LEARNING FROM PRIVATE BENJAMIN
George Wittman wrote a great piece in TAS today which answers the question:
What Could Be Worse Than Gitmo?
For those of us -- and there are millions -- who have gone through U.S. Army basic training or Marine Corps boot camp the complaints of Senator Richard Durbin regarding the treatment of the prisoners at Camp Delta in Guantanamo are laughable.
Reading this reminded me of the 1980 movie Private Benjamin, starring Goldie Hawn as Private Judy Benjamin. Remember Judy's rude awakening ... literally ... when she got to "the fort"? We still howl over her asking, "Do these come in any other color?" How about when she informed her captain (Eileen Brennan) that she'd be up at the crack of dawn: "What, couldn't the Army afford drapes?" Or asking her captain, "Have you seen the bathrooms?" And, of course, her recruiting officer's promise to her of "condos and yachts." The Hollywood-ized version of basic training was mild, albeit humorous, compared to reality. But basic training is supposed to brutal in order to prepare young kids for the even worse brutalities of war.
One wonders what Durbin and the folks at Amnesty International would say if their little darlings had been forced to stand at attention in 100-degree heat for two or more hours at Fort Jackson or Camp Lejeune in full combat gear, with 60 pounds of ammo and equipment, waiting for a general inspection. "What time did you get up, soldier?" the inspecting officer invariably asks the first trooper in line. The answer is always the same. "Reveille, sir."
As long as you said that, you didn't have to admit you and your buddies had been up for 36 hours straight "G I-ing" the barracks, the company street, your weapons and everything that moved or stood in the area."Drop down and give me 20, 30, 50," the training cadre would demand, and the shaved head recruit falls to the ground and completes his push-ups -- sometimes to the point of exhaustion for those not in top condition. The heel of the corporal on your back tends to make the task a bit more difficult. Gosh, we should have had some of those ACLU lawyers.
Private Benjamin almost quit basic, with her captain's overly enthusiastic blessing, but instead she persevered. Like millions of real military privates before her (male and female), fictional Judy learned how to follow orders and accomplish more than she probably thought she was capable of doing. In a few short weeks she morphed from a whiny little princess who needed Daddy into a woman who could stand on her own two feet, an adult prepared for life and combat.
Perhaps Senator Durbin doesn't understand what it takes to be an American soldier or Marine. Perhaps he thinks the families of the terrorists should be thought of before the families of the victims of 9/11 or those of our fallen warriors. He speaks of Guantanamo as an embarrassment. It is he who embarrasses those who have served.It seems to me if the real life Private Judy Benjamins can make it through basic training, the catered-to detainees can put up with Gitmo.