6 Americans, 7 Coalition Allies Died In Afghanistan And 4 Have Been Killed In Iraq Since Tiger’s Car Wreck. Just FYI.

by Daniel Russ on December 15, 2009

Arlington National Cemetary

Arlington National Cemetary

Imagine for a moment that you are a member of a hallowed and venerable brotherhood, the few, the proud. You made it out of boot camp at 29 Palms. You’re a Specialist, you know the technical aspects of a specific weapons system. You’ve sworn out an oath to the flag and proudly wear the eagle anchor and globe patch. You and your Marine buddies ship out to a land that hasn’t changed much in 400 years except for the weaponry; in an attempt to free people from the tyranny of fundamentalists and prop up a stable government in a land where there is not even a sense of nationhood.  You are doing something that has been honored for centuries, unquestioningly following the orders of your commander in chief.

One night in an ambush a mortar round sends a fatal shard ripping into your body. Your breathing grows shallow. Life slips away and you know it with certainty. You pray. The light begins to fade. You think of your wife, your kids, maybe your parents, maybe just a girlfriend. Afterwards your body is recovered and wrapped in a flag and flown back somewhat anonymously to the states on the back of a military cargo jet. No one will assemble a panel of “experts” to opine on the effect your life had. Rabbi Shmueli Boteach will not be there, AJ Hammer will not be there, Ryan Secrest and Chelsey Handler will not be there. Despite her portion of the yellow journalism in America, at least Nancy Grace will have the decency to post your face for a few seconds.

You would have to wonder what difference you have made; or if in any sense beyond the most perfunctory if anyone really cares. You have to wonder if your expertise carried the same importance to the people you are “defending” than a guy’s ability to whack a ball into a tin cup a quarter mile away. You sense that while the memory of your sacrifice in a paroxysm of violence will fade long before the infidelities of America’s greatest golfer. Better that your soul doesn’t linger around long enough to see the model of car Tiger wrecked gets a hundred times more bandwidth than you do. Your old Chevy in the driveway has no luster. You never cheated on your wife with a skank you ran into in Vegas. Why would anyone really care about the American who died on a God-forsaken mountain top in Central Asia  that most Americans couldn’t find on a map with two hands a flashlight?

I can’t tell which party I want to rage about. The limp dick incurious scandal sheet American “media” or the sick culture it is embedded in.  Abraham Lincoln said after a bloody three day battle at Gettysburg, “we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Oh really? Sorry Mr. President. But yes, the American public has an infinite capacity for forgetfulness. Furthermore, we have a bottomless curiosity for things unimportant, and a population so ill-informed and so poorly educated, that for the first time in as long as we have taken this metric, a generation that is even less schooled than the previous one.

Glenn Greenwald, writing for Salon this morning comments about Tiger’s predicament and our culture.

“What’s fascinating about Tiger’s undoing isn’t his wandering eye or his apparently bottomless sexual appetite (although there’s rich cocktail patter in both) but the stark contrast between his demure Scandinavian wife and the parade of Hooters girls, porn stars and possible professional escorts come out of the woodwork. In this corner, there’s Elin Nordegren, the press-shy model and mother of Woods’ two young children. And in this rather crowded other corner, there’s Holly Sampson, star of “OMG, Stop Tickling Me” and “Flying Solo 2.” There’s cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs, who is currently “shopping around” her torrid story to networks. There’s lingerie model Jaime Jungers, who claims to have been romping with Woods in his marital bed the night his father died. There’s Mindy Lawton, who eagerly told the News of the World about the “rough” sex she had with the “well-endowed” athlete. And, at last count, 12 other women who may have been on the receiving end of the golf pro’s legendary stroke.”

We are as an acupuncturist might say ‘out of balance’. Or as my Dad might have said, ‘our priorities are screwed up’.

I just thought I would point this out today. I am thinking of mother’s red eyes and swollen tear ducts, panicked children trying to comprehend exactly what it means when Mom says “Dad isn’t coming home”, and wives wondering how they will make it through their children’s teens alone. And I do not mean to diminish the role of women who serve in the field by using the male pronoun. I also don’t mean to leave out any other branch of the US Armed Forces. Take no umbrage at this. And understand that even those not in the line of fire, even those who sit bored manning weapons that may never be used, all of them deserve so much more attention and appreciation for what they do whether you believe in these missions or not.

Ulysses S. Grant blamed the Civil War on Robert E. Lee; and so turned his palatial estate in northern Virginia into a graveyard for dead soldiers. He did it so we would not forget. But America is sick with amnesia. And we have only to look at the Roman Empire, the British Empire, or the Napoleanic Wars to see history repeat itself. As John Prine sings, “…all the news just repeats itself…like some forgotten dream…that we’ve all seen.” Indeed.


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