The Washington Post’s William Arkin posted this response to his critics earlier today, but apparently it has now been removed from Arkin’s site.
Arkin’s reply continued to manifest the deaf ear and puzzling logic that characterized his original post. Like so many whose writings are subjected to criticisms that they can’t answer, Arkin postured himself as a hero of free speech who is being told to “shut up.” But the whole flap arose because Arkin took such extreme offense at statements made by soldiers who were asked questions by NBC News, and had the temerity, in Arkin’s view, to answer them–in a much milder and more balanced manner than Arkin’s own screed.
It isn’t worth dissecting Arkin’s latest salvo in any detail; these are the key paragraphs:
I was dead wrong in using the word mercenary to describe the American soldier today.
That was the one gracious thing Arkin said. But he immediately took it back:
These men and women are not fighting for money with little regard for the nation. The situation might be much worse than that: Evidently, far too many in uniform believe that they are the one true nation. They hide behind the constitution and the flag and then spew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people.
This is a bizarre mischaracterization of the statements by service personnel that were the subject of Arkin’s original post. Here are the quotes that Arkin himself cited; read them and judge for yourself how they match up with Arkin’s description:
Enlisted man Tyler Johnson:
[Critics] should come over and see what it’s like firsthand before criticizing. You may support or say we support the troops, but, so you’re not supporting what they do, what they’re here sweating for, what we bleed for, what we die for. It just don’t make sense to me.
Staff Sergeant Manuel Sahagun:
[O]ne thing I don’t like is when people back home say they support the troops, but they don’t support the war. If they’re going to support us, support us all the way.
Specialist Peter Manna:
If they don’t think we’re doing a good job, everything that we’ve done here is all in vain.
That’s what Arkin calls “hid[ing] behind the Constitution and the flag” and “spew[ing] an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people.”
As I said, completely bizarre. I suspect that it was too much for the editors at the Post, who finally caught up with Arkin and, I would speculate, removed his response to his critics. Arkin’s future with the Post is anyone’s guess, but in the meantime, this episode provides a revealing glimpse into the thought processes of a columnist and reporter for one of America’s most respected newspapers.
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