By Ernie McCray
The ABC bigwigs who censured Nightline for airing the names and photographs of our troops who were killed in Iraq said that they did so because they felt the show was motivated by a “political agenda.” And I say: So what?
The importance of the airing is that our sons and daughters who laid it on the line will not have died anonymously. Now the world knows who they were, that they were mostly young people who once answered to names, who once wore smiles, who once had hopes and dreams. They were our loved ones, branches and leaves on our family trees. And television conglomerates, as far as I’m concerned, get so caught up in the drama of the war, sharing their thoughts on how brave our troops are (and they are, indeed, brave), that they seem to ignore that these young warriors shouldn’t have been in Iraq in the first place.
Kyra Phillips, the talented reporter for CNN, illustrated such thinking the other day when she addressed the Catfish Club. In 2003 she was imbedded in Iraq aboard the USS Lincoln and, like so many of us, she has a genuine love for our sailors and soldiers, saying about those she was around: “There are no punks among them.” Her statement caused me to blurt out: “But a punk created the situation these young people found themselves in.” She replied: “Are you speaking of our president, sir?” to which I replied, “I sure am.” Look, it was George W. Bush’s “political agenda” that was responsible for the loss of our troops’ precious lives.
The man reminds me of all the schoolyard bullies, the punks I’ve known over the years as a principal, who created mayhem on the campus, giving a black eye here, breaking somebody’s glasses there, springing into action in a moment, unable to think rationally. Just like the president. Consider that on 9-11 some thugs guided planes into our tallest corporate buildings and practically in the next moment war ships and war planes and warriors were off to Afghanistan blasting away. In the principal’s office knee jerk retaliation is often defended with: “My parents say that if anybody hits me, hittem back.”
Bullies rationalize their aggressions. The “Saddam tried to kill my daddy” excuse in the principal’s office is: “He was talkin’ ‘bout my mama.” “Well, did you try talking to anybody about the problem?” President of the USA: “Yeah, but the U.N. wouldn’t do nothing so I had to awesomely shock the sumbitch pretty much by my lonesome.” The schoolyard bully: “Yeah, but you wouldn’t do nothing so I had to take care of it myself.”
Doing nothing, to bullies, means not going along with them 100 percent, not contributing to their madness, not joining their military ventures, not kicking a schoolmate out of school - even when it is discovered that the bully’s mom really was wearing combat boots. Oh, and can bullies ever lie. Ask them about an accomplice and they go: “Who? Oh, him. We’ve never done anything together. I just met him.” Doesn’t that sound like “Kenneth who? Oh, Lay. We don’t have a relationship. I just met him.”
Justifying their unruly behavior comes so natural to bullies like when Bush labels Saddam as an “imminent threat,” declaring: “Look, I’ve got these satellite pictures of a weapons plant.” Hey, come on, Mr. President, this guy wouldn’t know a WMD from a Fourth of July firecracker. An eleven year old ruffian claims that a kindergartner is an “imminent threat” because the kindergartner was looking at a stick on the ground and said to him: “I’m going to kick your butt.” But he’s five years old, Sluggo. His foot can barely reach your rearend, let alone kick it.
Bullies just don’t seem to care. Regarding this ill begotten war in Iraq have we ever heard heartfelt remorse in George W. Bush’s voice or sensed it in his facial expressions? His speeches to us are pretty much “Blah-blah-blah-blah” in cold sterile tones. No ring to his message.
But the very least we can do to honor our fallen troops is give the world a glimpse of who they were whether or not it is a “political agenda” - and, come November, we should vote out the bully who created the war in which they were engaged. Kind of like a school suspension.