I wonder if J. Karl Miller realizes how rigid and unbending he appears to discerning readers. Or, maybe he does know and wears that inflexibility like a military award. His columns are unashamedly one-sided. I find myself wondering what color the sky is in the world he lives in because he certainly doesn't seem to live in the same world I do.
A while back he had a long rant about the travesty of the movie "True Grit" being remade. He thought that it was terrible to mess with a "classic." Has it never occurred to him that countless films have been remade, sometimes using the same title and other times renaming the film but having basically the same plot? There have been more than one version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "The Maltese Falcon," "Love Affair," "The King and I," "The Philadelphia Story," "King Solomon's Mines," "A Farewell to Arms," "The Blue Bird," "Anything Goes," "Pride and Prejudice," "The Champ," "Assault on Precinct 13," "Ben-Hur," "Of Human Bondage," "Lady for a Day," and "Waterloo Bridge," to name a few. Therefore, why Mr. Miller is so horrified "True Grit" has been remade, as if it is shocking and something that is rarely done, is beyond me.
In the same article, he waxed nostalgic, as he often does, about the "good ol' days" when movies were good. I felt as if he was trying to say that "back when" movies like "True Grit" were being made movies "meant something" or had higher morals. I would point out to Mr. Miller that "True Grit" was released in the same year as "Midnight Cowboy," "Easy Rider," and "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," and after the releases of "If...," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Georgy Girl," "Alfie," and "Sweet Bird of Youth," to name a few movies that did not exactly have heroes or protagonists who followed the Ten Commandments or obeyed the law.
So, Mr. Miller, it seems more likely that you are simply disheartened that a movie for which John Wayne (a true hero to conservatives) won an Academy Award has been remade. Maybe you see it as besmirching his reputation or good name. Otherwise, I see no reason for being upset a movie was being remade or for reminiscing about the "good ol' days" when films had high moral values. They are both moot points.
There was also a recent column in which Mr. Miller defended FOX News and aimed to show that no television news channel is unbiased. While it is apparent that MSNBC is going head-to-head with FOX in an effort to win an audience who wouldn't watch FOX anyway, it is factually incorrect to say that FOX is no more biased than any other news show. Studies have consistently shown that people who receive most of their news from FOX News are misinformed about actual facts. For instance, more FOX viewers thought weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. More FOX viewers thought Iraq was involved in the hijackings on September 11, 2001. Both of those statements are factually untrue.
When viewers are watching a station that is purportedly devoted to "news"—which would mean the dissemination of information—yet they are misinformed instead of informed, that is a serious problem. I also would like to know how Mr. Miller justifies the level of rhetoric, hatred, and invective that is spewed out regularly on FOX News. Is it necessary to do that? Is it helpful to society to do that? Doesn't it just pander to the lowest common denominator amongst people instead of trying to educate them and inform them?
Personally, I just want the facts with appropriate background information, when I am given "news." I do not want hyperbole by either side. (That's one reason I grew disgusted with Michael Moore.) I don't need to have name-calling and fear-spreading and exaggeration. Just tell me what happened and let me decide how I feel about it.
Finally, Mr. Miller's column proclaiming that repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would be disastrous for the troops was typical of his columns. Mr. Miller stated in the second paragraph, "Further, when nearly 60 percent of Marines and Soldiers in combat units...believe that openly gay troops will pose strong potential for disruption...a red flag is warranted."
In the last paragraph, Mr. Miller stated, "Finally, I know of the polling procedure identifying 70 percent of the military as either ambivalent or open to serving with gays and lesbians. But the military in which I served for 30-plus years was not governed by opinion polls."
Does Mr. Miller realize he can't have it both ways? If he is going to cite as one of his reasons for opposing the policy change the survey showing 60 percent in combat being against repeal, he cannot then say he doesn't pay attention to polls just to ignore the 70 percent who are okay with the repeal! If the poll numbers for one segment are valid, the poll numbers for the other segment should also be valid.
When President Truman issued executive orders desegregating the armed forces, I'm sure many people through the country opposed the policy. Perhaps if a poll was taken of troops, the majority of them would have been against it. But President Truman apparently did what he thought was the right and honorable thing to do, not what might have been the politically popular thing to do. He ordered the desegregation because he knew he would not be able to get it passed as legislation.
Would Mr. Miller say President Truman made the wrong decision? Would he say that was a "different" situation because it happened when the U.S. was not actively fighting in a war? Even if the U.S. was temporarily between wars when Truman issued the orders, the U.S. was an occupying power in Germany and Japan and was already in the Cold War. There were certainly a lot of stresses being placed on servicemen. At that time, military service was not a "privilege," it was an obligation via the draft.
I think most Americans probably look back at the time of slavery and Jim Crow laws with disgust and repulsion and wonder how our ancestors could have "gone along" with such blatant discrimination. Likewise, I think a few decades from now people will look back and wonder why gays and lesbians were discriminated against in so many ways.
Congress has the opportunity to repeal a policy that discharges qualified, trained, and competent people when their only fault is having been born with a different sexual identity. Why wouldn't repeal be a good thing? Why should Congress cave in to the prejudices of some? If Truman had lacked the courage to act independently and waited for Congress or the courts, how much longer would the armed forces have been segregated?
Mr. Miller, isn't it better to take a stand for something that is right, and that will historically be seen to be right, than to appease people who want to feel superior to others and thus choose different reasons (religion, skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) as ways to reinforce their "superiority?"
Jane Ralls resides in Columbia and enjoys history and traveling.