[Marxism] Stan Goff's investigative report on Pat Tillman's death
jbustelo at gmail.com
Sat Aug 18 18:09:31 MDT 2007
Having been a hack for either the pig or progressive press for more
than 40 years, since I was in High School, I've read few works of
analytical/investigative journalism as incisive or insightful as "The Fog of
Fame," Stan Goff's three part series in Counterpunch on the death of Pat
Stan combines three qualities that have virtually disappeared from
the world of journalism --if they ever lingered there-- and I include
progressive journalism: an intimate knowledge of what he is writing about,
an unbreakable will to tell the truth "no matter how bitter it may be," and
a capacity for analysis of the former at the service of the latter exercised
with a skill and precision that even world famous surgeons would envy when
deployed in their field.
You may think you know all you need to know about Pat Tillman, the
American football star who in the wake of 9/11 abandoned his football career
to volunteer for the army and was killed in 2004 in Afghanistan, in what the
army at first presented as heroic self-sacrifice to save his comrades, and
later admitted was a case of fratricide, someone killed by "friendly fire,"
killed by his own side in the battle.
Nevertheless, I would urge you to read Stan's account, and, most of
all, linger on the details, for in those details you will find a tragedy
worthy of Shakespeare.
People like Pat Tillman are not those compelled by force of economic
or social circumstance to offer their body as weapons of the war; nor those
who seek careers in the field of organized mayhem and slaughter. They are
those who yearned for something to believe in larger than themselves, and
were inculcated for their entire lives with the idea that they were
privileged to have been born in the greatest country in the world, a country
not just rich and powerful, but --however humanly imperfect-- wise and just
And being told by their leaders that this great and good country had
been the victim of unprovoked attack and faced a deadly threat, they
responded as the heroes of legends respond, turning their back on fame, on
fortune, on the simplest and most sublime of pleasures, seeing the child you
raised become a woman or a man. Instead, they offer "the last full measure
of devotion" to the cause that such a country "shall not perish from the
And in the details that Goff lays bare we see the tragedy of their
sacrifice, for what they show is that this country is not the country that a
hero would die for. It is a country of vainglorious and irresponsible
leaders, war profiteers and ticket-punching careerists who only care about
how the death of a Pat Tillman plays in Peoria and how it can be used to
distract people from the horrors of the assault on Fallujah, Abu Ghraib and
the Guantanamo torture camp. And that neither the leaders nor the
bureaucrats cared at all that Tillman risked --and lost-- his life in a war
that was lost before the war began. Nor that the Tillmans risked and lost
their lives in a war that even if it could be won, it would be a disgrace
and dishonor to do so.
* * *
It is, I believe, no accident that a soldier wrote these articles.
But it was a soldier who is also a father, and --I happen to know, though
Stan does not mention it in what he wrote-- who wrote these articles as he
was seeing his younger son following his brother into the army and to Iraq.
Writing about his older son four and a half years ago, Stan said,
"Now, flying in the face of my sometimes self-assured facade, Jessie has not
done as I said, but as I did, and I am feeling somewhat helpless....
"I wrote something to a list about my emotional reaction to Jessie's
military service recently, and a self-righteous shit wrote me back that
Jessie had chosen his course of action, he had made his decision, and if he
is lost in this gangster's project of international plunder, oh fucking
"I didn't bother to tell him that I was as concerned with the
possibility that Jessie would learn xenophobia, that Jessie would be called
upon to kill, that Jessie would have his human trust buried, as I was with
the prospect of Jessie being killed in action a dreadful possibility to be
sure, but one I consider more remote than the others."
* * *
Stan no longer fights with the weapons of the infantryman, but he
The articles are here:
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