Heroism

HEROISM….Over at The Corner, Warren Bell calls for Hollywood to make more movies about “the heroism of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.” In particular, he’d like to see someone make a movie about the death of football star Pat Tillman, who left his lucrative civilian career to join the Army in 2002 and was killed in Afghanistan 2004. So, courtesy of Robert Collier of the San Francisco Chronicle, here’s the story:

Tillman?s death came at a sensitive time for the Bush administration ? just a week before the Army?s abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq became public and sparked a huge scandal. The Pentagon immediately announced that Tillman had died heroically in combat with the enemy, and President Bush hailed him as ?an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror.?….Not until five weeks later, as Tillman?s battalion was returning home, did officials inform the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by his fellow soldiers.

….Mary Tillman believes that with her son?s high profile, and the fact that Rumsfeld sent him a personal letter, the word [that Pat had been killed by friendly fire] quickly reached the defense secretary. ?If Pat was on Rumsfeld?s radar, it?s pretty likely that he would have been informed right away after he was killed,? she said.

….?The administration clearly was using this case for its own political reasons,? said the father, Patrick Tillman. ?This cover-up started within minutes of Pat?s death, and it started at high levels. This is not something that (lower-ranking) people in the field do,? he said.

….Tillman?s unique character…was more complex than the public image of a gung-ho patriotic warrior….Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat?s even arranged a private meeting with [Noam] Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan ? a meeting prevented by his death. She said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, ?Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war.?

….?I can see it like a movie screen,? [Spc. Russell] Baer said….?We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren?t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ?You know, this war is so f? illegal.? And we all said, ?Yeah.? That?s who he was. He totally was against Bush.?

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush?s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

Let’s recap: Tillman, a genuine hero who wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda, was instead sent initially to Iraq to fight in a war he thought was stupid and illegal. On the big screen, this would play out as a symbol of George Bush’s feckless attitude toward Osama bin Laden that practically kicks you in the face. What’s more, Tillman’s death didn’t come during combat, but instead was the result of an enormous fuckup by our own troops. His parents are convinced ? not without reason ? that the Army tried to cover this up, and that the Bush administration then spent five weeks touting a phony version of what happened in order to help their political cause during an election year. To cap it all off, his friends say Tillman blamed Bush for the mess in Iraq and supported John Kerry in the 2004 election.

Sounds like an Oliver Stone picture to me. Informed about all this, Bell says defensively that he never asked for “a whitewash of history” and would of course be fine with a movie that told the whole story, warts and all. “Why,” he asks, “are e-mailers of liberal sensibility so quick to assume I (and by extension the Right in general) would only accept one-sided propaganda?”

Indeed. What would ever have given us that idea?