Military Suicides and the Progressive Worldview

See also: A War still Rages within Them

One of many charges Thomas Sowell lodges against the "intelligentsia" in the damning indictment that is his book Intellectuals and Society is the filtering of reality in order to fit their elitist worldview. That worldview, in summary, is that third parties or "surrogate decision makers" can make better decisions than individuals can make for themselves. It is a worldview that is predominately statist, anti-individual, anti-Western (America in particular), and anti-freedom (economic and otherwise).

Another of the charges in Sowell's enlightening book is that intellectuals -- whom he defines neutrally as people whose occupations deal primarily with ideas -- have "verbally turned military heroes who put their lives on the line for their country into victims of war, people whom one might pity but never want to emulate." As evidence, he cites among other examples a front-page January 2008 article in the New York Times that "featured killings in the United States by veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Among the causal factors, according to the article, were "combat trauma and the stress of deployment."

The problem is, as Sowell points out,the NYT left out important contextual information (that is, facts) by failing "to compare the homicide rate of returning veterans with the homicide rate among civilians of the same ages." "Had they done so," writes Sowell, "they would have found that the homicide rate among returning veterans was one-fifth that among civilians of the same ages."

Which brings us to the January 15 Associated Press headline, "Suicides in military rise, even as combat lessens.". Within the first three sentences of the article, we learn that "[m]embers of the military committed suicide at a record pace in 2012 - almost one per day...[.] "The primary reason for the 15.9% increase versus 2011, the article declares, is "severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq...[.]" That may or may not be true, but the reader has to stick with the article, wading down to the 14th paragraph, to learn this: the suicide rate among military members "remains below that of the civilian population." Using the figures shown in the AP article that rate is significantly lower, 35% lower to be precise. But don't expect a headline that reads "Suicide rate among military members (remains) significantly lower than among civilians." Nope, that wouldn't make it through the so-called intelligentsia's filters and it doesn't fit the prevailing worldview.

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