catch a football.

    Is Pat Tillman more of a hero than the other soldiers who have died in Afghanistan or Iraq? Absolutely not.

    Is he more of a hero than LeBron James, Ray Lewis or Roger Clemens? Absolutely.

  10. I see your point exactly. Just after Sept 11 the Globe and Mail ran an editorial about exactly that. Asking was all the coverage really as big as all that? The answer, of course, is “YES, IT WAS!” It wasn’t just the US that felt that, there were extremely profound global reprocussions as well. The problem is we are so deluged with information (particularly with TV as it is so immediate, so believable and so emotionally driven,) about every little event and they are all as important as the last, That tends to trivialize the really major events as it gets hard for the veiwing public to assimilate it all, and decide for themselves what is really worth all the dramatic coverage.

  11. right on, as usual.

  12. I agree that it’s distasteful. I agree that each and every one of the soldiers, dead and living, deserve as much respect and memory as Pat Tillman.

    However, as my mother pointed out earlier, very few people thought AIDS was a threat until Rock Hudson died.

    Perhaps a Name is what we need to bring it home. If the death of a Name is what it takes to make the American people stand up and say Stop This Now, then I will not only accept but even promote the media coverage of that death.

    For the same reason, I disagree with the government’s decision to ban all photographs of military coffins. A little number at the bottom of the evening news is abstract, and means nothing. The realization that there are people in those boxes means so much more, and I think the government knows that.

  13. Not to mention all the civilian cusilties in Iraque and Afghanistan

    • I think that ever Soldier who dies is one human being that dies too much. But war always means that for 1 soldier, 100-1000 civilians and children die…

      “It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder”
      “I made one great mistake in my life… when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made” Albert

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