Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Heroines--real and contrived!

Heroism–like beauty– is sometimes only in the eye of the beholder. For example those who protested the war in Vietnam were considered heros by some—and traitors by others.

Martin Luther King is viewed as a hero by most Americans today—but yesterday, many considered him an agitator, if not a communist.

I found Joe Scarborough’s grudging concession that Ashley Smith did something minimally courageous in her seven hours as the hostage of Brian Nichols, most interestng.This is the same Joe (deep-think) Scarborough who embraced Jessica Lynch as a heroine of the Iraq war.

Private Lynch was riding in a humvee with an Army maintenance unit when it was ambushed in southern Iraq. Eleven of her fellow soldiers were killed; five others were taken captive and freed.

The story in the Washington Post reported: "Blond and waiflike, Lynch was taken prisoner and held separately for nine days before a dramatic nighttime rescue from her hospital bed by a covert U.S. Special Operations unit, Task Force 20. "

"Initial news reports, including those in The Washington Post, which cited unnamed U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports, described Lynch emptying her M-16 into Iraqi soldiers. The intelligence reports from intercepts and Iraqi informants said that Lynch fought fiercely, was stabbed and shot multiple times, and that she killed several of her assailants."

""She was fighting to the death," one of the officials was quoted as saying. "She did not want to be taken alive."

The only problem was ---that aside from the details of the ambush and the death and capture of her fellow soldiers---the report was not true. Private Lynch described her experience as being balled up in the fetal position trying to stay alive. In the crash of the humvee, she suffered major injuries-- multiple fractures and compression to her spine— and was knocked unconscious. She was taken by her captors and abandoned at an Iraqi hospital where she was well treated by doctors eager to turn her over to U.S. troops.

She was uneventfully taken from the hospital---that Iraqi forces had vacated a day earlier--- by a Special Operations “full scale rescue” complete with a television camera crew trotting along with the troops recording it like a Cops TV Show.

Joe Scarborough bought into the entire romanticized version, adding his own icing by speculating out loud on what kinds of torture Private Lynch might have had to endure at the hands of her Iraqi captors---which also turned out not to be true.

The above is not to denigrate Jessica Lynch or her service to her country in anyway. She has been honest in her limited memory of what happened and brave during the treatments of her injuries. To her credit she did not join in the hype and propaganda coming from the Bush Administration and right wing media--trying to serve up a moral boosting "heroine" story to counter war critics.

Both Jessica Lynch and Ashley Smith shared terrifying experiences and truly feared for their lives. Lynch was unconscious and had no choice as the events played out. Ashley Smith had to consciously overcome her fear and mobilize her faculties to meet the challenge. In her response to the situation, she demonstrated courage that by any definition was heroic. She deserves that adjective and she also deserves all of the reward money!

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