The vitriol precipitated by the trade of five Taliban prisoners for American Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been ghastly.
We in Blaine County are mountain people—skiers, boarders, hikers, mountain bikers, climbers, kayakers, river rafters, hunters and fishermen. Spending time outdoors is something most people here do every day, not just on special occasions and vacations. We know that outdoor sports come with certain risks that may include injury or death.
The Sun Valley Ski Patrol regularly rescues people who get in trouble on Bald Mountain. They retrieve and stabilize injured skiers and boarders, and control avalanches by blasting away wind-crusted cornices. Blaine County Search and Rescue teams regularly rescue people who are lost or injured in the backcountry. Fire and police personnel think nothing of running toward danger when called on by people in distress.
None of these rescuers would ever refuse to aid a victim because the victim had gotten himself into a precarious situation through bad judgment. They wouldn’t think of insisting that the victim declare loyalty to some kind of ideology before they would hoist him onto a stretcher or a toboggan, bind his wounds and get him to safety.
And no one would kick a defenseless victim while he was down.
Yet, that’s what the American political machine of today has done to Bergdahl. Republicans who denounced his rescue because he may have walked off his base before being captured have behaved despicably. Democrats who failed to stand up for the repatriation of our nation’s only prisoner of war have been cowardly. The ad hoc hanging judges who rant on in all the media are simply shameless.
It’s time to return some dignity to our nation’s debates. We can start by refusing to kick a downed victim. We can return compassion and patience to our investigations and to our efforts to end the long and frustrating war in Afghanistan.