As is the rest of the media, the Times is making much of the fact that 4,000 American troops have died during more than five years of war in Iraq. I won’t repeat here (or, at least, I won’t repeat at length) my oft-stated belief that, while each death is a personal tragedy, this is a volunteer military that has graciously and with extreme bravery stepped up to help defend all of us and that, thank God, it has been blessed by an extremely low casualty total compared to wars of similar scope and length. But I digress….
As always, I’m leery of MSM articles about the War dead, since I can’t escape the feeling that they’re written less to honor the dead than to score political points against the war. “See, you stupid chickenhawks — wars kill people, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.”
Still, the Times has done a nice job giving life to several men who died within the last year in Iraq. One of them, Daniel J. Agami, doesn’t sound at all like the typical liberal stereotype (one that is completely false) that sees American soldiers a naive minorities sneakily enticed into the military by bribes and promises so that corporations can get rich off their blood. Instead, he sounds like a real American — someone who is one in that rich blend that is the American melting pot, and who believes in what this country has to offer and willingly puts his life on the line to defend it:
Private Agami had time for everyone, and everyone had time for him. Affectionately called GI Jew, he held his religion up to the light. He used it to build tolerance among the troops and shatter stereotypes; few in his unit had ever met a Jew. He flew the Israeli flag over his cot in Adhamiya. He painted the words Hebrew Hammer onto his rifle. He even managed to keep kosher, a feat that required a steady diet of protein shakes and cereal.
He is a mensch, something that is also reflected in the letters and emails his family made available to the Times for this profile.
And yet, when it came to Army Specialist Agami, the Times made a rather unusual decision — it used his picture as the major photograph to illustrate the article. Choosing his picture would not be so unusual, of course, if it weren’t for the fact that the picture the Times chose has Agami sitting in front of a huge Israeli flag. Reading down into the article (way down, almost near the end), it makes sense why he would be photographed in front of this flag: “He flew the Israeli flag over his cot in Adhamiya.” Given that Agami willingly fought for and died for this country, I don’t see anyone having a problem with his choice of decor.
What is a problem is the fact that the Times uses this particular photograph to illustrate an article about American troops who have died in Iraq. One simply can’t escape the impression that the Times is trying to send the subliminal message — a very strong subliminal message — that Americans are fighting and dying for Israel, not for America.
It would be nice to believe that the Times highlighted this particular photograph because its editors wanted to make the point that ours is an exceptionally pluralist army, made up of Americans representing the vast tapestry of race and religion that enriches America. Given the Times‘ political biases, though, it’s very difficult to escape the conclusion that some editor couldn’t resist making a political point even as he followed a directive from on high to honor America’s war dead.
UPDATE: The Times has changed the picture about which I blogged, but Atlas Shrugs captured it.
On a different point, as someone reminded me in a private email, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and one need not jump to any conclusions about the Times‘ motives — as I’ve tried not to, commenting only on the peculiar impression the chosen photo made. My problem, of course, is that, while a cigar may just be a cigar, sometimes it matters whose cigar is at issue — and the Times has not shown itself to be friendly, or even neutral, towards either Israel or the U.S. military.