The rush to impose judgment

Fred Barnes takes a look at “the My Lai lie” — that is, the rush by the MSM to portray Haditha as another My Lai massacre before the facts are known. That rush was epitomized, as one would expect, by Chris Matthews in this exchange with Rep. Murtha:

“Was this My Lai?” Matthews interjected, referring to the slaughter of more than 300 civilians by American soldiers in Vietnam in 1968. “Was this a case of–when you say cold blood, Congressman, a lot of people think you’re basically saying you have got some civilians sitting in a room [or] out in a field and they’re executed.”

“That’s exactly what happened,” Murtha replied.

In reality, as Barnes shows, Murtha did not know what happened, but that didn’t not slow his rush to condemn American troops. Nor was Time Magazine deterred by regard for the facts in its coverage. As Barnes notes, it has been forced to issue multiple corrections in connection with respect to Haditha.

The subtitle of Barnes’ piece is “behind the coverage of Haditha.” What’s actually behind the coverage of Haditha is the same thing that’s behind the MSM’s overall coverage of Iraq — a desire to portray Iraq as another Vietnam. The lessons that the mainstays of the MSM took from Vietnam (including ambivalence or worse about America) were, from an ideological standpoint, life altering. The ideology that emerged, and then calcified, is just about the entire legacy that this generation of left-liberals hopes to pass on. Thus, an enormous psychological need exists to view Iraq as a confirmation of the “lessons” of Vietnam, and to attempt to impose that view and those lessons on the public.

That’s the main reason why the MSM was calling our invasion of Iraq (one of the most successful in history) a quaqmire after two days, and that’s why any hint of an atrocity is instantly equated with My Lai. In truth, the MSM isn’t rushing to judgment. Its judgments have been made in advance of events and the only rush is to impose them.

Certainly, the MSM is also motivated by the desire to portray events in Iraq in the worst possible light, and this motive alone probably would be powerful enough to invoke specious comparisons to Vietnam. But I beleive the need to validate and perpetuate the Vietnam syndrome is an even stronger force.

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