The Obama administration lifted the 18 year ban on allowing the media to cover the return of coffins carrying American soldiers killed in war. The left rejoiced at this move, suggesting that this was true sunlight (which is apparently less important during the passage of laws like the stimulus bill), and that Americans need to see the cost of war first hand. The media implied that this was a silly law, put in place because of former President George H.W. Bush's vanity. Bush Sr. enacted this law after being shown in a split screen laughing as coffins were being brought back from the Gulf War. Furthermore, as the media is quick to point out, such media coverage was allowed during Vietnam, so it's about time we put aside these Bush era practices and move forward, right?
The real question we should be asking is what does this give us? According to some sources, a majority of military families do not want the media to potentially politicize the personal sacrifice they have made. And if the whole rationale is to make Americans keenly aware of war costs, then what proponents are really looking for is some sort of media sponsored guilt trip. Does this make our country safer, or better? Does it help military families in any way? Not that I can tell.
I object to the idea that without this, Americans are not keenly aware of the sacrifices of our soldiers overseas. I think about our troops overseas on a daily basis, and I can't even begin to imagine what they are going through. When I read some of the coverage of the sacrifice of our brave American soldiers, it makes me unbelievably sad. Perhaps I am unique, but I don't think so. I believe that most Americans appreciate what the very best Americans do for us each and every day and we are thankful. If there is a segment of Americans that don't get this, than that's a problem we should be fixing through better education, and perhaps not stigmatizing the ROTC in our colleges and returning war veterans in general.
It seems to me, the only thing removing this ban accomplishes is to make America even more soft and squishy in the center. Removing the ban has a dual effect. Firstly, it scares would be enlistees with the obvious message that "this can happen to you." Second, it gives our enemies a double-sided win with each kill — the kill itself, and the resulting impact it has here in our media and on the psyche of Americans who should be focused on supporting the country during war. The purpose of going to war isn't to have a debate or to make a philisophical point, it's to win the war. Do proponents of this action realize that?
Yes, this was the normal practice during Vietnam, and we lost in Vietnam. Back in those days, there wasn't a 24 hour news cycle, or a completely rabid left wing media (at least not like today). And while Bush Sr's enactment of the ban was cast as vanity in the media, the fact is, the media at the time was doing the very thing I am talking about here — politicizing the return of America's war dead by showing the president in an inopportune split screen.
It's worth noting that Bush was a naval aviator who served this great country proudly during World War II, fighting along side fellow Americans. Yet, serving as President of this country, he was lambasted by media whom likely never served a day in the military for laughing at an arbitrary moment of the media's choosing. Americans don't join the military, and then make the ultimate sacrifice, in order to help make the point for the anti-war left. Americans join to help fight for freedom and to help America win the conflicts we face.