[Update]

New excerpt from Memorial Day column by Jay Bookman, below in comments.


Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

These days, Americans seem to want any war prosecuted by U.S. troops to be pristine — swift, mistake-free, clean. So the U.S. news media decline to show us images of our own dead and wounded. And the Pentagon helpfully distorts or manipulates or conceals facts to cover up unfortunate truths and create romanticized legends.

First, there was Jessica Lynch — re-created as the brave blonde heroine who emptied her rifle firing at the enemy. It turned out she never fired a shot.

Later, there was Pat Tillman, who walked away from a lucrative professional football career to join the U.S. Army Rangers. Tillman’s death last year was reinvented as a breathtaking tale of a soldier gunned down by enemy fire while leading a charge to protect his men. In fact, he was killed in an episode of friendly fire, mistakenly shot by members of his own platoon.

So why does the Pentagon do this? Here is Tucker’s theory:

But the Pentagon and many civilian hawks seemed to have learned the wrong lessons from Vietnam. They’ve conveniently placed the blame for that humiliating loss on the press, which undermined the war effort, they claim, by showing photos of U.S. casualties, scrutinizing U.S. military atrocities and examining too closely the duplicitous claims made by the U.S. government.

So, this time around, the hawks have worked assiduously to conceal any inconvenient facts from a public they believe has no stomach for war’s grim realities. The result has been manufactured tales of heroism, concealment of soldiers’ caskets and a relentless drumbeat against the news media for an alleged refusal to portray “all the good things going on in Iraq.”

The set-up and the money quote:

Don’t try to deny war’s horrors. Don’t tell us winning will be easy. Tell us the truth: Victory will require great sacrifices, but there is no choice but to fight. (First, make sure that’s true.) Here’s the lesson from Vietnam: Don’t lie.

So let’s not use our brave men and women in uniform as props in made-up bedtime stories. And, for heaven’s sake, let’s not hide our dead and wounded. That dishonors their sacrifice.

Go read the whole column. And, if you agree, send her an email.

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