Reader Mail

Jan Scruggs’ Vietnam Wall?

A letter from Robert Brudno. Plus: More European talk-back, some of it even friendly. Also: How yucky is Kerry? Bias bursts. Biology tests. Terror shoppers. More Fox hunting. And much more.

3.21.04

Send to Kindle

MEETING ALL EXISTING CRITERIA
Re: Jed Babbin's Etched in Stone:

I just read Jed Babbin's article about my brother, Captain Edward Alan Brudno, USAF, the first POW to die after returning from 7-1/2 years of captivity in North Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star and was one of the longest held POWs in American history. Mr. Babbin's piece, like other reports, leave the impression that some secret exception to the rules was being contemplated, thus it was necessary for everyone to weigh in on the issue in order to maintain the integrity of the Wall.

As you can imagine, Mr. Babbin does not have the same facts as the Air Force does. They determined that Captain Brudno's case met all existing criteria for adding his name to the Wall. Their recommendation was going to be approved by DOD, until Jan Scruggs hijacked the issue.

Mr. Babbin does not challenge any of Scruggs' assertions. Mr. Scruggs knows full well that my family sought no exception and did not challenge the existing rules. We also were not seeking to change the public's perception of the moral implications of suicide. As hard as it may be for Scruggs to accept, we asked only for an up or down judgment based on all existing criteria. The final decision will be announced shortly.

When he caught wind of DOD's proposed addition, Mr. Scruggs went public with cries that the sky is falling. He has said publicly that thousands of suicide cases will "easily meet these new criteria," when no new criteria have been established. The Air Force determined that my brother's physical and psychological wounds were suffered in direct combat with his enemy captors, occurred in the war zone and that those wounds led to his death. How many of those thousands of suicides Mr. Scruggs cites as having occurred after the war could meet that standard? My brother was set free and left to founder by himself, bleeding from his unseen wounds without the care that every POW since his death has been given. His death saved the lives of others. That is why doing the right thing by this man -- within the rules -- is so important. There are few circumstances that match this tragedy. Scruggs' implication that adding the name of such a person would somehow encourage others to commit suicide at the Wall is an outrage.

Mr. Scruggs' incredible insensitivity is on full display in Babbin's article when Scruggs says, "I personally apologize to the family for any emotional stress caused when the issue quite inevitably became public." Publicity was neither sought by us or inevitable. He was responsible for all of the publicity when he violated our privacy, first with e-mails to Capitol Hill that leaked into the Internet and then with his media interviews and press releases. He played fast and loose with my brother's name. He didn't communicate his objections privately to the DOD. He went public and used my brother like a prop in his self-appointed role as protector of the nation's Mall. Since my family was exposed to the media by Scruggs, we have been unable to get our privacy back. As for his apology, we have received none from him, and, with all due respect, placing it in the pages of the Spectator is not sufficient.

The irony is that Scruggs himself opened the Pandora's Box he warns of. His wild statements as President of the VVMF that thousands of other cases will be eligible if my brother's name is added will themselves encourage others to apply. Then Scruggs can send these poor people to DOD and claim that he was right all along. Had Scruggs not gone public, abided by the rules, and pledged to accept DOD's decision, my brother's name would have been added quietly and without the controversy that Scruggs set off for his own cynical purposes. He has dishonored my brother, my family, other veterans and the Vietnam Memorial itself. He is to be congratulated for building the Wall, but he would serve Vietnam veterans better now by resigning.

Very truly yours,
-- Robert J. Brudno
Bethesda, Maryland

Jed Babbin replies:
Many thanks to Mr. Brudno for his thoughtful and heartfelt comments on my article. To the extent that it was incorrect -- and he is right in assuming I believed an exception to the existing criteria was being granted -- I apologize, and will ask our editor to post this apology. I had relied on the comments I had received from both Jan Scruggs and from several other veterans -- friends of mine -- who were under the same impression. As I said in the piece, I do believe Mr. Brudno's brother was let down by our nation, and he -- and the rest of the POWs -- should be honored. If his death has been determined to be within the criteria for the wall, his name should be on it. I am still concerned, however, by the many other comments I have received which indicate that is not the case.

GREETINGS FROM GRENOBLE
Re: Reid Collins's Spanish Flee and the "Splendid Spain" letters in Reader Mail's Games People Play:

In reference to Reid Collins' piece, I would like to reply to readers reaction to my remarks [under "Having a Nice Day" in Reader Mail's The Neoconquistadors]:

You really must be blind, not to see that the war in Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism, and everything to do with controlling oil resources, vital to America's economy and way of life.

Don't forget that French troops were, and are still, with the U.S. in Afghanistan, where it is really about terrorism.

Please stop mixing everything together.

In Europe, we never bought that line, just remember the polls before the war, in every single European country, both "old" and "new"; damn it, even in Britain!!!!

Of course Saddam was a scourge, and I am happy he is gone, but was he not the same scourge, in the 1980s, when he was actively supported, with money (your taxpayers' money!!!) and weapons, by the United States (and France). He just, perfectly, suited American and French interests in the area then, and none of your or our great leaders seemed to mind his atrocities, at the time.

Some of you seem to believe the U.S. is fighting for the common good; you must be dreaming! And you, surely, also believe Santa Claus comes in through the chimney each year, don't you?

The U.S. is not better and not worse than anybody else, it's just fighting for its national interest. Like every damn country does, since the beginning of time.

This is just normal, but please stop the preaching and come back to God's gray earth.

Best regards still,
-- Nicolas Ziener
Grenoble, France

ROSA'S SCENARIO:
Re: Reader Mail's The New Derrida:

The replies to Dr. Rosa all missed one point: we are not new to terrorism. In the Eighties we had a handicapped citizen thrown off a hijacked ship in his wheelchair, Marine barracks bombed in Beirut, a plane blown up over Scotland and our unarmed servicemen taken off of hijacked planes and executed on the tarmac. When we retaliated against these scum, the French denied us use of their airspace. That Dr. Rosa would think that we would forget these crimes shows that the French are a little too smug in their ignorance about us and too forgetful of their own lack of fortitude in response to terrorism.
-- Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

Interesting to read the sneering and haughty letters in response to "Europe Talks Terrorism" by Jacob Laksin regarding Europe's inability to deal with terrorism. Perhaps they have all conveniently forgotten the IRA and the massive funds garnered in the U.S. through NORAID. Of course it is different now, terrorism has picked on the U.S.! Also, it bears repeating that NORAID was simply a charitable and educational organization -- an Irish version of madrassahs -- remember? As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

P.S. I am a subscriber to American Spectator
-- Kenneth G.D. Allen
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

YUCK FACTOR
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Kerry -- Yuck!

Shame on Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder for putting Ulysses Grant and John Kerry in the same sentence, let alone the same class.

Grant was the general who finally brought victory to the Union cause in the Civil War. John Kerry is a millionaire member of the party of the slave owners. Even his harshest critics of his Presidency admit Grant was personally a man of impeccable honesty and decency; no one, even in his own party, trusts John Kerry. Grant was famous for his simplicity and clarity of expression, and his constancy of thought and action; Kerry can't repeat the same story twice. Grant wrote a history of the Civil War that is rightly regarded as one of the defining works on the conflict; Kerry recommended himself for a few medals and had ghosted a pile of pseudo-Maileresque self-aggrandizement Oliver Stone would be embarrassed to film.
-- Richard McEnroe
North Hollywood, California

Mason/Felder got it right. Kerry indeed is an impostor, just like Clinton. These are guys who think they know things because they think them. Yet the intellect is completely fungible.

These are guys who parse the word "is," and this represents dementia. They are utterly subservient to females (Clinton to Hillary, Gennifer, Monica; Kerry as gigolo). It began with their 1960s roots, which represented the destruction of masculinity, the worship of false intellectual conceits, and the appeasement of the bitch/seductress feminine spirit. They lie and equivocate because they are not real men and they know it. Their weakness immerses them in a deep self-loathing, which torments them. On the other manic-depressive extreme, they are idealists (i.e., Kerry is going to create millions of jobs, bring world peace and cut college costs!), which makes them completely mad because the ideal is unattainable. Rule of thumb: All idealists are angry people.

They are deeply envious of real men who make hard choices and pursue tough actions. Yet they must, by nature, disagree with the rational positions put forth by strong men and women (Bush, Cheney, Rice). This traps them, and feeds their rage.
-- Steve Nikitas
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Thank you, guys, for an important and succinct article on the substance of this man. I love you guys; keep it coming!
-- Donna Fuller
Gulf Breeze, Florida

STERN MESSAGE
Re: Jesse Walker's Humble Folks Without Temptation:

I really enjoyed Jesse Walker's description of a new breed of conservatives in America. Now I realize it's OK to enjoy the arguably tasteless humor in South Park, Dave Chappelle and Howard Stern while maintaining a conservative posture politically. And speaking of Stern, it also explains why I have had a very hard time listening to him lately: He's blaming Bush for personally trying to drive him off the air, and in doing so, keeps referring to the "religious right" as being behind the move.

Well, I'm voting for Bush, and I don't think relegating Stern to satellite radio is a bad idea -- but I haven't been to church outside weddings and funerals in my adult life. I abhor most liberal policies -- which makes me conservative -- but the habit of the lefties grouping all of us conservatives as the "religious right" is really annoying. Walker does justice to the conservative movement by highlighting the varied backgrounds of the people behind it. And I thought I'd never be the type to celebrate diversity!
-- William H. Stewart
Boston, Massachusetts

SHOP TALK
Re: Shawn Macomber's Funding Terror:

I am from Metro Detroit which has a very large Arab population, reputedly the largest outside of the middle east. I know many and about 80% of them are virulently supportive and sympathetic to Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda type goals. If the Koran says it must be so, etc.

Much of their money has been from cash businesses and unreported for decades. I heard of the cigarette scam years ago and that is just the tip of the iceberg. An enormous mosque has been built on Ford Road in Dearborn Michigan. My guess is that Saudi/Wahabi funds contributed to the mosque and influence the curriculum. More disturbingly, I'm told that the Iraq war is out of bounds for discussion in 5th grade suburban classrooms because of fear of Arab outrage.
-- unsigned

IT MUST BE LOVE
Re: George Neumayr's The Treason Temptation:

Never bash Europeans because they have more sense in a tiny bit of their fingernail than all you right-wing, fascist, born-again hypocrite, God bless America (but not the rest of the world) arrogant war mongers. At least the Democratic Party tries to be cultural, understands it should work with its allies, not call them irrelevant. This fool of a president has wrecked everything, from a fraud of a war to trade to respect to credibility which will translate into people choosing other alternatives to doing business with the U.S. An arrogant, reckless foreign policy is too easy. You are in deep malaise and the emperor has no clothes, just wait and see. You Americans better hope Kerry wins, because just maybe he can reverse the absolute damage this un-elected president of yours has brought to the image of your nation.
-- From a European

SCIENTIFIC DEDUCTIONS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Binge College:

I am a university biology professor who teaches one of the introductory science classes required for graduation. I am amazed at the number of students in this introductory classes that can only be described as "deer in headlights." They don't read their assignments or do outside reading, don't come to class, almost never engage in class discussions, and do very poorly on their exams. I agree that there is essentially no intellectually curiosity in many of today's college students. On the flip side, I am fortunate to have a few biology majors who are as good as they get. They are self-starters, work extremely hard, and are highly motivated to achieve. While these are the ones who will be our next generation physicians and scientists, I am concerned as to the direction that higher education is going and what impact this is going to have on society over the next 50 years.
-- Richard Cowart
Dubuque, Iowa

BIAS BIASES
Re: Brandon Crocker's Yes, We Have No Biases

Amen, Mr. Crocker. You have outlined the most recent liberal biases in the mainstream media and I fully support your efforts to do so. I do recall that a survey was taken a few years ago that proved this very point, with some 80% responding to a liberal following.

Well done and done well. Blessings to you and your family and continued success.
-- Stephen Bird Moore
www.countrycreekstudios.com

Brandon Crocker: Simply put, you're conservative, and you're upset that there is a liberal media. I somehow find that fitting that you would write an article about biases, when yours is filled with them. Just because your bias leans in the opposite direction from those in the majority doesn't excuse your bias. I'm afraid that is what we call "hypocritical."

I suppose what I would wonder is why you don't highlight the fact that the Bush Administration has scratched your back as a real estate agent. To own your own business under a Republican administration is a joy. Frankly, you have as much bias as the rest of us, considering how the tax cuts and incentives passed through the republican government benefit you.

You presented a one-sided attack of liberal media. Why not temper it with articles from all sides instead of assaulting a specific group? That way, we get a view of the whole picture -- that thing you claim to be advocating.

When you have a polarizing administration, I expect that bias is somewhat expected, though aiming for a lack of it in the media should always be the focus. Fact is, this president panders to the polar ends, playing up fear of the masked, nameless Muslim who's coming for you and your bible reading children. He talks of the dirty homosexuals who are waiting in the shadows to mug straight couples and take away their marriage license. He makes all manner of excuses and smoke shields to cover for his failing economy, pathetic job growth, ambiguous war, ambiguous intelligence, and Christian Protectorate policies.

I don't think there's anything wrong with bias, as long as it is affirmed from the beginning. On that note, I'll concur that certain news agencies should indeed preface their coverage with a liberal disclaimer, as should those agencies who are conservative.

The difference between you and me is that I will write this editorial and tell you up front: I'm a dirty liberal. Have the courage to stand up for your convictions, and if you are conservative, Republican, or a follower of Pat Robertson, then bloody-well say so. Don't build an argument against your opposites while maintaining your impartiality, especially when your writing reeks of bias.
-- Matthew J. Viator

Mr. Crocker's most disturbing observation is not of left-wing media bias, but of the paucity of actual media talent on the political right. Crocker's analysis fails to take the next step, leaving out that the left-wing media has its choice of token conservatives, as with its choice of stories.

Why would those liberals hire the most effective conservative voices? So much better to put on mediocre minds, which will leave viewers more confused than convinced, allowing the left the freedom to behave as Franken did in Crocker's example. The result is sham debate.

With exceptions, many of TV's "conservative commentators" (such as Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and others) go positively limp (linguistically) facing the fast-talking, twist-artists on the left, whether Donna Brazile, Al Hunt, Al Franken, Begala, Carville, etcetera, ad nauseam. And Bill O'Reilly -- the biggest joke of all. Conservative? Far more bluster than brains (I don't give a damn where he went to school), he is easily bested -- even by Rosie O'Donnell! His only defenses are shouting and the mute button. He probably is some kind of neo-theo-Fascist at heart. He sure isn't conservative. I don't know what he is. Neither does he.

You'll have to go to Fox to find Kristol, Krauthammer, Barnes, or (God bless 'im!) Brit Hume, and it's gratifying to notice the demeanor of liberals around them -- it's downright respectful. They'll get their say, but not their way. I doubt Carville, or Begala, or Franken would dare share the camera with Hume. That's quite possibly why they never do. But even on Fox, outside of Hume's little circle. there is very little true talent. For example, on his own show Hannity couldn't begin to match debate with Donna Brazile. She completely dominated him, even though everything she said was pure crap. Very depressing over all.

Why are liberals such difficult adversaries for so many "conservative commentators?" They cowering before liberal sophistry, they concede the intellectual high-ground, they run for the cover of "family values," or "patriotism." (Sean Hannity, sound familiar?)

Anyway, good article by Mr. Crocker. He's preaching to the choir, of course.
-- J. Mohr
New Jersey

STANDING ON THE CORNER
Re: Jed Babbin's letter ("For the Record") in Reader Mail's The New Derrida and Kevin McGehee's letter ("Foxettes ") in Reader Mail's Games People Play:

I heartily second the opinion of the learned Mr. Jed Babbin. Kiran Chetry is indeed the most comely and vivacious lady in the universe! Were I young, and she single, I would forthwith take her home to Mother; if, that is, mon Pere were ensconced securely within a straitjacket!
-- Frank Stevenson
Williamsburg, Virginia

Reader Kevin McGehee, in his answer to reader Ken Shreve's response to Kelly Jane Torrance's comment on the Fox News women all being blonde, makes a distinction between "anchor babes" and "news babes." Respectfully, I think he is picking a nit. The news personalities substitute for the anchor personalities all the time.

Oh, and Kiran Chetry is no blonde, and sure as heck is no bag of bones either.
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

No Way! Patty Ann Brown of Fox News head lines is the absolutely most beautiful girl on Fox News or any other News for that matter
-- Albert Wilson
Valley, Alabama

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article