Monday, January 26, 2009

That's What the Army Does, Ma'am


I couldn't believe my ears.

Here I'm sitting at lunch, while the background noise includes the new administration's press secretary answering reporters' questions, blathering on about the stimulus plan and whatnot. Suddenly the little guy inside my head who monitors this for me alerts me: Doofus Alert! Here comes a question from Helen Thomas, the old aunt in the attic:

"Why does the president want to send troops to Afghanistan to kill people?"

Holy cow, she really is a batty old aunt in the attic. Or a kindergartener, perhaps--no, that would be insulting to kindergarteners.

She might have found a legitimate way to ask why we must send more troops to Afghanistan, or why they need to be there, though even that would have betrayed the kind of wide-eyed naivete with which too many of our pundits are afflicted, but heavens, it's her additional clause "to kill people" that makes her ignorance so spectacularly stunning. The sun itself could not be more brilliant than this inscience.

I mean--do I need to say this?--what else are you going to send the military to do, plant daisies? I'm reminded of the old line the army likes to use to describe what it is they do: break things and kill people.

Yes, Helen, there is a military.

And while you may prefer simply and only to believe in fairies, we really do have to have some people carrying big scary guns because, Helen, there really are bad guys. See, Helen, they have big scary guns too, and they mean to use them against kindergarteners and old ladies just like you. But Helen, what you might do if that frightens you too much is just go back into the attic like a good girl, and here, take some chocolate chip cookies with you, and if you're nice, maybe we'll let you come down again for dinner.

Who keeps letting her into those press conferences?

1 comment:

Sam said...

I think the military is a great way to discuss vocation. I remember reading about an interview with Paul Tibbets, the pilot who flew the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb of Hiroshima. He said the following, "I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it, and have it work as perfectly as it did... I sleep clearly every night." He later went on to say the would do it again if necessary.

Gen. Tibbets understood vocation. He knew that he had a mission and that mission was to kill thousands of people. Yes, it was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. He fulfilled his mission perfectly, possibly saving the lives of hundreds of thousands Americans.

Vocation isn't always pretty, but it is absolutely necessary.