Wednesday, August 05, 2015

On their behalf

One thing that used to kind of drive me nuts when I was a GI was listening to other GIs complain about "American society".

First, because half the time what they were complaining about was utter bullshit, the same sort of bullshit that GIs talk about money, alcohol, sex, and politics. It was based on stuff they'd seen on Fox News or Entertainment Tonight or heard on Rush or from some other bomb-throwing moron. It had about as much to do with "American society" as a picture from some girlie magazine has to do with a real woman.

Second, because it was almost uniformly complaining about how "American society" was soft and squishy, coddling criminals and giving money to poor people, worrying about sensitivity and kindness instead of being the sort of tough, hard-assed, "realistic" place that had hacked this country out of the howling wilderness with a jug of 'shine and a coonskin cap, goddamn it. The real problem with "American society" was that Americans weren't enough like Spartans, and I've already noted how I feel about that bullshit.

Anyway, this came up because one of the blogs I follow occasionally is written by a former USAF type. It's usually one of those "change from the inside" sorts of things, with the author trying to highlight things that he'd like to see change about the USAF. This week, though, he passed on some sort of screed from another wing-wiper that has supposedly gone viral. The blog's author says:
"His message struck a chord. At last count, it had been shared more the 23,000 times on Facebook and was popping up in news feeds prolifically. I had Grogan’s message sent to me privately by no less than a two dozen airmen in the last day or so, all encouraging me to share and comment on it."
The referenced "message" is an open letter to...someone - other servicepeople? The U.S. public? - as the writer ETS's from the USAF.

I won't give you the full text; you can follow the link if you want. But the TL:DR version is "You people are petty and soft. You're not worth my service." The message-writer complains that he barely makes $15 an hour and has deployed repeatedly whilst his fellow citizens "...give more attention and respect to stars and animals then we do to those who continue to give their lives for this country." He bitches about Caitlyn Jenner and Cecil the Lion, and that nobody remembers the names of the five guys blown away in Tennessee by "a terrorist".

You all know this guy. He's the guy at your VFW, or down at the local newsstand, or the bus stop, who will rant about "decadence" and "the homosexual agenda" and "political correctness." Tell me you haven't heard this from one of these guys before:
"If we as a society don’t toughen up and grow thick skin then we will definitely lose the battle to those who wish ill will upon us. Perception is reality, and right now we are more scared of speaking our mind and hurting someones feelings versus doing the right thing."
So. Yeah. This guy ETSed...because his fellow citizens are more obsessed with "Dancing With The Stars" than their troops lost in imperial cabinet wars most of them barely understand...or are barely understandable, period? Because "society" isn't tough enough? This guy's problem with taking Sammy's paycheck is that the society he serves isn't a stern, hard, ruthless society, hard as Krupp steel.

Let's remember that this guy was serving in the most powerful military on the planet, one capable of putting a "warhead on the forehead" (as he himself describes his work for the USAF) of an individual mook a gajillion miles away from the shores of North America. That seems plenty "tough" to me. If the public that funds that armed force could give a rat's ass about it because they want to know more about the Kardashians or Cecil the Lion that seems more like a testimonial to the civil peace that armed force has brought rather than a warning that the society needs to become more spartan.

Do we need soldiers? Sure. "Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf", Orwell said. But one of the things that sometimes drives me fucking nuts is that those violent men sometimes forget that their violence is not an obligation on the peaceful sleepers to be as violent as they are. We've seen those sorts of societies, and they are very unpleasant places indeed.

So that's basically what this comes down to; a guy who haz sadz because his country is frivolous and nonviolent. Who is ready to stop taking a government check because of all the fluffy bunny sensitivity around him, who longs for Sparta. His country can afford guns, butter, and "sensitivity" and driver training, that pays him a decent wage to serve all the above - and between pay and allowances he was doing a hell of a lot better than someone working the downstairs at Jiffy Lube part-time - and this dude don't like that?

Wow, sorry, guy.

Cry me a river.

I guess there's always Jiffy Lube.


Ael said...

Wonderful essay, Chief!

Why do all these discussions inevitably boil down into the (good) we versus the (bad) they. Tribalism runs deep and strong.

FDChief said...

Because after 1.8 million years the old instincts, attitudes, and conventions that set the Thorn Tribe against the Clam Clan are still here.

And the thing the probably drive me most batshit about this sort of GI bullshit-bitching is that I think that the whole "decadent civil society" is really not healthy for an army of a republic. The entire notion that the army's nation's "society" is not worthy of the army's service seems to me a fairly small step from an army that is convinced that the society needs the sort of "strong hand" that gives the army its discipline. And from there to thinking that the army can help make these soft, silly, decadent civilians happier, more industrious, and more prosperous by putting them under the strong hand of a Strong Man is just another tiny step.

Brian Train said...

Bravo Chief, like always you can put your finger on it and vocalize so well the things I feel.
The "stab in the back" bitching is only a fairly recent one in the American army, but no less worrying for all that.

FDChief said...

I think there was a fair amount of quiet bitching about the hippies and cowardly politicians that sold out the Army (and the RVN) after Vietnam, Brian. But at that point the Army itself was not a full-time career, so a LOT of the bitching was directed AT the Army.

So I think the current flavor of the post-Iraq DolchBtosslegende" has to do with the current flavor of GI; a lot less like his or her civilian counterpart than the guys of the 60's and 70's.

I know better than to think this nation will ever return to a draft, and there are a lot of downsides to a draft. But there's one HUGE upside that, to me, outweighs every problem, and that's that it ties the Army to the society it is supposed to serve. When the Army IS the country the danger of praetorian treason becomes considerably less, if for no other reason than the groupthink becomes a whole lot less poisonous.

Brian Train said...

Another thing that occurred to me - this pseudo-Fascist talk seems to emanate more from Air Force types than ground-pounders.
(Cf. Chris Hedges' book American Fascists has a lot on the indoctrination of cadets at the Air Force Academy)
Or perhaps that's the popular culture view of things - the Generals plotting revolt in Seven Days in May, Twilight's Last Gleaming (Burt Lancaster each time) and the lunatic General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove were all Air Force.

Though the inspiration for these characters was Army General Edwin Walker....

Paul Bibeau said...

You take the civic virtues seriously, Chief. I commend you for it.