JUN 5, 2014, 2:50 PM
Dawud Walid: Supporters, critics of POW Bergdahl swap both fumble
al conversation relating to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s release from being a prisoner of war in Afghanistan in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees. I’d like to look at two troublesome issues pertaining to these.
Release of Alleged Terrorists is Highly Questionable
Sergeant Bergdahl’s release involved freeing five senior members of the Taliban.
Since the Taliban is a terrorist organization, which didn’t seem to matter when we were helping them fight the Soviets, it’s still baffling that these men were never tried by the Obama administration in military or civil court as being part of a designated terrorist organization.
If the United States is certain that these Taliban members are extremists, it makes little sense that they would be released. These were not low-level foot soldiers. Those on the Left question why these men were never given a trial, if indeed they are what the government says they are, and those on the Right who say that President Barack Obama should have consulted more with Congress about the greater implications of releasing purported terrorists, both have valid grievances.
I’m not buying what President Obama did either way, though I’m glad the Bergdahl family will be reunited.
Attacks Against Bergahl’s Father are Uncalled for
Bob Bergdahl, Bowe’s father, has made some very strong criticisms pertaining to American foreign policy in Afghanistan. He’s been called un-American and a traitor in the process.
As a father of a prisoner of war who has feared for the life of his son, he has every right to question the war which led not only to the five-year ordeal of his son, but also led to the deaths of over 20,000 people. He has that right as an America to question our wars even if his son wasn’t detained.
In the process of that questioning, which we’re taught in civics class is a freedom we have as Americans, not only has he been falsely labeled as a Benedict Arnold, but he’s even had Islamophobia deployed against him. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, for instance, stated that the father, who sports a long beard, “looks like a Muslim. He’s somewhat sympathetic to Islam.” The guy’s beard could easily pass for someone who is part of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, the Amish or, a hippie, or a cast member of Duck Dynasty.
But to O’Reilly and his ilk, associating him with Islam automatically paints him as being other than a real American.
When Sergeant Bergdahl returns home, I hope that his family and community in Idaho have a peaceful reunification. Moreover, it’s my prayer that it goes off without O’Reilly-philes who would seek to paint the Berdahls as immoral heathens and un-patriotic Muslim sympathizers.
We should be able to have difficult conversations about President Obama’s policies and how our military operates without so much rancor and incivility.