Tuesday, January 24, 2006

His Biography Says It All

"Joel Stein is desperate for attention," begins the bio of the Los Angeles Times columnist. He certainly won't be lacking for attention after his latest effort, entitled "Warriors and Wusses," which should antagonize conservatives and liberals alike.

For those on the left, Stein says the idea of condemning the war while "supporting" the troops is a "wussy" position.

"...I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward."

As for conservatives, Stein takes the predictable jabs at the chicken hawks who coerce young men and women into fighting unjust wars, etc.

"I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel."

"But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam."

Stein once wrote a recurring Q&A feature for Time, where he affected the mocking style and tone of an over-age smartass. Judging by his work in the Times, it's pretty clear he hasn't matured much as a writer, or as a smug observer of the passing scene. By his estimation, the only "just" war in recent memory was Kosovo. He opines that troops who served there "got lucky" because they got a chance to end ethnic genocide.

Stein is apparently too busy calling President Bush a nitwit to notice one salient fact: by liberating Iraq and overthrowing a tyrant, soldiers and Marines stopped genocide in Iraq as well; the proof is in the grim evidence uncovered by our troops. At last count, allied forces had discovered the graves of more than 300,000 Iraqis slaughtered by Saddam, mostly because they belonged to the "wrong" ethnic group or religious sect. By comparison, only about 3,000 victims of ethnic genocide were discovered in Kosovo, the "good war" that Mr. Stein seems to yearn for.

You may recall that Bill Clinton told us that military action was necessary in the Balkans because the Serbs had killed "tens of thousands" in Kosovo. His administration even offered satellite photos of alleged mass graves. Of course, that intelligence wasn't flawed, was it? And no one could accuse Clinton of lying to get us into a war against a country that posed absolutely no threat to our national security. Does Stein have a double standard?

Joel Stein may be the only liberal who's willing to oppose both the war and the troops that are fighting it, but he's still an idiot and an ingrate. At the end of the column, he expresses hope that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But please, no parades"

That sentence reveals the left's underlying contempt for those of us who wear--or have worn--a military uniform. From their perspective, we're little more than cannon fodder, incapable of holding a real job or making a more positive contribution to society. And since we're likely to get shot up or lose our minds to PTSD, we'd better build more VA hospitals and psychiatric facilities, while tossing in a meager pension for good measure. Afterall, anyone dumb enough to volunteer for the military could never "make it in the real world."

Here's an idea for Mr. Stein. Paraphrasing Kipling, it's easy to take shots at the war (and the troops) when you're quartered in the relative safety of So-Cal. The Times columnist needs to broaden his horizons, and sign on for an embed tour with an Army or Marine unit in Iraq. At this point, he might have a hard time finding a unit willing to take him on, but I'm sure the necessary arrangements could be made. From the front, even Joel Stein might get a new perspective on the war, and men and women who fight it on his behalf.

But I'm guessing that Stein would never go to Iraq. Better to express his contempt for the war (and the troops) from the comfort of the Times newsroom. What a wuss.

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