Friday, September 20, 2013

CBS Resurrects Vietnam Era Veteran Bashing

Those of us who served in Vietnam know all too well the “Myth of the Deranged Veteran” that cast a dark shadow over us for so long. We recall the negative portrayals of us after our return in television, movies and even book series.

We were ticking time bombs, drug addicts, mentally disturbed due to some horrific experience we were forced to endure by the hated government of the time and we were subject to “flashbacks” where we would mentally find ourselves back in some battle, but in reality doing harm or killing innocent people, people we either didn’t even know or our loved ones.

That it was a lie did not even matter, it sold and convinced many to either fear us or to pity us.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) ran a three part series earlier this year showing how Hollywood’s portrayal of Veterans changed during the Vietnam era and remains today mostly negative, March, April and May.

Veterans Organizations have worked double overtime to counter this false narrative of the damaged Veteran as have individual Veterans. We adopted the slogan “Never Again” to signify we would not sit still and allow today’s Veterans to be mistreated for their service as we were upon our return and after.

When factions within the country began once again targeting Veterans as they worked diligently to recreate the unpopularity around the War on Terror they did during Vietnam, I penned Veterans, Warriors and Heroes, not Victims where I brought out that many of those complaining the loudest about “deranged Veterans” are more at fault for the few who do experience trouble than the actual battle experiences they may have endured.

What I did not realize at that time, since I had largely stopped watching network television due to their pathetic programming lacking in talent and substance, was that the CBS network was returning to the era where the Veteran is the ‘heavy’ in crime dramas, running around murdering innocent people as some simple noise they heard set them off on a PTSD fueled rampage.

I am not going to individually go through every episode of every show, but will focus on just two programs, a February 2007 episode of Criminal Minds where “a post-traumatic veteran reliving a war zone” goes on a rampage in Houston, Texas, thinking he back in Mogadishu trying to protect citizens, but killing innocent workers who come down to his hiding place to see what is happening.

The Vet is killed by a sniper in the end, uttering only a hope the child he tried to protect was okay.

I figure that last line was to raise a little awareness, but they forget the many innocent lives the writers have him first kill and that requires assistance from the FBI in profiling who is doing all of the killing.

Fast forward now to popular daytime Soap Opera, the Young and the Restless.

In a nut shell, they brought in a character, Dylan McAvoy played by actor Steve Burton.

The character of Dylan was thought dead in Afghanistan and was the fiancé of the character Avery Clark, played by Jessica Collins.

As it usually is in unrealistic Soap Operas, she falls in love with someone else, thinking her fiancĂ© dead, only to have him return and complicate the new life she is creating. It’s a tired old plot long overused in television.

But they have to drag this story line out even further and make matters worse.

Dylan meets another woman after Avery chooses the other man over Dylan, who has been convalescing in the hospital far away, thinking only of Avery. They have a one night stand, but the other woman is already pregnant from her ex-husband, a bad guy in the show and one she doesn’t want to know she is carrying his baby.

She tells Dylan it is his baby some weeks later and of course, he falls in love, she gives birth prematurely to a full-sized baby boy they name after his father, since they had just gotten married.

It doesn’t take long for him to discover the baby isn’t really his and of course, he is devastated.

He decides to leave is new wife and the baby he thought was his, asking only for a moment in private with the newborn to say goodbye.

But, it just so happens that this occurs during a thunder storm that sends Dylan into a flashback to Afghanistan where a little girl died in his arms that he was trying to save and couldn’t.

He kidnaps the baby to run and save it, sending everybody into a panic looking for him and when finding them couched in a cabin, holding a flashlight thinking it his service pistol, ends up being labeled a lunatic by the baby’s real father, the bad guy in this series.

Some of this story line can be seen in You Tube clips with more to be added, I’m sure.

But, is it really necessary to almost always portray the heroic Veteran as flashing back to the war and endangering those around him?

Especially since it is not even true.

But television and movies are powerful tools, many people accepting what they see as true, never bothering to actually check.

Why don’t they show Veterans as heroic Police, Fireman, Paramedics or even Icons of business and community, as most are? That is closer to the truth about the overall majority of Veterans.

But no, Veterans must be portrayed as damaged people, still ticking time bombs that even Fourth of July fireworks may send off on a murderous crime spree.

I have written CBS with my complaint on this story line, but doubt my voice will sway them. But maybe the more voices they hear from will have them reconsider and begin properly portraying Veterans in their shows.

It’s just a shame that all of these decades later, over 40 years after the Vietnam War, the same networks that went out of their way to portray and mistreat Vietnam Veterans now elects to do it again.

Well meaning or not, it is just wrong!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Did “White Guilt” Play A Role in the Navy Yard Slaughter?

White guilt is a form of self-congratulation, where whites initiate ‘compassionate policies’ toward people of color, to showcase their innocence to racism.” George Will, Columnist

Tragedy once again unfolded early morning September 16, 2013 as gunfire opened inside the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington D.C., ultimately seeing 12 innocent people and the shooter dead and with many more injured.

No known motive has yet been revealed and there are many questions being asked, mostly centered around security, just who was Aaron Alexis, the 34 year old man said to have entered the building and killed so many and as information is coming out, many are wondering just how this man obtained and held a Security Clearance to access the Navy Yard, much less allow him to buy the shot gun officials now say was used in the killings.

Once identifying Alexis as the shooter, within hour’s reports began appearing in the media of a very troubled man with a history of mental instability, misconduct while in the Navy Reserves and at least two run-ins with law enforcement over gun charges.

While many who knew Alexis were stunned with disbelief of him doing such a heinous act, we began reading accounts of him being “was pushed out of the military because of repeated incidents and arrests” from a quote in the Wall Street Journal Monday evening from an unidentified defense official.

We read of a run-in with the law in Seattle in 2004 where Alexis is said to have shot out the tires of someone’s car that he felt “disrespected” him. He explained that incident as “anger-fueled blackout.”

In 2010 he was said to have shot through the floor of an apartment above him in Ft. Worth, Texas, narrowly missing the occupant, a woman he often complained “made too much noise.” He explained that as the gun going off accidentally while cleaning it.

His own father, when contacted, claimed he “had been involved in 9/11 rescue efforts and had post-traumatic stress and anger-management issues.”

It’s known now that he had been treated for paranoia and hearing voices in his head.

Yet, in spite of such a record, he held a security clearance to enter the Navy yard and passed both an F.B.I. and State of Virginia background check to ‘legally’ purchase the shotgun he used to kill and take a handgun off of one of the security guards.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel admits “there were a lot of red flags missed in the security clearance process,” adding “Why they didn’t get picked up, why they didn’t get incorporated into the clearance process, what he was doing, those are all legitimate questions that we’re going to be dealing with.”

Aaron Alexis
While there will no doubt be Senate and House hearings, accusations will be hurled and much finger-pointing amid renewed calls for “background checks” and more gun control laws, will there be any focus on the deterioration of race relations in the country?

What is unusual in this mass shooting is the shooter was a Black man. Not that Blacks don’t kill, but we rarely hear of a Black man committing one of these mass killings.

His being Black has nothing itself to do with his mental state nor is it a direct reason for shooting those people, but I can’t help but wonder if it is a reason so many red flags that should have been caught in his records weren’t there?

Referring back to the quote at the top of this post, many people are scared to death to be labeled a racist” today and have been known to bend over backwards when dealing with Blacks because of that fear.

On some occasions, a few Blacks have taken advantage of this “white guilt” to get ahead or allege wrongdoing if terminated from or denied a position.

An NBC Report is claiming a friend saying,
“He felt like he had been cheated out of money from the contract and complained that he was mistreated because he was black. He felt a lot of discrimination and racism with white people especially. He did have the tendency to feel like people owed him something all the time.”

Yet, so many red flags that should have denied him not only his security clearance but the ability to legally purchase a shotgun and ammunition were not in his records when the background checks were performed.


I cannot say with complete confidence, naturally, but I just can’t help but wonder if the attitude his friend described of discrimination and racism from whites was projected unto others over the years and out of fear of being labeled a “racist,” encouraged them not to put those red flags into his records.

Without a doubt, there remains pockets of racism in our country today, but it is nowhere near as prevalent as it once was.

But racism goes both ways today, crossing racial boundaries in both directions.

Black author Shelby Steele wrote a book a few years ago, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era and in it he says,
“In the age of racism, Whites said Blacks were inferior so as to not see their own desire was to exploit them, their true motivation. In the age of white guilt, whites support all manner of silly racial policies without seeing that their true motivation is simply to show themselves innocent of racism.”

And now I wonder if “White Guilt” has played a role in the deaths of 13 people, including Aaron Alexis, by keeping those ‘red flags’ from being included in his record, out of fear of being labeled a racist?

Maybe too, it’s time we stopped hurling racially charged rhetoric about as if it carries no consequences and realize that we are all in this together.

Sunday, September 01, 2013