Monday, August 22, 2011

Grow the fuck up ...

One of my biggest beefs with this country. Via Odd Man Out, via Susie, an excellent NYT editorial that all who have no skin in the game should read:


The new cult of the uniform began with the call to "support our troops" during the Iraq war. The slogan played on a justified collective desire to avoid repeating the mistake of the Vietnam era, when hatred of the conflict spilled over into hostility toward the people who were fighting it. Now the logic was inverted: supporting the troops, we were given to understand, meant that you had to support the war. In fact, that’s all it seemed to mean. The ploy was a bait and switch, an act of emotional blackmail. If you opposed the war or questioned the way it was conducted, you undermined our troops.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on, other purposes have come into play. The greater the sacrifice that has fallen on one small group of people, the members of the military and their families, the more we have gone from supporting our troops to putting them on a pedestal. In the Second World War, everybody fought. Soldiers were not remote figures to most of us; they were us. Now, instead of sharing the burden, we sentimentalize it. It’s a lot easier to idealize the people who are fighting than it is to send your kid to join them. This is also a form of service, I suppose: lip service. [my ems]


The collective American mind has turned to mush. We have become intellectually lazy about the things that affect us most. We are gulled by slogan and untruths, and given icons to worship so we don't look deeper. We've been told that as long as we support the government and its policies - and its wars - our responsibility ends.

Those of us who remember Vietnam know the paranoia families felt when their 18 year old had to go get his draft card, wondering if his number will come up, wondering if their child would go to Southeast Asia and come back missing part of his body or mind, or not come back at all. This was, of course, true only for those who weren't rich enough, or their child not smart enough, to get into college. I grew up in a blue collar community (it's where I live now and it's still a blue collar community) and almost every family around here had a son who was drafted. It was like that in the grocery store or the mall when you ran into a neighbor: "How's Johnny doing over there?" or "We're so sorry to hear about Timmy." That was shared sacrifice. At least, when you were sent to war, back then, you did your tour and came home. The Vietnam draftees weren't run through the meat grinder time after time, year after year, for a decade.

Now, we have a small group of American families paying the price for another shitbag war(s) while these lazy assholes sit on the couch watching football or NASCAR, thinking their service to the country is done by shaking the hand of a returning vet. They think they've done their patriotic duty by cheerleading the wars and "supporting the troops" ... well, at least until they come home disabled or deranged. How many of the "kill the ragheads" crowd volunteer at their local VA hospital? How many go and help a military family who are having trouble making ends meet? Odds are, that falls on other military families and the military community.

No, for most Americans, "patriotism" is a concept that ends when it involves breaking a sweat. Part of the answer to fixing this country is a draft, no exceptions. If you physically can't serve by carrying a rifle, then you'll do something else of service to the country in the civilian sector. Betcha we wouldn't be in 10 year wars anymore. Betcha Americans would pay a little more attention when some idiot politician says we have to go to war for some vague reason. Maybe we wouldn't be so gung ho to send other peoples' kids to war. Maybe we'd realize that waving the flag and military flyovers aren't a measure of patriotism (Are you listening, NASCAR?).

Patriotism means you're involved in your country. It means thinking for yourself, not believing politicians who question your patriotism if you disagree. It means realizing that bullshit never fixed anything.


Anonymous said...

Excellent! I wonder how much it has cost us for all the "fly-overs" at sports events and NASCAR events?

Unfortunately, some of the military too, have been brainwashed by the "support the troops equals support the war" bullshit. I thanked an national guard Sargent for his service and mentioned that I thought we shouldn't be in Iraq and got one of the best chewing out I've ever experienced - including being labeled as unpatriotic.

Fixer said...

You wanna see brainwashed? Go talk to an Air Force officer.

DBK said...

The problem with saying Americans have been brainwashed is that so many Americans lack the fundamental component for brainwashing.

That's a good posting, Fixuh. It's gotten so, if you see some soldier on TV, the host of the show feels compelled to do the whole "thank you for your service" bit. Want to thank them for their service? Work towards making sure their families are better provided for. Try working on Congress to do something about jobs and not "the deficit" bogey man, so their family members at home are doing okay. How about you protest our multiple Middle Eastern invasions? None of the invasions Bush started were anything but idiotic and all those kids died for nothing. Waste their blood a little less and that will be a nice enough thank you.

And stop glorifying the military. Yes, I know. If you don't make it seem like they're doing something wonderful for their country (question: if their country isn't Afghanistan or Iraq, and neither were a genuine threat to the US, which country exactly is it that they are protecting from whom?), then a lot fewer people would join up.

That would be fine with me. I still don't know what a country that hasn't been attacked by another country in 70 years needs so much military for anyway.

Gordon said...

When people thank me for my service, I feel like telling 'em to fuck off. I haven't yet. Sometimes I do tell 'em "you mean I'm not a babykiller any more?".

Anonymous said...

1. My father was a "lifer" in the army and I know to never, ever discuss validity of mission with active duty personnel. There's not a damned thing they can do about it and it is a disservice to the individual to try to unseat his/her convictions because - there's not a damned thing they can do about it.

2. It makes intellectual and emotional sense to me that if it's important enough to use weapons (as in war, police action, military advisors, protecting the foreign civilian population, assuring fair elections or whatever bullshit name you hang on the military action) then it's important enough to implement the draft IMMEDIATELY.

3. Civilian/community service does NOT equal military service. I call bullshit on community service. If you're too weak to drive a truck, handle a weapon, etc., you can pull what used to be called KP, latrine duty, and work in a laundry for the fighting troops. Wear the uniform, live in the barracks, be subject to the same rules and regulations and deprivations and stationed in the garden spots of the world. Bullshit on delivering groceries to some old fuck in your neighborhood.

I am quite aware that I'm not really a sweet person but I have especially strong convictions when it comes to asking or ordering a person to do something that one finds too inconvenient, uncomfortable, disruptive, or dangerous to do personally.

Jay in N.C.

Maggie said...

Best post ever.

DBK said...

Jay, what you said. Yes. Also, I have said this many times to too few people, "If you keep making good sense like that, they're gonna grab you with a butterfly net and lock you up."