- If I didn't appreciate my American freedoms, I should go live in North Korea, or wherever. This is just the old Vietnam-era America Love it of Leave it line dressed up for the new century. Militarists have to assume those critical of the military & of the use of the military are not "real Americans" or that we "hate America." This cultural positioning has itself become a clichÃ© that is almost impossible to think oneself out of.
- The idea that the military does not defend Constitutional freedoms, but grants them: It was taken as given that, at least, I was ungrateful for "the freedoms I had been granted" by "those [I] hate and demean." I also fail, apparently, to recognize ". . . the simple truth that freedom is always tethered to a soldierâ€™s gun," another wrote. The semi-literate clichÃ©s of those posting at the Free Republic site are symptomatic of a deeper atavism in American culture, but it is, we might say, an ascendant atavism. Many people who responded to my provocation did so by fantasizing situations in which they or someone else would beat me up. One posted the Mapquest directions from my house to the entrance of Fort Drum, the local army base. Another imagined me revealing my views in a bar outside Fort Bragg.
- The mockery of poetry. This might be simple anti-intellectualism, which has a long history in American politics. One writer went to the trouble to look up the titles of some of my poems, then posted them with the comment "'nuff said." I have to admit, when I first read this, I was mystified. But when someone else posted my picture & called me a "pussy," I wasn't surprised. The point is, these people are representative. Their voices constitute the low rumble behind the network news.
Like the Founders, I am opposed to standing armies. In Federalist 26, Hamilton lays out the history & the political theory. Standing armies are threats to democracy & morality. The modern American volunteer army is the contemporary version of a standing army. And the political right -- a category that includes a large number of politicians with a D after thier names -- takes it as given that an even bigger milatery is required for American "security." The opposite is true. The US would be far better served by a small professional army & a draft in wartime. Here is what we have now, instead of a draft. The infection is very deep. In my recent run-in with the frothing Right, three themes emerged in my comment threads & those at the Chronicle & Free Republic: