Tillman's Ghost


New at Reason: Cathy Young takes on a campus doofus and his slander of Pat Tillman.

NEXT: Pot Patterns

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  1. Looks like Rene Gonzales judges books by their cover only.Isn`t that just slightly prejudgemental.

  2. “Gonzalez conflates the two wars”

    Cathy, he isn’t the only one conflating the two wars. The US administration and right-wingers do that too.

  3. Although I admire what Tillman did, I don’t think comparing him to rape victims and victims of gay-bashing is appropriate. Tillman intentionally put himself in harms way and suffered the consequences.

  4. Call me what you will but I thought Gonzalez’s columnn made several good points. He certainly could have made his point without going overboard on the insults though. Same for Ted Rall’s cartoon that’s partially pictured on Reason’s homepage.

  5. Goddamn liberal media bias…
    Way to go after the big guns, Cathy!

  6. But unlike Ted Rall, we try to keep them as separate campaigns and theatres… But yes, we see them as essentially One War, Anon.

  7. Gonzales is a vitriolic idiot, but such venom is common to any extremists, be they left-wing or right. Remember Ann Coulter suggesting that the Arab world be converted to Christianity at gunpoint?

    I could almost believe that Gonzales’ column was written by a sly war hawk hoping to discredit the opposition. It would be less embarrassing for me, at any rate. Anyway, the Amherst campus of UMass is half an hour from my house, so I can say with certainty that it is filled with loony people.

  8. Normally I enjoy Cathy Young’s columns and her “pox on both your houses!” approach to the culture war.

    But I was kind of disappointed by the topic. I mean, college newspapers are almost by definition a million monkeys on a million typewriters. One of them will churn out Hamlet, and since it’s always easier to tear down than to build up it therefore follows that more than one will publish some outrageous nonsense slandering a hero.

    If this outrageous opinion piece had appeared in a more mainstream venue then maybe it would be newsworthy. Or if she had put together a collection of similar anecdotes from a variety of campuses, or something along those lines. But I don’t see what broader point she was able to make from this. Instead it’s just using one asshole at a college campus to open up yet another can of whoop-ass on the loopier elements of academia.

    (And for the record, the loopier people on college campuses do NOT represent most college students. They are merely the most outspoken. The rest of us ignore them while we go about other pursuits.)

  9. You’re supposed to throw back the undersized ones, Cathy.

    I can’t believe the newspaper actually alllowed an editorial to be published that contained the an assertion that began, “You just know that…”

  10. “In fact, about 90 percent of Americans?though only about 50 percent of college students-favored the war in Afghanistan…”

    Only 50 percent of college students favored the war in Afghanistan? That seems awfully, awfully low. I go to college at a Big Ten school and was a sophomore when 9/11 happened. I read everything I could nationwide about student reaction; a loud, small minority was opposed, but certainly not one out of two.

  11. And I think Ann Coulter got thoroughly trashed for saying the things she did. So, Mr. Gonzalez can expect the same, or should, and from his own side, too. Unless of course we have TWO standards, one for “them” and one for “us.”

  12. I don’t suppose we can set up a sabbatical so Mr. Gonzalez can travel to the region and see firsthand what “careful and logical changing of the underlying conditions that allow for the ideology to foster” might entail.

    Reminds me of 1974, when I toured Romania with a college singing group, back when that country was behind the Iron Curtain. Travelling over with us on Czechoslovakian Airlines was a high school rock band from a New England state. They and their chaperones were enchanted with the opportunity to get away from what they referred to as “Corporate Amerika” and tour a worker’s paradise.

    Three weeks later, on the flight back, they were <groan> singing a very different tune.

  13. Seems Cathy is making a mountain of a molehill — campus newspapers are usually desperate for people to write for them — that you can find one honest leftist op-ed in a campus newspaper somewhere in America is hardly surprising or worthy space to comment on.

    The op-ed writer does bring up an interesting topic — if you are a Kerry supporter or ABB person — the main way Bush will be defeated is if the economy tank and/or lots more dead Americans in Iraq and elsewhere — not from anything Kerry can or will do between now and election time. If you really hate Bush then be honest and hope for a bad economy and lots of dead bodies or he’ll get re-elected — its that simple.

    Should we think of Tillman a hero? Who knows — I think its a little demented that one would choose killing people professionally (for some lost cause like American empire but…) over playing helmetball professinally, but thats just me.

  14. Gonzalez might be a small fish, but I’ve heard similar criticisms of Tillman enough to think they warrant being addressed. Since a big media outlet is unlikely to print such an editorial, this one is good enough for me.

  15. Unrelated, but anyone listening to Nick Gillespie on Talk of the Nation right now? He’s talking about the personalized Reason covers.

  16. Just one question — what makes Pat Tillman a hero?
    What are the qualifications for hero and how did he meet them?
    Why is he more heroic than any other dead soldier?
    (OK, more than one question, then.)
    Could it be that jocks are more important than other people?
    Shirely Knott

  17. Shirley,

    I think that he’s considered a hero because he chose hardship and personal risk over great sums of money and he did it in a way so as to attract as little attention to himself as possible.

    There are plenty of heroes over there (and there are plenty of sick assholes, too). The fact that he was a famous jock just meant that more people were aware of his heroic acts than they would if he had, say, left a lucrative career on Wall Street.

  18. Joe L.:
    “Unless of course we have TWO standards”

    Of course there are two standards: one for ‘fair and balanced’ mainstream media; and one for college newspapers that hardly any one reads.

  19. No, we have ONE standard… you get noticed and you violate the standards of conduct you get trashed… works for Rene or Ann.

  20. I wonder if Cathy has ever been to a “new england college campus.” If she were to actually visit one of these places she would see that the only people who agree with Rene Gonzalez’s opinions are the three other kids in the ISO. Though college faculties may be fairly leftist I think she underestimates the thinking abilities of we new england college students. Statements like “Since Al Qaeda seeks nothing short of Islamic theocracy, one may wonder what conditions those are: The existence of secular democracy, perhaps” make me think Cathy doesn’t know a goddam thing. How dare someone consider dealing wiht the disease instead of the symptom, right Cathy?! This was one of the worst pieces i’ve ever read at Reason and I am now regretting my subscription.

  21. Why is Tillman a hero? Well, he gave up a lucrative career for a much lower paying and much more dangerous job. AND he wasn’t an “Attention Whore” about it. He enlisted, he gave no interviews about it, and really didn?t make a fuss about it. He did what he thought was right. If not a hero, which may imply throwing oneself on a grenade (Recently a Marine Corporal) or single-handedly defeating a German infantry Company (Audie Murphy), then let’s call him NOBLE. How about that, he was a noble man, making a very large sacrifice.

  22. I’m sure Gonzalez has received more than a few death threats. However, while it’s easy to condemn his immature rant it is worth the effort to take a closer look at what he’s trying to say…

    What is at issue here isn’t whether or not Tillman was a “hero” – what is at issue is how we apply the word. The bandwagon of sacrifice and herodom that some people have jumped on seems to roll right over some legitimate questions about what it is to be a hero.

    Having written a piece questioning the usefulness of labeling Jessica Lynch a hero – while conveniently allowing the media and public to forget her fallen comrades – I feel that its legitimate to question the media and the public on their choice of hero.

    Is Tillman more of a hero for having turned down the big money? Does his heroism deserve to be celebrated more than that of lesser known soldiers?

    At the end of the day it’s okay to call Tillman a hero and recognize his sacrifice. But we should also recognize the innate marketability of a handsome sports star, shot down in the prime of his life and the TV-movie of the week vibe that surrounds the story.

  23. Tillman’s life should be an inspiration for us all. The man worked hard to become a professional football player when no one thought he could make it. Further, he was Dean’s list and an All-American player during college.

    Ignore football and the money and look beyone the rhetoric that has been puked up by both sides, and realize that what Tillman did was beyond heroic…it was down right selfless. And he did this, not because he loved his country, or that he wanted to make a point about sacrafice, he did this out of love and respect for his brother who was also in the Rangers. Tillman did not want to see his brother go it alone. Both played football together and I assume that they had an exceptional sibling bond. This is just my opinion, but family is always far more important than money, fame, or country. Disagree with me if you will, but I truly believe this is why Tillman is a hero and his story is being used by both sides in complete ignorance of the real reason Tillman joined the Rangers.

  24. “If you really hate Bush then be honest and hope for a bad economy and lots of dead bodies or he’ll get re-elected — its that simple.”

    I don’t hope for these things, I’m just realistic enough to understand that they’re going to happen no matter what I think.

    Were you hoping for massive gun confiscations and widespread tax-induced bankruptcies in 1994, to help defeat Clinton?

  25. Joe, it was 1996 and taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy.

  26. Cathy “Moral Equivalence” Young does it again, but here’s the money shot from Tillman’s memorial service, as said by his brother-

    “Pat isn’t with God,” he said. “He’s f — ing dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s f — ing dead.”

    I’m glad he said it- it seems like too many people have been trying to steal Pat for their own purposes (O’Reilly, I’m looking at YOU!) So, you all can go back to mud wrestling for who “owns” Tillman’s legacy, because it doesn’t matter.

    He’s fucking dead.

  27. Sir Real-
    As an atheist, I must agree. Only time will tell whether he died for a purpose, or for nothing.

  28. real, where did you find the quotes?

  29. Hate to burst your atheist bubble, but Tillman was religious, he had no religions. As the article Jennifer links to states, Tillman was a godfather to the son of a close friend. No church will let someone who does not accept God become a godfather. The article further supports this conclusion when it is recalled by this same friend that Tillman often read the bible, Koran, etc., and would mail clips to people and aske them to discuss. Again, this wasn’t about religion, country, or anything else. Again, I dare say that Tillman joined because his brother Kevin was a Ranger.

  30. “How dare someone consider dealing wiht the disease instead of the symptom, right Cathy?!”

    This is what we are trying to do in Iraq.

  31. “Why is Tillman a hero? Well, he gave up a lucrative career for a much lower paying and much more dangerous job. AND he wasn’t an “Attention Whore” about it. He enlisted, he gave no interviews about it, and really didn’t make a fuss about it.”

    He also won the silver star, leading his men on an attack on a Al Quada held hilltop which was directing fire on another group of Rangers.

  32. “Having written a piece questioning the usefulness of labeling Jessica Lynch a hero – ”

    In fact, Pvt Lynch never did anything heroic. She didn’t fire her weapon. She was basically a passenger during the ambush, escape attempt, and crash leading up to her capture. And she had joined the military for economic gain–not as a sacrifice.

    The initial idea that she was a hero seems to have been based on poorly recieved Iraqi radio transmissions, which may not have been properly translated. It seems likely the heroic actions origionally ascribed to her were in fact performed by one of her fellow soldiers–one who died in the fighting.

  33. “Cathy, he isn’t the only one conflating the two wars. The US administration and right-wingers do that too.”

    There is the specific war against Al Quada, and the more general war on terrorism. One is a subset of the other. The war on Al quada (i.e,, Afganistan) is a no brainer (except for the likes of Rene Gonzales), while the more general war on terrorism is something worth debating (and something that none of us can be sure we have the right answers for–maybe in ten years with 20/20 hindsight we will know who is right).

  34. So did Ted Rall crib his defamatory cartoon from the Daily Collegian column, or vice versa?

  35. In the sleepy west of the woody east
    is a valley full, full o’ pioneer
    we’re not just kids, to say the least
    we got ideas to us that’s dear
    like capitalist, like communist
    like lots of things you’ve heard about
    and redneckers they get us pissed
    and stupid stuff it makes us shout

    — The Pixies, “U-Mass”

    It’s funny –not funny “ha ha,” but funny “makes me want to punch somebody” — that there are a great many people on the left who decry, not just this war, but almost every war, because they are disproportionately fought by the poor, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups. In fact, much of the current support on the left for a draft is intended to put the rich and the privileged in the line of fire.

    So what do these same people do when confronted with a privileged white kid who leaves his million-dollar life to join the military and actually takes a fatal bullet?

    They piss all over his grave and his life.


  36. Next at Reason:
    Cathy Young responds to Bill Franklin’s article in the Portland State Vanguard claiming his Dad is tougher than her’s.

  37. Phil-
    Please, don’t assume all of us left-wingers are like these loons. Amherst and the surrounding towns like Northampton always inspire low-grade irritation in me whenever I have to go there. You can’t throw a rock in those towns without hitting a pink triangle or a rainbow flag, or a poster showing several differently-colored hands clasped above the word DIVERSITY.

    Now, don’t get me wrong–I’m all for gay rights and racial equality and all those other left-wing causes; the difference is, there’s more to my personality than being for gay rights and racial equality and all that. Whenever I see those Birkenstock-wearers get into their parent’s Volvos with the 50,000 “Visualize Peace” and pink triangle bumperstickers on the back, I always want to ask them: “If you lived in a world where women and gays and racial minorities had equal rights with the Evil White Male Patriarchy, what in hell’s name would you do with your life? What would you ever have to talk about with your friends?”

    Chris Rock did a routine where he said “I like black people, but I hate niggers.” Well, I feel the same way: I like left-wingers, but I hate these damned granola-munchers who value feelings over reason.

  38. Someone found Rene’s personal ad.

    Yeah, it’s stupid and it already got Instalanched, but I’m including it for historical accuracy purposes.

  39. Jennifer, I was careful to qualify with “somes” and “manys” and whatnot. I trust that not all leftists feel that way.

  40. Jennifer, I was careful to qualify with “somes” and “manys” and whatnot. I trust that not all leftists feel that way.

  41. I love this description of Ted Rall in an article about the uproar: “Rall, who risked his life in Afghanistan himself as a visiting cartoonist/writer after 9/11,…”

    Oh, the humanity of it all.

  42. It’s educational!!!!!!

  43. joe,

    On the schadenfreude issue, at the beginning of Clinton’s first term Limbaugh was gleefully putting up money on a wager that a number of economic indicators would all go down under Clinton. So apparently he (and presumably a lot of dittoheads) were hoping for the worst so they could make political hay from it.

  44. Kevin: On the plus side, he lost lots of pill money on that bet.

  45. Kevin,

    If peace breaks out all over Iraq over the next 6 months, the deficit shrinks, unemployment plunges, and interest rates stay low, followed by the establishment of a secure, liberal, secular democracy in Iraq, I’m going to feel like an ass, and have to question a lot of my political beliefs.

    How many conservatives have admitted to being dead wrong about Clintonomics? Can anyone find me a link?

  46. Joe-

    I’m not prepared to accept without considerable evidence any claim that Clintonomic caused the prosperity of the 90’s. I am prepared to accept, based on the blindingly obvious facts, that Clintonomics didn’t completely screw it all up.

    And as a fan of market economics, the highest praise I can heap on any President’s economic policies, under any circumstances, is to say “Well, he didn’t bungle it.” Because I honestly don’t see any evidence that Presidents really cause economic upturns or downturns. Mostly they either get the hell out of the way or else they bungle it.

    And now I’ll pause for the flood of rotten tomatoes.

  47. The “credit” the Clintonistas could get for the 90’s economy is limited by the fact that the Congress, first by shooting down “Hilarycare,” then by turning Republican and applying the blessed brakes of gridlock to the rest of the Dems’ agenda, while not being able to push through much of their own, moderated Billy Jeff’s ability to screw things up, especially by raising taxes. Combine that with Secy. Rubin’s and Chmn. Greenspan’s success at fiddling the interest rates down, and the economy was able to continue the recovery that started before WJBC was sworn in.

    It would now seem that the shift of revenue from the military budget to other endeavors, the so-called “peace dividend,” went too far, if we mean to fight wars half a globe away, and occupy large countries. Something ought to give, if not on both domestic and military spending, then somewhere!


  48. “How many conservatives have admitted to being dead wrong about Clintonomics? Can anyone find me a link?”

    I kinda liked the NAFTA/free trade part, and the welfare reform part, and the cutting capital gains taxes part. I also like the part where the Hillary health care package was killed.

    Of course, I don’t like the recession that was in progress when W came into office. I don’t blame Clinton for the recession, but I really don’t credit him for the preceeding boom, either.

  49. Don,
    perhaps I would accept that the war in Iraq was the United States’ attempt at dealing with the disease if we didn’t half assed it. Invading Iraq without the right amount of properly trained troops and any semblance of a post-war plan aside from “bomb them and they’ll greet us with flowers” leads me to believe that not everyone in the Bush administration was on the same page as to why we attacked Iraq.

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