Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Last Talking Point Of the Left

The Last Talking Point Of the Left
By Dean Barnett

To celebrate Veterans Day, the Los Angeles Times ran a two-part story on James Blake Miller, the battle-exhausted soldier in the iconic picture of the Battle of Falluja in November 2004.

The photograph caught the 20-year-old Blake caked with blood and soot as a cigarette dangled from his mouth. He looked young, but also prematurely old. To many, the picture represents the modern American fighting man--resolute, determined, and much older than his years.

Today, Miller is home from Iraq and suffering from a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. His is a heartbreaking saga, and the Times's lengthy story detailed the efforts of Luis Sinco (the Times staff photographer who took the photo) to help him. Near the end of the story, Sinco quotes Miller's 21-year-old brother saying to him, "I'm glad I didn't join the Marines. I got a nice house, a wife and twin baby daughters, and I drive a Durango that's used but damn near new. You're divorced, drive a beat-up pickup and live in a trailer." His brother said that the returned soldier's "head is screwed up."

The Boston Globe celebrated Veterans Day with an editorial titled "When Johnny Comes Home Less." Citing a National Alliance to End Homelessness study, the Globe stated that over the course of a year, half-a-million veterans go homeless. (A subsequent correction dropped this number to 337,000.)

The Globe proceeded to expose the grim facts that "Veterans are at risk. Many grapple with traumatic brain injuries, the loss of limbs, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mental illness. Some need to find jobs and housing."

These are important stories, and shouldn't be ignored, but it is also hard to ignore the political agenda at work here. Individual tales of heroism don't interest papers like the Times and the Globe; individual tragedies do. Portraying veterans as lost souls is a narrative that is politically convenient.



Blogger FairestWitness said...

How despicable that newspapers USE these brave soldiers tragic problems to sell their rags and promote their political agendas. No real help or concern for the plight of this young man who served us faithfully and well. He deserves much better than this.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

War isn't pretty. James Blake is only human, but more of a man than most, including me. His brother doesn't seem to understand or be grateful that the reason he has all that he does is because his brother is more of a man than he is himself. I'm praying for James Baker, God bless him and I hope he is able to be well, whole and happy once more. As to the MSM, screw 'em. J'Mac.

8:31 AM  

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