Real support for our military

Finally got around to reading Phil Klay’s terrific article about America’s misguided relationship with our military in last month’s Atlantic.  So good.  Read it!  And, I can’t mention Klay without again highly recommending probably my favorite story collection ever, his Redployment.

So while America as a whole chooses to express its love for its military in gooey, substance-free displays, our military waits, perhaps hopelessly, for a coherent national policy that takes the country’s wars seriously.

What would such a thing look like? It would probably look like rescinding the open-ended Authorization for the Use of Military Force and making the president regularly go before Congress to explain where and why he was putting troops in harm’s way, what resources the mission required, and what the terms of success were. It would look like every member of Congress carrying out his or her constitutionally mandated duty to provide oversight of our military adventures by debating and then voting on that plan. It would look like average Americans taking part in that debate, and scorning anyone who tried to tell them they couldn’t. It would look like average Americans rolling their eyes in disgust when our leaders tell us we’re not at war while American troops are risking their lives overseas, or claim that Americans must support the wars their country engages in if they want to support the troops, or when a press secretary argues that anyone who questions the success of a military raid in which a service member died “owes an apology” to that fallen soldier. It would look like our politicians letting the fallen rest in peace, rather than propping up their corpses for political cover. And when service members die overseas in unexpected places, such as the four killed in Niger last year, it would look like us eschewing the easy symbolic debates about whether our president is disrespecting our troops by inartfully offering condolences or whether liberals are disrespecting our troops by seizing upon those inartful condolences for political gain. It would look like us instead having a longer and harder conversation about the mission we are asking soldiers to perform, and whether we are doing them the honor of making sure it’s achievable.

In short, it would look like Americans as a whole doling out a lot fewer cheap, sentimental displays of love for our troops, and doubling down on something closer to Gunny Maxwell’s “tough love”—a love that means zeroing in on our country’s faults and failures.

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Photo of the day

Atlantic with a nice “fans of the World Cup” gallery.  Pretty tough for Germany fans on Wednesday.

Germany fans react as they watch the South Korea versus Germany Group F World Cup match at a public viewing area at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, on June 27, 2018. South Korea won the match 2-0. 

Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

Zero-sum white supremacy

So, I was just going to do a short post linking to this chart from a recent Pew survey and highlighting utter delusion of Republicans when it comes to the reality of life in America:

I suppose you could make the case that “everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed” but not using definitions of”everyone” “equal” “opportunity” or “succeed” that I’m familiar with.  And if you think the rights of all people are equally respected, you presumably get all your news from Fox.

Anyway, I think this dovetails very nicely with a Salon article by Chauncey Devega my wife pointed out to me which analyzes Republican racial attitudes in a zero sum perspective:

Against all facts and evidence, matters have become so absurd in the age of Donald Trump that almost half of white Americans actually believe that they are more likely to be victims of racism than are black and brown people.  Moreover, Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s voters are so drunk on white victimology that they think that it is white people and not nonwhites who are the “real victims” of racial discrimination in America.

All of these delusions revolve around a basic contradiction: Many white Americans have convinced themselves that black and brown people exaggerate, are too sensitive, and outright lie about their experiences as victims of racism and white privilege. Yet, this racism — which according to the white gaze does not really exist except in extreme forms such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis — somehow does exist but manifests itself in the form of so-called “reverse racism” against white people… [emphases mine]

In the United States, black Americans and other people of color have only wanted full and equal rights with white Americans. For example, from the Civil War to the great experiment in democracy that was the Reconstruction, black Americans worked very hard to expand opportunities for all people, including poor and working class whites. This dynamic continues into the present where public opinion polls show that black and brown Americans consistently support policies which would expand the social safety net, civil rights and economic justice and opportunity for the average American — on both sides of the color line. Black and brown people are also on the frontlines of saving American democracy from the fascism and authoritarianism of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Black (and brown) Americans, as a group, have never sought to retaliate against white Americans — even when such an act and desire would have been perfectly reasonable, just and yes, moral. But there are millions of white Americans in Trump’s camp, and also outside of it, who are terrified that with increasing racial and ethnic diversity they will be victims of racially-motivated revenge and violence. This makes these millions of white voters easily manipulated by racist demagogues who use political sadism to stab at the worst parts of human nature. In response, it will require a united front of black and brown and white folks to save the United States from Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s fascist and authoritarian campaign against democracy. Unfortunately, too many white Americans would rather live under an authoritarian regime that supposedly empowers white people like them than a real democracy which provides equal opportunities for all people.

Now, of course this is not all Republicans and Trump supporters.  But, the evidence is clear that a distressingly high number of them are truly animated by racial animus and literally delusional racial thinking.  And our country is so much the worse for it.  And for those other Republicans, they should suck it up and vote for Democrats until their party actually abandons authoritarianism and white ethnocentrism.

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