Steyn Strikes Back

The New York Times recently wrote a series of stories about the supposed epidemic of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who become crazed murderers. The story was linked and debunked here by Powerline, and even better, mocked by Mark Steyn on thee pages of the Times itself:

Thus, with declining deaths in theater, the media narrative evolves. Old story: “America’s soldiers are being cut down by violent irrational insurgents we can never hope to understand.” New story: “Americans are being cut down by violent irrational soldiers we can never hope to understand.” In the quagmire of these veterans’ minds, every leafy Connecticut subdivision is Fallujah and every Dunkin’ Donuts clerk an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with an annoyingly perky manner.

It was the work of minutes for the Powerline website’s John Hinderaker to discover that the “quiet phenomenon” is entirely unphenomenal: It didn’t seem to occur to the Times to check whether the murder rate among recent veterans is higher than that of the general population of young men. It’s not. Au contraire, the columnist Ralph Peters calculated that Iraq and Afghanistan vets are about a fifth as likely to murder you as the average 18-34 year-old American male.

I’m glad to see the Times printing Steyn’s counterpoint, but the fact that the story is so easily debunked leads one to believe that the original failure to check these facts was born of motivations other than laziness.

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