Thursday, April 5, 2007
Veteran journalist puts alleged anti-war vandalism into proper perspective
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus News Editor Mike Malott put the overheated rhetoric coming from the Mike Rogers camp over the alleged anti-war vandalism at his district office in Lansing last month into proper perspective in an opinion column today.
Malott, a veteran community journalist, compared the overreaction coming from Rogers’s staffers to a situation NBA fans and referees are very familiar with called “flopping.” Flopping is what causes a huge, powerful man - like former Detroit Piston Ben Wallace for instance - to go flying like he was shot out of a cannon when a ball-handler gently bumps him as Wallace tries and get a charging call from the referee, yet he can’t be moved by a Mack truck when he blocks out under the boards to get a rebound.
Malott points out that’s exactly what we are getting from Rogers people. As was splashed across every newspaper and TV station in the state, the vandalism on March 18-19 saw the door locks glued shut, the building was spray-painted, a "Support Our Troops" sign attached to the front of the building was splattered with blood-red paint and a hand-painted sign was also plastered to an entryway window that said “Rogers There is Blood on Your Hands.”
Yet if I did not know the true extent of the damage and you went just by the quotes by the staffers if would not take much imagination to believe some anti-war protestor had actually blown up the office like it was an abortion clinic or something.
Spin Doctor Sylvia Warner said the vandalism appeared to be related to the Iraq war, and is the "worst" the office has experienced. "The aggressive destruction of federal property and vandalism was a callous attempt to intimidate Congressman Rogers and his staff," said Chief of Staff Andy Keiser.
Mallott correctly observed, “I've heard of very little damage coming from war protests so far. And the damage at Rogers' office pales in comparison to the destruction that came out of protests in previous conflicts.”
We won’t even begin to talk about the death, maimed and destruction this fiasco has caused to both Americans and Iraqis.
Anyone alive during Vietnam remembers the demonstrations at Kent State University in Ohio, which ended with the deaths of four students. Two days earlier, it began when protesters torched an old ROTC building.
When firefighters arrived, the demonstrators blocked access to the building, pelted them with rocks and bottles, stole fire hoses and then cut holes in them to assure that the building would burn to the ground, which, of course, it did. That's vandalism on a grand scale.
Despite the President and his supporters trying their level best to spin any opposition to the occupation and civil war in Iraq as anti-troop, the simple fact is no anti-war protestor has said anything bad about the troops.
Malott makes the point that “During Vietnam, individual soldiers were subjected to protests. Pickets would show up when soldiers departed and when they returned home. Soldiers, coming back from the battle zone, were met with insults.”
We have all heard the stories about returning veterans being spat on when they came home, but at least some people are casting doubt on that actually happening, with the possible exception of some isolated incidents. I grew up in that era, and I seem to recall looking at guys in uniform with a lot of awe. I never, ever saw troops being disrespected.
I enlisted in the Navy when we still had a presence in Vietnam, and I was in boot camp when Saigon fell. Again, I don’t ever recall any protests aimed at the actual troops, and in fact many returning veterans joined those very same protestors in opposition to the war in Vietnam.
A case may be made that the returning troops were greeted with indifference, but they would come home after serving their 13 months in country, meaning the vets were returning in a trickle one at a time instead of as a noticeable unit.
The one thing that is similar to Iraq and Vietnam is that the only real sacrifices and those really benign touched and affected by both conflicts are just the veteran and their families. In neither case is the public asked to make a sacrifice.
But back to the vandalism. The security camera photo of the alleged vandal has been out there for at least the past two weeks, but the photo has not received nearly the same publicity as the initial vandalism. Why aren’t Keiser and Warner making as much noise about the fact these people are still out there as they did about the vandalism?
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Investigator James Thornburg at (517) 483-4611.