Monday, November 18, 2013

The Right Article

It was one of those "whoopee" moments when I ran across this article, entitled "Stop Thanking the Troops for Me: No, They Don't Protect Our Freedoms." It was in Salon by a guy named Justin Doolittle. I could not have said it better myself. This is what I've been trying to convey for several years, and several times in this forum. The fact that I find the virtual deification of the military and all its works as repulsive. I've had people tell me "thank you for your service" when they found out I was a veteran, and although I have been tempted, I've never responded the way I really would if I were to tell the truth. And that would be something along the lines of:
"Don't thank me for anything. I was in the military because I had to be. Because the military was drafting everybody in sight in the mid-1960s and sending them over to Vietnam to get shot up, maimed, killed, gassed, and have their minds totally screwed up all in the name of freedom. I didn't believe it then, and I believe it even less today."
But of course I don't say this. These people mean well, I suppose. They've been trained by the propaganda machine of the empire that our military is responsible for keeping us all free, safe, and able to consume to our hearts' content.

The article is well worth reading in toto. But for those of you with limited time, I'll digest it for you.
  • The “freedoms” most Americans think of when they hear the term are enshrined in constitutional and statutory law. They are in no way dependent on the size, scope or even the existence of the U.S. military.
  • This widely held belief, that our freedom is bestowed on us by soldiers, has obvious implications for how the public views the military. One such implication of the ubiquity of this myth is that people will feel they owe boundless gratitude to the military as an institution and all the men and women who serve in it.  
  • The undercurrent of all this is that “support” and “gratitude” for the military and those who serve in it is intrinsically apolitical. It’s just something that all decent Americans understand and respect. This approach serves a very important purpose, which is to further blur the lines between patriotism and support for the military. Americans of conscience who do not “support” the troops, particularly those who volunteer to fight in wars of aggression, are not allowed a seat at the table in this paradigm. . . . Supporting the military, though, and expressing gratitude for what the military is actually doing around the world, are nothing if not explicitly political sentiments. To suggest otherwise is fundamentally dishonest. It reduces sincere dissent on these matters of such tremendous consequence to our culture and our politics to nothingness.
  • The combination of unanimous, entirely uncritical appreciation for the military, and the irrational belief that we owe gratitude to the troops for virtually everything we cherish in life, up to and including freedom itself, is very dangerous for our intellectual culture. It stifles any potential for rational, coherent discussion on these matters. It makes us, free citizens of a constitutional society, meek and excessively obeisant.
  • We need not thank the troops for every breath we take. When we do, we reduce our entire existence as free people to something that only exists at the whim of the U.S. military, and suffocate critical thought about the military and what it’s actually doing in the world. 
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