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February 6, 2005
Let's Play "Guess Who Talks Like General Mattis"

Ralph Peters writes a passionate defense of Lt. General Jim Mattis in today's New York Post. Peters, himself a former Army officer, finds himself encouraged by Mattis' honest and direct appreciation for his job:

Gen. Mattis may have been unusual in his honesty, but he certainly isn't unusual in our history. We picture Robert E. Lee as a saintly father figure, but Lee remarked that it's good that war is so terrible, since otherwise men would grow to love it too much. He was speaking of himself. Andy Jackson certainly loved a fight, and Stonewall Jackson never shied from one. Sherman and Grant only found themselves in war.

WE lionize those who em braced war in the past, but condemn those who defend us in the present. George S. Patton was far blunter than Jim Mattis but Patton lived in the days before the media was omnipresent and biased against our military.

The hypocrisy is stunning. Gen. Mattis told the truth about a fundamental human activity war and was treated as though he had dropped a nuclear weapon on an orphanage. Yet when some bozo on a talk show confesses to an addiction or a perversion in front of millions of viewers, he's lionized as "courageous" for speaking out.

Sorry. It's men like Jim Mattis who are courageous. The rest of us barely glimpse the meaning of the word.

We've come to a sad state when a Marine who has risked his life repeatedly to keep our country safe can't speak his mind, while any professor who wants to blame America for 9/11 is defended by legions of free-speech advocates. If a man like Mattis hasn't earned the right to say what he really believes, who has?

Peters has much more to say, all of it excellent, about Mattis and the hypocrisy of the media that blew his comments out of context and proportion. Peters makes the argument that others have said much the same thing, back when the media not only was not omnipresent but also not biased against American fighting men and women. For an example that Peters misses, CQ reader RCL notes in an e-mail an interesting quote from a respected American leader. Can anyone guess who wrote these words?

I knew Uncle Samuel was holding out on me when your letter came not with Boxley's and Brelsford's. Two came this morning and I am of course very happy. We are all wondering what the [enemy] is going to do about [our] proposition to him. We don't care what he does. He's licked either way he goes. For my part I'd as soon be provost marshal ... as have any other job I know of now. It is a shame we can't go in and devastate [the enemy] and cut off a few of [their] kids' hands and feet and scalp a few of their old men but I guess it will be better to make them work for [our allies] for fifty years.

Which foaming-at-the-mouth, bloodthirsty American war criminal wrote these words, and when? Jim Mattis? Colin Powell? George S. Patton?

Give up?

How about Harry S Truman, written on the eve of the Armistice that ended World War I? Truman wrote these words in a letter home to Bess, apparently unafraid of the damage he might do to American morale or sensibilities. After the carnage of the Great War, I doubt that Truman had any romantic notions left about battle or combat, and yet he had no problem communicating his desire to continue it.

So let's all just take a deep breath and let General Mattis do the job for which he's paid and for which he has such enthusiasm, and be a bit grateful for his presence. After all, if the oft-cited hero of the American liberal can write about his desire to kill Germans and cut off their kids' hands, I think we can accept Mattis' desire to kill the terrorists in the Middle East.

UPDATE: I'm informed by CQ reader Check Six that Peters was Army, not Marine Corps. I've corrected the post.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 6, 2005 1:55 PM

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Tracked on February 9, 2005 1:55 AM

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