Monday, November 20, 2006

What Is This "Irony" That You Speak Of?

"Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don't get that here."
--Steve Martin in

Apparently irony is not something they “get” at Sinclair Broadcasting, either. Otherwise, Mark Hyman wouldn’t deliver a commentary accusing others of defaming U.S. troops in which he defames a decorated war veteran.

As we’ve noted before, Hyman loves sticking up for the supposedly sullied honor of U.S. troops. Of course, he’ll gladly defend those who send them to in insufficient numbers and with insufficient equipment to fight and die in an unnecessary war sold on faulty evidence and that has made us demonstrably less safe. But when it comes to being called names, Hyman draws the line.

Fair enough, but as we’ve also pointed out before, Hyman has no problem sullying the honor of selected members of the military (or their mothers) if it’s politically expedient to do so. Ergo, the mini-series of “Points” he delivered in September of 2004 accusing John Kerry of lying about his service, aiding the enemy, and shooting a wounded teenage Viet Cong.

Given that, it’s hard to take Hyman’s faux outrage seriously when he chooses to vent it at desired political targets for political reasons, as is the case in his recent attack on Seymour Hersh.

Hersh, the investigator who, among other things, brought the My Lai massacre to the public’s attention during the Vietnam War, recently gave an address in which he said that “there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq.”

This sends Hyman into waves of prefabricated outrage, comparing Hersh to John Kerry (whose recent comments occasioned another soap-opera caliber acting performance by Hyman and others on the right).

Hersh was referring to videotape he claims to have seen of U.S. soldiers gunning down civilians after being targeted by an IED explosion.

Hersh hasn’t written about this footage yet, nor has it been seen publicly. If it doesn’t materialize, Hersh certainly owes the military an apology for attributing such actions to it.

But the problem with Hyman’s outrage is that it ignores the fact that we’ve already
had plenty of documented atrocities in this war. Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and countless other incidents involving individual soldiers and civilians have surfaced.

And that’s just in Iraq proper. Atrocity is now official government policy, thanks to secret prisons, water boarding, and signing statements that relieve the president from dealing with the inconveniences of the “antiquated” Geneva Conventions.

That brings us to the wider point. Hyman doesn’t get (or pretends not to get) that the target of the attacks by Hersh and others on atrocities committed by American soldiers in Iraq, just as it was the target of Kerry and others when speaking out about atrocities committed in Vietnam, is not the rank and file military personnel, but the people who command them. (Hyman offers aid and comfort to those responsible by trying to paint attacks on “neo-conservatives” as anti-Semitism.)

Certainly, the individuals who pull the triggers deserve severe punishment for their actions. But the larger target are the policies that create the atmosphere that leads to such atrocities. To attack Hersh and to attempt to defend Bush, Hyman pretends that Hersh’s charges are leveled at the average U.S. soldier, rather than the actual target: the policy makers who implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, condone such actions and create circumstances in which some U.S. soldiers, having been placed in untenable and excruciating positions, occasionally break down.

By playing (or actually being) dumb, Hyman condones and defends the policies that have done such damage to U.S. troops on the ground that morale and leadership have broken down to the point where such atrocities can take place.

In his pseudo-defense of the troops, Hyman actually helps perpetuate their mistreatment, which in turn leads to the mistreatment of civilians—not by all U.S. personnel, but by a tragically predictable minority.

Ironic, isn’t it?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.55


At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That ol' Hyman sure is devoted to staying on the ship of right-wing-hatred.

Hasn't he heard? Voters widely rejected the take-no-prisoners "mentality" of Karl Rove and sent those rascally Repubs packing. And the voters sent a pretty clear message to Chimpy: HE'S the one endangering the troops with his stupid, bloody, counterproductive war of choice.

Even Fox "News" is hearing public sentiment. They've cancelled their sickening murder-mongering interview of O.J. Simpson.

I guess that Hyman knows of only two interpersonal strategies: Be as offensive as possible at all turns... or retire.


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