Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Fallacy of Veteran Worship

Salon

Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible.
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One of the reasons that the American public so eagerly and excitedly complies with the cultural code of lionizing every soldier and cop is because of the physical risk-taking and bravery many of them display on the foreign battleground and the American street. Physical strength and courage is only useful and laudable when invested in a cause that is noble and moral. The causes of American foreign policy, especially at the present, rarely qualify for either compliment. The “troops are heroes” boosters of American life typically toss out clichés to defend their generalization – “They defend our freedom,” “They fight so we don’t have to.”
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Wars that are not heroic have no real heroes, except for the people who oppose those wars. Far from being the heroes of recent wars, American troops are among their victims. No rational person can blame the soldier, the Marine, the airman, or the Navy man for the stupid and destructive foreign policy of the U.S. government, but calling them “heroes,” and settling for nothing less, makes honest and critical conversations about American foreign policy less likely to happen. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make much sense to call their mission unnecessary and unjust. It also makes conversations about the sexual assault epidemic, or the killing of innocent civilians, impossible. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make any sense to acknowledge that some are rapists and sadists.

25 comments:

  1. I can't really find a lot to object to here. Certainly there are monsters, along with the heroes, wearing the uniforms of the U.S. Armed forces and law enforcement agencies across the country. The "preferably a white man" is silly, and I don't see this as being as much a uniquely American phenomenon as the author seems to imply, but my expectations for Salon are low enough that I can't really claim to be disappointed.

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    1. Take a few minutes with Fox News sometime and then tell us it's not a uniquely American phenomenon.

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    2. Watch an American example of doing this and then tell us it's not a uniquely American phenomenon?

      Sorry, Mike, but that's not how it works--that would be like saying to watch MSNBC and see that socialism is a uniquely American phenomenon--the sample can't tell you that.

      You find people with strong support for their country's armed forces and police and who call them heroes in any country--could be heard all over Britain a few years back when their soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Iranians.

      As for the "preferrably a white man" part, that's just more liberal projection of their own racism onto conservatives. Meanwhile, conservatives are fans of and electing all sorts of people based on character and values rather than caring what their melanin content is.

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    3. Take a few minutes with Fox News sometime and then tell us it's not a uniquely American phenomenon.

      That doesn't make any sense. How does what happens on Fox tell us what doesn't happen in other countries?

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    4. You're right. It's just that I find it hard to imagine that in other countries they could put as much emphasis on veteran worship as we do.

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    5. Watch an American example of doing this and then tell us it's not a uniquely American phenomenon?

      Sorry, Mike, but that's not how it works--that would be like saying to watch MSNBC and see that socialism is a uniquely American phenomenon--the sample can't tell you that.


      Precisely. Anon successfully made the point I was trying (without nearly as much success) to make.

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    6. It's just that I find it hard to imagine that in other countries they could put as much emphasis on veteran worship as we do.

      Well now you're talking about a matter of degrees, which doesn't address my initial point that reverence for service members and law enforcement officers is hardly unique to the U.S. Is the degree of reverence greater here than elsewhere? Sure--I have little doubt that it is, in at least some "elsewheres." Are there societies where such reverence is greater than in the U.S.? Certainly wouldn't surprise me.

      Besides, Mikeb, when you bring up Fox News as "proof" of excessive "veteran worship" in the U.S., is that not a tacit claim that Fox speaks with the voice of the American people? That would seem an odd position for you to take.

      Nor can anyone seriously argue that there is a long, unbroken history of American reverence for service members. If you dispute that, ask a Vietnam veteran--many of whom were conscripted into that horror--who returned only to be called "Baby killer!" by shrieking, hate-filled "peace advocates."

      As for reverence for law enforcement? Even now, that's a long--ass way from universal.

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  2. And yet we constantly hear that these "heros" are the only ones to be trusted with guns.

    epic fail

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    1. That's another straw-man pro-gun argument. Most gun control people do not say that, especially around here.

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    2. I don't know about "around here," but such "gun control" groups as the Brady Campaign, CSGV, etc., are incessantly telling us what firearms should only be in the hands of law enforcement and the military, and in what places the only people with guns should be cops

      Check out various gun laws (either on the books, or proposed), and see how many exempt the military and law enforcement: "assault weapon" bans, "high capacity" magazine bans, .50 caliber rifle bans, concealed carry bans, open carry bans, "smart gun" requirements, etc. That's what David Codrea's "Only Ones" theme is all about.

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    3. Kurt, Anonymous said the claim is that cops "are the only ones to be trusted with guns."

      "With guns," not limited to certain weapons. But you knew that, right? You were just being scrupulously honest again, right?

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    4. You were just being scrupulously honest again, right?

      Wrong. My being "honest again" implies that at some point previously I had ceased being honest. That, of course, would be a lie. Therefore, I must correct you, and alter your statement to, "[I was] just being scrupulously honest still."

      My scrupulous honesty is a continuing saga, as is your abject, utter failure to find a single exception to that iron rule, despite the vast number of hilariously inept attempts on your part.

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    5. Nice dodge, Kurt. The point was clear. The remark about your so-called honesty was an aside.

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  3. A person is not a hero simply because they wear a uniform. Most heroes (Like Medal of Honor recipients) would be the last ones to call themselves heroes.
    We are not (recent reports of the Veterans Adm.) giving our Veterans what they need, and that is a shame on the US and its people who won't pay for their needs.

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    1. Make up your mind Mike. Its a shame that the Veteran doesn't get what they need in terms of mental and/or medical attention from the battles they were in but at the same time these Veterans don't deserve the honor for having fought in those battles.

      They either deserve both or none, which is it Mike?

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    2. Hey dip, the heroes themselves say they don't deserve the honor, but they do deserve whatever we can do for them. But Republicans keep cutting the funds for Veterans. Bush cut Veterans funding in the middle of his Iraq war, but you idiots like to forget about those details.

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    3. My position about not revering all veterans as heroes does not exclude the possibility of treating them right when they return.

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    4. Your position is as flawed as it can get, treating them right is not limited to physical or mental needs, but the respect for the service they volunteered for as well.

      And Obamas appointees that have wrecked the veterans administration with fraud and disservice to the veterans is appalling. Even Obama himself had to admit that the administration had to have even better oversight by replacing one or more of his appointees.

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    5. "but the respect for the service they volunteered for as well."

      I have no respect for the way America has sometimes used its military force. I have respect for the soldier who does his job regardless of "service" he is asked to perform. They are not the same. Just as soldiers who served in Iraq say American forces should not have been there.

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    6. This I totally agree with, 100%. I also want to make clear that I don't "worship" any veteran, but I do honor those who serve honorably and give those who go above and beyond extra respect for their actions. All this doesn't rise to the level of "worship" as they are not gods but they are mostly, not all, exceptional people even tho the government misuses them for its own misguided reasons. Or at least misguided in my opinion.

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    7. "Obamas appointees that have wrecked the veterans administration "
      Pure inexplicable Obama Hate. Do you really think the VA was a smooth-working machine under Bush and Clinton?

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  4. Nope, not perfect. But was in a lot better state before ass hole in chief appointed "czars" were put into place.

    Call it hate if you want, but it is still the truth. Your hate comment just shows you can't handle the truth.

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