"self-inflicted" vs. "shooting yourself on purpose"

A trial balloon was floated yesterday. Despite comprehensive debunking and exposing of the Swift Boat veterans' claims that John Kerry's wartime heroism in Vietnam is fraudulent, the smear campaign is moving forward: the new talking point is that John Kerry's wounds (which earned him the Purple Heart three times, in addition to his Broze and Silver stars) were "self-inflicted".

Below is an email I've written to Michelle Malkin, author of a polemical book arguing that the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII was justified, regarding her recent appearance (video) (transcript) on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Malkin's purpose on the show was to float that trial balloon - Matthews punctured it immediately. But I don't think it will stop there.

Ms. Malkin,

Having watched your exchange with Chris Matthews on Hardball, and having read the transcript, I find these two lines to be the main point:

MATTHEWS: No. No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.

MALKIN: Yes. Some of them say that.

I think that you made a mistake in not clarifying the difference between a "self-inflicted wound" and "shooting yourself on purpose". The Swifft Boat Veterans' book never claims that Kerry "shot himself on purpose". They do, however argue that some of his wounds MAY have been self-inflicted. Here is the difference:

Non-self-inflicted wound: shranpel from an enemy's grenade injures you.

Self-inflicted: shrapnel from your grenade, thrown at an enemy, injures you.

Shooting yourself on purpose: deliberately exploding your grenade in a manner calculated to deliberately injure yourself.

I think that had you simply answered Matthews' question above, "No, no one accuses Kerry of shooting himself on purpose." then you would have been on former rhetorical ground. However, by failing to make teh critical distinction, you were essentially arguing the point (which even teh Swift Boat vets do NOT make) that Kerry deliberately tried to injure himself.

I hope we can agree that a self-inflcted wound can be an honorable injury, whereas accusing someone of shooting themself on purpose is a grossly libelous statement.


Aziz H.Poonawalla

If Ms. Malkin responds, I'll post her response here (if she does not forbid me permission).

Jesse at Pandagon delves a bit deeper into the accusations that Malkin is trying to repeat third-hand, quoting Malkin's own post at her blog and pointing out the basic error of historical timing. Worth reading only if you aren't already bored by this topic, or if you're Michelle Malkin interested in making an honest attempt at responding to her critics.

Speaking of historical errors, the assertions that Malkin makes in her book have been comprehensively refuted by Eric Muller, Greg Robinson (a historian specializing on the topic), and by David Neiwert, a journalist with decades of experience writing about racism and fascist movements such as the KKK. His landmark essay on fascism is required reading.

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