What would you call Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinal football player killed in Afghanistan? A hero? An inspiring example of American military men and women? A model of principled strength?
How about a "dumb jock"? A "baby killer"? A "dumb-a--"? A victim of "brainwashing"?
If you were a regular reader of Indymedia.org, odds are that you'd put him in the latter group. You'd think that Pat Tillman was a boob, a complete dimwit at best -- you might even believe that Pat Tillman was an evil person and deserved what he got.
Indymedia.org has 50 local chapters in the United States. Forty-four of them made no mention of Pat Tillman's death. The other six celebrated it.
The Portland, Ore., chapter of Indymedia.org posted the news of Tillman's death accompanied by this headline: "Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan." Some who posted comments suggested alternate titles for the piece, like "Privileged Millionaire, Blinded by Nationalist Mythology, Pisses Away the Good Life," "Cottled Sports Star Allows Nationalism to Foster Jingoistic Irresponsibility Resulting in His Death," and "Capitalist Chooses to Kill Innocents Instead of Cashing Check."
Others made comments on the site comparing Tillman to a Nazi and accusing him of responsibility for "the deaths of hundreds, maybe thousands of Afghan civilians." "Karma sure is a b----, isn't it, Tillman?" one sneered.
The Urbana-Champaign, Ill., chapter of Indymedia.org posted two articles about Tillman. One carried the headline "Pat Tillman is gone good riddance." The other labeled all soldiers "dumb-a--(es)."
The North Carolina Indymedia chapter also posted a piece labeling soldiers like Tillman "dumb-a--(es)" and added that Tillman was killed during a "baby-killing raid." San Francisco Indymedia posted the same piece. St. Louis Indymedia stated that Tillman was "brainwashed by the 'patriotism.'"
One commenter on the Washington, D.C., Indymedia site wrote this: "I saw the Post this morning, on the front page. It was sickening. They built this guy up like he was Audie Murphy or something, publishing this foto of him in his Ranger getup, all tough-looking and stony-jawed, like a goddamn' recruiting ad ... Puke-o-rama. Cold as it may sound, 'Dumb Jock Dies for Pipeline in Afghanistan' pretty much sums it up."
What is Indymedia? According to its Web site, "Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grass-roots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate and passionate tellings of truth." Indymedia is made up of leaders in the anti-globalization and anti-war movement, coordinating massive protests. They revel in wild conspiracy theories. They're rabidly anti-capitalist and generally anti-American. In short, they're a bunch of left-wing nuts.
Yet the American left has neglected to excise the Indymedia cancer from its support base. In 2002, the left-leaning Ford Foundation gave Indymedia $50,000. The Tides Foundation has donated $376,000 to Indymedia, according to Frontpagemag.com. Two of the biggest donors to the Tides Foundation? George Soros, who has given over $15 million to Democratic causes during this election cycle, and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Ralph Nader is one of Indymedia's biggest supporters; his group, Public Citizen, is listed as on Indymedia.org as an "ally."
Indymedia is no small-potatoes venture. Aside from its Web sites based in 50 major American markets, it also has Web sites located in five chapters in Africa, 13 in Canada, 39 in Europe, 15 in Latin America, eight in Asia, and nine in Oceania.
The Indymedia list of allies is impressive as well. It lists groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Adbusters, ZNet, the Institute for Public Accuracy, and Corporate Watch.
Largely due to an unceasing hatred for President Bush, the American political left continues to support Indymedia and its ilk. During the MoveOn.org Hitler-Bush ad scandal, liberal pundits largely refused to condemn the ads. Democratic Underground, a site linked on John Kerry's official blog, constantly pushes an extreme leftism often encroaching into paranoid territory.
This latest outrage underscores the leftist community's tolerance for an ugly, radical element. The Pat Tillman insults have been floating around the Web for days; the liberal silence is deafening. Tillman died to protect freedom of speech -- that doesn't mean anyone should use it to spit on his grave.