[ed. note: I mistakenly identified Gonzales as a woman. The post has since been edited to correctly identify his gender]
Rene Gonzales is a graduate student at UMass. He is from Puerto Rico where, apparently, soldiers are pendejos
Rene wrote an editorial for the school paper, the Daily Collegian
. The title: Pat Tillman is not a hero: He got what was coming to him
Something in that heading told me to just stop reading there. Click the X, close the page, hit the back button; do anything but read it.
Of course, I read it. And I am left with the conclusion that Rene Gonzales is, for all intents and purposes, a pendejo
Mr. Gonzales makes a big mistake in his editorial. He confuses his anti-Iraq war stance with the war in Afghanistan. Oh, there are many other mistakes in his article, both of fact and judgment. But this line struck my as particularly ignorant:
For people in the United States, who seem to be unable to admit the stupidity of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars...
Mull that over a minute while I go back a paragraph or two.
bq. You know [Tillman] was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the "real" thick of things. I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish. Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life "Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed."
Let's put aside the juvenile scorn heaped upon Tillman just for the way he looked in a some pictures on CNN. Rene seems to believe that somehow, Pat Tillman was directly involved in whatever past relationship the U.S. had with the Taliban. Or, perhaps he is not railing against Tillman himself, but using him as a symbol of the United States in general.
What a disservice he does to Tillman by describing him as such. Sure, there are
gung-ho soldiers, the kind who envision themselves as modern day Rambos but, as with any other career out there, you will find the ultra-charged, alpha-worker within any group of people. I bet there are even computer programmers who pretend they are deep in the jungles of Cambodia, knife clenched in teeth, as they write code for word processing programs.
Apparently, Tillman's urge to defend his country isn't borne out of some sense of dedication or duty, but of testosterone and caveman-like stupidity. As he tries to explain this theory, Gonzales blows a hole in it himself.
bq. But, does that make him a hero? I guess it's a matter of perspective. For people in the United States, who seem to be unable to admit the stupidity of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars
, such a trade-off in life standards (if not expectancy) is nothing short of heroic. Obviously, the man must be made of "stronger stuff" to have had decided to "serve" his country rather than take from it. It's the old JFK exhortation to citizen service to the nation, and it seems to strike an emotional chord. So, it's understandable why Americans automatically knee-jerk into hero worship. [emphasis added]
And that is where Gonzales's cause loses whatever sliver of credibility it had. Perhaps Rene needs a reminder of why we went into Afghanistan? Unless he's one of those people who think the Mossad
blew up the towers with the help of George Bush (and it's not too far fetched to think that he is), then, in his effort to drive home his anti-war stance, he made a bit of an error by calling the Afghanistan war stupid
Is it stupid to want to hunt down and kill those responsible for committing an act of terror that killed 3,000 people? Is it stupid to want to avenge the death of those innocent people? Is it stupid to try to drive the enemy out of their little caves and holes and make them pay for they did? Does Mr. Gonzales not realize that what the Taliban did on September 11, 2001 was an act of war?
One would have to believe just that in order to reconcile his feelings that Mr. Tillman went to Afghanistan out of some macho, macho man pride and the US going over to that country was stupid.
Let's read on.
bq. However, in my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Tillman would have been called a "pendejo," an idiot. Tillman, in the absurd belief that he was defending or serving his all-powerful country from a seventh-rate, Third World nation devastated by the previous conflicts it had endured, decided to give up a comfortable life to place himself in a combat situation that cost him his life. This was not "Ramon or Tyrone," who joined the military out of financial necessity, or to have a chance at education. This was a "G.I. Joe" guy who got what was coming to him. That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy.
Ok, Gonzales. I'll bite. What do
you think going into Afghanistan was all about? From that paragraph alone, one might believe that Gonzales views Afghanistan as one collective victim, and we should never have gone over there to defend ourselves because, well, they're poor. So we'll just let them be.
Again, we see the whole "soldiers are just poor folk" theory. In Rene's world, people who join the army are either too poor to do anything else, or they have an inate desire to swing from vines while slashing at the air with bayonets in their hands and bloodlust in their hearts.
I guess Rene has never met anyone who actually joined the armed forces to serve their country. In the world that Rene inhabits, no such thing exists. For Gonzales and most of his ilk, when a person says they joined the army out of duty to country and freedom, they just assume the person has been brainwashed by commercials or recruitment officers. Ramon and Tyrone
are poor and
bq. Tillman, probably acting out his nationalist-patriotic fantasies forged in years of exposure to Clint Eastwood and Rambo movies, decided to insert himself into a conflict he didn't need to insert himself into. It wasn't like he was defending the East coast from an invasion of a foreign power. THAT would have been heroic and laudable. What he did was make himself useful to a foreign invading army, and he paid for it. It's hard to say I have any sympathy for his death because I don't feel like his "service" was necessary. He wasn't defending me, nor was he defending the Afghani people. He was acting out his macho, patriotic crap and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in.
Once again, Gonzales assumes that Tillman was unable to think for himself (despite the fact that he graduated from college in 3 1/2 years with a 3.82 GPA) and was coerced by the television monster and the evil movie industry into joining the Rangers.
It wasn't like he was defending the East coast from an invasion of a foreign power. THAT would have been heroic and laudable.
Well, that invasion already happened. They swooped in on airplanes and killed 3,000 of us. If I read Gonzales's words correctly, he believes that we had no right to invade Afghanistan because it's not like they were looking to attack us again
If Gonzales believes that Tillman wasn't defending him, then perhaps he should go back to Puerto Rico and rest easy in the comfort that if and when we are attacked again, his lovely island of tropical breezes will probably not be on the minds of the terrorists.
bq. Perhaps it's the old, dreamy American thought process that forces them to put sports greats and "larger than life" sacrificial lambs on the pedestal of heroism, no matter what they've done. After all, the American nation has no other role to play but to be the cheerleaders of the home team; a sad role to have to play during conflicts that suffer from severe legitimacy and credibility problems.
Pat Tillman wasn't a hero because he was a "sports great." He was a hero because he sacrficed his life to defend ours. That's something Mr. Gonzales would never know about because it takes a special kind of selfishness to have his mentality.
I would like to engage Gonzales in a debate. I want to ask him how the conflict in Afghanistan - the country, by the way, in which Tillman was killed - lacks legitimacy and credibility. I would like to know what he believes the response to 9/11 should
have been. Wait, don't tell me. He thinks we should find out why the terrorists hate us so much so we can work on being nicer towards them.
bq. Matters are a little clearer for those living outside the American borders. Tillman got himself killed in a country other than his own without having been forced to go over to that country to kill its people. After all, whether we like them or not, the Taliban is more Afghani than we are. Their resistance is more legitimate than our invasion, regardless of the fact that our social values are probably more enlightened than theirs. For that, he shouldn't be hailed as a hero, he should be used as a poster boy for the dangerous consequences of too much "America is #1," frat boy, propaganda bull.
Their resistance is more legitimate than our invasion..
I had to read that several times to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding. Our invasion was a result of their
invasion on us
. What part of this concept does Mr. Gonzales not understand? Tillman's willingness to fight had nothing to do with an America is #1
concept; we were attacked, he wanted to defend and avenge. Like thousands upon thousands of others, Tillman put on a uniform and put his life on the line for us and for people like Gonzales, who only piss on their graves.
bq. Al-Qaeda won't be defeated in Afghanistan, even if we did kill all their operatives there. Only through careful and logical changing of the underlying conditions that allow for the ideology to foster will Al-Qaeda be defeated. Ask the Israelis if 50 years of blunt force have eradicated the Palestinian resistance. For that reason, Tillman's service, along with that of thousands of American soldiers, has been wrongly utilized. He did die in vain, because in the years to come, we will realize the irrationality of the War on Terror and the American reaction to Sept. 11. The sad part is that we won't realize it before we send more people like Pat Tillman over to their deaths.
Who didn't see that coming? It's about the root causes! They killed us because we aren't like them, so therefore we should try to understand them. Let's sit down and have some group therapy with the Taliban and get a good feeling for why they feel like anyone who isn't a Muslim should die. That ought to clear things up, but good!
I really want to know what he thinks the reaction to September 11th should
I invite Mr. Gonzales to pack up his bags and move to Afghanistan, where he can spend all his time making nice with the terrorists, getting to know what their jihad against Americans is all about and learning how a suicide cult is born. At night, they can sit around the campfire and call American soldiers pendejos
I wonder who the real pendejo
is? The guy who put his life on the line so Mr. Gonzales can live free and worry less about future terrorists attacks, or the college student who stands over the grave of the soldier who fought for him and spits upon that grave?
However warmed I feel by the comments left underneath the editorial by readers who also think Mr. Gonzales is a bit of a, how do you say it...idiot, I still feel that cold chill of the anti-war left running down my back.
Ever since Pat Tillman was killed and he became the poster boy for the "soldiers are baby killers" crowd, I feel more than ever like our country is experiencing the cracking of a fault line in our emotional and political infrastructure that will never be mended.
Mr. Gonzales is just another seismic shake on that fault line.
: Jim at Right Thoughts has more on Rene Gonzales