Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why L'Affaire Beauchamp Matters.

1. Integrity.

Doesn't this matter to anyone any more? Or are we just the Nixon-Clinton generation and we think that "integrity" is just a nice catch phrase, devoid of meaning and reality?

2. Trust.

Obviously, with out integrity, there is no reason for a reader to trust a magazine, such as the New Republic. When the Stephen Glass scandal broke, then TNR editor Charles Lane realized how important trust and integrity were and ordered an intensive review of the stories and beefed up the magazine. He publicly admitted they were wrong and sloppy and exposed the lies publicly. With L'Affaire Beauchamp, Editor Franklin Foer and Peter Scoblic, Executive Editor, have stonewalled and actively sought to keep Beauchamp from talking with the Washington Post and other media outlets.

3. Patriotism.

This is actually the most subtle of all and probably should be a larger stand alone post, but L'Affaire Beauchamp points out the problem both the media and the modern left have with Patriotism.

It used to be that standing up for America, for serving in the military, was not a red-blue divide issue. Look back to WWII, where JFK served on PT-109 and his older brother, Joe, Jr., who although eligible to return to the states, volunteered for an Operation Aphrodite mission in which he perished on August 12, 1944. Look at William Manchester who describes himself in his survey of the Marines in the Pacific Theater as "a knee jerk FDR liberal." Goodbye Darkness at 379. Look at Judge Harry Pregerson of California's 9th Circuit, described by Hugh Hewitt as "a model of judicial activism for nearly a quarter-century;" he served with the Marine Corps and fought and was wounded in the Battle for Okinawa, in which over 200,000 perished. I could go on -- this was not unusual.

Then came Vietnam and the left saw itself as morally superior and that anyone who served in the military was a war criminal. The only way to exculpate oneself was to denounce the military in a sweeping fashion. ROTC was expelled from campuses and even family members seem to be personae non gratae. In his new book, Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts, Robert Kaplan writes: “At the 2006 Stanford commencement ceremony, a Marine general whose son was the lone graduating student from a military family said he was struck by how many of the other parents had never even met a member of the military before he introduced himself.”

Similarly, many in the media seem to exhibit a willingness to believe all things bad about the military, to the point where they let normal caution and fact checking slip. Contrast the recent whining by Bobby Caina Calvan ("With nothing to lose I decided to get pushy. ... I made it known that I was jotting down his name. . . I was going to bully my way back into the Green Zone. The man with the gun glowered as I continued my barrage of protests.") with Ernie Pyle ("I was away from the front lines for a while this spring, living with other troops, and considerable fighting took place while I was gone. When I got ready to return to my old friends at the front I wondered if I would sense any change in them.")

Now patriotism does not mean unquestioning acceptance. G. K. Chesterton (naturally) disposed of that myth:
"My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.' No doubt if a decent man's mother took to drink he would share her troubles to the last; but to talk as if he would be in a state of gay indifference as to whether his mother took to drink or not is certainly not the language of men who know the great mystery.
G.K. Chesterton, The Defendant (1902).

Both the left and the media need to remember that it's okay to like and appreciate the military and it's okay to love your country.

The ownership of The New Republic needs to find editors who are committed to integrity, trust, and their country.

And we must all pursue the same.

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