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Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times Columnist: “I don’t support our troops.”

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Joel Stein is a 30-something columnist for the Los Angeles Times, for which he writes weekly.

His offering today, “Warriors and Wusses” provoked a huge outpouring of e-mail to me. I hadn’t even read the piece –many, many people who subscribe to the Times don’t read much of it– but e-mail pored in demanding that I post a response.

Upon reading it, I could understand the anger. here are some key graphs:

I DON’T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.


But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they’re following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff’s pet name for the House of Representatives.

I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I’m tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.


I’m not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn’t be celebrating people for doing something we don’t think was a good idea. All I’m asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.

Instead of posting a response, I booked an interview, just concluded, which will play on my show at 3:06 Pacific.

As I suspected, Mr. Stein really doesn’t know anyone on active duty, hasn’t been to any bases or any of the service academies, hasn’t met with wounded or returning troops, and generally admits to being blissfully ignorant of the military. He could not recount a single book he has read about the military, and doesn’t even know how big it is. He thinks the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in the GWOT have died in vain. He does not feel grateful for their service.

These are not illegal opinions, of course, but they are deeply repulsive ones, and I don’t believe the Los Angeles Times ought to have run this column. At a minimum, Stein’s editor, Andres Martinez, who worked with Stein on the piece last night should have expressed some demands for reporting or distinction or at a minimum cautions about what Stein wrote. I questioned Stein closely on this point, and Martinez expressed no substantive views on the column at all.

I also asked Stein if a reader would be justified in cancelling his or her subscription to the Los Angeles Times on the basis of the column. He admitted that while he hoped that a single column on the op-ed page wouldn’t rigger such a reaction that he could certainly understand people doing so.

Some comments on the column posted at

Joel Stein is an ivory tower dwelling Marxist punk. His use of the word “Imperialism” with a straight face alone shows his lack of any connection with reality. He should just go get a pedicure with Zsa Zsa and leave politics to the adults.
Submitted by: Matt Dedinas 3rd ID (’96-’99)
2:25 PM PST, Jan 24, 2006
RE: Joel Stein. Tell me again why the written opinions of an overeducated, underexperienced, snotty little prick are vital to the image and mission of a major US daily newspaper? Glenn Perry Colonel, US Air Force (Ret)
Submitted by: Glenn M. Perry
2:14 PM PST, Jan 24, 2006

More reaction from around the blogopshere located here.

A transcript of the interview will be up at shortly. I will also replay it in hour three.

To cancel your subscription, call: 1-888-565-2323. (Back-up cancellation number: 310-608-0111.)

Joel Stein doesn’t support the troops. Don’t support Joel Stein.

Stein isn’t an aberration. He’s an archetype of and from the left.


An invitation to Joel Stein, which if he is interested, I will facilitate:

Hugh, Only one word can describe how I feel after reading the editorial by Mr. Stein – sadness. Sadness that such ingorance is still so prevalent in such an educated (at least I want to believe we are educated) society. I am on my 3rd year of active duty deployment since 11 Sep 01. I served 9 years in the Navy during the Cold War, both in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My son Adam, who graduated high school in 2004, is currently stationed near An Najaf, and, by the way, reenlisted for 5 years while in country. He had other alternatives and opportunities and I even tried to steer him in a different direction. Yet, he joined and serves willingly, as do I. By the way, Hugh, lest folks like Mr. Stein think we soldiers are an ignorant lot, I happen to have a bachelors degree in computer science from the esteemed Chapman University of Orange California. I worked 10 years as a software engineer for various companies such as Rockwell, The Soma Group, DCA Services Inc., COM2001, etc. I am working on my masters in homeland security/information security. One of the sergeants in the battalion I previously served with had his doctorate in education. Most soldiers are working on higher education even as they serve in the combat zone. Some of the brightest, best thinkers I have met have been in the military. Ignorant? Stupid? Duped? Foolish? Hardly. I can tell you this, Hugh, we serve because we understand the world around us, we understand reality, and we understand that the best defense is a darn good offense. Hugh, thanks for the interview with Mr. Stein – you certainly laid bare his depth of knowledge and understanding of not only the military, but the realities of the world in general. And should he care to experience some military training first hand, he can contact me at the below numbers or this email. We have a lot of infantry field training coming up this year and we can certainly find a place for him for a couple of days, and I will personally serve as his escort if he agrees. Consider it an open invitation. Best Regards, SSG A. B.


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