Joel Stein is the classic definition of a spoiled rich punk.
A sample from his “Warriors and Wusses” column from today’s Los Angeles Times:
But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you’re not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you’re willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it’s Vietnam.
And sometimes, for reasons I don’t understand, you get to just hang out in Germany.
I know this is all easy to say for a guy who grew up with money, did well in school and hasn’t so much as served on jury duty for his country. But it’s really not that easy to say because anyone remotely affiliated with the military could easily beat me up, and I’m listed in the phone book.
I’m not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn’t be celebrating people for doing something we don’t think was a good idea. All I’m asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.
Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.
Thanks to Radio Blogger, we can hear or read Hugh Hewitt slice and dice ignorance prancing around as cleverness.
A tease (but you really should read, or listen to, the entire interview):
HH: Let me ask you a tough question, Joel, because this is the toughest one. J.P. Blecksmith was a young Marine lieutenant, graduated from Annapolis, killed in Fallujah on November 11th, 2004. Just a tremendous human being and man. If you meet his parents on the street, what do you say to them?
JS: That I’m so, so sorry.
HH: Do you honor the service that their son did?
JS: To honor the service their son…now this is a dumb question, but what do you mean by honor? That’s a word you keep using. I’m not entirely…maybe that’s my problem. But I’m not entirely sure what you’re…
HH: Honor usually means gratitude and esteem. Are you grateful for and esteem what he did? Honestly?
JS: Honestly? I admire the bravery. I don’t…you know, I feel like he did something I could never do, so I’m kind of in awe on some level. Am I grateful, that I feel like he protected me? Um, no I don’t.
HH: And so, do you think he died in vain?
JS: Yeah. I do. And that’s why I’m so horrified by all this, and why I don’t want empty sentiments prolonging the war.
HH: And the people who’ve died in Afghanistan. Have they died in vain?
JS: Well, if they haven’t, what have they accomplished?
HH: I’m asking you, Joel. You wrote the column. You tell me. Have they accomplished nothing?
JS: Well, um, do I think that I, as an American, are safer because of what they did?
HH: That wasn’t what I asked. I askd did they accomplish anything in going to Afghanistan.
JS: If I were an Afghani, I would probably…if I lived in Kabul, I probably would think that they accomplished something, sure.
As I suspected, Mr. Stein really doesn’t know anyone on active duty, hasn’t been to any bases or any of the service academies, hasn’t met with wounded or returning troops, and generally admits to being blissfully ignorant of the military. He could not recount a single book he has read about the military, and doesn’t even know how big it is. He thinks the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in the GWOT have died in vain. He does not feel grateful for their service.
These are not illegal opinions, of course, but they are deeply repulsive ones, and I don’t believe the Los Angeles Times ought to have run this column. At a minimum, Stein’s editor, Andres Martinez, who worked with Stein on the piece last night should have expressed some demands for reporting or distinction or at a minimum cautions about what Stein wrote. I questioned Stein closely on this point, and Martinez expressed no substantive views on the column at all.
Hugh has more colorful comments from those who have served.
And a challenge:
Hugh, Only one word can describe how I feel after reading the editorial by Mr. Stein – sadness. Sadness that such ingorance is still so prevalent in such an educated (at least I want to believe we are educated) society. I am on my 3rd year of active duty deployment since 11 Sep 01. I served 9 years in the Navy during the Cold War, both in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My son Adam, who graduated high school in 2004, is currently stationed near An Najaf, and, by the way, reenlisted for 5 years while in country. He had other alternatives and opportunities and I even tried to steer him in a different direction. Yet, he joined and serves willingly, as do I. By the way, Hugh, lest folks like Mr. Stein think we soldiers are an ignorant lot, I happen to have a bachelors degree in computer science from the esteemed Chapman University of Orange California. I worked 10 years as a software engineer for various companies such as Rockwell, The Soma Group, DCA Services Inc., COM2001, etc. I am working on my masters in homeland security/information security. One of the sergeants in the battalion I previously served with had his doctorate in education. Most soldiers are working on higher education even as they serve in the combat zone. Some of the brightest, best thinkers I have met have been in the military. Ignorant? Stupid? Duped? Foolish? Hardly. I can tell you this, Hugh, we serve because we understand the world around us, we understand reality, and we understand that the best defense is a darn good offense. Hugh, thanks for the interview with Mr. Stein – you certainly laid bare his depth of knowledge and understanding of not only the military, but the realities of the world in general. And should he care to experience some military training first hand, he can contact me at the below numbers or this email. We have a lot of infantry field training coming up this year and we can certainly find a place for him for a couple of days, and I will personally serve as his escort if he agrees. Consider it an open invitation. Best Regards, SSG A. B.
But, as you’ll learn here, I won’t hold my breath.
What John Podhoretz says:
This afternoon Stein went on Hugh’s show and was calmly, straightforwardly and meticulously eviscerated. Back to Brangelina with you, Joel Stein — and bravo, Hugh.