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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, November 03, 2006

Jessica McBride denies the existence of PTSD, history, reality . . .

Jessica McBride, UWM lecturer in Journalism, is wrong. A lot. She is not afraid to show it. Here, she's desperately trying to hang John Kerry around Steve Kagen's neck (the italics are her quotes of a Lakeland Times interview with Dr. Kagen, and that's her bold, too):
And then there's this creative way of increasing casualty figures:

Kagen cited 650,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, 2,700 U.S. soldiers dead and another 20,000 injured, as well as countless more "injured mentally."
This is perhaps the most egregious flub in her post (not at all the only one). She seems to be denying that post-traumatic stress disorder--a very real and very debilitating disorder--somehow doesn't exist or doesn't count. Last I checked, McBride is not a doctor (MD or psychology or even journalism), and not really qualified to make diagnoses or rewrite, wholesale, chapters of the DSM-IV. Her insistance that men and women returning from Iraq with PTSD aren't really casualties is insulting both to the vtes and their families.

Indeed, Iraq has produced a higher number of PTSD sufferers than previous wars. Even a cursory Googling turns up hundreds of articles about the seriousness of the disease and the toll it takes on the soldiers and their lives. Here's just one take:
Many of the most common wounds aren't seen until soldiers return home. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an often-debilitating mental condition that can produce a range of unwanted emotional responses to the trauma of combat. It can emerge weeks, months or years later. If left untreated, it can severely affect the lives not only of veterans, but their families as well.

Of the 244,054 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan already discharged from service [as of February 2005, when this article was written], 12,422 have been in VA counseling centers for readjustment problems and symptoms associated with PTSD. [. . .]

Post-traumatic stress was defined in 1980, partly based on the experiences of soldiers and victims of war. It produces a wide range of symptoms in men and women who have experienced a traumatic event that provoked intense fear, helplessness or horror. The events are sometimes re-experienced later through intrusive memories, nightmares, hallucinations or flashbacks, usually triggered by anything that symbolizes or resembles the trauma. Troubled sleep, irritability, anger, poor concentration, hypervigilance and exaggerated responses are often symptoms.
I suppose if Jessica McBride wants to explain in greater detail how these men and women aren't really suffering and weren't really casualties of this war, she's welcome to. But first, she might want to do some further reading on Iraq and PTSD: I recommend the VA, the Christian Science Monitor, a help group for PTSD vets, the Iraq War Veterans Organization, Inc., and even her beloved FOXNews.

But, as I mentioned, McBride's denial of PTSD is not the only denial of reality she engages in--and there's also her lack of such common journalistic techniques as, say, research. What drew her into the Kagen article in the first place, besides maybe a pathological (oops, I'm not qualified to diagnose, either! See how easy it is to avoid such problems?) irrational desire to elect John Gard to Congress, was Kagen's mention of what his constituents had told him (same rules on italics and bold):
As usual, Doc Kagen, of recent "injun time" fame, goes off the rhetorical deep end. Such as when he said that everywhere he goes, people tell him they are concerned about Iraqi troops... in the U.S. (!)

"John Gard will write a blank check for this Republican Congress and this president to stay indefinitely in Iraq," he says. "Everywhere I go, people tell me the same thing - our troops don't belong in Iraq, and Iraqi troops don't belong in the U.S. So we understand that it's a mess. There's no plan. There's a losing strategy and there's no end in sight. So my response is: I'm going to be very interested in oversight - aggressively - and bring this country to accountability. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush must be held accountable for their actions."
While I agree that there is little likelihood of Iraqi troops coming to town now, I think Steve's interlocutor there made a relatively good analogy: We have as much business being in Iraq as Iraqis do being here, that is, none. McBride has a different opinion, of course, but differing opinions do not "off the deep end" necessarily make--especially when the ones with those opinions are people completely different than the one she diagnoses as being off the deep end. More:
He [Kagen] sounds suspiciously like John Kerry:

"But even when we had a draft we know who served. It was the lowest socioeconomic strata. It's always been throughout human history that those who are not in power are the ones to fight the wars."
Does McBride not think this is true? Does she not remember her history lessons? Though it's true that the wealthy volunteers died at a similar rate in Vietnam to the poor, that's because the poorer draftees didn't get the "hazardous roles as pilots or infantry captains and lieutenants." Demographically, draftees were poorer, period. And the theme of complaints about the old (and powerful) sending the young to die is not original to Kagen (or Kerry); it goes back, in this country, to Revolutionary War-era poetry, at least. Yes, more!:
He wants to cut Homeland Security funding.

Kagen says he wants to get pork-barrel spending - whether in homeland security or elsewhere within the government - under control.
'Cause there's no pork in DHS, you know. And:
He also seems to be implying that Americans are enemy combatants... or something. Seriously, this guy could get elected to Congress. He can't even form a rational thought.

Kagen attacked the president's recent signing of a bill allowing the federal government to decide who can be defined as an enemy combatant. "If you're so defined under the law, they have the right to take you away and you don't have a right to a jury trial," he said. "You do not have the right of habeas corpus. So we've created a totalitarian state and given up our right of habeas corpus and our privilege of being an American. [. . .]"
McBride also doesn't know how to read the law that clearly gives the administration the right to declare whom it will an enemy combatant,
even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

This dangerous compromise not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops "during an armed conflict," it also allows him to seize anybody who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.
Perhaps she'd like to see that of me or Dr. Kagen, some indefinite detention somewhere I don't have access to Google to demonstrate how wrong she is.

Or maybe she just doesn't care. The Brawler yesterday documented McBride's disdain for "true objectivity." That may encompass her need to wallow in the wrongness, coat herself in it. Her insistence on "truthiness"--that what she feels is right must be right, reality be damned. That she is willing to toss aside not just a partisan opponent (in Kagen) is not a surprise. What is a surprise is that she's willing to toss aside veterans of the Iraq War and the Vietnam War, that she's willing to toss aside your civil rights, that she's willing to toss aside the truth about something as easily verifiable as DHS pork.

There's a difference between "true objectivity" and offense. Regardless of what she may think, McBride is the "MSM," and a professional influencer of the next generation of media folk. If this is a harbinger of the future . . .

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