In defense of military jargon
Margaret Benner (Other Voices, Feb. 20) believes that "disguising and sanitizing our war language obscures the terrifying reality of war." Ms. Benner has confused the language of the military with the language of the teacher.
The military has, over the years, developed language that meets its needs. Benner's contention that the use of such language in describing armed conflict is intended to "distance us from its horrible consequences" demonstrates a lack of understanding of how language is used.
The use of specific terms (jargon, if you like) is intended to convey information to a specific audience. While "smart bomb" may sound like a contradiction in terms, it describes a specific family of ordnance to me.
Pilots really do "deliver" their "ordnance" to "neutralize" certain "facilities." Sometimes these "assets" cause "collateral damage," both "direct" and "indirect." Soldiers, sailors and airmen are truly "deployed" into a "theater" and then "staged" to reach an "end goal" in accordance with a "game plan." Missiles can "cruise" and are "married" to their "payloads" prior to their "employment." "Opposing forces" are "engaged" with "families" of "weapons systems" to include "carpet bombing." The opposing force's remaining "capabilities" are measured by "damage assessments."
The intent is not to disguise what is going on. These terms and thousands like them describe specific things to specific people. It is an undeniable fact that people experience hideous pain and death in the tragic, bloody carnage of war. Those of us who have seen and participated in the "necessary evil" of war understand that.
Right now, I and thousands like me are doing a job the elected officials of this country have given us. In doing so, we employ the language of our profession to describe events and circumstances, just as artists, engineers, doctors and a thousand other professionals do. I would be pleased to provide "translations," but kindly do not accuse me of trying to shield the American people from the "naked truth."
Mervin W. Bierman
Offutt AFB, Nevada
The writer is a captain in the United States Air Force.
A call from the governor
AT PRECISELY 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, I received phone call. A man identified himself as a trooper of the Maryland State Police assigned to the governor's office, stating that the governor wanted to speak with me.
I didn't catch the trooper's name, as I had retired early and for a brief moment was startled.
My first thought was that one of my children had been in an accident.
The governor then came on the phone and sarcastically thanked me for the letter I had written, dated March 1, to Hilda Mae Snoops, expressing my thoughts and dissatisfaction with her recent feelings of rebuff and intent to start all over redecorating the Governor's Mansion. I had also expressed my opinion of the governor in this letter.
It was very obvious from the conversation [that] the governor was looking for an argument and trying to antagonize me, but everything he shot at me was thrown back at him.
I took the opportunity to tell him he had been a wonderful mayor but sure was lacking as a governor. He has acted like a dictator instead of a leader. His power has gone to his head.
He wanted me to tell him how he should run the state, what he was doing wrong.
For starters, I said I'd stop construction on the stadium before I'd stop construction on our state roads. To which he replied, "I can't do that," and changed the subject.
He went on and on, telling me our state's problems aren't his fault, and he's not responsible.
Suddenly I realized he was finally speaking the truth. He wasn't responsible, and he still isn't responsible.
Our conversation ended when the governor became so angry that he slammed the phone down.
Unfair to Schaefer
I would like to register a protest at the tendentious article on Governor Schaefer and his state of mind which appeared on March 4. As an opinion column it would have been bad enough, but to feature it on the front page as "news" exemplifies the sleaze journalism that The Evening Sun seems to be indulging in on an increasingly more frequent basis.
The "article" featured a rehash of old news that was never really news to begin with, armchair psychology about the governor's mental state and innuendo that was, at best, unkind if not vicious and mean-spirited. What it was intended to accomplish escapes me completely except perhaps to goad Mr. Schaefer into one of his famous outbursts of temper.
The governor has plenty of faults, but he has tried as both mayor and governor to devote himself to the people of the city and state and has done so with remarkable and praiseworthy effectiveness. He has been "married" to his job, and it is easy to understand how his emotions are tied to it, so that criticism of the job he is doing can be taken very personally.
Job-related criticism comes with the territory, but the personally directed criticism of an article such as this one is not only misplaced but unworthy of an otherwise first-rate newspaper.
A press bias?
I have some questions about Thomas Silhan's letter (Forum, March 5): Are the media really as biased as he claims? What do they do when a conservative president overdoes a liberal fault? They'd either congratulate him for adopting their values or point out that he is worse than they are.
Ronald Reagan's deficit was four times as bad as Carter's. Did Mr. Silhan see any graphs that prove that Reagan was the biggest budget-buster? Oliver North's material support of one enemy did far more damage than Jane Fonda's moral support of another. Did the media ask by what technicality was "Tehran Ollie" not even charged with his real crime?
I am sick and tired of Republican crybabies whining about liberal bias. I've seen nothing that says the message that makes it on the airwaves and the printed page makes more people vote Democratic. This has got to be the most insidious lie in American politics in this century.
Wiley Hall's March 5 column was interesting, but I question some of Mr. Hall's comments in regard to the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl by a famous basketball player. Mr. Hall states: "Those who cynically question the victim's motives are rapists of a different sort." He also states: "I suppose this story has a happy ending. If he [the alleged rapist] is innocent, justice has been done. He can pick up his life where it left off."
First, does Mr. Hall actually think that people are supposed to automatically believe a charge of rape against a man? Why is it cynical to presume a man is innocent until actually proven guilty in a court of law? Further, how can Mr. Hall say justice has been done if the falsely accused man in innocent? His reputation is forever tarnished, and there will always be doubt in some minds. The alleged victim has her identity protected, and she can go on her way, but an innocent man will never be the same after facing a false charge of rape.
Some women do have motives for falsely claiming a man has raped them. Men are innocent until proven guilty, and their identity should be protected as well as the alleged victim's. Why does society allow men to be ruined by false accusations while their accusers are protected?
J. Douglas Parran
A free press?
With the type of restrictive reporting that came out of the [gulf] war, I wonder what is happening in that Valhalla for the war correspondents of our previous wars, especially World War II. Could Ernie Pyle's friends now be calling him, "Pinwheel Pyle?"
Louis J. Piasecki
Is God American?
Evidently war is hell only for Americans. From the onset, our media, the American public and their government were intensely concerned with U.S. casualties, with hardly a nod to the tragic numbers of dead and wounded on the other side.
A poll taken early on showed widespread support for the [gulf] war softened considerably when there was a prediction of more than a small number of U.S. casualties. Casualties potentially inflicted on our enemy were not part of the poll. Despite Washington's denials, it was obvious that the most intensive air onslaught in history had to kill numerous civilians. Even after hundreds were killed in a building in Baghdad, a Newsweek poll asked out citizens whether we should stop bombing that city; 90 percent said no.
Regardless of nationality or where one's loyalty lies, war is no less agonizing for the dying, no less final for the dead. Aside
from whether this was a "just" war for my country, I am appalled by the lack of sensitivity for the enormous numbers of Iraqi dead and wounded, the anguish of their loved ones and the suffering of millions in that devastated country. One must wonder how such lack of caring squares with what we like to call our Judeo-Christian ethic. Is God an American?
Richard G. Berman
Seeking to solve health problems is real insofar as the proliferation of disease is real. However, this proliferation [of disease] is a function of human beings' deadly interferences with life processes and the wholesomeness of the environment.
If health were a genuine concern, scientists would turn their minds to restoring healthy conditions for all life. By focusing on disease, they draw attention away from the patriarchal mania to control, which derives from the fear of being subject to nature. This biophobia underlines all animal research, no matter what the rationalization.
!Catherine D. MacDonald