Journalism Lives! Epic James Mattis Interview By… A High School Newspaper Reporter?!?

Written by K. Walker on July 12, 2017

This amateur reporter puts the so-called professionals to shame.

You know that the team here at ClashDaily absolutely loooooves Secretary of Defense James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis.

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Are you a big fan of ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, too?

Brace yourselves. This will set off the fanboy or fangirl in you.

It’s all courtesy of a thoughtful, intelligent interview by Mercer Island High School student, Teddy Fischer.

Fischer asks excellent, relevant questions, bypasses all the hysteria and scandal and gets to the core of the issues.

Mattis, in turn, answers with thoughtful, insightful answers.

It’s something you just don’t see anymore.

The entire article is worth the read, but here are a few highlights. Ok, we’re just going to have the first 3 Q’s and A’s. You really need to read the whole thing yourself.

TEDDY: What subject areas do you think students should be studying in high school and beyond to better prepare themselves to be politically active and aware adults?

MATTIS: Actually, I’ve thought a lot about that question. I would tell you that no matter what you’re going to go into, whether it be business or politics or international relations or domestic politics, I don’t think you can go wrong if you maintain an avid interest in history. The reason I say that is you’ll find that really, there’s nothing new under the sun, other than some of the technology we use.

The human condition, the aspirations, the dreams, the problems that are associated with being social animals, not being a hermit and living alone, but having to interact with others, whether it be your local school district, your community, your state, your county, your national, your international relations, history will show you not all the answers, but it’ll tell you a lot of the questions to ask and furthermore, it will show you how other people have dealt successfully or unsuccessfully with similar type issues. I wish now looking back on it, if I’d known what waited for me in life, I would have put a lot more attention into history.

Whoa! A question relevant to his readers and one that Mattis answered with care.

Imagine that!

TEDDY: What advice would you give to a current high schooler that is scared about what they see on the news and concerned for the future of our country?

MATTIS: Probably the most important thing is to get involved. You’ll gain courage when you get involved. You’ll gain confidence, you’ll link with people, some of whom will agree with you and some won’t, and as a result, you’ll broaden your perspective. If you do that, especially if you study history, you realize that our country has been through worse and here’s how they’ve found their way through that.

Here’s what leaders did, here’s what educators did, here’s what business people did, here’s what soldiers did, here’s what politicians did, and you can sometimes see, by weaving together that tapestry, how to go forward. You lose your paralysis, you lose your, I would almost call it unproductive worry, and you replace it with productive action.

Teddy then asks about the lack of political unity in America.

If only CNN would do that instead of screaming ‘Russia’ all the time.

TEDDY: You were quoted recently in the The New Yorker as saying that what worried you most in your new position as secretary of defense was “The lack of political unity in America.” How do you believe younger generations of Americans should be working towards improving America’s political climate?

MATTIS: I think the first thing is to be very slow to characterize your fellow Americans. I know that when people have to run for office they have to say “I’m smart and my opponent’s dumb,” or “I’ve got better ideas than my opponent.” That’s politics there’s nothing wrong with that. But, I get very very concerned when I hear people start characterizing their opponents as stupid. I still understand that because politics is a little rough and tumble at times, but I don’t buy it and when they start calling each other either crazy or evil. You and I, we don’t compromise with crazy people or evil people. And so, I don’t think that’s helpful. Generally speaking, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them crazy or evil.

By sitting down and talking with them, after having a good strong argument, going out and having a root beer with them, maybe showing up at the same church, maybe going to the hospital to see their kid when they’re having their appendix out, reminds you that they’re human beings too. There’s no reason to get all worked up as if someone is evil or crazy. For one thing, none of us are perfect and all-knowing, so this might be their right, and that’s why I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking. They know what they think, they don’t read anything but one newspaper that agrees with them or they watch only one television news show because it reinforces them, instead of listening to the ones that don’t agree with them. So, I think the way you get over it is, you take people one at a time and you give them the same credit you give yourself and your ideas.

Other topics include:

– What will military combat look like for new recruits?

– The role of diplomacy in an increasingly lethal military

– The role of the United States in helping to rebuild Arab states and avoiding power vacuums when ISIS is defeated

– How does the U.S. defeat an ideology?

– Can Middle Eastern Theocracies become more moderate?

– How has the Trump administration handled the Middle East differently than the Obama administration?

– Do you believe the international community needs to provide greater assistance in combating terror?

And so much, much more.

It was really fantastic.

Ok, I can’t resist.

Just two more.

TEDDY: Out of thousands of calls, why did you respond to this one?

MATTIS: You left a message there and I was going through listening to the messages and deleting them. But you’re from Washington state. I grew up in Washington state on the other side of the mountains there on the Columbia River. I just thought I’d give you a call.

I’ve always tried to help students because I think we owe it to you young folks to pass on what we learned going down the road so that you can make your own mistakes, not the same ones we made.
Whenever I can, I try to work with students who are doing research projects. I was at Stanford University for a little over three years after I got out of the Marines before I got surprised by this request I’d come back and be the secretary of defense. So, I’ve always tried to help students because I think we owe it to you young folks to pass on what we learned going down the road so that you can make your own mistakes, not the same ones we made.

And the best question of all?

The one any high schooler would ask a man like Secretary of Defense James Mattis:

TEDDY: Any advice for graduating seniors?

MATTIS: I would just tell you that there’s all sorts of people that are going to give you advice and you should listen to the people you respect, but I think if you guide yourself by putting others first, by trying to serve others, whether it be in your family, in your school, in your church or synagogue or mosque or wherever you get your spiritual strength from, you can help your state, you can help your country, if you can help the larger community in the world, you won’t be lying on a psychiatrist’s couch when you’re 45-years-old wondering what you did with your life.
Source: The Islander

Didn’t that just make you esteem James Mattis even more?

I just love that he took the time to talk to a high school student newspaper.

It’s incredible.

And that Teddy Fischer did such an amazing job!

He’s bringing actual reporting back from the dead.

I haven’t read such thoughtful questions from the Media (D) — have you?

Teddy is a Journalistic Hero.

We need more like him.

Don’t miss the next one! Sign up for the podcast on your favorite platforms:
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ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll and on Gettr @KarenWalker