The Old Breed. The New Breed.

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The unfolding Scott Thomas saga as I understand it…

Scott Thomas Beauchamp is an aspiring writer, serving in the infantry in Iraq, writing in diary form about observing and participating in macabre and cruel behavior during his active service. His pseudonymous work was polished and published by The New Republic, igniting a sh*t-storm in the right blogosphere, who cast doubt on his story and his very existence. When Beauchamp publicly identified himself, the narrative changed to questioning motivation and attacking him personally. He is now being investigated, his e-mail privileges suspended, his Sargeant labels his stories “fairy tales” and says Beauchamp has underlying issues. Currently favored left wing meme summarized by Digby and right wing meme summarized in these panels of DaybyDay:

Rick Moran thinks that both the right and left are missing the point and asks “Is there a larger truth about the war to be found in the writings of people like Yon, Totten, and even Beauchamp?” I think Moran has a point, and it is also informative to put Beauchamp’s stories in an historical context.

As serendipity would have it, I am reading With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge – a memoir of a WWII marine private, recounting his first hand experience in the Pacific theater, and cannot help but compare the two.

Two soldiers. Two privates. Two diarists. Two wars. Two generations. Brokaw’s Greatest Generation and Malkin’s 9/11 Generation (which – whether she likes it or not, includes Private Beauchamp). Two soldiers under combat stress, trying to understand the distinction between right and wrong. One walks down a wrong path, but takes comfort in the fact that he understands it is a wrong path. The other, with the help of a friend, takes the right path, but does not really understand it until years after the war.

Today’s exercise – compare and contrast…

Excerpted from and continued on “Divided We Stand United We Fall”
NOTE: Grisly war stories warning.