UPDATE: A previous version of this story suggested The Sun has removed comments critical of Reimer's column from it's website. That is apparently not the case, and you can see the comments here. The error was the result of a technical issue.
In yesterday's Baltimore Sun, weekly columnist Susan Reimer wrote about the sympathy she has for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of sneaking off his base in a remote Afghani village in the middle of the night, breaking down the doors of several homes in a nearby village and killing 17 unarmed Afghani civilians—mostly women and children—while they slept. She adds that she has no sympathy for the people killed.
I am ashamed to admit that my heart aches for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, and I feel almost nothing for the families of the Afghan men, women and children he is accused of killing.
Reimer, who is the parent a U.S. soldier, goes on to detail Bales' circumstances, which included four deployments to war zones and injuries including the partial loss of a foot and a possible traumatic brain injury. She describes the alleged atrocities Bales committed as inevitable, and seems to lay blame at the feet of the U.S. military:
What did we expect would happen? We did this to this soldier, this husband, father and son. We rode him hard, and we put him up wet. We told him he didn't have to go back into battle, and then we sent him there anyway.
We can't possibly be surprised when one soldier just starts shooting one night. It is more surprising that it isn't 100 soldiers, that it isn't every night.
We will make a show of holding Sergeant Bales accountable, of course. It will take years. In the end, he may not even be convicted, and he certainly will not be executed. That's because we know where the blame truly lies.
That outcome will make the Afghans furious, of course. But if I do not care about their innocent dead, why would I care about their righteous anger?
Reimer does not, on the other hand, mention any details of those killed. She explains her sympathy for Bales and lack of sympathy for the dead as a result of the war itself, ending the column, "War makes you crazy."
Not surprisingly, the column has stirred up many angry comments on the Sun website and Facebook page. Lisa Kilian left this comment on the Sun's Facebook page:
There might be some sick people out there with these deep seated thoughts but most instinctively know how disgusting it is to think it and they realize it is a horror and they shouldn't share these sick thoughts with anyone else until they walk through the garbage in their own head to get to the right place which is this was a horrific war crime. Susan apparently does not have this 'moral brake' and has spewed a vacant amoral diary and fronted it as a column for the newspaper.
I love my country and support our soldiers. But make no mistake, these Aghans were innocent victims that live in poverty that most in the US will never know or experience and we should be outraged at Bales for their senseless killing, the failings of our military and government to manage these wars properly and our own citizenship for their lack of interest or concern for anything but the price of gas.
And this one, from Monica Haines Benkhedda:
I too am completely horrified as I read this horrendous column and for the outrageous lack of even just the most basic form of empathy for so many human beings who were slaughtered so violently!
Are we really that shallow and swayed into believing those who live overseas are less than and are our "enemies" no matter what? What is broken in Ms Reimer and others that can only see "their own people's" suffering?!
Really, I just can't comprehend this. Utterly horrendous.
As a reader, I also felt strongly about the column and sent a letter to Ms. Reimer, which I also posted in the comments of the column's posting on The Sun's Facebook page.