Ignoring the Heroes in Iraq

The late Casper Weinberger, Ronald Reagan's secretary of defense, and Wynton Hall wrote a book entitled Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror. RealClearPolitics has an excerpt.

The media have ignored heroes among the U.S. troops in Iraq, and have instead fixated on scandals representing a small percentage of troops, such as the New York Times' "love affair" with the Abu Ghraib scandal, manifested in 50 front page headlines.

After years of watching and reading coverage of the War on Terror, many citizens, including us, have been awestruck by the lack of balance and objectivity exercised by American reporters and news executives. The dearth of hopeful or heroic stories reported has given viewers a lopsided perspective.

Case in point: the New York Times and their love affair with the Abu Ghraib prison abuses. To date, the New York Times has devoted over 50 front page articles to the story! Currently, not a single individual chronicled in our book, Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror, - some of the most highly decorated members of the United States military - has received a front-page story devoted to his or her valorous actions.

Reporters will write stories of military heroism, but they do not fit into the pre-established mold of what they believe a soldier is.

It isn't that liberal reporters are incapable of singling out the actions of U.S. soldiers and featuring them prominently. They do it all the time. The problem is that their knee-jerk response when covering the U.S. military is to only portray members of our Armed Forces as victims or villains. Thus when we hear the words "Abu Ghraib" and "dog leash," our minds instantly snap to the now infamous picture of Army Private First Class Lynndie England tethered to an enemy prisoner.

But what about the words "Battle of Tarmiya"? Do you experience a similar connection to a Marine Sergeant Marco Martinez? Try another one: "Burning tank" and "An Najaf"? Does the image of Army Sergeant Javier Camacho leaping on a flaming tank before muscling open a jammed tank turret and rescuing Private First Class Adam Small instantly come to mind? Or what about "the Saddam Canal Bridge" and "lifesaving valor"? Does your mind's eye immediately paint a picture of Navy Hospitalman 3rd Class Luis E. Fonseca, Jr.? Of course not.

After all, these men are heroes, and if you believe, as many in the elite media seem to, that concepts like "good" and "evil" are subjective and up for interpretation, then the word "hero" is meaningless. And that's the problem.

The word "hero" for a U.S. soldier is too black and white for the media, but the word "villain" for a soldier is not.

Many in the media find the word "hero" too black and white, too judgmental, too certain of our nation's purpose and essential goodness. In a world where there is no distinction between good and evil, by definition, heroes cease to exist. That's why the quote from the head of Reuter's News Service, one of the largest and most powerful news organizations in the world, is so revealing. It illustrates that reporters of such ilk draw no distinction between the terrorists and our own soldiers. "After all," they reason, "One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist."

But as Master Sergeant William "Calvin" Markham, put it, "When I hear that kind of thing, honestly, it makes me glad, because it means those individuals have the freedom to think and say what they wish....The media are sometimes a little like how some people are when watching a NASCAR race; they're waiting for the crash. They're waiting for the bad thing to happen. But basically I think they're armchair quarterbacks. They don't see the bigger picture of what we're trying to do."

Iraq New York Times