There are two kinds of Americans in
this generation. Former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman was one kind; he
fully earned the title of American with his life and earned the distinction of
hero with his death. Tillman spilt his blood last Friday after a gun battle with
terrorist fighters along a distant road in Afghanistan.
We need only read the vitriol of Pat Tillman's enemies at home to understand
that this generation is deeply, intensively divided. In college newspapers and
youthful Left-wing internet sites, Pat Tillman is no hero, but a "dumb
jock," "Rambo," "baby killer," and an "idiot"
who "got what he deserved."
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If Pat Tillman was one kind of
American in this generation, the notorious Rene Gonzalez, a graduate student at
University of Massachusetts at Amherst is another kind. Gonzalez had the
audacity to write a column in the April 28 issue of the University of
Massachusetts Daily Collegian accusing Tillman of "acting out his
macho, patriotic crap, and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in."
His sacrifice, wrote Mr. Gonzalez, "was not heroism, it was prophetic
This so-called "idiot" died so that Mr. Gonzalez and his fellow
Left-wing radicals could call him names in the free press. Tillman rejected a
$3.6 million NFL contract to take up service in the U.S. Army following
September 11. When Tillman left his promising career in pro-football to defend
America in the war on terror, the Department of Defense wanted to market him as
their poster-boy, but he refused the glory by turning down thousands of
invitations for interviews and photo ops. He sacrificed his life and his
fortune, but he did not give up his sacred honor.
Honor is a rare thing in this generation. But Pat Tillman had it. He had it when
he went quietly into the Armed Services, for he knew that there is no place for
self-adulation among the fellowship of patriots. He had it on the field of
battle, for he was convinced that the cause of liberty is just. He had it in his
final breaths, for Pat Tillman understood that the fight is eternal. And his
dead patriot body may be homebound, but still, in the courts of America's God,
his soul has honor.
Yet there is a despicable brand of person that thinks nothing of a hero. Mr.
Gonzalez stands for the wusses of American, as do the folks at Indymedia.org, a
nationwide media network for the dissemination of radically Left-wing
alternative news. "Indymedia.org has 50 local chapters in the United
States," writes Ben Shapiro in his column this week. "Forty-four of
them made no mention of Pat Tillman's death. The other six celebrated it."
"Pat Tillman is gone good riddance," read the banner above an article
at the Urbana-Champaigne, Illinois Indymedia site. The Washington, D.C.
Indymedia site proposed this headline to sum up Pat Tillman's death: "Dumb
Jock Dies for Pipeline in Afghanistan." Portland, Oregon Indymedia pitched
in with, "Privileged Millionaire, Blinded by Nationalist Mythology, Pisses
Away the Good Life," "Cottled Sports Star Allows Nationalism to Foster
Jingoistic Irresponsibility Resulting in His Death," and "Capitalist
Chooses to Kill Innocents Instead of Cashing Check."
In the ongoing experiment called America, the war on terrorism is this
generation's war. But there is another battle between ideas about honor and
courage and virtue and faith that must be fought in the minds and souls of young
Americans. This great spiritual battle was more pronounced in the days of
Vietnam, but neither side has yet won. Whether character and honor shall win out
in the minds of young Americans will forever determine whether we as a nation
can continue to champion liberty and justice in the world.
Ultimately, it is a question of our responsibility. Someone once told me that if
someone violates your freedom, you will fight to defend it. But if someone takes
away your responsibility, you will be indifferent to the coming seizure of
I worry more about the loss of responsibility in my generation than I do about
the loss of freedom itself. Rene Gonzalez and Indymedia stand for an America
without duty, honor, and heroism. But as long as there are Pat Tillmans in
America, we can survive.
Hans Zeiger is a student at Hillsdale College and president of the Scout
Honor Coalition. www.hanszeiger.com
American Soldier by Tommy Franks
Brainwashed : How Universities
Indoctrinate America's Youth
by Ben Shapiro
Tribute to Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan : The Great
Communicator by Ed Frederick Ryan
Legacy: Paying the Price for the
Clinton Years by Rich Lowry
Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His
Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism by Peter Schweizer