. . . Monday May 3, 2004

The Politicization of Pat Tillman

Andrew Sullivan (and many others) have ripped a Ted Rall cartoon that essentially made fun of Pat Tillman for his decision to pass on an NFL contract and join the war on terror. Sullivan goes on to argue that: “Tillman represents all that the far left hates about America, and fears might be true.”

I don’t pretend to speak for the far left, but I think what the middle left actually hates and fears about America is Andrew Sullivan. Not Andrew himself, of course. But just the idea that an obviously smart and thoughtful (and downright important when it comes to some issues) guy like Sullivan can find himself dragged into the cesspool of such childish, mudslinging antics. Want to call Rall an idiot? Go ahead.

Sullivan’s more recent post seems fair enough to me: “Today’s disgusting diatribe against Pat Tillman is so vile, so utterly devoid of any motive or argument but personal malice and hatred, some form of protest is surely merited.”

Let me be clear. The Rall cartoon was dumb, unfunny and meanspirited. But I hardly think it represents a wide swath of the American electorate any more than Sullivan’s bizarre backing of the right wing represents the a meaningful cross-section of highly functioning, intelligent, thoughtful gays who have heroically demanded marriage and other equal rights.

I consider myself a liberal. I also strongly support the military and was deeply moved by Pat Tillman’s decision to serve and by his untimely demise. I do think it’s a shame that many Americans can only truly relate to human loss when a celebrity or a big dollar contract are involved, but there are few people I’ve ever heard from who don’t think highly of Tillman. Can Sullivan Google around long enough to support his contention with the misguided commentary from an ill-informed extremist. Sure. But why become one in the process?

In his tribute to Pat Tillman in The Sunday Times of London, Sullivan pulls a quote from some random New England college news website to bolster his point that the far left is terrible. Are we really at such a pathetic moment in American political history that one can’t write an obituary without using it as an opportunity to rip the other side. This is really beyond pathetic.

There are enough real and very important points of contention between the two parties without having to create a new battleground atop a fallen soldier’s grave. Tillman doesn’t deserve to be soiled by lowbrow, hate-filled, political rhetoric.

Concentration is important!