January 25, 2006

L.A. Times writer defends incendiary Iraq column

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles Times columnist who
infuriated conservatives by writing that he does not support
American troops fighting in Iraq -- and calling those who do
"wusses" -- stood by the article on Tuesday.

Joel Stein said he has been "bombarded" by hate mail over
the incendiary article -- which was headlined "Warriors and
Wusses" and held that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were "ignoring
their morality" -- but does not regret writing it and stands by
the premise.

"I don't support what they are doing, and I don't the see
point of putting a big yellow magnet on your car if you don't,"
Stein told Reuters in an interview. "I don't think (soldiers)
are necessarily bad people. I do plenty of things that are
wrong too. But I don't agree with what they are doing so I
don't see the logic of supporting it."

The article, which ran on the Times opinion page on
Tuesday, was quickly linked on conservative sites across the
Internet, where readers poured scorn on Stein, on the newspaper
and on liberals in general.

"If I ever run into the a**hole, I'm going to knock his
frickin' block off," one man wrote on the Little Green
Footballs (www.littlegreenfootballs.com) Web site, one of
nearly 500 people who had commented on the article by

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin quickly nominated
Stein as "one of the most loathsome people in America." The
Irish Pennants (www.irishpennants.com) site slammed him as
"slime" but gave credit for honesty, adding:

"At least he is straightforward slime."

A Times spokesman said he could not immediately determine
how many complaints the newspaper had received or if any
readers had canceled subscriptions.

Stein said that, despite the fact that his e-mail address
was not made public by the paper, he had received some 100
"hate e-mails" by noon.

"They're telling me to leave the country, which sounded
good at first because I thought they meant a vacation. But they
didn't mean a vacation," he said. The columnist said he
suspected the reaction was largely fueled by the Web sites,
adding: "My guess is that it will die down pretty quickly."

Stein said he had long considered the issue and that
whenever a politician opposes the war but supports the troops
"I just always think they are covering their ass."

Asked if he had regrets, he said: "No, because I'm against
the war. (I have no regrets) if this helps us get out of that
war and bring our troops home safely."