OPINION – Navy SEALs are, as one former frogman put it, the most singular fraternity of fighting men in the world. Their fierce reputation is virtually impeccable and one of the things that has contributed to keeping it so is their unofficial title: The Quiet Professionals.
But as time passes, more and more of the men from this community are publishing books of their life and exploits in the “Teams,” our nation’s special operations forces.
Marcus Luttrell’s “Lone Survivor” was an exceptional tale of the swift deadliness and intense loyalty few specialized warfare operations can boast. So exceptional, that Hollywood saw fit to make it into a now renown film.
LA Weekly film critic, Amy Nicholson, lambasted the film and in turn syndicated talk show host Glen Beck publicly lambasted her for her review. Beck challenged her to accept his offer of a luxurious, all expenses paid trip to Texas so she could read it aloud to Luttrell, suggesting in essence, that to face-off with the SEAL is a challenge she would find daunting.
I could not help but wonder what the SEAL’s response would be.
On the one hand, I find Beck’s challenge a sanctimonious defense that suggests we are never to question the military; but on the other hand, I find that Luttrell opened the door to scrutiny by taking his story public.
It would seem that there must exist, within the ranks of those men, SEALs who much prefer the anonymity The Quiet Professionals once maintained as an almost silent code. It gave them an air of respect and all but guaranteed the element of surprise.
After all, if you made your living executing missions on some of the world’s most dangerous individuals, would you want your name in the headlines? But … Luttrell invited this, he went public and in doing so he relinquished his “Quiet Professional” status.
There is something about the sensationalism of war and violence that could be explored here but perhaps that is a different conversation.
While the story of Luttrell’s survival after his comrades were overrun and shot to death by the Taliban is a riveting and compelling one, it is not the only time the SEALS, or any other military unit for that matter, have come under fire.
And while it is understandable that his book was the utmost tribute to his friends and fellow teammates, it did in some small way violate that code of silence.
But to the question at hand: Suppose, this critic faces off with Luttrell as Beck would have her do, does any one have any doubt in their mind that Luttrell, arguably one of the bravest men in this country, would do anything less than simply tell this woman that he would defend to the death her right to have such an opinion and thank her for having the courage to speak it?
Then again, from whence cometh this notion that questioning our military or its members is necessarily a bad thing?
In the post 9/11 era, partly in response to the disgraceful manner our Vietnam Veterans were treated, patriotism resurged and support for our troops was elevated to levels not seen since WWII. As it should have been.
But at the very heart of the patriot, soldier and citizen alike, is a responsibility to always stand at the ready to question what our government is doing – and yes, even our military.
Can you imagine what might have come if there had been a few more ardent questioners in 1938 Germany? Anyone want to wager what may have come if the Wannsee Conference had been a matter of public record before, during, and after it took place?
Luttrell, by all counts is a hero. He is living proof of courage and patriotism at all costs. He might not agree with the critic’s opinion of his book or the film. But he’d lay his life on the line to defend it. In fact, he did.
See you out there.
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Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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