I went looking online for reports from soldiers.
Actually, before that, I had opened up the NYTimes app (which I never do) on my iPhone, and poked around in that app and read a couple of articles. One of which was an Op-Ed piece that was a general apology to Muslims. And the article smelled like a phoned-in, half-baked, politically-correct turd.
And I remembered that last week a friend of mine stopped by to see me. He was on a short leave, and was heading out to a base on the East Coast to begin full-time work in the military. For some reason, he wanted to talk about how soldiers back from the field tell a different story than the press. Totally different. He said the soldiers he had listened to, talked about watching young girls get beaten for not being in full burka and the soldiers couldn’t do anything because they can’t just interrupt people’s lives. He said a couple of soldiers said they watched a woman get stoned to death because she tried to stop her daughter from being raped by an uncle.
So I went online to google-search for “soldiers on the front lines”, “soldiers in the field”, and a bunch of other variations until google suggested, “soldier blog”. Which sounded like what I was looking for.
The first link was to a a soldier’s blog that was no longer active. Because it had been turned into a book.
Same with the second and third links. The content, excerpts from the books, looked good. The third site made much of the part of the story where the military scolded him for his blog postings and began censoring him.
The third blog turned out to be by Colby Buzzell. Who is out of the military but still blogs. Because he writes for Esquire magazine. And he is very good. I read two of his Esquire articles: Down & Out in Fresno and San Francisco, and Drink, Joke, Woman.
Both articles were exceptional. But they both left me with the same question—a question I often ask: how, why, since when, is bar life representative of American life? How is sitting in a small, dark place getting drunk representative of American life (or living in general)? I understand that a number of people do that activity. But it is a certain type, or types, that do. Not all types. There are not enough bars to hold the majority of Americans. Why do we pretend (in movies and books and press) that it is what people (especially Americans) do? Why do we hold it up with pride and reverence? As if it were some great, human tradition–the sum of our efforts and ingenuity?
It’s just drinking. By, largely, lonely people. Must we pretend it is noble?
But I wouldn’t want Colby Buzzell to stop doing it and writing about it.