It was with great dismay that I read the latest piece of McClatchy-Tribune News Service “indignant journalism” plastered on the front page of Stars and Stripes (“Military’s errors get troops off death row,” article, Aug. 28).

Much of the story focused on defense errors and supposed “inadequate representation” provided to defendants in capital courts-martial. Notably excluded from the story was the key fact that defendants in military courts-martial are able to hire their own civilian attorneys at their own expense. The most prominent current example: the lead attorney for the man charged in the Fort Hood shootings is civilian attorney (and retired Army JAG colonel) John P. Galligan. Indeed, in the same Stars and Stripes issue that included the story about inadequate military legal representation is an advertisement for a civilian law firm offering “court-martial defense”!

The story cites “critics,” but only names one legal expert as critical of the military justice system. Well, why doesn’t that critic, David Bruck, put his money where his mouth is and offer to take on capital courts-martial defense on a pro bono basis, if it’s such a matter of principle?

What is disappointing to me is that McClatchy-Tribune News Service has lost any pretense of being an impartial, unbiased news organization. McClatchy has a definite slant to all its articles and opinion pieces, and those articles and opinion pieces deliberately exclude key facts and information in order to control the narrative (in this case, an anti-death-penalty narrative).

What is more disappointing is that Stars and Stripes appears to be a willing accomplice by providing such prominence to McClatchy pieces.

Maj. Michael S. Owens

Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Chief Illiniwek is not offensive

Setting aside world events of greater import, I must take issue with a portion of the Aug. 29 opinion piece on Indian “mascots” written by Jack Shakely (“Teams’ Indian mascots have few fans today”). I stand with him on extreme characterizations (e.g., [the Atlanta Braves’] Chief Noc-A-Homa and [the Cleveland Indians’] Chief Wahoo), but I find it deeply offensive when he includes the University of Illinois’ Chief Illiniwek in his discussion.

To suggest that Chief Illiniwek was a “mascot” instead of a “symbol” is as ignorant as it is inflammatory and insensitive — qualities that Shakely would doubtless use to describe those who disagree with him on this issue. He notes that “If 16 percent of a population finds something offensive, that should be enough to signal deep concern.” In my opinion, this actually signals the tyranny of political correctness.

Where is the deeper concern (or respect) for the 80-plus percent who have another view? Chief Illiniwek was always and without exception revered and treated with the highest dignity. My paternal grandfather was part Iroquois, and one of my maternal great-grandfathers was born in Ireland. Should I demand that the terms “Fighting Illini” or “Fighting Irish” be abolished because they disparage my heritage? Eliminate the soulless mascots, but let’s leave room for life’s positive symbols and traditions, especially when they represent and honor a unique and proud culture.

Joe Page

Stuttgart, Germany

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now