War as Entertainment:

War as Radical Feminist Propaganda©


Gerald L. Atkinson

4 March 2002

‘Heraldo’ Rivera (aka Jerry Rivers), the rabidly liberal media star with his own show on CNBC, who got his start as an investigative reporter for Sixty Minutes and who was one of President Clinton’s most aggressive defenders during the impeachment proceedings in 1998-99, surprised everyone after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on America. He up and quit his ‘Geraldo Live’ show on CNBC and signed with Fox News, the conservative news network, to cover the war in Afghanistan as an investigative reporter. Always ready to pick a fight (verbal or physical) and with a boundless ego served by grandiose self-promotion, Rivera apparently wanted a ‘piece of the action’ in the War on Terrorism. If it was macho to be in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban, he would go to Afghanistan.

In numerous reports from the ‘front lines’ in Afghanistan we saw Rivera, surrounded by his film crew and Northern Alliance ‘protectors,’ wearing a huge Black Jack ‘cowboy’ hat while he reported breathlessly from the mountains near several battle sites. He also wore a ‘cowboy’ bandana around his neck and was photographed by the Associated Press wearing the bandana over the lower part of his face peering out over the landscape, looking just like some big bad dude from America’s Wild West. But, he was now in Afghanistan with a turbaned Northern Alliance fighter pointing toward the enemy in the distance. Yes, our man in Afghanistan was becoming part of the war story – reluctantly confessing on air that, indeed, he carried a weapon for self-protection. In one astonishing scene, he was seen ducking from a sniper’s bullet as it whizzed by while he crouched on the ground, microphone in hand, reporting with gusto the event of the Taliban sniper versus our all-American hero, ‘Heraldo.’

A discerning American wrote a letter-to-the-editor, expressing his impression of ‘Heraldo’s’ performance [1]. “During a recent Fox News report my ‘remote’ finger began twitching as we watched Geraldo. All his ducking and crouching and responding to ‘booms’ and ‘cracks’ brought back a memory of Dan Rather hanging onto a pole during one of the ‘hurricanes’ not too long ago.”

“This perception of newscaster as actor was re-enforced the next day when we watched Big G duck and weave down the path to a defensive crouch behind a tree. Unfortunately, just as he got to the tree, his cameraman happened to show a group of totally relaxed Afghans sitting on the left side of the path just before the tree watching the whole performance. One must give Geraldo his due: foreign correspondents are genuinely at risk in that environment. Nevertheless...”

With all of this grandstanding, ‘Heraldo’ might have been able to pull off his publicity stunt had he not made a grave mistake. The peeved press (newspapers and magazines) accused[2] Rivera of “...false reporting, warmongering and questionable antics during his assignment.” Indeed, on 6 December Rivera “...told his viewers he was in Kandahar, on the ‘hallowed’ spot where three Americans had been killed the day before. But Baltimore Sun television columnist David Folkenflik called him on it, eventually getting Rivera to concede via satellite phone that he had been [100 miles] to the north in Tora Bora – confused, he said, ‘by the fog of war.”

The day after the 5 December incident, “Rivera told viewers he had walked the ‘hallowed ground’ where the Americans had died. “The whole place just fried really and bits of uniforms and tattered clothing everywhere. I said the Lord’s Prayer and really choked up.”

Jumping on the story of ‘reporters’ interviewing ‘reporters,’ CBS noted in a story captioned, ‘Where’s Geraldo? Nowhere near the site of U.S casualties, as he claimed.’ A Washington Times reporter chimed in with [3], “Mr. Rivera has not cried on camera yet, as CBS’ Dan Rather did back in September. But he has carried a pistol, rolled in the sand, sported a suede bush hat and offered his portrayal of Geraldo as Hemingway, of he-man reportage, rife with guts, glory and meaningful pauses. Even his own cameraman (cameramen, who can’t fake anything, are the real captains of derring-do) said, ‘They don’t make a helmet big enough for his head.’”

“Mr. Rivera has caught flak, meanwhile, for carrying a gun, an act that might be misinterpreted as hostile in war-torn Afghanistan and endanger the lives of other correspondents.”

Rivera acknowledged that he made an ‘honest mistake’ by saying he was at a ‘friendly fire’ incident in which three American soldiers were killed in a U.S. bombing raid [4]. He said that “...he was hundreds of miles away, near what he maintains was a second such incident in which two or three Afghan opposition fighters were killed...a Pentagon official [is quoted as saying] a friendly fire incident at Tora Bora took place three days after Rivera’s report; Rivera says that was entirely separate.” As for the reporter who blew the whistle on him, Rivera says “This cannot stand. He has impugned my honor It is as if he slapped me in the face and challenged me to a duel. He is going to regret this story for the rest of his career.”

Ah yes. We have finally reached a milestone of absurdity – reporters posing as heroes, men of honor and derring-do – interviewing each other and making themselves THE STORY. This travesty has been going on for over 20 years but it reached a zenith with Peter Arnett and Arthur Kent, the ‘Scud Stud,’ of the Gulf War. Media commentators have taken the place of America’s sons and fathers who have done the fighting and the dying in America’s wars ever since the former gained preeminence during the Vietnam War. Media phonies interviewing media phonies is the New Age genre of choosing America’s heroes.

John Hillen, a former army officer and decorated combat veteran of the Gulf War reminds us that the real heroes aren’t on TV. He relates that [5], “Over the past few weeks hundreds of American pilots have been flying countless missions against Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, scores of commandos have been assaulting mountain fortresses in search of Osama bin Laden, and over a thousand Marines have moved into Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Every day millions of Americans must think to themselves how proud they are of these warriors. And yet hardly an American can name one of them – and probably won’t well into the future.”

“Instead, Americans stand in jeopardy of remembering Geraldo Rivera, Christiane Amanapour or Ashleigh Banfield as the heroes of the Afghan War. Relentlessly narcissistic and buoyed by cloying network anchors at home, reporters such as these have used dramatic license to heighten the sense of personal danger to themselves and thus tacitly direct their reporting towards the inevitable conclusion – ‘ain’t I a hero?”

“As the viewing public, we’re likely to take them at face value, in part because we know no other Americans who can capture our imagination or inspire us to sacrifices of our own in the war on terrorism. As a consequence we pass our affections on to the millionaire celebrity reporters rather than to the $35,000-a-year Delta Force sergeant crawling around [in the caves of] Tora Bora.”

“Ask an American today (or in 1992 for that matter) to name an on-the-ground hero of the Gulf War and you are far more likely to hear about Arthur Kent, the ‘Scud Stud,’ or even Peter Arnett, who heroically manned a hotel room in Baghdad.”

“This was not always the case with the military. In earlier wars, the armed forces thrust their heroes into the spotlight and put them on tour in order to inspire the American public and cement the message that these soldiers were one with them. Sergeant York, Audie Murphy, and the crew of the Memphis Belle were just some of those that were paraded as an example of what the everyman can accomplish when fighting for America.”

“For the first time in history we have a small professional force serving a large (and non-participatory) citizenry. While the American public greatly admires its military and respects it more than any other institution in the country, it is the respect of a voyeur. Fewer and fewer Americans serve in a smaller force these days and as a result public contact of any sort with the people on the ground in the military is rare.”

“To help reconnect the public with the military that defends it, Americans should be exposed to soldiers like Jason Amerine, the wounded Green Beret captain whose exploits in helping to capture Kandahar were dramatically detailed in the Washington Post. [He should be] talking to high school and campus audiences, and in a movie playing himself in the war against terrorism. It’s a shame that more Americans now know of Kelly Flinn, the philandering and lying B-52 pilot, than Capt. Amerine...[He] might be uncomfortable with the publicity, but it serves a greater good. Without knowing the heroes of our professional military, how can our children be inspired to become like them, rather than like Geraldo?”

Hillen has a very good point. When we elevate the ordinary to the level of ‘heroic,’ we are not only guilty of creating a cultural environment of ‘war as entertainment,’ but we are planting the seeds of cynicism in the hearts of those on whom we depend to make supreme sacrifices on our behalf. Our young will not volunteer to make such sacrifices, even if the enemy wishes to destroy our civilization, if they become cynical. Examples of such elevation of the ordinary to the ‘heroic’ abound in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

For example, contrast the mostly unreported heroic deeds accomplished by our Special Forces soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan (e.g. CAPTAIN Amerine and his A-Team, Johnny Spann, the former Marine killed in the Mazar-e-Sharif prison uprising, and numerous other unreported A-Team engagements with the enemy) with the national press front-page reporting of a military accident – the crash of a KC-130 tanker aircraft in the mountains while making a landing approach at night to an airbase in Pakistan [6]. The aircraft was carrying cargo into Shamsi airport and was on its final approach when it crashed in clear weather. It was a routine supply mission. It was reported that the plane crashed due to technical reasons – not enemy fire – because the debris was not spread to a wide area.

Why was this routine, non-combat aircraft accident, resulting in 7 lost lives, reported on the front pages of both The Washington Post and The New York Times [7]? Because one of the crew members was a female. She was a Marine Sergeant radio operator. The Post article highlighted this fact in a bold-face sub-heading, ‘Female Radio Operator Among 7 Marines Killed.’ In the first paragraph, it came as close as possible to falsely implying that the crew was on a combat mission. “It was the deadliest incident yet, for U.S. forces in the war against terrorism being fought in neighboring Afghanistan, and it brought the first death of a female service member in the conflict.” The incident was presumably ‘deadly’ because 7 U.S. military personnel were killed – more than in any other such ‘incident’ in the war in Afghanistan. Can we assume that the incident would not have been reported on the front page – with a blazing headline – if it had been less ‘deadly,’ e.g. had 6 or less male Marines not have died? Not on your life. It took the lives of 6 male Marines to elevate the breathlessly ‘near-combat mission’ to the level of the ‘deadliest incident yet’ in the war on terrorism. Nevertheless, it would still have been reported had the male Marines not died. Why? Because it was a way for radical feminists to raise a female – doing a routine non-combat job – to ‘heroine’ status.

This ploy was did not escape the watchful eyes of one letter-to-the-editor writer. Writing in response to the Washington Post article, he said [8], “The following sub-headline appeared on your front page Jan. 10: ‘Female Radio Operator Among 7 Marines Killed.’ What message does that convey about the relative value of male and female lives? Would you publish the headline ‘White Radio Operator Among 7 Marines Killed?” Everyone alive today knows the answer to that question.

The New York Times front-page story on the same accident was even more egregious. It displayed a six-inch color photograph of a family member, holding Sgt. Jeanette L. Winters’ picture – in her Marine uniform. The picture is captioned, “the first American woman to die in the Afghan war.” Her understandably sad but proud family and friends are quoted as saying, “She died for all of us, and it’s the price we have to pay for what happened on Sept. 11.” Every American can and should be proud of Sgt. Winters. She was serving her country and she was doing her job.

Reading the inside pages of the N.Y. Times article, however, one finds a revealing set of facts – facts that could have highlighted the patriotism of at least four of the male members of the crew who died in that crash. Facts that could have placed in perspective the relative degrees of patriotism and devotion to country and duty of members of the various crew members. These facts tell a far different story – give a far more delineated perspective, as individuals. This individual perspective results from the fact that not all of us are equal to each other in attitude, aptitude, or dedication. That perspective was ignored in the N.Y. Times story. This act betrays the mind-set of the N.Y. Times in supporting a radical feminist agenda, rather than reporting the news in-depth without gender bias.

While we can and should all be proud of Sgt. Winters, we should also be equally or even more proud of several of the other male crew members. For example, Captain Matthew Bancroft (the pilot) “...would have been out of the military in October, but decided to extend his term two more years because of the war on terrorism...His wife, Mary-Ellen, already had two sons and the couple had a daughter, Maddie, nine months ago.”

“After his tour of duty in the Persian Gulf ended a month ago, Lance Cpl. Bryan P. Bertrand volunteered for a second tour” – in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Scott N. Germosen, after graduating from high school and spending four years in the Marine Corps, moved to California and joined the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. But after he was shot in a confrontation with a criminal, he decided it was “too dangerous” so he went back into the Marines. Germosen “volunteered for the mission in Afghanistan.”

All of the above male members of the crew displayed love of country and devotion to duty far beyond any crew member who was simply assigned a ‘job.’ Each of them went beyond the call of duty and volunteered to serve in Afghanistan when they could have skipped the assignment and let someone else take his place on rotation. Each of them deserve ‘front-page’ coverage based on this perspective – rather than the perspective based only on their sex.

In addition, from the perspective of a heart-rending loss, Captain Daniel G. McCollum (the co-pilot) could have been featured on the front page of either newspaper. His story surpasses that of the loss of the female crew member. “McCollum joined the Marine Corps in 1993. He and his wife, Jennifer, were married in May. She is seven months pregnant.” But, no. The Post and the Times featured the female crew member on their front pages – not the male crew members who were far more deserving and whose immediate family members will suffer more than the crew member chosen to be so ‘honored’ – solely because of her sex.

The radical feminist press will lower itself to any level of depravity to find a female military hero, even if it has to elevate the ordinary to ‘heroic’ acts. They are desperate to find ‘heroines’ in the aftermath of the 9-11 wakeup call to reality.

Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the USA TODAY coverage of the Marine aircraft accident in Pakistan. In a full-page article, the radical feminists use this event as an excuse to extol the heroic role of women in waging the war in Afghanistan. The very first paragraph intones [9], “Until a Marine radio operator became the first woman in the U.S. military to die in the war against terrorism, the conflict seemed like a battle waged just by men.”

It continues to build on this aircraft accident in nearby Pakistan, on a routine cargo flight. “Now, besides TV images of bearded Green Berets trekking across mountains and burly Marines hunching in foxholes, there’s the photo of Sgt. Jeannette Winters...who died...when their Marine cargo plane crashed in Pakistan. Winters, 25, was one of an estimated 6,000 women warriors who have quietly helped rout the Taliban who had ruled Afghanistan, and the al-Qaeda terrorist network there.” This braggadocio in spite of the fact that fewer than 100 U.S. troops, all Special Forces or CIA agents, have been engaged on the ground where the actual combat occurred. Only ten female naval carrier aviators (pilots and back-seaters) have flown off carriers in the Afghanistan campaign. Not even the 1,000 or so Marine warriors [all males] who occupied an airfield near Kandahar have engaged the enemy on the ground – the only place where one could possibly claim ‘warriorhood’ in light of the nature of the combat in Afghanistan. But that doesn’t deter the radical feminist propagandists who obviously look on the war as fantasy, as make-believe, as entertainment.

The article continues the female propaganda line. “None serves in the special operations forces, combing caves in search of Osama bin Laden. Nor are they among the infantry troops based in Kandahar and Kabul.” Then, in an egregious overreach, that implies that women could be performing such combat roles if only our oppressive, overbearing, mean old patriarchal society would allow it, the article continues. “Women are not permitted by law to serve in ground combat units.”

Then, in a continuation of the theme of the headline, “They’re ‘not an experiment anymore,’” which has a sub-headline, “Ground combat is not allowed, but women warriors play an essential part in military endeavors,” the article paints the picture that women are essentially winning the war against terrorism – all by themselves. “...they are in nearly every other unit that supports combat troops: intelligence analysts, fuel handlers, bomber and fighter pilots, supply officers, psychological operations soldiers, gunship crewmembers [a friend tells me that three females fly as navigators on the AC-130 gunships that support the Special Operations Forces on the ground], even members of honor guards for the fallen. Two Navy ships sent to the region have women commanders. Overall, an estimated 10% of the forces involved in the war in Afghanistan are women.”

“Female soldiers are ‘not an experiment anymore,’” the article quotes Linda DePauw of the Minerva center, which studies women in the military, as saying. Now we know where the article got its headline. Ms. DePauw, of course, is the self-professed sorceress (that’s right, a witch) who is described in detail (in her own words on her Web Sites which is hot-linked to this Web Site) in the essay on Women-in-Combat after 9-11. It is astounding that, now, three major national print media – NEWSWEEK magazine and USA TODAY have used Ms. DePauw to vouch for the essential role women are playing in the war in Afghanistan. Yes, in today’s fantasy world a witch leads the cheerleading for women-in-combat in our nation’s leading print media. And the fools print such propaganda.

The article then plods on into the details of how women are essential to the nation’s war effort. “Women such as Army Staff Sgt. Cherry Hollensteiner, 27, [who] recently returned from Uzbekistan where she supervised 15 male soldiers who supplied special operations forces with food, cold weather gear and other equipment [is one]. ‘You know you are dealing with the soldiers who go on the front line,’ Hollensteiner says. ‘What you contribute to the mission make the mission happen.’” Ah, yes. The supply clerks are, indeed, winning the war in Afghanistan.

The USA TODAY article continues its feminist propaganda line. “Nearly 15% of the 1.4 million-member, all-volunteer military are women. More than two decades after the first women graduated from the U.S. service academies, they are beginning to move near the top. Five women have worn three stars, although none has yet earned a fourth. There are now 33 female generals and admirals compared with 889 men.” Presumably, the goal (read feminist quota) is half. Of course, the military will be a dead duck before that happens.

What does the Bush administration have to say about this sparkling propaganda by our nation’s radical feminists? David Chu, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, is quoted in the USA TODAY article as saying, “Women in the military are ‘not terribly newsworthy any longer. This is now well-accepted.”

The article continues to make arguments for continuing and expanding the role of women in the military. “During the Gulf War, the hostile fire deaths [observe, they do not say ‘combat’ deaths – there were none] of five women and the capture of two others – all of whom held supposedly ‘safe’ support jobs – marked a turning point. It demonstrated that in the age of missiles, there are no more ‘front lines.’” This specious argument is contradicted by the facts. The bearded, dirty, rough-riding special forces soldiers [all male] on horseback, accompanied by their Northern Alliance ‘troops’ are seen in the nation’s newspapers on the real ‘front line’ in the war in Afghanistan. The down-and-dirty of this war is that these guys, the Marines who initially ‘stabilized’ the Kandahar air base, and the 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain Division troops now mopping up pockets of al Qaeda fighters in eastern Afghanistan are the only ones on the front lines there. The latter are the only U.S. forces who have taken substantial casualties so far in this war. All of these combat forces are comprised of MEN. Our military women are no more on the front lines than their civilian sister clerks who work in tall buildings and post offices in the United States.

Nevertheless, the article continues. “In 1994, the Pentagon and Congress changed the rules to allow women to fly combat aircraft, and serve on warships. Since then, ‘A lot of questions of ‘Can women do certain jobs?’ have been answered,’ says Barbara Brehm, former military director of the Defense Advisory Council on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).” Of course, this group has been seen as ‘hurting the war effort’ and criticized by conservative political groups who have asked that its charter not be renewed [10]. They claim that DACOWITS “supports policies that compromise training standards, weaken morale, worsen deployment problems, hurt recruiting and retention, and force women into land combat.” They asked the Defense Department to “discontinue quotas for women, stop pregnancy policies that subsidize single parenthood and create deployability problems, and do away with incremental steps to force women into land combat.”

In spite of this criticism of women in the military, the USA TODAY article continues. “In 1996, female sailors on the destroyer USS Laboon took part in combat operations for the first time when it fired Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi targets. Women combat pilots and crewmembers made their wartime debut in the Kosovo war.” With this introduction, the article gives away the fatal flaw of the radical feminist movement to ‘feminize’ our nation’s armed forces. “[Women] haven’t gained new job opportunities in this war...” YES! War as JOB OPPORTUNITY. That is the foundation and lode stone of the social engineers who are ‘feminizing’ our military. The feminists do not argue nor support combat readiness – only JOB OPPORTUNITIES for women.

The article continues this theme, while observing that the Rumsfeld Pentagon hues to the status quo regarding women in the military. “That goes for lifting the ban on women in special operations forces, infantry, armor and artillery and on submarines. Surveys show few enlisted women want to be grunts. Nevertheless, some Army and Marine [female] officers worry they face a ‘brass ceiling’ without combat experience.” Ah yes! The worst possible motivation for an effective combat force – career advancement. But that is the fantasy motivation of the radical feminist movement.

Nevertheless, the USA TODAY article refers to polls of the American people to support their goal of feminizing the combat arms. “Polls...show the public is more open to the idea [of women-in-combat]. A 1992 Roper poll found only 38% favored women military soldiers. [Notice that the word, ‘combat,’ is not used in this sentence.] A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll last month found 52% in favor. At least 13 other countries, including Canada and France, allow women in ground combat [ah, combat, the word slips into the discussion for the first time] units.” Despite the fact that polls are notoriously bogus, expressing a snapshot in time of a population’s ‘feelings,’ not thought. Even if done without bias, these polls are completely without merit. So few Americans have any idea of what combat consists of that any polls of their views are patently useless.

Nevertheless, the USA TODAY article continues to propagandize for further ‘feminization’ of our military’s combat arms. One of the anecdotal accounts is that of Mary Louise ‘Missy’ Cummings who was, according to the article, among the Navy’s first female fighter pilots. She is the author of a book giving her side of the story of how she was ‘discriminated’ against by males in her quest to qualify in the F/A-18 Hornet. The article quotes Ms. Cummings. “’There was a lot of anger toward all the women in the first group because we were perceived as being forced on them by a political decision,’ says Cummings, 35, who left the Navy in 1999. She says women today are more accepted.”

“Part of that acceptance stems from the work of DACOWITS which was formed in 1951. The civilian advisory group advocates for women and is pushing to open submarines and certain artillery systems to them. Conservatives accuse the panel of pursuing a ‘feminist’ agenda. David Chu, the Pentagon’s spokesman on this issue is quoted as remarking, “...the group’s charter to ‘substantially’ increase the proportion of women is outdated. The percentage has ‘probably reached natural limits.’”

As a consequence of this fact, the Pentagon announced that it has decided not to renew the authorizing charter for DACOWITS [11]. An official, who asked not to be named, said, “We are developing a new charter that we believe will enhance the role and the effectiveness of the committee while broadening its focus...The charter as it existed is not being renewed and we are developing a new charter.” The radical feminists are striving hard to overturn this decision and keep the DACOWITS alive.

This fierce battle comes only a few months after the 9-11 terrorist attack on America. If that was not enough of a wake-up call, a study conducted by Martin Van Creveld for the British armed forces should be enough to underscore the absurdity of women in our combat arms [12]. Van Creveld, a specialist in international conflict and who lectures regularly at army staff colleges (here and abroad) examined the integration of women into armies in Israel, in Europe and in the United States. His report stresses that “Sending women into front-line combat units will reduce the British armed forces ‘efficiency, increase costs, and could prove ‘little short of criminal.’ In a warning to the Ministry of Defense, the research uncovered widespread evidence that female soldiers undermined the battlefield effectiveness of troops.”

Balint Vazsonyi, the gifted concert pianist, director of the Center for the American Founding, and observer of cultural trends in America, reminds us of a taboo that inhibits debate in America today [13]. “[This taboo] concerns the women’s role, not only in the military, but in society as a whole. As one who grew up to marvel at the enormity of the women’s contribution in building America, the damage inflicted upon society in general, and women in particular, by the feminist movement has to be reversed. Instead of building upon the true capacity of women, depicted in countess unforgettable movies in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, and revealed through their monumental contribution during World War II, the feminist movement has rampaged through every institution and profession, forcing political appointments, as opposed to simply opening doors for appropriate applicants.”

“In this hour of national emergency, we can no longer afford such dislocation of assets and resources. Man or woman, people must be engaged in activities they are able to perform better than anyone else. [In this regard, it must be remembered that every woman in the U.S. military is there IN PLACE OF an equally capable or more capable male. She is not there IN ADDITION TO an equally capable or more capable male.] Recognition of this fact dictates that we return to the once-legendary American efficiency that had carried the day in so many areas, before millions came to be employed in jobs – not because they were suitable, but to score political points.”

In spite of the radical feminist propaganda to the contrary, these revolutionaries have become sullen since the terrorist attack on American on 11 September 2001. They and their allies in the chattering classes on television and in the national press are galled by the subsequent events. President Bush has been steadfast, intelligent in his decisions, and remarkably symbolizes America’s resolve. According to John Leo, a nationally syndicated columnist [14], “Leading roles on the national stage haven’t been played by the thinking elite but by the semi-disdained non-chatterers who act physically in the real world: the military, the police, firefighters, agents of the CIA.”

He continues, “And the values of the non-chatterers –heroism, patriotism, self-sacrifice – are on the rise. Crowds aren’t lining the streets and holding up ‘Thank you, chatterers’ signs as pundits and professors drive by. Journalist Andrew Sullivan has been sharp in detecting the anguish of the chatterers. ‘Not a sentence of celebration’ appeared in the New York Times after the Northern Alliance broke through, and the same gloom prevails at the BBC and National Public Radio, he wrote.”

“Why? Mr. Sullivan thinks the media chatterers of the left feel disempowered by the war. They are used to being in charge. They played a big role in ending the Vietnam War and ousting Richard Nixon. But in this war, Mr. Sullivan wrote on his Web site: ‘The pundits and editorialists and cable executives have been knocked down a few pegs in the social hierarchy. They have much less power than they had before September 11.”

“As a result, Mr. Sullivan thinks angry media elites will get even angrier and will soon step up efforts to disparage and undermine the war…None of the elite’s wartime moves have worked. The effort to avoid U.S. retaliation for September 11 by calling in the United Nations was a non-starter. The attempt to demonize the ‘racial profiling’ of Muslims at airports fell flat, rejected by huge majorities, including a large majority of blacks. The left’s mind-boggling attempt to turn the anti-globalization crusade into a 1960s-style ‘campaign against war and racism’ also collapsed.”

“Even more amazing was the refusal of the feminist movement to support any show of force against the Taliban. Let’s see, whom shall we support? America or fanatics who deny all rights to women and whip them on the street if they walk too noisily. Hmmm. Too close to call. Multiculturalism, the unofficial religion of the chatterers, looks very different since September 11. So does the identity politics that downgrades assimilation and common values. ‘Being an American means nothing to me,’ an eighth-grader at a Muslim school told The Washington Post. ‘I’m not even proud of telling my cousins in Pakistan that I’m an American.”

“This kind of comment echoes the multicultural playbook. Diversity curriculums routinely depict the United States as a sort of game board on which different ‘peoples’ (not the American people) work out their tribal destinies, with no particular allegiance to the nation as a whole. Another bit of multicultural dogma, that each culture is correct on its own terms and no culture is superior, looks pitiful in the wake of September 11.”

“Elites alienated from their own traditions concocted this stuff in calmer times. Will mainstream America keep buying it now, or just throw it out of the schools? In his 1995 book, ‘The Revolt of the Elites,’ the late social critic, Christopher Lasch, wrote that the new bicoastal elites ‘have lost faith in the values, or what remains of the, of the West’ and now tend to think of ‘Western civilization’ as a system of domination and oppressions.’ This attitude helps explain why so many in the elites seem offended by a war of self-defense and why their resistance won’t fade as the war goes on.” Indeed, we have not seen the last of the ‘enemies within,’ the counter-culture revolutionaries of the mid-1960s – the Clintons, Gores, Talbots, Albrights, John Kerry’s et al. This group of elites, America’s indigenous ‘Fifth Column,’ will not go away.

Joshua Goldstein writes in support of Leo’s theme [15]. “The war on terrorism, like wars in the past, is shaking up gender expectations…Since September 11, the gender gap in public opinion on military force has narrowed dramatically, and American ideals of masculinity and femininity have become more traditional…As the gender gap closed and the country’s unity solidified, discussions of gender ideals and gender conflicts shifted. Putting aside the traditional, divisive gender battles on topics such as abortion and affirmative action, media discussions addressed the accomplishments of men in traditional roles and women in nontraditional ones.”

“Conservative writers are celebrating the new respect for masculine males – the firefighters, cops, and special-forces soldiers who rush in when others are fleeing. John Wayne-style masculinity has looked particularly attractive to them, given the dot-com crash that had deflated Bill Gates-style masculinity. Meanwhile, liberal writers have celebrated women’s roles in the U.S. military and the liberation of Afghan women. The war has something for everyone.” Of course, Goldstein does not recognize the latter for what it is – opportunism by radical feminists to promote their agenda on the back of the War in Afghanistan.

Michael Medved, the film critic, believes that even Hollywood has changed its emphasis since 9-11. He writes that [16] “…[in the 1940s] both audiences and critics loved [films with heroes and patriotic themes], despite Hollywood’s tendency to smooth away rough edges and avoid dark shadows in portraying its favored subjects…More recent moviemakers [seemed] determined to reverse this traditional formula, emphasizing self-destructive rather than heroic impulses, giving more attention to pain and humiliation than moments of truth.”

“The common explanation for Hollywood’s current emphasis on darker, downbeat stories involves the general decline of hero worship in this cynical, post-modern age. This logic suggests that we look skeptically on all public figures, with tabloid culture making people so painfully aware of celebrity failings that we won’t accept a traditional airbrushed treatment of some peerless paragon.”

“Since the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, the nation appears more prepared to turn its adoring gaze to selfless, capable, disciplined heroes. Consider the intense adulation for New York firefighters and cops, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, President Bush, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld…The yearning for heroes – manly, patriotic, self-controlled – permeates every aspect of our culture at this vulnerable moment in national life, in part because we know we need such servants and protectors.”

“The top-grossing movie in the first weeks of 2002, ‘Black Hawk Down,’ honored U.S. Army Rangers who performed with dauntless courage nine years ago…Another real-life patriot, who made the ultimate sacrifice, was CIA agent and former Marine officer Johnny ‘Mike’ Spann, who perished in Afghanistan during a prison uprising moments after interrogating his fellow American, John Walker Lindh. At his funeral, old friends from Alabama recalled that their local hero had been influenced by Hollywood imagery. ‘That’s going to be me,’ Spann reportedly declared when his high school football team watched the…[movie] blockbuster ‘Top Gun,’ about the tough training of hotshot Navy pilots. ‘I’m going to be doing that someday.’”

Medved concludes that “If fictional characters in a slick action movie can inspire a small-town teenager to a life of service to his country, film biographies of real heroes, in the old Hollywood style, might produce an even more intense impact. As leaders in the entertainment industry feel caught up in the patriotism of the moment, they might recognize that the noble Johnny Spanns of our country deserve movie immortality at least as much as traitors, terrorists or self-destructive losers.” The same could be said of all of the male warriors who are actually carrying the fight to the enemy on the ground in Afghanistan – as opposed to the ‘powder puff’ heroism of the females described above.

I flew the RA5C Vigilante tactical reconnaissance aircraft over the North during the Vietnam War. This supersonic aircraft had a crew of two – the pilot and a navigator/radar operator (a back-seater) in tandem cockpits. We flew at altitudes sufficiently low to gain high quality camera coverage of targets, yet high enough (3,000 ft.) to escape enemy small-arms fire and with sufficient maneuvering altitude to elude anti-aircraft fire and Surface to Air Missile (SAM) missile attacks. Most importantly, for this discussion, we flew at supersonic speeds, Mach 1.1 (about 680 knots – over 780 miles per hour), in order to minimize time over target. This reduced our vulnerability to enemy defenses.

At this speed, we were traversed about 2 statute miles every ten seconds. In the pilot’s cockpit, I carried a knee-pad navigation chart with our planned flight track marked off with ‘tick marks’ for each minute of the planned route. This was all the navigation assistance that a single-piloted aircraft would have had in the same reconnaissance mission. My navigator had terrain navigation radar as well as an inertial navigation system at his disposal in order to obtain accurate position information during our flight. Without his assistance, it would have been nearly impossible to make the course corrections necessary to fly the planned route. Even a few tens of seconds of uncertainty on the pilot’s part as to his position over the ground could result in up to 5 miles off the planned route – an error sufficient to either scrub the mission or wallow around the target area to acquire the target amidst usually intense anti-aircraft fire. This did not happen with a skilled back-seater. We became very aware of the necessity for his skills when flying at such speeds – it became a matter of mission success, as well as often the difference between life and death. We all came to realize that our back-seater was a necessary part of a highly coordinated team. Consequently, we did not lose one aircraft to enemy fire during a year-long deployment on Yankee Station off the coast of North Vietnam.

The advantages of a dual crew became abundantly clear to me when we learned that an F8 Crusader photo squadron, on a smaller ship, had lost half of its complement of aircraft flying over the same targets during the same time period. The F8 is a single seat aircraft, capable of flying at the same airspeed as the Vigilante and with the same tight, crisp response to pilot inputs. I found this out during a subsequent tour at the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD. Since the flying qualities of the two aircraft were essentially the same for the reconnaissance mission, it was clear why the F8 squadron suffered so many losses and we did not. They flew their missions at 3,000 feet (as did we) but at only 450 knots airspeed. Why? Because the pilot of the F8 could not navigate accurately enough at 680 knots (our airspeed) to find the target. Instead, they flew at the slower airspeed in order to navigate to the target, thereby increasing their time of vulnerability to anti-aircraft and SAM defenses, and lost many aircraft to enemy fire as a result.

The Vietnam-era F4 Phantom fighter flew with a back-seater, a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), who provided the same teamwork skills but for the air-to-air fighter mission. The F-14 Tomcat, which replaced the F4 is now flying over Afghanistan. It also has an RIO to handle the radar for acquiring and intercepting airborne targets at long range as well as an extra pair of eyeballs for assisting the pilot in close-range ‘dog fights’ with enemy aircraft. In its air-to-ground ordnance delivery backup mission, the F-14’s RIO assists in visual target acquisition and identification of enemy air defenses that may be firing at them.

The point of this introduction is that with the enemy we have recently fought in Afghanistan, as well as those whom we have engaged in conflict since the Vietnam War are Third World nations which either have no air defenses or have air forces and air defenses that are easily countered by new weapons delivery tactics and stand-off weapons that can be delivered at a distance (and altitude) that essentially takes the risk out of the combat mission. Indeed, the air war we have fought in Afghanistan has become ‘war as entertainment.’

Let me explain by an example. The following e-mail was circulated on the Internet on 6 December 2001. It was written by a female Tomcat RIO (Back Seater) on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Tomcat is a Navy carrier-based F-14 fighter aircraft which can be configured to drop bombs in a tactical mission. The author was a female Naval Academy graduate (USNA Class '92).

She writes, "...let me tell you about my day yesterday. I went out on a 6.5 hour mission over lovely Afghanistan, met up with a ground FAC [forward air controller] and he directed us towards some nice juicy targets. Sum total between 4 Toms and 2 Hornets: 13 LGBs and 8 MK-82s. My pilot and I (another chick by the way -- chicks rule) were personally responsible for one tank with a GBU-12 and a little airburst love on some troops in the open with a couple of MK-82s. <sniff> It was BEAUTIFUL! I get a tear in my eye just thinking about it.”

“In general, the guys are doing some great work. I've passed on the video to those that have given me SIPERNET addresses. Some in particular: A LANTIRN (F-14 FLIR) video of a B-52 dropping a string of about 20-30 MK-82's. Looked like little rabbit turds dropping out of the airplane. After the drop, the LANTIRN slews down and you can see them explode in a line along a road. Pretty cool. Another favorite of the air wing is a TCS (F-14 TV system) video of a GBU falling off the other Tomcat. The TCS follows the bomb all the way down until it explodes on a truck. Another good video was a Marine hornet that dropped a GBU on what he thought was a building that turned out to be a POL facility or some kind of storage facility. That one ended up on CNN the other day when ADM Stufflebeam was briefing the press. The secondaries were freakin' phenomenal and completely unexpected. The shock wave was eye-watering.”

“Lastly, we sent some guys out the other day that found a convoy moving out like they had somewhere important to be. They must have heard the jets because all of a sudden the trucks come to a screeching halt and you can see little white dots making for the hills right before the first bombs roll in and take out about 3-4 of the vehicles. If there was ever a time for Rockeye, that was it. That one made it on CNN for the Admiral's daily briefing as well.”

“I think it was some Toms from the Vinson that got the opportunity to do some actual strafing of troops in the open when a ground FAC was being over-run. I wish I had the video of that. Nothing like peppering the enemy with a little 20mm HEI (High Explosive Incendiary--like tiny little grenades that come out of the gun and explode like popcorn when they hit--way cool). They drove back the enemy advance and the FAC and his team made it through for another day. Go Navy Air.”

“Regards, Kristin”

On the one hand, this epistle might be perceived as an account by a young ‘warrior’ naval carrier aviator in the midst of a first ‘combat’ deployment — possibly on a first combat mission — waxing energetically about the thrill and excitement of ‘combat.’ In this view, one could take pride in our nation’s young warriors — hard drinking, hard charging youngsters who would protect and defend our Constitution, our way of life, our civilization.

On the other hand, a hardened combat veteran might view this message as self-promotion and New Age braggadocio a la the radical feminist promotion of LT Ashley as described in the W-I-C after 9-11 essay and summarized below. Or it might be a message from one who wants desperately to achieve ‘warrior’ status, but knows it is fraudulent – a spectator in the back seat of a jet fighter with little to do but watch the scene unfold below. Yes, war as entertainment.

If we remind ourselves of whom we have engaged in combat over the past two decades, we begin to see these circumstances. We have been at ‘war’ only with primitive Islamic fundamentalists hiding in caves in Afghanistan, civil wars in Kosovo and Bosnia against a nation, Serbia, which has descended into Third World status, a 100-hour war against a rag-tag Iraq, a warlord in Somalia, a drug lord in Panama, and a ‘nothing’ in Grenada. More importantly, we have fought and are fighting these ‘wars’ with high-tech weaponry that has evolved from our experience in the Vietnam War. What was the incentive for developing such weapons, such as the ‘stand-off’ weapons which we see being delivered on CNN every evening news cycle? The incentive was to save lives.

It was in answer to the problem of saving lives that the military developed the stand-off weapons we see on TV today. The ‘gee whiz’ stuff of modern age ‘combat.’ The weapons which so excite Ms. Kristin in the back seat of an F-14 Tomcat as she watches destruction rain down on the enemy below — with absolutely no danger to herself. She could just as well be on a bombing range in the United States or on the Vieques practice bombing range in Puerto Rico. Or she could just as well be in a wide screen IMAX movie theatre or in an arcade of computer game simulations of ‘war’. We observe our pre-teen and teenage children and grandchildren emoting as enthusiastically over their computer game simulations in video arcades and homes all across America. Yes, war as entertainment. An IMAX theatre with a single viewer – in the back seat of an F-14 Tomcat fighter in the skies over Afghanistan.

The weapons over which Ms. Kristin becomes so bravely ecstatic are generally released at altitudes over 15,000 (out of the range of most anti-aircraft fire — in her situation there is little to none) and delivered to the target by laser or satellite-based guidance from the cockpit and the crew. An unintended consequence of this development in advanced weaponry is that it takes much less airmanship and skill to deliver the weapon on target. The old fashioned ‘airmanship’ skills (diving from the proper altitude, dodging anti-aircraft fire, putting the pipper on target, releasing at the proper altitude and dive angle and pulling out above the minimum escape altitude) morphed into video arcade ‘computer game’ skills for the modern combat aviator who releases at 15,000 feet and watches, laser designators or GPS guides the weapons to the designated ground zero. And the superfluous back-seater has the best seat in the house. Ah yes, chicks rule in today’s ‘feminized’ Navy.

War as Radical Feminist Propaganda

The essay at W-I-C after 9-11 tells the story of Navy LT Ashley that surfaced in the British press and was amplified in the U.S. media. A NEWSWEEK magazine article quotes the female naval aviator [it is not clear whether or not she is a pilot or a back-seater]. “What you see on television is what I see for real.” The article breathtakingly gushes that “Once her F-14 Tomcat takes off, concentration edges out fear. On her first combat mission this month, she flew over northern Afghanistan at 15,000 feet, looking for her assigned targets. The article depicts her dropping bombs on enemy targets and returning to land on the aircraft carrier. It also lauds the fact that LT Ashley’s mother is trying to sign her up with a literary agent for a future book and movie deal. Presumably, everyone wants to tell her life story. Ah yes, war as radical feminist propaganda. It reads as if LT Ashley is winning the war on her own – our heroine extraordinaire!

The final blow to reality in the Newsweek article is the quote, “Because we [females] are so few and far between, everything we do is in the limelight,’ says LT Ashley. Yet she maintains that she is judged not by her gender but by her skill in the air. ‘You do good work and they accept you,’ she says. Just ask top gun LT ‘Shorn,’ who has flown alongside Ashley. ‘I’m a man in her Navy,’ he says.” Just as expected in a ‘feminized’ Navy where reality is scoffed at and illusion is king. Meanwhile, the ‘warriors’ have mostly walked away – voted with their feet, and left the Navy.

The radical feminist propagandists, including those in our modern liberal news media, need a heroine so badly since the 9-11 wakeup call concerning women-in-combat that they will go to extraordinary lengths to find ‘heroines’ even among the ordinary.

For example, LT Melony Lynch is being touted as another heroine of the Afghanistan war. The U.S. Navy has set up a ‘chat room’ in which one can converse with her. In an e-mail dated 29 January 2002, the Navy announced “Imagine taking off from the flight deck of a U.S. super carrier in your F/A-18 Hornet at speeds of 165 mph and experiencing two "Gs". Then imagine flying a six-hour mission in which you must locate your target and launch weapons with total precision. It sounds like an action/adventure story. But it's real life for naval aviator, Lieutenant Melony Lynch. She recently returned from Afghanistan where she served as a fighter pilot on the USS Enterprise. Tomorrow evening, Tuesday, January 29, 2002 at 9:00 PM EST, during our live Webcast, you'll have thirty minutes to ask Melony questions and get live answers while she reveals her story about life as an aviator in the Navy.” This radical feminist propaganda is not only condoned by the U.S. Navy, it is promoted by it.

Be reminded that the politically motivated experiment with women-in-combat is still not completed. School is still out on whether or not the summarily ordered mandate by then-President Clinton has improved -- or dangerously undermined -- our national security. Indeed, the Islamic terrorist attack on 9-11 was a wake-up call. A call to reality in an increasingly dangerous and unstable world.

It is not only Islamic fundamentalists who hate America. We may be vulnerable to enemies other than a bunch of primitives hiding in caves in Afghanistan led by a wealthy technological sophisticate with organization skills and a message of religious fanaticism. A future enemy may require America's armed forces to field a military that can deal out death and destruction while at the same time fending off an enemy with manpower and resources that denies our current superiority over Third World countries, war lords, religious fanatics hiding in caves, and drug syndicates. A 'modernized' China comes to mind.

What we are seeing unfold before our very eyes is an intersection of the culture war in America and the reality of a ‘shooting’ war that could place America’s survival in question. We have lived with this culture war during the period of post-Cold War fantasy and found it relatively benign. But now, after the wake-up call on 11 September, we must open our eyes to the reality of the absurdity of placing our women in our nation’s combat arms. This must not stand!

The question remains. How can a frenziedly permissive society with very little experience in and understanding of warfare be made to realize this truth? And I include a vast number of retired military officers in all branches of the armed forces in this category. How can we ascertain what may be required BEFORE we find ourselves in a really tough war?

Coincident with this development came the Culture War element of radical egalitarianism – and the concomitant lowering of training and qualification standards. And finally, women-in-combat became a reality. This does not mean that the standards were lowered for everyone, although that has occurred in the case of a few men as well. The good ones, however, are every bit as good as the best of yesteryear. But, in order to meet politically imposed mandates (quotas) for females, the standards were lowered for those at the bottom of the qualification scale. And the weak ones have leaked through the screening sieve. Remember, for every female who is flying in the U.S. Navy and Air Force jets in our airborne combat arms, she is not in ADDITION to a qualified or more qualified male – she is there IN PLACE OF a qualified or more qualified male. These are the circumstances under which Ms. Kristin’s chicks rule braggadocio must be judged.

The ‘feminization’ of America’s combat arms has introduced a potential vulnerability every bit as serious as that discussed above in the design of the World Trade Center buildings. It is not Ms. Kristin’s, Ashley’s, or Melony’s fault. It is the fault of America’s politicians and the flag-rank military officers who allowed the ‘feminization’ of our nation’s combat arms. They are the ones whom we entrust to LEAD, to think ahead, to ascertain the potential vulnerabilities before acting on political motivations that provide politicians with the elixir of their lives — power. They have not led. They have failed us.

Included in this group who have not measured up are those military veterans who have experienced combat in past wars and who did not speak up against women-in-combat, thereby risking the enmity of those females who regard women-in-combat as part of the progressive counter-culture revolution in America — and those who sympathize with this movement. I am speaking of not only the COLLABORATORS, but also the PASSIVE whom I have identified by their attitudes and activities or lack thereof in the essays in previous issue of this journal.

More importantly, the aircraft had a pilot relief tube through which he could urinate to empty a full bladder. We are informed via e-mail that Navy pilots now fly 8.5 hour missions over Afghanistan without such relief. They are issued plastic ‘piddle packs’ containing absorbent material. In spite of the fact that the Navy had sufficient funds to eliminate urinals on its carriers before 9-11 in order to satisfy women aboard and make the males ‘squat-to-pee,’ they didn’t foresee the need to stock ‘piddle packs’ in sufficient quantity. So when they ran short, they started using empty Gatorade bottles. They even facetiously considered using ‘depends’ diapers but reconsidered at the prospect of being shot down and paraded through the streets of Kabul in diapers in full view of CNN and BBC. Ah yes, chicks rule in our Navy. War as entertainment! War as radical feminist fantasy propaganda!



1) Koller, Jr., Aloysius J., “Our Man in Tora Bora,” Letters-to-the-Editor, The Washington Times, 20 December 2001.

2) Harper, Jennifer, “Rivera, Fox ripped by rivals over war coverage,” The Washington Times, 19 December 2001.

3) Ibid.

4) Kurtz, Howard, “Geraldo Rivera, In the Heat of Battle,” The Washington Post, 24 December 2001.

5) Hillen, John, “The Real Heroes Aren’t on TV,” The Wall Street Journal, 20 December 2001.

6) Vogel, Steve, and Khan, Damran, “U.S. Plane Crashes on Pakistani Mountain: Female Radio Operator Among 7 Marines Killed,” The Washington Post, 10 January 2002.

7) Worth, Robert F., “7 Marines From Across U.S.: Profiles from a Fatal Mission,” The New York Times, 11 January 2002.

8) Goodhill, Geoff, “Males Don’t Matter,” Letters-to-the-Editor, The Washington Post, 19 January 2002.

9) Stone, Andrea, “They’re ‘not an experiment anymore,’” USA TODAY, 11 January 2002.

10) Sorokin, Ellen, “DACOWITS seen hurting war effort: Conservatives urge ouster of charter,” The Washington Times, 1 February 2002.

11) Scarborough, Rowan, “Women’s panel to get new orders: Military refocuses role of committee,” The Washington Times, 1 March 2002.

12) Fox, Robert, “Women in combat costly, ‘criminal:’ Britain told they would drag down fighting effectiveness,’ London Sunday Telegraph and The Washington Times, 5 September 2001.

13) Vazsonyi, Balint, “Taboos we can’t afford,” The Washington Times, 30 October 2001.

14) Leo, John, “Force that confounds the chattering classes,” The Washington Times, 27 November 2001.

15) Goldstein, Joshua S., “Traditional roles,” Culture, et cetera, The Washington Times, 11 January 2002.

16) Medved, Michael, “Heroes deserve screen time, too,” USA TODAY, 4 February 2002.


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