A month back, a soldier currently serving in Iraq published an article in The New Republic under the pseudonym “Scott Thomas”. The article was hard-hitting and grim. It told how war desensitized and dehumanized the persons fighting in it, most of whom are teenagers or young and still impressionable adults (our brains aren’t fully mature until we’re in our mid-twenties, a fact that several of society’s enterprises use to their advantage but not necessarily to ours). While talking about the place of war in society — it never will go away, he obviously thinks — he tells about some of the terrible things he had witnessed and done, such as desecrating corpses and running over dogs with armored vehicles.
Of course, once they found out about it, all of the Usual Suspects in the conservative’s mighty Wurlitzer – Malkin, Powerline, the whole schmear – set out to prove that “Scott Thomas” didn’t exist and that this was all just liberal lies to smear the armed forces and turn the country against the war. They went berzerk proving to themselves through “semiotic analysis” and other such crapola that this whole thing was just made-up liberal media lies.
The following week they were all congratulating themselves for their hard work at exposing TNR’s alleged lies, and went on to demand a retraction from the New Republic. At this point, which was late last week, the real author of the piece, Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp — a soldier currently serving in Iraq — came forward. (If this all sounds familiar: They didn’t think “Jamil Hussein” existed, either — and they didn’t much care that their outing of him would likely lead to his death.)
Did the appearance of Beauchamp cause the cons to either apologize or shut their yaps in embarrassment? Of course not. These people have no shame.
Instead, the reaction of the cons was pretty similar to how they reacted to the people who turned Jenna and her twin Barbara Bush in for underage drinking at Chuy’s a few years ago. The “support the troops” conservatives immediately set out to destroy Pvt. Beauchamp-working on getting him in trouble with the army — a project apparently made easier by getting an officer assigned to the job of assisting with their work — working to dig up and in at least one case posting personal information about him (which you will not find here), and even suggesting that other members of his unit frag him while on patrol.
An endless stream of vicious threats and smears, and it was all treated as business as usual with no one suggesting that anyone involved in this had crossed a line. When we left him last week, Howie ‘Mistah’ Kurtz was working on trying to pump this into an actual scandal — on the part of Beauchamp, not on the part of the sick cons trying to hound him to death. (In fairness, I must note that one conservative, John Cole of Balloon Juice, is disgusted by the actions of Malkin and Company. Bully for his not being a bully.)
To quote Digby on this:
I hear so much from the right about how they love the troops. But they don’t seem to love the actual human beings who wear the uniform, they love those little GI Joe dolls they played with as children which they could dress up in little costumes and contort into pretzels for their fun and amusement. If they loved the actual troops they wouldn’t require them to be like two dimensional John Waynes, withholding their real experiences and feelings for fear that a virtual armchair lynch mob would come after them.
[UPDATE: Jon Swift provides another good rundown, with some links I don’t have.]
[UPDATE #2: TBogg tells us about Bob “Confederate Yankee” Owens and his efforts to harass Private Beauchamp. Keep digging that hole, Bob!]