Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Military Demagoguery

If there is one thing that absolutely makes me nuts, it’s the tendency of simpleminded rightwingers to demagogue the issue of “supporting the troops.” If you say anything that questions a decision to send troops into any situation, you’re not “supporting the troops” (if it’s a Republican sending them, that is; they had no problem criticizing the use of troops in Bosnia and Somalia under Clinton and demanding that the funds be cut off for those campaigns and the troops be brought back home).

If you dare to suggest that anyone in a uniform has ever done anything the least bit dishonest or uncalled for, you’re “trashing our brave men and women fighting for our freedom” – except, of course, when they’re running a nasty campaign against Max Cleland and suggesting that he just lost all those limbs because he clumsily dropped a grenade, as the repulsive Ann Coulter once claimed.

The latest bit of ridiculous demagoguery on this issue can be found in this article at the Worldnutdaily, where Bob Unruh has his panties in a wad because a hate crimes bill has been attached to a military appropriations bill, and during the debate advocates for the bill actually mentioned two – TWO – incidents of hate crimes in the military. Here’s what Unruh and the Concerned Women for America turn that single story in to:

Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., have trashed the collective reputations of millions of U.S. military service members in order to advance their “hate crimes” legislation, which would make it a crime to utter a negative opinion about homosexuals or their lifestyle, a pro-family group says.

The U.S. Senate yesterday approved an amendment by Kennedy and Smith to install in federal law a ban on such expressions of religious and personal opinion. The amendment was added to the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which is needed to keep funding worldwide U.S. military operations.

“[The] senators humiliate[d] our brave men and women in uniform by alleging that America’s military is a haven for bigots committing ‘hate crimes’,” said Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America.

“The Defense Authorization bill has been twisted to shamelessly smear our military. Alleged crimes by military members are already prosecuted, so the point of an amendment accusing military members of committing ‘hate crimes’ is to create the perception that America’s military is rife with violent bigots,” Wright said.

“It’s extremely telling that Sens. Kennedy and Smith had to go back to 1992 to find an example to exploit (the already-prosecuted case of Navy seaman Allan Schindler) to claim that a federal law must be passed to address rampant bigotry in the military,” added Shari Rendall, director of legislation and public policy for CWA.

“Sens. Kennedy and Smith are shamelessly impugning the character of our brave soldiers in an effort to push their agenda, forcing President Bush to veto legislation that is crucial to America’s national security,” she added.

Let’s count the lies in this statement. The first one is that they had to go back to 1992 to find a single incident. Smith mentioned two incidents, one from 1992 (that’s the Schindler case) and one from 1999, the case of Barry Winchell. The second one is this absurd notion that Smith “trashed the collective reputation of millions” of our soldiers. There is absolutely nothing in Smith’s speech that even hints at such a thing.

He mentioned two specific hate crimes in a military with more than a million members; only a pure demagogue would turn that into an attempt to impugn the character of all soldiers. And that is exactly what is going on here. There is no serious attempt to engage what Smith said, only an attempt to exploit the highly emotional “how dare you say anything bad about a soldier” reaction from the simpleminded morons who follow them. It’s utterly idiotic.

Speaking of simpleminded morons, is it any surprise that the dolts at STACLU have mindlessly repeated this bullshit?