Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Response To Bill Green's Comment In The June 10th The Notes

To Bill Green,

I'm not one to really get involved in public debates.  I was pretty shy growing up, and I never was a big fan of direct confrontation.  I preferred instead to pick my battles, bending when the matter wasn't big enough to push against, and going through the proper channels when it was.

(In layman's terms, I was that kid easily picked on in high school who would notify a teacher when things got too bad.)

However, your most recent article in The Notes from June 10th, 2014 has inspired me to write this.  I don't expect you to ever read this, but to not voice how upset and disappointed I am in you as a representative of the state of Maine would be a disservice to me, to people I know, and to the state itself.

In your article, you reference the story "The Ransom of Red Chief," about two men who kidnap a kid just to realize the child is more trouble than he's worth.  They then have to pay the father to take him back, even returning him at night so the neighbors won't try to stop them from bringing him home.

You then state, and I quote, "I think the story relates to Sgt. Beau Bergdahl.  He is such a bad prisoner, you don't want him.  I honestly think we should have waited it out.  The Taliban would have had to have given him back...or killed him."

You go on to compare the transference of five Taliban prisoners for an American citizen along the lines of the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees, or the A's sending Mark McGwire to the Cardinals right before he started hitting a ridiculous number of home runs.  You also compare him to a coffee table your sister bought once.

Now, while I can appreciate someone from New England wanting to compare the New York Yankees to terrorists, it bothers me that you would indicate that you'd much prefer an American citizen be killed by terrorists than be willing to negotiate his release.

You go on to say that he's a "low priority guy" because you seem positive he "walked off his post" despite the fact that he has yet to be put on trial for such an act.  You dismiss the fact that the man has endured years of possible abuse and torment, both physical and mental, and that people in high positions state that they knew his life was in imminent danger.  You seem fully prepared to judge the worth of another human being in the following two paragraphs where you summarize his life, and say they should have raised "red flags" to the President.

"Bergdahl was born in 1986, in Sun Valley Idaho, to Jani and Robert Bergdahl, a commercial truck driver.  Bergdahl has an older sister, Sky Albrecht and was home schooled by his mother in Haily, Idaho.  The family attended Sovereign Redeemer Presbyterian Church, an Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

He received a GED his early 20's.  As an adult, Bergdahl studied and practice (sic) fencing and martial arts before switching to ballet classes at the Sun Valley Ballet School in Ketchum.  He never owned a car; he rode his bicycle everywhere.  He spent time in a Buddhist monastery between 2007 and 2008."

I'm not sure how much of that you feel means that this man's life is worth less than any other person's life.  Are you strictly anti-Presbyterian?  Does a man in Maine truly feel offended that someone decided to ride their bicycle instead of drive a car?  Do you regularly devalue the lives of people who get their GED at a later age?  Do you hate Buddhists or people who take ballet?  Maybe you just really, really hate the state of Idaho.

It's not my attempt to belittle you here, I'm just genuinely confused why you feel that President Obama himself should have looked at that biography and decided "eh, forget it, let him die."

Do I feel the trade was a huge success that should be cheered by everybody?  I don't.  I don't pretend to know enough of the details to make that kind of decision.  People with much more experience than either of us, who I'm willing to bet are smarter than either of us, had to make that decision.  I feel bad that the man's parents have received death threats, however.  I also know that they've said that if any American soldiers died trying to rescue their son, they'd be heartbroken.  Obviously, they didn't want this situation to occur, either.

What I do know is that war affects people in different ways.  Some people take their own life, some people become so hardened that it becomes all they know, some people (like perhaps Bergdahl) walk away.  I'm not the commanding officer who assigned him to that unit, I'm not the person who looked at the squad list and felt he was fine to serve in that location.  I'm not the person who put him through boot camp, and I'm also not the person who initially interviewed him as he signed up.

However, I'm also pretty sure you weren't that person either.

To simply state "we should have let the bad guys kill him if they didn't just let him go" feels like one of the more abhorrent things I've heard anyone say in recent times.  We don't condone the deaths of American citizens at the hands of terrorists.  Nobody went through the list of victims after September 11th and decided that "this guy shouldn't be mourned because he didn't pay taxes, cheated on his wife, and once robbed a convenience store."  Nobody (well, except for the Westboro Baptist Church) decides that American soldiers who die in the line of duty shouldn't be honored because they had a tougher life growing up, or were home schooled, or liked ballet.

To do otherwise, even if you meant it in jest which the tone of your article doesn't provide in any context, makes you come across as a rather terrible person.  I'm hesitant to say "monster" only in the sense you haven't advocated someone killing him as soon as he's home again, unlike others in this country.  It's one thing to say, "I'm unhappy with how this went down," but please don't imply that you feel qualified to judge the value of another human being's life.


Erik Bell


Anonymous said...

how might someone get in touch with you privately regarding an article you wrote.

Erik said...

Email is best! Either or