Liberals as Victims

On January 10th, CNN's Jake Tapper interviewed retired US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and actor Mark Wahlberg.   Luttrell's book Lone Survivor documents a 2005 SEAL operation in Afghanistan during which nineteen US military personnel were killed.  The book has been made into a movie of the same name starring Wahlberg, and is now in theatres nationwide.

Mother Jones has published an article,  Real-Life "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell Really Hates the Liberal Media, in which their staff reporter Asawin Suebsaeng says: 

...Tapper, who was interviewing [Wahlberg and Luttrell] raised serious questions about the planning and command-level decisions that led to the failed mission in Afghanistan depicted in the movie. At one point, when Tapper asked about the "senseless" deaths of American military personnel during the 2005 operation, Luttrell got mad at Tapper and accused him of implying that his brothers-in-arms "died for nothing."

Elements of these statements deserve closer scrutiny.

1.  "Planning and command-level decisions."

Nowhere in the entire interview do planning and command-level decisions enter the discussion, yet Suebsaeng implies that Tapper's remark about "senseless" deaths were in reference to them.  After all, if Tapper really was talking about planning and command-level decisions being senseless, it's not as if he called the deaths themselves senseless, is it?  Oh, but he did:

Just the sense of all these wonderful people who died. It seemed senseless.  I don't mean to disrespect in any way, but it seemed senseless - all of these wonderful people who were killed for an op that went wrong.

Upshot:  Suebsaeng's talk about planning and command decisions is pure fabrication.  The only person who "raised serious questions about the planning and command-level decisions" is him, and it raises serious questions about his journalistic objectivity.  It looks like he's trying to spin Tapper's comments into a non-existent context that distorts the nature of Luttrell's response -- which, Suebsaeng says, was:  

2.  "Luttrell got mad at Tapper. . . " 

Yeah, sure he did, Suebsaeng, and the video shows that Luttrell got so mad that he didn't even raise his voice.  It's obvious that Tapper's comments angered Luttrell, but he didn't respond in the emotionally-charged manner that the word "mad" suggests.  Instead, he behaved in a calm, restrained way and displayed very little emotion, just as you'd expect from someone with a SEAL's discipline and self-control. 

It's too bad that similar laudable behavior can't be attributed to Suebsaeng, who misrepresented as "mad" Luttrell's response to Tapper's non-existent "questions about planning and command-level decisions."

3.  ". . . and accused [Tapper] of implying that [Luttrell's] brothers 'died for nothing.'"

Tapper certainly did imply the men "died for nothing" when he repeatedly called their deaths "senseless."  But the SEAL Team Ten's mission was sensible: to kill a high-value target responsible for numerous American deaths.  The operation was carried out sensibly by the SEAL team.  I'm aware of only one thing about the entire operation itself that Luttrell considers not sensible: his own vote to release those who then alerted the Taliban:

[Letting the goat herders go] was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I'd turned into a fucking liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit. 

These words should rend the hearts of all of us.  Marcus Luttrell feels responsibility for the deaths of his brothers and he excoriates himself for it.  This man bears the kind of guilt that cripples and maims as surely as bullets and RPG's, and he will bear the scars for life. 

So SEAL Team Ten made the decision to release the goat herders rather than kill them.  Their rules of engagement and humanitarian concerns were part of that decision, but here's another very influential factor: 

I promise you, every insurgent, freedom fighter and stray gunman in Iraq who we arrested knew the ropes, knew that the way out was to announce he had been tortured by the Americans, ill treated, or prevented from reading the Koran or eating his breakfast or watching the television. They all knew al-Jazeera, the Arab broadcasters, would pick it up, and it would be relayed to the U.S.A., where the liberal media would joyfully accuse all of us of being murderers or barbarians or something. Those terrorist organizations laugh at the U.S. media, and they know exactly how to use the system against us.

These two quotes are from Marcus Luttrell's book Lone Survivor , as excerpted (along with five others) by Suebsaeng for the purpose of documenting Luttrell's "harsh critiques of the press and critics of the wars" -- i.e., the liberal media and liberals as a whole.  (Suebsaeng even seems to assert that a liberal media doesn't really exist, since he always dresses the phrase "liberal media" in quotes or italics, as though the concept were some odd, quaint contrivance.) 

Of course, the Mother Jones author doesn't discuss whether Luttrell's pithy and damning conclusions have any merit, merit that must be readily acknowledged by any rational observer of liberal behavior during our wars of the last decade.

And it's no wonder that Luttrell scorns the liberal breed, especially considering the role liberal media's behavior played in the decision that led to the Taliban attack and subsequent deaths of his brothers.

Yet, even though this salient, tragic connection is acknowledged in the Mother Jones article, it is never actually discussed.  So while the article's headline says that "Luttrell Really Hates the Liberal Media," it is telling that its writer offers no defense against Luttrell's charges.  

Perhaps Suebsaeng, somewhere in the back of his mind, recognizes how truly indefensible the liberal media's wartime behavior has been, and how shameful was its role in the fate of SEAL Team 10 and Army Special Ops personnel.  But then, he doesn't even acknowledge there really is a liberal media, so how can it bear any responsibility if it doesn't exist?  Slick trick, isn't it?

And perhaps it's enough for Mother Jones to run a headline that labels a hero, especially one dear to those of us on the right, as hateful, and to whine about the "right-wing crusade to portray MSMers as liberal Blame-America Firsters who don't appreciate or back the US military."  Those of us on the right know better:  we don't portray them that way.  That's the way they present themselves.

The headline Mother Jones ought to have used:  We Liberals Play the Victim.  Again.

Suebsaeng's point is that Luttrell picks on liberals.  Yet SEAL Team Ten's fear of being crucified by the liberal media influenced the decision that saved three Taliban sympathizers but led to the deaths of eleven SEALs and eight Army Special Operations personnel.  After all, it is virtually certain that, had SEAL Team Ten killed the goat herders, the news would have been "relayed to the U.S.A., where the liberal media would joyfully accuse all of us of being murderers or barbarians. . ."   Taliban goat herders, rejoice: you have friends.

There are victims here, and they sure as hell aren't liberals.  To a significant degree, Luttrell, nineteen military dead, their loved ones, and an America deprived of some of its finest, are the victims of liberals.

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