When I was young, America’s premier TV newsmagazine, 60 minutes, did hard-hitting political exposés. These days half the segments are schlock. That was tolerable until it crossed the line into propaganda and cover-up, as Scott Pelley did last night with a segment entitled “Gold Star Parents.”
A cover-up is defined as “an attempt to prevent people’s discovering the truth about a serious mistake or crime.” Ironically, 60 minutes cut its teeth by helping to expose the Watergate cover-up under Richard Nixon. Now here it is indulging in the very definition of cover-up with regard to the Iraq war.
This segment was ostensibly about how “Parents of Fallen Heroes Unite to Cope With Loss.” The editors apparently believe the title and subject matter inoculates them from criticism, while supposedly showing the ‘positive’ side of how America is dealing with its dead from the Iraq and Afghan wars.
However, the false context of omission and sentimentality begins with the first sentence of the piece: “In the wars since 9/11, thousands of Americans have lost sons or daughters…the mothers and fathers call themselves Gold Star parents in the tradition of the military service flag that hung in homes during the World Wars.”
Linking the willful errors of Iraq and Afghanistan with World Wars I and II is a trick that politicians and mainstream media have been using to avoid accountability for their superficially acknowledged ‘mistakes.’
Immense falsehood and deception are embedded in tropes of heroism and sacrifice, which cannot be questioned without impugning the honor of the soldiers that have been killed and wounded in these misbegotten wars. They are ‘the fallen,’ and we must honor them, even when it means, as it does with Scott Pelleys’ shtick, ignoring the policies that maimed and murdered so many.
Laying the foundation for the emotional punch line, the 60 minutes piece explains, “In downtown San Francisco stands an unusual war memorial looking as it did in the 1920s when it was a hotel and theater. After World War II, Marines wanted a living memorial so they transformed this into a club that, today, honors all vets.”
Though I was not a Marine, I’ve visited and stayed at the Marine Club in San Francisco numerous times. My partner’s father was a Marine during World War II, and that gave her the option and privilege of dining in the fine restaurant or staying in the refurbished hotel in San Francisco.
Before the turn of the century and its restoration, the Marine Club was truly a club of ex-Marines. My partner’s father, who survived the battle of Tarawa in the Pacific, which had the highest casualty rate of any battle during World War II, often visited from his home in East Bay.
Roy witnessed Japanese women jumping off the cliffs of Saipan, some holding their babies, terrorized at the approach of American soldiers after being completely propagandized by the Japanese military. He was also sent to Nagasaki after the atomic bombing. He had no illusions or sentimentality about war, and would be appalled at the shameless sentimentality and maudlin cover up of this 60 minutes story.
Diabolically binding the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with the hundreds of thousands of men killed in World War II, this is what 60 minutes means by “all vets”: “Part of the hotel has become a memorial wall where every lost loved one since 9/11 is remembered — 6,846 stories.”
Squeezing every drop of treacle from a citizenry that wants nothing more than to forget these utterly destabilizing and destructive police actions dressed up as wars, Scott Pelley asks one of the fathers who attends an annual event of “Gold Star Parents”:
“As you’re with more than 100 other tables at the event, people come by. What does it do for you?” The father replies “It gives us a sense of that she didn’t lose her life for nothing.”
What did she die for, so the rest of us could continue with our self-indulgent, oblivious way of life? No, in political terms, they did die for nothing. And socially, the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder of the hundreds of thousands of returnees has seeped into American society and become the national condition.
With utter obtuseness, 60 minutes first segment reported on the epidemic of heroin addiction and death in America. There is a true linkage with the post-9.11 policies and wars.
At the Marine Club reception, each deceased son or daughter receives a prayer from the audience: “A grateful nation acknowledges your sacrifice and prays for your peace.” America is not grateful; she is guilty.
President Obama has himself been complicit in the national psychological cover-up. He pulled American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan (after initially doubling down in the latter) to ‘put the wars behind us.’ Then he let the Syrian people, who, besides hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, have also been ‘collateral damage’ in America’s invasion of Iraq, twist in the wind.
We honor the good in those who gave their lives for what they believed was the good by telling the truth, and exposing and learning from the lies that got them killed.
Without a reckoning there can be no reconciliation.