The Times Marks Memorial Day In Its Own Slanted Way

For Memorial Day, the Times called pro-war soldiers "true believers," ignored soldiers' deaths in Afghanistan, and accused Bush once again of not attending soldiers' funerals.

The Times didn't run an editorial marking Memorial Day on Monday (its lead editorial involved the repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax). Instead, we had Michael Kamber's disillusioning front-page story, "As Allies Turn Foe, Disillusion Rises in Some G.I.'s."

"A small minority of Delta Company soldiers - the younger, more recent enlistees in particular - seem to still wholeheartedly support the war. Others are ambivalent, torn between fear of losing more friends in battle, longing for their families and a desire to complete their mission.

"With few reliable surveys of soldiers' attitudes, it is impossible to simply extrapolate from the small number of soldiers in the company. But in interviews with more than a dozen soldiers in this 83-man unit over a one-week period, most said they were disillusioned by repeated deployments, by what they saw as the abysmal performance of Iraqi security forces and by a conflict that they considered a civil war, one they had no ability to stop."

Slate's Mickey Kaus was not impressed: "I'm willing to believe U.S. soldiers in Iraq are disillusioned, but 'more than a dozen' does not seem like a large number."

Back to Kamber: "They had seen shadowy militia commanders installed as Iraqi Army officers, they said, had come under increasing attack from roadside bombs - planted within sight of Iraqi Army checkpoints - and had fought against Iraqi soldiers whom they thought were their allies."

The text box was somewhat condescending: "Professionalism is high, but fewer are true believers in the mission." Isn't "true believers" a sort of euphemism for someone probably misguided in their belief?

The Times did have an "In Memoriam" Op-Chart in the Sunday Week in Review which began: "This Memorial Day weekend we honor the memories of the nearly 3,600 Americans who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq." (It was composed by outside contributors Adriana Lins de Albuquerque, a doctoral student in political science at Columbia, and Alicia Cheng, a designer in Brooklyn.)

But for some reason the actual fatality chart didn't reference any deaths in Afghanistan (a more palatable war?), only the soldiers who have died in Iraq over the four three-day Memorial Day weekends since the invasion in 2003. Fatalities have been fewer in the last four years in Afghanistan, but four soldiers who died over the Memorial Day weekend in Afghanistan in 2004 were not recognized by the Times. Are sacrifices only made in the unpopular war in Iraq?

Editorial writer Adam Cohendid mark Memorial Dayin his own liberal way in a signed editorial on Monday, "What the History of Memorial Day Teaches About Honoring the War Dead."

"When Memorial Day began, the war dead were placed front and center. The holiday's original name, Decoration Day, came from the day's main activity: leaving flowers at cemeteries. Today, though, we are fighting a war in which great pains have been taken to hide the nearly 3,500 Americans who have died from sight. The Defense Department has banned the photographing of returning caskets, and the president refuses to attend soldiers' funerals."

As Times Watch pointed out when the Times advanced this canard in 2005, sitting presidents have rarely if ever attended individual soldiers' funerals during wartime.

Then Cohen basically called Bush a liar: "Memorial Day also began with the conviction that to properly honor the war dead, it is necessary to honestly contemplate the cause for which they fought. Today we are fighting a war sold on false pretenses, and the Bush administration stands by its false stories. Memorial Day's history, and its devolution, demonstrates that the instinct to prettify war and create myths about it is hardly new."