A Tale of Two Soldiers
May 11, 2004 11:37 AM   Subscribe

A tale of two West Virginia soldiers: one named Jessica, one named Lynndie. Both are on opposite sides of the propaganda war. One is a hero, one is a monster. No, wait - actually, one is a fraud, one was just following orders. No wait, one is perky and blonde, the other is kind of butch and ugly. Now I'm all confused. Help me Metafilter, you're my only hope.
posted by PrinceValium (19 comments total)
These are not the soldiers you are looking for.

posted by malocchio at 12:05 PM on May 11, 2004

I'm sure Lynndie was just following orders, so that's OK. If not, she was just following her genetic programming and her upbringing, so she can't be held responsible for anything.

Actually, since we're all just following the laws of physics, it's hardly our fault if stuff goes tits-up. I blame God.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:07 PM on May 11, 2004

I blame Jimmy Carter.

anyway, the Scotsman piece is particularly snarky and ugly. Lynndie England doesn't look that bad in her graduation photo. also, attacking somebody because of her looks is beyond the pale. I mean, there's a pretty long list of problems one could have with Lynndie England's behavior and ethics already.
the writer makes one good point tho: "What is important for the people of Iraq to know is that, in a democracy, you never admit to making any mistakes until the press find out. And, even then, only when there are photographs. "

only when there are photographs.

otherwise, accusations of those very real, obscene in many ways) abuses would have been painted by the usual suspects as mad leftist ravings. just that.
posted by matteo at 12:22 PM on May 11, 2004

Interesting how the verbal descriptions in these articles of the photographs of the women attempt to spin the reader's opinion of their physical attractiveness, and (in some cases) go from there to imply readings of their characters. Understandably, England gets the short end of this stick, as if those who do evil must necessarily be physically ugly. This is from the last link:

[...]England’s portrait makes her look like an old Soviet shot putter. You could crack rocks on that face. Quite apart from the dark, heavy eyebrows glowering over expressionless eyes - which gaze off into some vacuous distance - her formal, black uniform compounds the unremitting dourness, while behind her head, even the once-proud US flag manages to look flat and limp. She’s a clone of Kathy Bates in Misery, with closets full of knee-capped men yet to be discovered. This un-American girl never baked an apple pie in her life.

As if the photograph of her holding a naked man on a leash isn't easy enough to interpret.

Also, Fiona McCade (the author of the last link) seems like a Scottish Maureen Dowd.

On preview--matteo beat me to it, but this post took five precious minutes of company time, so I'm posting it anyway.
posted by Prospero at 12:24 PM on May 11, 2004

Jessica from what I hear you are really cool,
I also hear you want to be a teacher at an Elementary school.
You left your country to fight in danger,
you were trying to free people who were filled with anger.
You are now all over TV you have become an American hero,
when I compare you to any superhero in the world you win 10 to 0.

posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:28 PM on May 11, 2004

All this talk about photos and not a single link with photos. Isn't it ironic?
posted by Eyegore at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2004

Here you go, Eyegore.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2004

Both of them are perfectly fine-looking young women.

I hate that "attack a woman's morality by assaulting her appearance" thing.

Having said that, England was clearly guilty of horrendous judgment (at best) and horrible sadism (at worst), whereas Lynch seems just to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2004

Lynch seems just to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time

If you axe me I think they were both in the wrong place at the wrong time – that being Iraq.

It's easy to vilify Lynndie with her humble trailer upbringing, on a sort of house arrest at a military base while pregnant with this guy's child.

She wore combat boots in high school, married young to a grocery store stock boy for a year… enlisted on the hopes of something better.

She is really a tragic, sorry human being.

Jessica on the other hand… well she has nearly the same beginnings as Lynndie and while she is not divorced or currently knocked up, she is engaged and looks to tie the knot at an early age. Jessica has even had her own photo controversy.

While it’s tough to say that Jessica might have been just as vicious and trashy as Lynndie I wonder what her role would have been had she found herself assigned to Abu Ghraib.
posted by wfrgms at 1:35 PM on May 11, 2004

I think the Scotman's piece was a deconstruction of the Jessica and Lynndie images and their impact, not a attack on Lynndie's morality. Subtle difference, of course.
posted by orange swan at 1:57 PM on May 11, 2004

Dear lord, Lynch was rescued *because* she looked like that and the military propaganda people thought for sure that they had their Iraq "fair haired girl" poster child.

England's looks have nothing to do with her crimes, her dereliction of duty, and her moral vacuum.
posted by dejah420 at 2:09 PM on May 11, 2004

orange swan,
OK, but the writer is putting excessive (and unfair, England's not that ugly) emphasis on their looks. I don't know about the impact. it's not about looks -- if one of the torturers looks good I'm not sure people would be ready to let him/her off the hook because of that. if England looked like Julia Roberts it wouldn't change a thing.

on preview:
dejah as always is spot-on. England's looks are irrelevant
posted by matteo at 2:11 PM on May 11, 2004

And it goes without saying (though, here I am, saying it) that we wouldn't be having this discussion if the subject were the relative handsomeness of two American male soldiers (though we very easily could).
posted by Prospero at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2004

My question is, now that Lynch's story has hit the shelves, how far behind is England's? And which will prove the more interesting read?
posted by jearbear at 3:25 PM on May 11, 2004

I don't care if England was brought up in a pigsty. Anyone who would laugh while they had another unwilling human being on a leash has, at best, horrendous judgment.

I believe that poor, poorly educated people are--and should be--capable of better than that. I don't excuse her failings of intelligence and courage because she had a tough life; to do so smacks of paternalism to me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:22 PM on May 11, 2004

And, of course, Karla Homolka was a total babe.

My snapshot impression of England was from a story her sister told about her on tv a few days ago, where she described how a tornado was heading their way, but Lynndie wouldn't come in to safety and stayed out in the yard. She seems to be someone who always had to prove her value -- her toughness, her desirability, whatever. I suspect she may have been thrilled to be part of the group having the upper hand in that prison. I wonder if she ever experienced similar, milder humiliation in her past.

I'm not excusing her at all, and my snapshot impression may not be anywhere near the truth. I guess we'll find out soon enough what her version of the story is.
posted by maudlin at 4:37 PM on May 11, 2004

PRAVDA's take on Ms. England is quite facinating.
posted by page404 at 7:44 PM on May 11, 2004

We'll only know what's what in ten years or so when these two have their boxing match on Fox.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:22 AM on May 12, 2004

Dear god this writer is wordy as hell. It's massive exposition time people!
posted by eljuanbobo at 1:38 PM on May 13, 2004

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