The Corner

That Small Detail Makes a Big Difference

Matt Yglesias seems to think that TNR’s investigation of Scott Thomas Beauchamp vindicates him. Actually, it reveals that a third of his article is pretty much BS. Beauchamp starts his essay with, “I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq” – ”her” being a disfigured woman that Beauchamp later admits he and his buddy cruelly mocked.

Shortly after bloggers started raising questions about Beauchamp’s essay, Beauchamp told TNR that the incident occurred on Foward Operating Base Falcon in Iraq, prompting a number of men serving there to e-mail The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb to tell him that they had never seen a disfigured woman in Falcon’s dining facility. No one could corroborate this element of the story. Turns out that’s because it wasn’t true. In its latest statement, TNR reports that “the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit’s arrival in Iraq.” 

In that light, it’s worth taking another look at this passage from Beauchamp’s essay: 

Am I a monster? I have never thought of myself as a cruel person… Even as I was reveling in the laughter my words had provoked, I was simultaneously horrified and ashamed at what I had just said. In a strange way, though, I found the shame comforting. I was relieved to still be shocked by my own cruelty–to still be able to recognize that the things we soldiers found funny were not, in fact, funny.

At TWS, Goldfarb wonders: “Relieved that he was still shocked at his own cruelty? After his tour in Germany and the long flight to Kuwait?”

(An NRO reader suggests, “Maybe it’s the morally deadening effects of being a contributor to The New Republic.”)

Take the story out of Iraq and it becomes a completely irrelevant anecdote proving nothing except that Scott Beauchamp and his friend are jerks. I guess that’s why he “forgot” that it didn’t actually happen there.

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