On the Sunday before Veteran’s Day, Matt Drudge devoted considerable air time to a vitriolic and unseemly assault on Jessica Lynch. Having already been injured by both enemy action and the Pentagon, it was probably inevitable the right wing neo-conservatives braying messages to enrage the populace against human decency and dignity would find Ms. Lynch an appropriate target for ridicule.
True to form, Drudge (combat-hardened in the trenches of Madison Avenue) lamented the fact Ms. Lynch had accepted a book contract, something patriotic son Drudge would surely never do. He complained she had given a television interview and invented a mockingly mock-quotation wherein his target supposedly worried about her make-up and whether the light was appropriately flattering her pretty face. Drudge even belittled the possibility this young woman had been raped, implying perhaps, if true, she asked for it or deserved it.
Panting hot and hard on the heels of this smarmy Druge smear session, porn king Larry Flynt, just prior to the ABC Lynch interview, went generously public with the possibility a couple of apparently-innocuous photos exist of attractive (but topless) Jessica. With exceptional generosity, Flynt said he decided not to publish the photos because, “Jessica Lynch is a good kid, she’s not a hypocrite or out to fool anyone. She’s just a victim of the Bush administration, who is using her to justify the war in Iraq and force-feed us a Joan of Arc.” Flynt didn’t have the decency to keep quiet about the alleged photos, or to add that Ms. Lynch had just become a “victim” of Flynt’s pornographic attempt to fondle publicity for himself out of the woman’s name and image.
Jessica Lynch was true to her country. She served; she did her duty. As far as is known, this small-town girl asked neither for special favors nor for the horrific events that led to her injuries and to the wounding and deaths of her fellow soldiers. She didn’t ask to be used by the Pentagon to promote a thoughtless and unconscionable war.
Now those hell-bent on destroying the last vestiges of American decency have used her as a means of self-promotion, gloriously proclaiming the need to expose the woman in the name of “truth”–the Pentagon’s truth; Matt Drudge’s truth; Larry Flynt’s truth. How shameful can they get?
As these assaults on good Americans increase, there may be more than a few sensitive citizens who begin to stand up to the bullying, the battering, the lies and manipulations. Democrats, liberals and progressives have not been exempt from participation in the Anger Wars, and can’t just claim the high ground by declaring their virtue. An immediate climate change must sweep the nation before every citizen is provoked to insane political road rage. How much better that we attack injustice, inequality, poverty than attack the character of the most innocent among us. Recently President Bush spoke of a new policy to bring freedom and democracy to the world. Whether one can force freedom and democracy on others seems questionable at best.
However, a nation truly invested in freedom will make certain it does not deny fundamental fairness to others. The example we set by our actions may bring about desired results more effectively than all the poetically-crafted language in a speech-writer’s arsenal. Contrary to recent hyperbole, America must not “pay any price” to foster freedom, since the “any price” would naturally include the potential self-destruction of American itself. President Bush may be sincere when stating, “The advance of freedom is the calling of our time.” To my knowledge, President Bush has not distanced himself from the talkers and pundits whose cheerleading of the Bushvolk is almost totally dependant on mocking, demeaning, smearing and lying about those who do not happen to agree with Bush Administration policies and misstatements of fact. If we are about to advance a “calling of our time,” we should give special care and attention to the means employed to carry out that calling. Noble words must be followed by truly noble deeds. Anyone who has crawled on his or her belly under machine gun attack or been subjected to bombardment might easily choose to have a Jessica Lynch in the foxhole rather than loud-mouthed abusers who dominate the people’s airwaves and newsstands–or the disloyal “comrades in arms” who may have turned over photographs to Flynt’s meat machine. In the battle for America’s hearts and minds, Jessica Lynch is emerging as a surprisingly-heroic figure, worthy indeed to be revered, not for battlefield heroics, but for retaining composure and common decency of character in the presence of hostile fire.
DOUG GIEBEL lives in Big Sandy, Montana. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org