The Left Smears an American Hero

With the body barely cold, the Left has begun demonizing the late Pat Tillman. Tillman is the former NFL star who turned down a $3.6 million contract to join the Army Rangers after 9/11. He was killed last month in Afghanistan after Islamist soldiers ambushed his jeep. (It was later revealed that Tillman was killed by “friendly fire.” — TRW.) For most Americans, such noble service would qualify Tillman as a national hero, but it has unleashed a torrent of hatred on the Left. The most recent example is this cartoon from Ted Rall, which calls Tillman an “idiot” and a “sap.”

This anti-American bile is run-of-the-mill for Rall, who is perhaps the most extreme left-wing commentator to be given regular media access. Rall believes Bill Clinton’s pathetic “retaliation” for the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies – in which Clinton lobbed a missile into an empty tent he believed contained Osama bin Laden – was a case of “excessive military power and arrogance.” In Iraq, he advises we “Cut and Run Now.” Recycling enemy propaganda like Jane Fonda in Hanoi, he writes, “Sooner or later, one way or another, we’re leaving – as defeated and bankrupt and demoralized as we were when we fled Saigon. The only question now is: how many more people are we going to kill before we cut and run?”

A History of Anti-Americanism

However, Rall does not oppose all military ventures. He wanted to deploy troops to Haiti to protect “necklacing” Marxist Jean Bertrand-Aristide. (In the same column, he alleges – without a shred of evidence – that President Bush tried to overthrow Venezuelan Castroite Hugo Chavez.) He thought Reagan was wrong to liberate Grenada from a hostile Communist presence but wanted George W. Bush to intervene in faraway Liberia. Although Rall opposed sanctions against Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya, and Serbia – none of his columns focused on President Clinton’s war in Bosnia.

Instead, he reserves his ire for Republican administrations. His amateurish columns drip with Democratic talking points about the president “occupying” the White House. He claims President “Bush ought to be warming a prison cell right now, and it’s clear to see why: He believes Americans committed “genocide” in Afghanistan by taking out a terrorist regime that kept Afghani girls barefoot and burqa’ed. He echoes Justin Raimondo’s ridiculous claims that the real reason we toppled the Taliban was to pave the way for a non-existent oil pipeline through Afghanistan.

During the Iraqi sniping in the Sunni Triangle, Rall wrote a repulsive faux ad for “Iraqi resistance forces,” in which the recruiter insists, “[W]e must continue to kill them [U.S. GIs] until the last one has gone home to America.” (He also quotes Che Guevara.)

Always one to lend his column to the Hate America Left, Rall took the side of anti-American French children over his own country. He also suggests that uber-leftist Senator Paul Wellstone was assassinated. (At last, a dead man whose memory Rall respects!)

Rall has made a tidy living demeaning the deceased. He berated the victims of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and their families as Nazis, while apologizing for the two neo-Nazi murderers who perpetrated it. However, he found his greatest notoriety not long after 9/11, when he portrayed that tragedy’s widows as money-grubbing media hounds in his cartoon “Terror Widows.”

In other words, Ted Rall is a scumbag.

For all of this, Rall was rewarded as one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1996.

Indymedia: Grassroots Disrespect of the Dead

But Rall’s invective is merely the latest chapter in leftist hatred for Tillman – and America. The leftist website Indymedia – a major recruiting ground for leftist activists during antiwar marches – has had similar gutter-level vitriol for the heroic Tillman. The Urbana, Illinois, chapter of Indymedia wrote, “Pat Tillman is gone good riddance.” The Portland Indymedia site ran the headline, “Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan.” After public exposure, Indymedia took down some of these headlines; however, some are still visible.

Leftist Hatred Comes to Campus

In a depressing turn of events, the American campus is the latest to spit on Tillman’s corpse. On April 28, the University of Massachusetts’ student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, ran a column by graduate student Rene Gonzalez entitled, “Pat Tillman is not a hero; He got what was coming to him.” In his insane rant, Gonzalez refers to Tillman’s as a “pendejo” and calls his death “prophetic idiocy,” averring, “[H]e did die in vain.” Gonzalez further instructs:

[T]he Taliban is more Afghani than we are. Their resistance is more legitimate than our invasion…For that, he shouldn’t be hailed as a hero, [sic] he should be used as a poster boy for the dangerous consequences of too much “America is #1,” frat boy, propaganda bull.

He ends with a call for appeasement: “Only through careful and logical changing of the underlying conditions that allow for the ideology to foster will Al-Qaeda be defeated.”

To its credit, the UMass administration responded quickly. President Jack Wilson deemed Gonzalez’s article “a disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack on a human being who died in service to his country.” Gonzalez then issued a Clintonesque apology for the “insensitive” way he expressed himself and the pain his article brought Tillman’s family.

But the student Left was not content to leave well enough alone. On May 3, Collegian columnist Mark Ostroff wrote a column ostensibly chastising Gonzalez, but instead inviting his readers to view Gonzalez’s irresponsible statements as a multicultural learning moment. He leads in by claiming “ethnic” attacks have been made against the Puerto Rican Gonzalez – as though the only ones offended by the grad students’ ravings were the local Klavern. Ostroff chided his readers, “[P]eople have to understand that Gonzalez, like many people, has a different paradigm when it comes to the War on Terror.” Yes, the paradigm of the Hate America Left – and Ostroff reveals that he shares it in spades.

He slaps Gonzalez’s wrist for poor manners, but then flails away at the United States. He hopes “we see that our involvement in Afghanistan was illegitimate.” Moreover, “[T]here is some truth to [Gonzalez’s] paradigm that many people do not know, nor are they ready to know, about the historical causes of Sept. 11, 2001.” He delineates how America somehow provoked innocent Islamists by making oil deals with the Taliban, their patron regime. He then upbraids Gonzalez for giving war opponents a weapon to use against “skeptics” and compares Bill O’Reilly to Joe McCarthy.

Epilogue: The More Things Change….

It is hardly surprising that this kind of rhetoric is found – in the midst of a war, no less – on the Left and on college campuses (but then, I repeat myself). The Left traumatized a generation of poor, teenage draftees in Vietnam by deriding them as “baby-killers.” And recall, it was on campus that a professor, Nicholas DeGenova, publicly pined for “a million Mogadishus.” All of the Left’s activism is of a piece: it portrays America as the Great Satan; thus, whomever opposes it must be an Angel of Light. In Afghanistan, the Left was given the choice between the most tolerant nation in the world and an autocratic, totalitarian, sexist, fundamentalist, homophobic, terror-sponsor – and  the professor and his ilk choose the latter. As Mona Charen’s excellent book Useful Idiots shows, this is the Left’s purpose: siding with monsters and rooting for the deaths of American soldiers. Its ideological legacy continues to menace freedom around the world. Yet Pat Tillman died to give leftists the right to hate him. That makes his death all the more heroic – and their venom all the more disgusting.

This article originally appeared as the lead story on Wednesday, May 5, 2004, on FrontPage Magazine.