I was always a little baffled by the Pat Tillman story. Young football star inks a multi-million dollar contract, walks away from the glitter and the gold to join the Army, goes to Afganistan. Gets killed, hailed as a hero. Tillman becomes a perfect tool of propaganda.
Was it just hubristic stupidity? Admirable heroism? In another time, Hemingway might have used Tillman as a template.
Then slowly the story starts to unravel. Turns out Tillman was killed by "friendly fire." Weeks, months, years go by before the story slowly starts to emerge in drips and drabs. Mulitple bullets at close range. His uniform was burned. His diary was burned. His Army buddies are uniformly "close-mouthed." The Tillman family is lied to, over and over. The chain of command is making up stories that don't add up.
Tillman's brother testifies in front of Congress, and his righteous indignation is supremely compelling. What is being covered up here? Tillman starts to emerge as tool of propaganda of a completely different kind.
Also, turns out Tillman was gung ho about tracking down Osama Bin Laden, but not so happy about our occupation of Iraq. Tillman is a friend of Noam Chomsky. Tillman keeps a diary, documenting what? Tillman is an atheist. Tillman starts to look more and more like some kind of existentialist hero. Tillman is Sisyphus. Tillman echoes the absurdity of the human condition. Tillman is dead. And the truth is buried in the desert, or the hills.
And the Army, the Pentagon, Rumsfield, and Cheney and Bush - what the fuck? There's always the cover story. The liars spin their web. And then just below the surface another story starts bubbling...and where is the truth...? Will it be glimpsed? Can it be denied? Again?
UPDATE: And Tillman finally reaches apotheosis. He's a symbol. A metaphor. The innocent hero, fighting the bad guys, ends up in a foreign land, gunned down by his own guys. They're over there fighting an enemy they can't really see. Can't tell who's the good guys, who's the bad guys. Looks like the people that sent him there had other motives. Hero or sap? Know one really knows. Tillman - dead man.
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- Was Pat Tillman Murdered?
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