Richard Cohen wrote a nasty little piece the other day in which he essentially declared American exceptionalism a myth. There is no such thing, according to Mr. Cohen. We’re all really a bunch of dummies living in a dysfunctional society, because, you know, we were mean to the American Indians once upon a time and we had slaves, or something. Oh, and too much religion.
Michael Moore, on the other hand, finds us to be just a bunch of hypocrites and blathers on about how killing Osama (even though Moore is obviously pleased he’s dead) was a forfeiture of our principles (something Ron Paul apparently agrees with Moore about).
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we're not like them. We're Americans. We roll different."
As I’ll explain later, Moore hasn’t a clue of what he’s talking about - nor does Cohen.
Interestingly, Moore makes this point when talking about the killing:
I know a number of Navy SEALs. In fact (and this is something I don't like to talk about publicly, for all the obvious reasons), I hire only ex-SEALs and ex-Special Forces guys to handle my own security (I'll let you pause a moment to appreciate that irony). These SEALs are trained to follow orders. I don't know what their orders were that night in Abbottabad, but it certainly looks like a job (and this is backed up in a piece in the Atlantic) where they were told to not bring bin Laden back alive. The SEALs are pros at what they do and they instantly took out every adult male (every potential threat) within a few minutes – but they also took care to not harm a single one of the nine children who were present. Pretty amazing. This wasn't some Rambo-style operation where they just went in guns blazing, spraying bullets. They acted swiftly and with expert precision. I'm telling you, these guys are so smart and so lethal, they could take you out with a piece of dental floss. (And in fact, one of my ex-SEAL guys showed me how to do that one night. Whoa.)
The raid, despite Moore’s blathering and Cohen’s nonsense actually points out why Americans are exceptional. Here’s what CBS News had to say about the details of the raid:
The SEALs first saw bin Laden when he came out on the third floor landing. They fired, but missed. He retreated to his bedroom, and the first SEAL through the door grabbed bin Laden's daughters and pulled them aside.
When the second SEAL entered, bin Laden's wife rushed forward at him -- or perhaps was pushed by bin Laden. The SEAL shoved her aside and shot bin Laden in the chest. A third seal shot him in the head.
Read that very carefully. Very slowly.
“The first SEAL through the door” did what?
Risked his life to protect the daughters of a mass murderer we’re at war with plotting to kill even more Americans in the future.
And the second SEAL? He didn’t spray and pray, he shoved aside a woman, saving her life, and went precisely after the target.
I don’t dispute Moore’s point about what the SEALs were told to do. I concluded that immediately (and I talk about that on our latest podcast). Had they been told to capture him, he’d right now be cooling his heels in an “undisclosed location” and not enjoying his vacation at all.
Moore thinks we let our principles down when we killed him. I can only say that comes from a very warped idea of what our principles are. Justice isn’t a process – it is a result.
Moore puts this out there as an example of what we should have done:
Hideki Tojo killed my uncle and millions of Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and a hundred thousand other Americans. He was the head of Japan, the Emperor's henchman, the man who was the architect of Pearl Harbor. When the American soldiers went to arrest him, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The soldiers immediately worked on stopping his bleeding and rushed him to an army hospital where he was saved by our army doctors. He then had his day in court. It was a powerful exercise for the world to see. And on December 23, 1948, after he was found guilty, we hanged him.
When he was captured, did anyone say “justice has been served?” Nope, that happened when, after his show trial (anyone – was Tojo going to be exonerated or left to live?) -actually, a military tribunal -, he was hanged.
Then and only then was the the term “justice has been served” used. Moore concludes:
A killer of millions was forced to stand trial. A killer of 4,000 (counting the African embassies and USS Cole bombings) got double-tapped in his pajamas. Assuming it was possible to take him alive, I think his victims, the future, and the restoration of the American Way deserved better. That's all I'm saying.
The resulting justice was the same – both died. However, here is the key point: One after a show trial and AFTER a war had ended (same with Nuremberg), the other at the hands of his enemies DURING a war which he started and was still fighting. If you can’t figure out the difference in those situations, then you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer. That’s the part Moore and his ilk always forget.
As for American exceptionalism – well you saw a small example of it in the raid demonstrated by that first SEAL in the room. Our armed forces demonstrate that exceptionalism daily as they fight the Taliban and terrorists. It comes from the culture in which they were raised.
I’m reminded of the story Oliver North likes to tell about the young Navy Corpsman in the battle of Baghdad:
By God, if that's not "exceptionalism" I don't know what the hell is.