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SUPPORT THEIR TRIPE, SLANDER THE TROOPS



Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.
-Gustave Flaubert


Over where?
Hollywood, never known for its accurate portrayal of soldiers past or present, has sunk to a new low. Producer
Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue, L.A. Law) has created a fictional series around the War in Iraq that is billed as a tribute to those in uniform yet is comically misguided in its result.

If gritty realism was the aim, Bochco's
Over There (Wednesdays, FX) misses the mark entirely. Like many of his generation who nimbly side-stepped military service in the late 60's and 70's, Bochco and his fellow traveling Tinseltownies view every U.S. conflict since through the warped prism of Vietnam.

Over There mirrors M*A*S*H* -- the hit television series based on a cult film about the Korean War that was really about Vietnam -- as it clubs you over the head with every hackneyed military cliche in the Hollywood repertoire:

-- Gravelly voiced sergeants who resent being called Sir ("I work for a living, Mister!)

-- The squad of cherry privates seemingly dropped into a firefight directly from Fort Benning, Georgia

-- The flagrant drug use

-- The adulterous spouses

-- The distrusted and incompetent officers

-- The racial animus among the rank and file ("Just another black man trying to make it in a white man's world")

-- The grotesque, senseless violence

-- The solemn introspection of the soldiers forced to take an enemy life

-- The tragic plight of the underprivileged, uneducated, and ignorant enlisted class forced to join up for lack of economic alternatives

-- The natural born killers finally provided an outlet for their warmongering bloodlust

All depict a fictitious military that no longer is, and by and large, never was. An entire generation of Americans came to know only of the Vietnam era what iconic films like Platoon, Casualties of War, and Full Metal Jacket depicted it to be. Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola even came to believe his own flawed mythos. "My film is not...about Vietnam. It is Vietnam."

Mistaking the current conflict in Southwest Asia for the one fought long ago in Southeast Asia does a disservice not only to the soldier in harm's way but to the citizen caught in the ideological crossfire at home. The late General William Westmoreland always maintained that the Army never lost a tactical battle in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese reply: that may have been so, but it was also irrelevant.

For it is an inherent but necessary weakness of democracies that they are only as strong as the collective will of the people. A media savvy enemy need only break the will of its public audience to defeat its military adversary. The NVA and the Vietcong understood these lessons well, as does terror master al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda today.

For a people to support their military they must truly understand their military. They must recognize what kind of people volunteer for such a life of hardship, hazard and separation for such relatively little compensation. They must know what they believe in, what they stand for, and what they'd die for. One cannot logically be for the soldier yet against the war he daily risks his life to win. The two causes are in reality one and the same, as such they share the same fate.

A soldier understands that the connection between 9/11 and Iraq is real. It is not a "smoking gun," but a recognition that our two smoldering towers constituted an act of war by every Middle Eastern state sponsor of terror that shared in Osama bin Laden's fanatical glee.

A soldier understands the era of Islamist appeasement ended September 12th with our own declared jihad. They have slaughtered innocents throughout the globe, sparing no ethnicity, nationality, or religion. It is less a war on terror -- a mere tactic -- than a World War on civilization itself. "We did not seek it," said President Bush, "but we will fight it, and we will prevail."

A soldier understands that in order for the Middle East to cease exporting terror, it must cease importing tyranny. Only when the Arab people freely choose they own governments will they be able to participate fully in the global economy and a progressive standard of living that they have for centuries been excluded from. Like it or not, our security depends on their freedom.

And most importantly, a soldier understands that an American military force can never lose a war as long as the President, the Congress and their employers -- the American people -- stand solidly behind them.

Many in Hollywood have made it painfully clear where they stand. Not content to merely slander those in uniform, one such filmmaker attempted a propaganda-fueled coup d'etat aimed at their commander in chief. Pseudo-documentarian Michael Moore's antiwar conspiracy theory
Fahrenheit 9/11 depicted soldiers in apparently the only way his ilk can see them: as unwitting pawns of an imperial superpower on an oilthirsty rampage, bloodied veterans of a class war that drafts the opportunity have-nots through the back door.

The effect of this unrelenting defamation of the American soldier is twofold. It saps troop morale at a pivotal "
Battle of the Bulge" moment in the war, as well as contributes to the predictable armchair battle fatigue many Americans feel nearly four years after September 11 -- already longer than the entirety of our participation in WWII, from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima.

But not you. You SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

You have a yellow ribbon bumper magnet slapped on your SUV. Heck, two or three. You fly the Flag on the Fourth of July. You thank every veteran you encounter for their service. And later you plop down in front of your HDTV with a hoagie and a Heineken and passively endorse the celluloid lynching of their character that passes for modern infotainment.

"Immoral behavior breeds immoral behavior," Moore intones at one point in his film. Stylistically speaking, he may be on to something.

In the final minutes of FX's Over There, an idealistic young private is gravely wounded in a roadside explosion; a screenwriter's penance for having dared express his love for the Army. Fittingly, he is medevac-ed aboard a Vietnam era
Huey as the scene fades to black and the credits roll. The episode's insidious message: Everything about this war is wrong. Ill-advised in its execution. Inexplicably vague in it's outcome. Pointless.
In their world, it is our side that is pernicious and morally corrupt. If so, what does that say about those who fight for it? You need not read between the frames.
America's Vietnam veterans were made to watch as their honor was stolen from them by an iconoclastic counterculture and a cynically opportunistic political class that shamefully peddled a false aphorism to the general public. The print, television and film industries engaged in a malicious smear campaign against these men, the toxic effects of which will likely endure for decades. Their only crime: answering the trumpet's call and serving their country in time of war.

Hollywood still doesn't get it.

They promote the wearing of fraudulent
Purple Hearts as a clever ruse to pick up women, they neglect the history of real Medal of Honor recipients (no, Forrest Gump does not count) and they think nothing of routinely slandering yet another generation of war heroes.

Will we allow them to do it again?

COPYRIGHT 2005 BUCK SARGENT

You have articulated the heart of the true American. Thank you for commenting on what the ingnorant and arrogant fail to believe. I hope to see more of your work.

Yours Truly.

I went to the website for that movie, and you are right. The show doesn't suck....it swallows.

It's very disturbing that a large segment of our population here in the U.S. is so oblivious. It's also disturbing that people haven't caught on to the fact that the main stream media manipulates them to do think what they (the MsM) want them to think. TIME magazine lauded that show when it came out. Is there any wonder why? Recently, TIME ran an article "Can we still win the war?" as a front cover story. Yet, when I talk to my brother who is serving in Iraq, and when I read blogs by soldiers that are over there, they paint a completely different picture. (I prefer to get my news by reading, as it allows one the time to analyze the content as opposed to TV where they just move on to the next topic). Keep up the good work.

Im a female vietnam vet. You are right!My so is in iraq now as I taught him about america's freedom. IT IS NOT FREE! I support him and the rest of the troops. If we were not fighting there we would be eventually fighting here! But the public does not get the real story. Even our politians can't agree. Our founding fathers were brilliant writing our contitution. Surely we have some politians in this time that can realize what is right!

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About the Author

  • BUCK SARGENT
  • United States
  • Buck Sargent is the alter ego of a three-tour Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. He now enjoys sleeping late, not shaving, and being on the same continent as his wife and kids.
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"Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed." -- Abraham Lincoln