Friday, April 17, 2009

Extremist Alert

Bad media week for right-wing extremists.

If you took a look through Thursday’s Detroit News, you would have gotten a stiff booster shot of what Janet Napolitano and company tried to immunize us with when they released their now well-known report on “rightwing extremism.”

We already know, (because the media explained it to us), that some "desperate veterans" turn to terrorism and violence in insane reaction to the ideals of the Obama administration. Now we find out that the rest of the desperate veterans turn to suicide. (Suicide, murder, whatever, as long as it's a violent image). (“Desperate veterans turn to suicide”):
Several branches of the military are reporting significant spikes in the number of suicides committed by both active-duty troops and veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts are calling the number of military-related suicides sweeping the country an "epidemic."
The article offers no empirical evidence that these veterans took their own lives because they'd served in combat. The rate of depression in the general population is already significant. It only follows that persons suffering depression, or prone to it, end up in the military as much as in civilian life. Do they think combat is going to cure depression, when modern science hasn't? Yes, some people kill themselves after living through the horrors of combat. Some people kill themselves after living through the horrors of high school, or the horror of divorce, or the horrors of life in the 21st century.

The emotional hook of the article is the myth that mental health professionals can forecast when a patient is going to commit suicide, so it's their fault for not stopping it. The article focuses on families of suicidal vets who are suing the VA for not "committing" their sons to VA psych wards against their wills. One physician called a suicide victims's mother afterwards to apologize for his role in releasing him. (I find it hard to believe this happened, frankly.) "He said he would not make the same decision again. She screamed at him: 'Why didn't you lock my son up? He might be alive if you had.'"

Committing a patient with mental-health issues involuntarily is one of the most difficult legal obstacles known to American health professionals (thanks to liberals who loved Jack Nicholson in Cuckoo's Nest).

I have no doubt that the News had the following lead on ice if any VA doctor ever dared to "commit" a suicidal vet: “After risking their lives in combat for everyone else’s freedom, America’s returning vets are finding themselves deprived of liberty by VA doctors, who are slamming them away into psych wards, with fewer rights than Gitmo detainees, forgotten in the 'black holes' of government pysch wards."

Understand, the object of stories like these is not to highlight an epidemic of suicide among veterans, but to reiterate the Left’s premises that all war is intrinsically evil, and that military service is to be avoided at all costs as unhealthy, especially to soldiers who serve valiantly.

The article's writer, Marney Rich Keenan, is so irresponsible she repeats, unexamined, slanderous trial-lawyer accusations of the VA “manipulating suicide statistics to downplay the problem and systematically misdiagnosing returning combat soldiers who suffer mental illness because their resources are tapped.”

Then there’s the article by Charlie LeDuff. (“Masculine meltdown: When men brush aside old ideals, they become nearly irrelevant”).

LeDuff has a Pullitzer and used to work for the New York Times. Aside from that he strikes me as a having a load of talent, a quirky point of view, but a writing style that follows a meandering path that—for me—never manages to make any actual point. Yesterday he was writing about average, working U.S. males, who are getting hit hard buy the failing economy, which, as he sees it, makes thempotentially violent.”
“The cheerleaders of globalization (remember them?) said the American man is profligate, lazy, a relic in the new economic order. And that may be true. But sweeping a living generation into the ashbin of history is a dangerous proposition. To ignore these men is to be unaware of what lies on the horizon. Violence is one possibility. We shall see.”
Meaning what, exactly, Charlie? Whaddya mean, "we shall see"? Isn’t violence one possibility for just about any group you want to mention, the homeless, the gay, illegal immigrants, draft-dodgers, burnouts? Or for that matter, nurses, cops, clergy, pizza delivery drivers, community organizers? Just about anybody walking is capable of violence. Or capable of heroic virtue. Or steady, stick-with-it competence. The point is, what business have you got drawing a line between the word “violence” and the U.S. males you’re maligning, when you never actually illustrate them being resorting to violence?

Trying to get a fix on LeDuff’s model U.S. male isn’t easy, but we know who he doesn’t like:

“Men crave dignity and fulfillment. And when they cannot attain those, they become unhappy, quarrelsome, small-minded, cowards, dopers, racists, talk show know-it-alls and bloggers.”

I don’t know who he has in mind for unhappy bloggers, but I do know no “talk show know-it-all” is more hated by one side than Rush Limbaugh, whom I admire, and Sean Hannity, whom I admire much less. Then there are Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Dennis Miller, and Bill Bennett. But one thing you can’t call any of them is unhappy. On the other hand, ever listen to Randi Rhodes? Keith Olbermann? ("Quarrelsome, small-minded, cowards.")

And then, somehow, Thursday's News had nothing to report about Wednesday's national anti-tax tea parties, except in one swiping story, also written by Charlie LeDuff, about a Michigan Militia gathering on Wednesday:

"Am I angry?" asked the unemployed commander, with a semi-automatic rifle strapped across his pectorals. "Yeah, it sets you off a little bit."

Come to a Michigan Militia picnic and you realize the commander is not alone. The farm where they rallied was chockfull of people like him, people boiling on the back burner, struggling to make ends meet, carrying around a knapsack of resentment for a government that they claim has taken almost everything from them and given nothing in return. (“Anger boils among Michigan militia members”).

Get the "boiling" image? Gun nuts on holiday, right? ready to go wild in a spray of bullets? According to LeDuff, "The militia is not alone in placing their faith in the gun and bullet."

Except LeDuff never quotes any militia members appealing to the gun and the bullet as the place they put their faith. LeDuff himself says they love the Bill of Rights. Omigod! Talk about a recipe for "potentially violent"!

He never describes one threat of violence, one example of these poor, "boiling" rightwing extremists actually "boiling over."

And then Thursday's News somehow managed to fail to report on the Department of Homeland Security report on rightwing extremists. Which speaks volumes, in my view.


Ozy said...

"Randi Rhodes? Keith Olbermann? ("Quarrelsome, small-minded, cowards.")"

You can't be serious.
Limbaugh Hannity Medved?

None of your heros ever accept challenges from progressive pro America people like Rhodes Hartmann Regan Shultz Olbermann .

I think you might want to check facts a little closer. Good Luck.

John H. said...

Well, I don't know what 'facts' Ozy wants you to check, but I totally agree that the story on the Militia was strange and twisted. The strong image drawn by the writer is that only losers join the Militia and that they can't RECITE the Bill of Rights they claim to believe in. (I guess memorization is supposed to convey true belief.) Besides that, they carry guns! And they PRACTICE with those guns at the firing range!

Thanks for bringing up these points.

T.R. Clancy said...


The charge was that the talk show know it alls were unhappy because they were unable to find dignity and fulfillment. I'm merely pointing out that I find that ludicrous--if LeDuff is aiming the remark at conservative talk shows.

As for Keith Olbermann or Randi Rhodes offering challenges to Limbaugh and Medved that they've turned down,I'm not aware of any, unless the challenges were in the form of Air America and MSNBC, neither of which ended up very well in the showdown.