Welcome to America, Twitter nation, where everybody with a cellphone is an expert on everything — in 140 characters or less.
Welcome to these United States, where on Internet message boards, hordes of the loudly uninformed — armed with all-caps and multiple exclamation points and possessing courage that accompanies anonymity — spread hate, ignorance and lies.
There is, of course, a legitimate debate about the deal President Obama cut to secure Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom. Obama broke the law. Perhaps he felt he had no choice. Maybe concerns about Bergdahl’s health forced Obama’s hand. Perhaps. Members of Congress, including Idaho’s delegation, should be questioning the president. That’s their job. This discussion is not just legitimate. It’s necessary.
One has to wonder, however, if we’re even capable of the kind of nuance this conversation involves; if the rush to know instantly all the details of Bergdahl’s capture, what was in his mind when he left his unit and whether we should label him traitor or hero — there is nothing in between — isn’t another sign the American people can no longer function within shades of gray. Just black and white. Good and evil. Us and them. All the time. Sometimes, the correct answer is “I don’t know.”
Yes, it appears Bergdahl abandoned his unit. That means he’s a DESERTER!!!!! Right? But what about the Washington Post report saying Bergdahl was wandering in a daze, refusing food and water and ignoring warnings he was in enemy territory? Did he suffer a mental breakdown? We don’t know.
Yes, there are emails from Bergdahl to his father declaring dissatisfaction with the American mission in Afghanistan. That means he’s a TRAITOR!!!!! Right? Maybe. It could also mean he got mad and fired off some emails. Check your sent box and see how many of your missives you would want publicly disseminated.
Yes, members of Bergdahl’s unit say six men died trying to find him. That makes him RESPONSIBLE!!!!! Right? Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said those men did not die looking for Bergdahl. Certainly their families deserve the truth.
None of this uncertainty has slowed the anonymous keyboard warriors, though. Bergdahl’s father received email death threats. Hailey canceled a celebration of Bergdahl’s release, partly out of safety concerns. You know things have gone haywire when Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, emerges as the voice of reason, calling on folks Tuesday not to fall into the trap of prejudging because of all we do not know.
That’s exactly right. Most Americans, however, won’t hear what Labrador said. Too many words for Twitter; not enough all-caps or exclamation points for the message boards.
Bergdahl apparently isn’t privy to all the noise surrounding his release. That’s probably best. There’s nothing of value in it anyway.