March 2003: Three days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, enemy forces capture 19 year old Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch in an attack on her convoy.
Eight days later, the Pentagon releases a five minute video of Lynch’s dramatic “rescue” from an Iraqi hospital and discloses that she has been abused by her captors. Lynch later accuses the military of exaggerating her story and turning it into propaganda.
Now a sophomore studying education at West Virginia University, Lynch as a 16 month old daughter with her fiancé. She also runs a charitable organization that collects stuffed animals for hospitalized children. In 2007, she testified to Congress about the military’s misleading portrayal of her story. She still gets hate mail accusing her of lying about the rescue effort. “If they want to take their hatred out on me, that’s O.K.,” she tells NEWSWEEK. At this point, I don’t really stress about it.”
Well, I tell you one thing, if I were she, I doubt I would be so generous with either the military or her detractors. First off, how dare the military use her as a piece of propaganda, to make the rest of the country “feel good” about invading a sovereign country that had never directly threatened us? They made her into some sort of female “Rambo”, who overcomes huge odds, guns ablaze, to fight against the Iraqi enemy, all the while being injured. The image presented by the Pentagon fit right in with the narrative of the heroic American military in a glorious fight against the evildoers. Given what happened when Pat Tillman was killed by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Pentagon attempt to manipulate public opinion with the death or injury of their own soldiers. It’s sickening, but is part of a very predictable pattern.
However, what really upsets me is that Ms. Lynch is getting hate mail for telling the truth! There really are some people in this country who are really insane. Perhaps not insane using the traditional clinical definition of the word, but insane nonetheless. How can anyone possibly write hate mail to a young lady who a) served her country admirably and heroically, b) was injured in service to her country, and 3) is telling the truth? These people are trying to tell other people who were actually present, who the story is actually about, what happened! And they do so in a threatening way! That is one of my definitions of being insane.
There are lots of people out there in our country who absolutely do not want to be told the truth. What really happened has no bearing on their particular version of reality. Reality must conform to their wishes, all other considerations be damned. And beware the person who dares to try to tell them otherwise!
There is something truly frightening and pathological going on with the collective psyche of this country. Threatening violence against someone for no other reason than they have a different opinion or is attempting to tell the truth is now acceptable. That is the thought process worked of the person who sent anthrax powder to several prominent Democrats and media personalities. In what rational universe is this acceptable behavior?
I feel for Ms. Lynch for several reasons, even though she might not really appreciate my concerns. First off, she seems like a very nice person who enlisted in the military for very noble reasons, and she was used by that same military for their own perverse motivations. That must have caused some big-time recalibration on her part, to find that not all involved have the same noble intentions as she. No doubt, she lost quite a lot of her innocence and has been disabused of her naivety. I would guess she is a more cynical person than she used to be. I also feel for her about having to put up with abuse from people who want her to be a symbol of how their view the Iraq War, regardless of the truth behind the matter. No doubt, this column in Newsweek isn’t going to help her fade back into obscurity like she might wish.
This country really needs to undertake some hard introspection about our beliefs and how we view reality. However, do I expect that to really happen? No, I don't.