Schadenfreude at the New York Times

When my friends make mistakes, I’m usually amused and rather pleased, not because I revel in their suffering, but because it shows our shared humanity.  When bad things happen to my friends, I feel genuine distress and wish devoutly for their situation to improve.

The opposite is true, of course, when people or institutions I fear, dislike, or distrust make mistakes or have bad things happen.  For example, if I hear about a would-be terrorist blowing himself up on his own bomb before he even leaves his laboratory, I’m delighted.  The Germans have a word for it:  schadenfreude, which means to take delight in someone else’s misfortune.

Given the smug pleasure a New York Times movie review takes in recounting problems within the American military, I’m pretty sure that the writers and editors at the Times fear, dislike, and distrust that institution — one that, in case they forget, is an all-volunteer organization staffed by ordinary Americans and subordinate to the Constitution the Left so much wants to “adjust” into oblivion.  Here’s the movie review, and please note the glee with which the review recounts the military’s travails (emphasis mine):

It hardly needs to be said that any armed force has the potential for internal as well as external violence. But “The Invisible War,” Kirby Dick’s incendiary documentary about the epidemic of rape within the United States military, is a shocking and infuriating indictment of widespread sexual attacks on women. Such behavior, the film argues, is tacitly condoned and routinely covered up; the victims are often blamed and their reputations destroyed.

This unsettling exposé, which won the audience award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, may be the most outraged film in the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which opened on Thursday and continues at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center through June 28. It is likely to fuel a growing perception of the military as a broken institution, stretched beyond its limits and steeped in a belligerent, hypermasculine mystique that has gone unchecked.

Last week the Pentagon reported that there had been 154 suicides among active-duty troops this year, a rate of nearly one a day. The rate is higher than that of military fatalities in Afghanistan, and it is another sign of incipient breakdown.

The language I highlighted reveals that the liberal audience at Sundance also reveled in the Army’s alleged problem.  I say “alleged” because while I’m perfectly ready to believe that it’s a macho culture with all that this entails, I distrust the source.  In addition, the Army must be doing the world’s worst job in basic training if the women who graduate are incapable of defending themselves.