Madison County Opinion...

NOVEMBER 12, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
November 12, 2003

Frankly Speaking

Democrats have written off Southern vote
Zell Miller has it partly right. It is clear that the national democrats have abandoned the South.
Nothing makes that clearer than the uproar caused by one Democratic candidate for President, Howard Dean, when he declared that he wanted the votes of “Southerners who fly rebel flags from their pickups.” The other eight immediately attacked him for the statement. One by one, they stood up and demanded that he apologize for his “insult.” Dean insisted that he considers the Confederate flag to be “reprehensible.”
Newly-minted Democrat Wesley Clark insisted that he was “joking” when he made reference to stupid Southerners.
“All Americans, even if they are from the South and stupid, should be represented,” he said.
It is clear how the Democratic leadership views the South. To them, we are a bunch of ignorant, stupid hicks who are deserving of any insult they choose to throw at us.
As Zell Miller said in his new book: “Once upon a time, the most successful Democratic leader of them all, FDR, looked south and said, ‘I see one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.’ Today our national Democratic leaders look south and say, “I see one-third of a nation and it can go to hell.”
Clark, above all, should know better. As a leader of America’s military forces, he had to have seen the patriotism, leadership and native ability of his Southern soldiers. After all, the South provides a proportionally greater percentage of America’s fighting force than any other part of the country. But then, a number of his contemporaries were not impressed by his military career.
Actually, the Democrats are not attacking all voters in the south. They think that they can depend on the black vote, and many of the newly-arrived whites. It is the traditional Southerner that they have written off.
You see, we Southern redecks are the ones who still support the American Revolution. We believe in the principles of limited government, state’s rights and personal responsibility. The national Democrats push for ever greater control of the nation as a whole, as well as each individual citizen, by the federal government. It is not our ability or knowledge that makes us “stupid.” It is our refusal to give up our personal liberty and responsibility to power greedy politicians.
The problem is not the stupidity of Southerners. The problem is the arrogance of the left-wing Northern Democrats, and that is no joking matter.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net.

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
November 12, 2003

In The Meantime

Need for heroes shouldn’t overshadow need for truth
No offense to Jessica Lynch, but the hype surrounding her story seems more an example of our strange societal psychology than heroism.
In times of distress, our society needs heroes, seemingly, more than we need truth. Truth, in fact, can get in the way of what we want to feel.
If truth was the real force behind the publicity craze that surrounded Lynch, most of us would already know the names of those who are now emerging as perhaps more worthy of the tag “hero” of the Army’s 507th Maintenance Company.
On Sunday, “60 Minutes” highlighted two soldiers — Donald Walters and Patrick Miller — who have not gotten the headlines that Lynch has. Their valor seems overshadowed in an unfair way by the hype surrounding Lynch.
Mike Wallace interviewed Miller, an engineer known to have bad aim with a rifle. By the accounts of other soldiers, Miller single-handedly gunned down seven — by some reports as many as nine — Iraqis trying to launch a mortar that probably would have wiped out all of his fellow compatriots, including Lynch who was seriously injured in a nearby vehicle.
According to the “60 Minutes” account of the day, Miller clearly showed a willingness to put himself in harm’s way to protect his fellow soldiers. He saved their lives, apparently Lynch’s too.
Walters, on the other hand, is not around to receive any accolades for wartime bravery. He was shot to death after fending off Iraqi gunmen. Apparently, military intelligence reports received an incorrect translation of a female, blond-haired soldier valiantly fighting before being struck and killed.
Original military intelligence reports of the fight apparently said the blond-haired soldier was Lynch, not Walters. In fact, investigators say Lynch was likely unconscious after the Humvee accident and probably did not fire a shot.
Don’t misunderstand me. This is no attempt to demean Lynch, because she, too, is worthy of our admiration in her service as a soldier. She has been through a horrible injury and held in captivity in a foreign land in a conflict of global significance. She has sacrificed. She has paid a price.
But Lynch, clearly, is a part of larger agendas. The military readily presented her as a hero with little regard for the facts of the day. She looks like the girl next door, somebody we all could know and relate to. In a symbolic sense, she is not the face of war, but of compassion and of a new, inclusive military, where women can and will succeed. On a greater level, she helps sell support for a war that is unpopular with many. The military has shown that it will subvert the truth in this regard, as fake letters home from soldiers were distributed to newspapers and later exposed as frauds. Soldiers whose names were on the letters said they had no part in writing them.
News organizations, on the other hand, carried and continue to carry Lynch’s story with zeal and a puzzling disregard for the seemingly more dramatic story of Miller’s gunfight. Many news outlets see Jessica Lynch as simply the next Elian Gonzalez, or Gary Condit — a person caught up in a hype bordering on mania who will eventually fade from public attention.
This is sad in itself. Despite the profits she’s making, I feel sorry for Lynch in this regard. I certainly wouldn’t want that harsh light of major media glare.
But why focus on the soldier injured in a truck over the fighter who runs into the line of fire, uses his weapon with precision and saves his fellow soldiers? Where is this man’s million dollar book deal?
Of course, we should praise Miller as a “hero.” His bravery earned it. He did what he had to do. His action will affect future generations of American families who may now see their loved ones return home. Without his action, soldiers’ families would have experienced a profound loss.
On the flip side, it’s too easy in our society to dismiss the thought of some kid in Iraq who also doesn’t have a dad anymore thanks to all the gunfire. We can point to the justification in killing his father all day long — in Miller’s defense of his fellow soldiers we find crystal clear justification — but that isn’t going to bring back a kid’s father. Such empathy shouldn’t be completely tossed out of our society as bleeding-heart thinking.
Isn’t war — justified or not — a horrible killing process that allows all sides to devalue the life of their opponents?
Such ugliness leaves us hurting inside. And in those difficult times, we want comfort, we want to feel a sense of rightness, of valor.
Finding a war hero can fulfill some of those needs for a society, at least temporarily.
But if national recognition of heroism is not grounded in truth, have we not disgraced true acts of bravery performed in anonymity?
If you’re like me, you can appreciate the service Jessica Lynch showed for her country, (all who sacrifice their personal lives for military service should have our fundamental appreciation). But I’m bothered by the illogical omission of those perhaps more worthy of battle recognition.
The less-than-truthful, military-media hero-hype proves truth is irrelevant if a lie strikes a more favorable chord in our society.
Let us praise the soldier for his bravery. There is certainly heroism on the part of anyone who steps into battle.
But in our need for establishing heroes, in our desire for peace of mind, let’s not willingly allow our need for truth to become a war casualty. This seems a disservice to those who actually know and live with the horrible truths of war.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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