To: Wm. Arkin, â€œMilitary Expertâ€*
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Stop Digging
1. I take pen in hand, metaphorically speaking after reading your latest apologetic non-apology, to offer some kindly advice: Put down the shovel, step away from the hole and for the love of mike, stop digging. Possibly your editor or kindly-intentioned friends have already told you this. I encourage you to listen to them, as they presumably have your better interests at heart.
2. It is not clear in my mind why you pull down a substantial paycheck and are bylined as a â€œmilitary expertâ€ *. A single term of enlistment in the early 1970ies is a pretty thin qualification, unless there is something more substantial to account for this miracle, since to put it kindly, nothing you have written ever since would lead anyone to confuse you with Ernie Pyle. Or Austin Bay. Or David Hackworth.
3. Try and wrap your mind around this basic contradiction: ever since the war in Afghanistan and Iraq began, those who have generally thought it a good idea and said so have been slammed with the chicken-hawk argument by those who do not see it as a good idea. That is to say â€œYou have no right to support the war unless you are wearing a uniform and/or stationed in the war zoneâ€. So a couple of young troops who are unmistakably wearing a uniform and verifiably serving in Iraq speak up and support the war effort there and you are (as teenagers say) all about saying â€œShut up! We pay your salary so we own you, and you donâ€™t have any rights to speak out about the war!â€ The contradiction is, to say the least, rather amusing, since it suggests that you donâ€™t wish to hear their opinions unless they happen to agree with yours. This can be somewhat of a handicap for a reporter, actually.
4. I am also amused by the air of hurt astonishment which you display upon being confronted by the anger and outrage of those who have taken offense at your deeply insulting terms used to disparage the serving military. A so-called â€œmilitary expertâ€* should expect a certain amount of flack in response to using such words as â€œmercenaryâ€, and telling members of the service that they are lucky they to not treated like war criminals by the public at large. Do you recollect the phrase â€œSuck it up, hard chargerâ€ from your time of service? Apparently not. How about the one about people who can dish it out, but canâ€™t take it?
5. Finally, I think you should take up another by-line, other than â€œmilitary expertâ€. You remind me at this point of a veterinarian who despises animals and canâ€™t quite figure out why they keep chomping great chunks of flesh out of him.
6. As always, the * denotes viciously skeptical quote marks.
PS â€“ Can I byline myself as a military expert? Iâ€™ve been retired for a bit, but at least I can write about the military without pissing them off, and Iâ€™ll work for less, also. Think about it. Have your people call my people, or something.
Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer, and retired Air Force NCO who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief.