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There has been a little controversy in bloggerville over the American mercenaries killed by the mob in Fallujah. Kos, who posts on the liberal website Daily Kos, made a supposedly ill-advised remark in some other blogger's comment section about the deaths, leading right wing law professor Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit) to recommend boycotting or censuring Kos's sponsors, many of whom were Democratic candidates. A few advertisers pulled out (don't know if any--or how many--were candidates), but Kos says he's replaced them. Predictably, the unctuous Kerry campaign publically de-linked Kos from its website.
Here's what Kos said about what he said:
There's been much ado about my indifference to the Mercenary deaths in Fallujah a couple days ago. I wrote in some diary comments somewhere that "I felt nothing" and "screw them."Those deaths were terrible but I hate that saying "screw the mercenaries" is being framed as an issue of patriotism or "supporting the troops." These high-paid soldiers of fortune are essentially a private army dedicated to securing Middle East oil assets and protecting corporate interests abroad. And just a reminder: they're shooting Iraqis today; tomorrow they could be over here in the States breaking strikes and busting protesters' heads. This isn't as farfetched as it sounds: the Bush campaign recently hired Vance International, notorious anti-labor thugs, for "private security." This privatization of military functions is a sick trend, and I actually think it's more patriotic to oppose it. Unfortunately the Kerry campaign seems to think we should "support the mercs."
My language was harsh, and, in reality, not true. Fact is, I did feel something. That's why I was so angry.
I was angry that five soldiers -- the real heroes in my mind -- were killed the same day and got far lower billing in the newscasts. I was angry that 51 American soldiers paid the ultimate price for Bush's folly in Iraq in March alone. I was angry that these mercenaries make more in a day than our brave men and women in uniform make in an entire month. I was angry that the US is funding private armies, paying them $30,000 per soldier, per month, while the Bush administration tries to cut our soldiers' hazard pay. I was angry that these mercenaries would leave their wives and children behind to enter a war zone on their own violition.
So I struck back.
[In] Iraq, our men and women in uniform are there under orders, trying to make the best of an impossible situation. The war is not their fault, and I will always defend their honor and bravery to the end of my days. But the mercenary is a whole different deal. They willingly enter a war zone, and do so because of the paycheck. They're not there for humanitarian reasons (I doubt they'd donate half their paycheck to the Red Cross or whatever). They're there because the money is DAMN good. They answer to no one except their CEO. They are dangerous, hence international efforts (however fruitless they may be) to ban their use.
So not only was I wrong to say I felt nothing over their deaths, I was lying. I felt way too much. Nobody deserves to die. But in the greater scheme of things, there are a lot of greater tragedies going on in Iraq (51 last month, plus countless civilians and Iraqi police). That those tragedies are essentially ignored these days is, ultimately, the greatest tragedy of all.