July 29th, 2007 | Published in Politics
Lest my last post leave me open to charges of having a sectarian “only enemies on the left” attitude, I present a perfect encapsulation of deluded right-wing thought. “Winds of Change” used to be blog dedicated to reporting the “good news” from the occupation of Iraq. Since there isn’t much in the way of good news, they gave up on that and decided to start denouncing people who reported the bad news. So they’ve been all up in the Scott Beauchamp flap, attempting to discredit the soldier who reported on abuses committed by his unit in Iraq.
But I don’t want to write about that. Instead, I’d like to highlight a post by “Armed Liberal”. He quotes something from former Army Ranger David Grossman, which he says “will perfectly explain my disgust with the Hollywood flood of ‘damaged soldier’ films, as well as the root of my disdain for the Scott Beauchamp / The Nation / Kos ‘Killitary’ meme that is echoing among our would-be intellectual betters this week.” Observe:
The World War II generation was the “Greatest Generation” and today a new Greatest Generation is coming home. That is, if we do not screw them all up by telling them (and their families, their neighbors and their employers) that they are ticking time-bombs doomed to a lifetime of mental illness.Here is what I believe is the heart of the matter. To harm and destroy people, you have to lie: Lie Number 1: Ignore the vast majority who are just fine and report only on the minority with problems. Lie Number 2: Fail to report that most PTSD cases are people with only 30, 40, or 50 pounds of PTSD, people who in previous wars would have gone undetected. Lie Number 3: Fail to report that we are damned good at treating PTSD and that we are getting better at it every day. Lie Number 4: fail to report that PTSD can be a step on the path to stress inoculation and that one can be stronger when they come out the other end.
OK, let me see if I can translate the “facts” which would be the corollaries of these “lies”:
- Fact Number 1: Almost nobody gets PTSD
- Fact Number 2: All the people with PTSD aren’t really suffering that much
- Fact Number 3: We know how to easily cure all the people with PTSD
- Fact Number 4: PTSD is good for you!
This takes us nicely up the ladder of wingnut reality-denial; it moves in a lawyerly way from denying the existence of the problem, to minimizing the extent of the problem, to minimizing the difficulty of solving the problem; to asserting that the problem is actually a solution. I think we could do this with any intractable bit of reality (global warming comes to mind); perhaps I’ll try that at some later date.
I also like the reasoning about soldiers’ mental states. On the one hand they are a new “greatest generation” of iron men and women who laugh in the face of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. On the other hand, they are fragile creatures who will collapse in terror if civilians tell them they might have PTSD.
So that’s a genuinely insane and right wing line of “reasoning”, far worse than the Euston Manifesto. But oh, wait–I can’t resist a parting shot at the Decent Left. The reason I wrote about Norman Geras is that Winds of Change linked to his profile of Armed Liberal!