On the occasional days that I forgo the train and drive into downtown Chicago, I keep my radio dial on a constant, shifting rotation between four stations, news, news/talk, Stern, and NPR. People who think they know me often are surprised that I include NPR, but I like the diversity, and I really try to stay intellectually honest by listening to varied points of view.
Yesterday, I was listening when they played a piece by one of their commentators, Ben Walker. I listened as he told of B.D., the character from the Doonesbury comic strip, who has recently joined the armed forces and went to Iraq. Mr. Walker went on to say how B.D. was the only “person” that he personally knew in Iraq, and how B.D. had brought the war home for him, making him realize the sacrifices being made by brave, young and old men and women. I felt a little odd as he went on about B.D losing a leg in combat. The whole incident seemed to be greatly affecting Mr. Walker on an emotional level. I was not sure how to react to this, it seemed so superficial, being a cartoon, yet if it was the only way for this man to interpret reality, through the cartoon character, I guess it’s okay, right? As he came to the end of his piece, he said that, upon waking up from his ordeal, B.D. was very angry, and with a definitive tone in his voice, a tone that seemed to dismiss the whole idea of the conflict, Walker said “and I am angry too”. As I thought about what I had heard, I got a little angry as well. I was angry at the thought of a parent who had lost an actual, living, son or daughter, or a wife who had lost her husband, hearing this plaintive cry over a cartoon character. I planned to post on it last night, but it slipped my mind.
When I heard the news about Pat Tillman being killed today, it re-entered my mind. I am pissed off. I am sick of people like Walker, living their life through a cartoon character while myself and the rest of the country have blood and friends putting themselves on the firing line for us. I know the destructive, corrosive power of hate, but I hate Michael Moore and his ilk, people so selfish and stupid that they will gladly forgo confronting a festering global problem, increasing the odds that my kids will be in some future war in the godforsaken Middle East. And I am sick of losing the best and the brightest, the ones with the most guts and courage, lost in the defense of freedom for a miserable bunch who don’t deserve it. Ben Walker, I am angry too, but for a completely different reason.