Some people are heroes. Some people are traitors. And in the fantasy world of the right wing “media” there is no middle ground. You, too, can become a hero…or a traitor. It is all about timing. Three easy steps.
Step One. Becoming a hero.
Volunteer to go to war. Does not matter which war. Does not matter if the cause is just. Or if there is any cause at all. War, in and of itself, is a hero maker. If you join you become a hero.
Nothing the TV “news” likes better than a good old fashioned war. Reporters make careers. Officers make careers. Soldiers …well, they try to survive. Bad guys are killed. Everyone is happy.
As a volunteer soldier your congressman may have his picture taken with you. You will be honored for your courage and bravery and patriotism. You will be in the campaign ads. Next to the flag. Papa is proud. Mama is worried proud. And you will be a great hero.
Until you come home. Then, well, you are on your own. Papa is still proud. Mama is relieved. Your congressman doesn’t recognize you. Now you need help. Of course, you can always join again.
Step 2 . Becoming a superhero.
Get captured. Does not matter how. Wander off of base. Go AWOL. Get trapped by the enemy. There are a thousand strategies you can use. But get captured and your hero status will rise exponentially.
Look at John McCain. From a playboy, flyboy , wise guy pilot to hero status just by being captured. So what if he gave military information to the enemy (His words in a 1973 US news and World Report first person account). I don’t blame him. Who wants to be tortured ?
So, a hero captured and held as a POW is a double hero. Congress demands that the president bring you home. At any cost. We don’t leave our men behind…blah…blah…blah. A weak president leaves troops behind. A cowardly president. Do anything …but bring them home. We will swap enemy prisoners to get our boys back.
Like 1973. When John McCain and other US POWs were swapped for Vietnamese POWs. Vietnamese POWs who would undoubtedly return to battle to kill other Americans. But that was okay. John was okay with that. A risk worth taking. We got our boys back. Heroes all. Especially John.
Step 3. Becoming a traitor.
The hard part. How do you change from being a superhero POW into a traitor. It is all about timing. Ask Bowe Bergdahl.
Let’s say Barack Obama is president and he manages to negotiate your release. Well. Bad news for Bowe. You may have been a hero when you risked your life in Afghanistan. You may have been a super hero when you were taken prisoner and endured 5 years of captivity at the hands of the Taliban. Endured isolation. Endured torture. Endured.
Instead of coming home to bands and parades and embraces, you will come home to anger and nastiness and cowardly accusations. Instead of inspirational stories about enduring captivity, the armchair generals of Fox will label you a collaborator. The same folks who praised Cliven Bundy will vilify the POW. But don’t take it personally. It really is NOT about you.
It is all about that other guy. The wrong guy was responsible for your release. Poor Bowe. Should have been born 40 years sooner. Then maybe someday he could have been a hero. And a US Senator.