"They lied to the wrong family."
In spite of the best efforts of the White House and the Pentagon, the world would come to know he had been killed in an act of fratricide that was then covered up in favor of a horrible series of official lies.Comments excerpted from a review at Esquire. Those not familiar with the Pat Tillman saga can review the basics of it at Wikipedia. My understanding is that the outrage by the family and by knowledgeable members of the public is not directed at the friendly-fire death per se, but on the extensive coverup that ensued.
But that we know the truth at all is owed to the extraordinary determination of Tillman's family, a foulmouthed and eclectic bunch of square-jawed hippies from San Jose, California, and in particular his mother, Mary. A more compliant family, more easily bamboozled by the institutions of American power at the highest levels, might have meekly, or readily, accepted the government's vigorous effort to turn Pat Tillman into a Sergeant York fantasy that it could then exploit relentlessly for propaganda purposes.
Addendum: Those interested in this subject should read Andred O-Hehir's analysis at Salon:
The film is also meant, to some extent, as an antidote to journalist Jon Krakauer's 2009 book "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman," which the family strongly disliked...More at the link.
He was a football star and avid outdoorsman who read Emerson; an agnostic or atheist who read the Bible, the Quran and the Book of Mormon out of intellectual curiosity; a man who relished the high-testosterone simulated combat of sports, and excelled at it, while also maintaining an introspective personal journal he allowed no one to read. As a friend of mine recently observed, many of Tillman's characteristics would seem completely normal among the metropolitan educated classes: He never went anywhere without a book, and typically rode his bike rather than driving a car. But Tillman wasn't a bearded, chai-drinking grad student riding that bike to yoga class in Brooklyn or Silverlake or Ann Arbor. He was the starting strong safety for the Arizona Cardinals, and parked his bike next to his teammates' Porsches and tricked-out Escalades...
I'm only guessing here, but one of the things the Tillman family hated about Jon Krakauer's book was probably the author's tendency to view Pat Tillman's death as a case study in the evils of war and the limits of idealism. I might incline toward that view myself, but the Tillmans don't. Right-wing propagandists quickly learned that the Tillman family wasn't going to stick to the pious, patriotic script. (Pat's drunken younger brother, Rich, at the nationally televised funeral: "Pat isn't with God. He's fucking dead.") But the Tillmans aren't interested in starring in an antiwar morality play either. As they see it, Pat Tillman died as he lived, as an American who thought for himself, hewed to his own course and kept his word. It's the rest of us who have betrayed him.
Reposted in 2011 because I just this week finally got an opportunity to view the film. It is excellent (confirmed by a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes).
Reposted in 2017 because Donald Trump, for whatever reason, chose to retweet Pat Tillman in support of his criticism of professional football players. Pat Tillman's widow is justifiably pushing back:
"The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one's heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for," Marie Tillman said. "Even if they didn't always agree with those views."