Saints in Armor

Thursday's Editorial   —   Posted on February 2, 2006

(by Ben Stein, Spectator.org) – I see that my fellow Stein, fellow journalist, and fellow troublemaker Joel Stein is at it again. He has written a piece for the L.A. Times in which he says he does not support the troops in Iraq. He mocks those who sport yellow ribbons, as many do, but he goes much further. He says the American soldier in Iraq is largely responsible for the war and for his own risks, injuries, and death. He does not like the war in Iraq, and he says if American soldiers would simply refuse to go fight or would quit and come home, the war would be over. If they don’t do that, he does not support them and it’s their own fault if they die. (This is my understanding of his piece. I may be wrong and I hope I am.)

So, here is another Stein’s view:

The most heroic, ethically courageous, morally resolute men and women in the world today are the Americans, British, and other forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are fighting the most evil men and women currently on the world scene. The American Army soldier, Marine, Navy sailor, Air Force warrior, and Coast Guardsman fighting in Ramadi or Mosul is fighting men and women who kill children and old people for sport. The men and women of the United States military are fighting the remnants of a regime so evil that it pioneered the use of torture against children — just for the amusement of Saddam and his family. The men and women whom Joel despises rid the world of a dictator so twisted and murderous that he openly admired Stalin and Hitler and sought to match their level of atrocities. The men and women who wear the uniform fought, bled, and died to rid the world of the most dangerous man on the planet in the most flammable place on the planet. They died to save a slave people from the genocidal control of a mad killer who thought nothing of gassing his own people, of wiping out entire regions, of setting up special rape rooms to allow his henchmen and his sons to rape women at will, who amused himself by pouring gasoline down the throats of totally innocent people and setting them on fire.

Counting his war against Iran and the murders of his own people, Saddam killed millions. He tortured many thousands more. Now his minions and holdouts are doing the same with bombs and sniper rifles to stop progress towards a humane society and to turn back the clock to a Hitlerite Iraq, despite the clear truth that 99 percent of the Iraqis want a free, lawful, democratic Iraq. (I guess Joel Stein thinks somehow it’s those poor saps’ fault, too.)

The man from Iowa or South Carolina, the woman from Mississippi or Idaho or Oregon or New York or California or Washington, D.C. or anywhere in America who leaves the comfort of home to fight against an evil as monstrous as what did happen and what is happening in Iraq are great warriors. But they are something more. They are saints in body armor, men and women of staggering moral virtue in a time and place when those words mean very little in the modern world. Their lives have the most meaning of any lives being lived on this earth right this moment.

Do I support men and women who are fighting Nazis who call themselves insurgents or Islamic militants? Do I support men and women who offer up their lives to fight the very same terrorists who killed three thousand totally guiltless Americans on 9/11? Do I support the troops who have more moral decency in their toes than I do or anyone I know does in our whole bodies? I support them, pray for them, am humbled just to be on the same planet with them. With every morning I wake up, every meal I eat, every walk I take in freedom, every night I sleep in peace, I ask God to look after the men and women who guard the ramparts of this blessed island of peace and decency called America. Without them, we would be nothing. Without them, Joel Stein would have his head sawed off. Saints in armor is what I call them and what they are. They are God’s gifts to a wayward world.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He also writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” in every issue of The American Spectator.

Reprinted here with permission from The American Spectator. Visit the website at Spectator.org.

Questions

Ben Stein’s commentary on Spectator.org is a response to Joel Stein’s commentary in the Los Angeles Times.  Read Joel Stein’s commentary here.

1.  What adjectives does Ben Stein use to describe the men and women in the U.S. military?

2.  What adjectives do you think Joel Stein would use to describe the men and women in the U.S. military?

3.  What is the tone of Ben’s article?

4.  What is the tone of Joel’s article?

5.  Compare some of the statements below made by the two authors.  Who makes the better argument?  Why?

Ben Stein wrote:

  • The men and women of the United States military are fighting the remnants of a regime so evil that it pioneered the use of torture against children — just for the amusement of Saddam and his family.
  • The men and women whom Joel despises rid the world of a dictator so twisted and murderous that he openly admired Stalin and Hitler and sought to match their level of atrocities.
  • They died to save a slave people from the genocidal control of a mad killer who thought nothing of gassing his own people, of wiping out entire regions, of setting up special rape rooms to allow his henchmen and his sons to rape women at will, who amused himself by pouring gasoline down the throats of totally innocent people and setting them on fire
  • The [man or woman]… who leaves the comfort of home to fight against an evil as monstrous as what did happen and what is happening in Iraq are great warriors.

Joel Stein wrote:

  • The truth is that people who pull triggers [in Iraq] are ultimately responsible, whether they’re following orders or not.
  • But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you’re not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you’re willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse.
  • …we shouldn’t be celebrating people for doing something we don’t think was a good idea