THURSDAY’S LETTERS: Grammar and Iraq, Two Hot-button Issues

By: E&P Staff

E&P received a deluge of e-mails in response to a recent column calling for the editorial boards of newspapers to advocate the return of our troops from Iraq, and an even bigger response from Wednesday’s article on recent comments on the antiwar movement by the leader of the American Legion. A smattering of responses below, but first, a lighthearted note on grammatical dereliction.

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Re: Press Wrestles With Grammatically Incorrect ‘Virgin’

So what did those papers do when the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” came out? I felt like the only one in the whole country who knew it should be “shrank.” (Everyone now says “sunk” for “sank” too. Who’da thunk it?) And for those of a certain age, there was the old Tareyton cigarette commercial that said, “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than quit!” I remember my father groaning over that one and instructing us that “we kids” should never use “us” to modify a subject.

Nancy Zimmerman

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Re: Greg Mitchell’s Tipping Point on Iraq:

The fact of the matter is that before the editorial boards of American newspapers can engage in a responsible discussion of what to do in Iraq, there must first be responsible coverage of what is happening in Iraq. For the most part U.S. newspaper coverage of the war has been nothing less than inane. It consists essentially of two themes: 1) a daily body count of U.S. soldiers and 2) whether the provisional government will meet deadlines for the creation of the state in the form of either a) elections or b) the making of a constitution or c) the creation of a indigenous military.

There has been little to no coverage whatsoever of the strategic concerns for the U.S. military either in Iraq or in the region. No coverage of Saudi support for Sunni-insurgent groups. No coverage examining how the region would respond in the increasingly likely event of civil war. Earlier this summer, when Christopher Ford of the U.S. Army War College wrote a fascinating analysis of the difficulties associated with the current insurgency, not a single U.S. based newspaper saw fit to mention it. As a result, the American people have no idea of the stakes involved in this conflict. They do not know for example that the event of civil conflict in Iraq would likely entangle everyone from Israel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The American press does not even provide a good sense of who the players in this conflict are. (I’ll bet you lunch that you couldn’t tell me right now the political differences between the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigade).

Stupid coverage leads to stupid opinions. Please explain to me how you intend to responsibly argue for or against “getting out of Iraq” (itself a remarkably jingoistic and cliched phrase, almost as bad as “dog days of summer”) before you actually have any idea what is actually happening in Iraq? Your column is another indication on the remarkable decline in the critical capabilities of American journalism. It is yet another reminder of why I go to blogs like Juancole.com and publications based outside of the United States in order to get anything resembling an accurate portrayal of events.

Gregory Beals

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Re: American Legion Declares War on Protestors — Media Next?

You guys at E&P don’t get it: the “tipping point” was reached long before now, and it has been reached by gazillions of people ceasing to read daily papers or watch nightly newscasts because of bias. Yes, the dreaded word that you at E&P continually deny exists, but that virtually every academic or scholarly study confirms exists. Except for the ultra-lefties at DU or the Nation, almost any American knows that the media is slanted left; that it is anti-war and anti-military.

The American Legion is absolutely correct. In World War II there was absolute censorship; in World War I, George Creel enlisted (not dragooned) editors and reporters into supporting the war effort, to the extent that even though the War Department did not issue a “blackout” of Gen. John Pershing’s departure for France, every paper refused to print those details out of fear of damaging the war effort. Papers ran decidedly patriotic headlines, like “Marines Smash Huns.” In World War II, reporters even proposed a “deal” with Ike: if he would fire Patton, they would not run stories of his slapping of a soldier. He did not, they did, and Ike was right. Patton was our greatest general, and saved our butts at Bastogne.

The fact is, the mainstream media is so far to the left now that its “reporting” has become a joke. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Journalism History routinely publish academic articles showing that whether it is “code words,” “framing,” or any other number of journalistic techniques, the press slants left at not only the national level, but also the state and local level as well.

I’m with the Legion on this one, and they are quite a few years my senior, on average.

Prof. Larry Schweikart
University of Dayton

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As a Vietnam Veteran, and a Marine, I can well remember when the American Legion supported our war, but did nothing for the Vietnam Vets. In fact, the organization fought against any benefits for us because, as it told us, our war was just a police action, not a real war. I have no respect at all for this self-serving organization.

I would bet that the American Legion will follow forth and cheat the latest veterans just like they were so ready to cheat us.

The simple fact is war, any war, is atrocity, no matter which side you look at. We Americans don’t want to ever admit that as a war goes on, we will commit just as many atrocities as any other country in war, and this includes not taking care of the veterans of these wars.

Right now with the use of weapons with depleted uranium, neither our military nor the VA will allow any tests for internal radiation in our troops. The birth defects happening to our veteran’s babies are as bad as anything in the past, but the government won’t deal with it.

We are now the only nation still using depleted uranium. Our European allies gave up using depleted uranium weapons when they saw the results on their veterans back in the Bosnian War.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I suffer from health problems caused by Agent Orange. I would hate to imagine what it is like for those people who live in the areas in Vietnam where we used Agent orange go through, as they still have the area soaked in dioxin.

Someday we will hear what is happening to the people living where we have used depleted uranium. But right now our new veterans, all the way back to the Bosnia War, are suffering from it. Now where is the American legion on this? Once again they are playing traitor of the latest veterans.

Christopher Blackwell
Deming, N.M.

Ed’s Note: British photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths has spent years documenting the affects of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese population. Those interested in this issue should see his authoritative book, “Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam” (Trolley).

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The American Legion has the right to express its views about the protestors, particularly if they feel the actions of the protestors have an effect that is detrimental to our soldiers. Your hostile attitude towards the American Legion, which simply used its constitutionally protected free speech to speak out about the effects of the antiwar movement on the soldiers currently fighting, is really unwarranted. Let the discussion about the effects of the protests go on — unless Editor & Publisher is afraid of a full debate on the matter.

Harold C. Hutchison
Chantilly, Va.

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This sinister and diabolical rhetoric spewed by Mr. Cadmus is reminiscent of the rantings of another vicious individual in 1933 Germany. It’s sad that Mr. Cadmus demonstrates a total lack of knowledge and understanding of our Constitution. Get a life.

If you don’t like our Constitution, go find yourself a dictatorship.

James McKay

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I hope I’m not becoming a pain in the ass but Cadmus is becoming one in mine. I am a member of the Legion and I won’t renew as long as he is Commander. I quit over a year ago over religion in the monthly tabloid and re-upped because a friend needed a vote for local trustee. Whatever happened to WMD, chemical weapons, and the Hussein/al Qaeda connection? And now Iraq is going to be an Islamic State. We attacked Iraq and 15 Saudis hijacked airplanes on 9/11. Are we effed up or what?

Robert N. Horey
Amherst, Ohio

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Interesting to note that the Veterans of Foreign Wars had a diametrically opposing view of support for the war in Iraq. Their views were aligned with the right to protest and the very act of antiwar protesting by default was supportive of the troops in their esteemed opinion. I would tend to side with the VFW. It appears as though the American Legion has embarked on a politically biased diatribe, which is in all actuality contrary to the essence of the Constitution itself.

Chad Pryson
Athens, Tenn.

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I’ll tell you what endangers troops — sending them to a war of lies and deceit. Not only did Mr. Bush do that, but also he did it knowingly. They talk about protecting freedom and liberty. Do they not realize that protests are the epitome of freedom? How dare they accuse the patriotic people with the courage to stand up and say enough and ask questions that the press should have been asking all along. Why are our soldiers dying for lies? Why are we killing innocent people? Mr. Bush, why did you fix the facts around the policy? Mr. Bush, how can you say you support the troops, when you are lying to them? How do lies support anyone?

Sharin Bowers
California

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Without knowing why, I had refused to join the American Legion twice. Now, considering their position of opposing all anti-war protests, I feel so lucky that I never joined. Have they forgotten that the soldiers are supposed to be fighting to ensure our freedoms, including the freedom to disagree with the government? They should be ashamed of themselves.

Roger W. Gambert
Palm Harbor, Fla.

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I am a Vietnam Vet and a member of the VFW. Please forward to the American Legion the following quote: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Adolfo E. Urrutia
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

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If I am to understand the position of the American Legion, by declaring war on the antiwar protestors it would have us all living in a police state in which those who have died in America’s wars protecting our freedoms are dishonored as we are denied the practice of those very freedoms.

Supporting a President who lied and deceived us into an illegal and unnecessary war with Iraq provides no support for the troops.

More than 58,000 American soldiers died in the Vietnam war, all due to the lies and deception of Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, etc., not because of Jane Fonda’s antiwar protests. While I do not have any respect for Jane Fonda, were it not for those who protested against our involvement in Vietnam, perhaps there would be more than 100,000 names on that black granite wall in D.C.

The American Legion is wrong!

Their position in blindly supporting President Bush and his lies and deception is why I, as a veteran of the Vietnam War, would never join the American Legion.

If the members of the American Legion had any sense, they would be calling for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney. That is the best way to support our troops, and to bring the troops home now!

Shame on the American Legion!

Tony J. Chibbaro
Greensboro, NC
A veteran of the Vietnam War

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