The Massive Civilian-Military Divide -- In Two Emails

Earlier today I wrote a post about CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who’s come under fire after an interview with Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL who inspired the film “Lone Survivor.”

I won’t rehash the entire post (you can read it right here if you’d like), but Tapper was reflecting on how senseless American troop deaths in Afghanistan seem to be now, especially with the war winding down and “victory” absolutely being out of the question.

Many have been attacking him for saying troops “died for nothing,” even though those words were never said. And interestingly enough, I’ve noticed many of the people attacking him as being anti-military have never even served in the military, while many service members are rallying to his defence.

It’s rather perplexing if you think about it.

This latest episode really shows the gap in understanding between civilians and military personnel, and illustrates that some civilians have a tendency to defend troops from any slight — real or perceived.

“What WOULD be insulting would be for [Jake Tapper] to infantilize/coddle veterans and NOT ask them the hard questions,” wrote retired Army officer Douglas Ollivant on Twitter.

The gap was pretty clear for me in two emails I received in rather quick succession. The first, from a man in Phoenix, Ariz., had me intrigued:

We had a little back-and-forth of emails, where I tried to get some kind of point or well-reasoned argument from him. Unfortunately, that didn’t come. Instead, it was just insults.

And then there’s this one, which came about 20 minutes later from a Marine veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and lost more than six friends from his battalion.

The entire controversy around Tapper, and that first email, certainly demonstrate what Army veteran Alex Horton tweeted today: “Unhealthy bits of hero worship standing in for policy.”

There are plenty of smart and capable veterans out there. These men and women were capable of fighting back against enemy fire. They’ll be just fine dealing with words.

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