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The real atrocity

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By John Barnhart

  
    I was wondering how long it would be before Rick Howell would write about the mass murder allegedly carried out by an American soldier in Afghanistan. His Liberal Agenda column in last week’s paper did not disappoint me. It was everything I expected it to be, right down to his drawing a parallel between this crime and the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
    One of the consistent characteristics of the American left is that they detest the military. The have learned a bit since the late ‘60s. For instance they’ve learned that greeting returning American soldiers at the airport by spitting on them won’t go over well with the rest of us. However, the contempt is still there under a thin veneer. Mr. Howell does an excellent job of teaching us how the left thinks and you can see that aforementioned contempt in his column last week.
    A glaring U. S. atrocity in Afghanistan? Hardly. This was no more of a U. S. atrocity than cases when a disgruntled former employee shows up at his work place and starts shooting people, or a school shooting in which a badly bullied student shows up at school and starts killing fellow students. The only difference is that, in this case, the alleged killer is an American soldier.
    The fact that the alleged killer is an American soldier makes a difference for only one reason. It meant that the death toll was higher. American soldiers are very well trained and, as a result, we have the world’s best Army. American soldiers are very good at their job. The downside of that, in this case, is that an American soldier who decides to go on a killing spree can do so with a level of efficiency that Bubba or Freddie can’t match and that means a lot more dead bodies.
    This is a mass murder, not a U. S. atrocity, and it is being treated as such. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the alleged killer, will face charges in a court martial, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. His rights, which include the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, will be observed.
    At present, we don’t know why SSG Bales would do such a thing. I’m sure the Army is looking closely at this, looking to see if, perhaps, this guy was a ticking time-bomb. Were there things somebody could have seen, perhaps should have seen, that would have indicated that he shouldn’t have been sent on another combat tour to Afghanistan?
    One interesting bit of information that emerged last week indicates that SSG Bale’s motivation for enlisting may have been something other than patriotism. He had a college degree and an apparently successful career as a stock broker. People interviewed in some of the “how could he have done this” stories that Mr. Howell referred to wondered why he would leave his career and enlist in the Army. It seems, however, that Bales wasn’t all that successful. Back in 2000, federal financial regulators ordered Bales and the firm for which he worked to pay an elderly Ohio couple more than a million dollars in compensation for bilking them out of their life savings. Bales was a no-show at an arbitration hearing to resolve the complaint, according to news reports. He then went into a business with a former high school buddy, but it went belly-up in 2001. Two months after 9/11, Bales enlisted in the Army. Maybe he saw this as a way to get out of Dodge.
    But getting back to liberals, the real atrocity is not the fact that one American soldier allegedly committed a heinous crime. The real atrocity is that, underneath the left’s veneer of civility when it comes to America’s armed forces, lurks the old Vietnam era attitude that American soldiers are just a bunch of baby-killers. Mr. Howell's column should be instructive to us all in regard to how the left feels about the people who risk life and limb to defend America. The contempt in which the left holds them managed to bubble to the surface like the contents of a malfunctioning septic tank
    The left may have learned a PR lesson since the end of the Vietnam war, but their ugly attitude toward our armed forces hasn’t changed a bit.