Thursday, September 23, 2004


Duty, Honor, Loyalty,

some guy named Alex
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

In one of the new 'Swift Boat' ads, one of the guys says: 'He [Kerry] betrayed us then; how can I be loyal to him now?'. There are a few interesting things about that rhetorical question. One is the debatable idea that it's his choice whether or not to be generally loyal to whoever the president happens to be ( the treasonable idea which was very popular vis a vis Clinton). The other is the fact that this guy was - probably briefly - a temporary soldier, but is a permanent citizen: loyalty is due to the country, not to a particular president. Civics 101, dumb-ass.

There can be something tacitly gay about military life for some people. I don't mean sexually gay (necessarily), but it clearly fills an emotional need in some people, even after they 'get out': the total dominance, the total submission, the rigid hierarchy, the existential thrill and terror, the bonding. This need to offer total submission to personal loyalty runs very deep in some people. A guy like Mr Swift Boat wants to 'give his all' to a romantic figure - his man on horseback - but he must withhold his virtue, his heart, from the wrong guy (Kerry). It's not about the country, it's about the guy.

In one of his old essays, Gore Vidal (who was born at West Point) points out that the slogan 'Duty, Honor, Country' has the words in the wrong order. This is an essential schism in this election. The Swift Boat guys are not just yahoos; they really exemplify a fundamental point of view, which is also the essential Bush/Cheney '04 point of view. Are we a nation of Men or a nation of Laws? Are we free citizens or 'soldiers'?

[UPDATE: I realise I'm sailing a little close to the wind with this post, but there is a method to my madness, even if I'm not very good at implementing it. I'm trying to consistantly use the RNC campaign against itself. THEY brought up gay rights; THEY brought up 'girlymen'; THEY pimp foolish old veterans. The key to understanding them is to realize that everything they accuse their opponents of is precisely what THEY are guilty of: they're not just hypocrites, but perfect hypocrites.

I am absolutely NOT disrespecting anyone in the military in this post. But - although the track record doesn't look so good at the moment - it must be remembered that the military in this country is under civilian control. Mr Swiftie's attitude is like the sailors' who refused to salute Bill Clinton when he was president. They should've been put in the brig in nanoseconds. I am FED UP with fake patriots who don't understand their own form of government attacking others. People like these Swifties, people like Cheney and Ashcroft are the REAL sissies and 'weak reeds'. They don't have the guts to fight for truth, justice and the American Way (if I may be allowed to quote the legend of 'Superman').

And besides, why is it that the Spartans insisted on their soldiers being lovers with each other to foster unit cohesion, and the US military will discharge gay people, also for the sake of unit cohesion? I'm not gay nor do I have a particular ax to grind about this issue, but it and the aforementioned 'hot water' it got Clinton into are all of a piece: I am sick sick sick of the grotesque hypocrisy oozing out of every pore of the current Right wing, fouling everything up for everybody. They are wrecking the country - MY country - and also doing their best to mess up other parts of the world. Grrr. In fact, I could entitle every post I write about the RNC 'Grotesque Hypocricy'.....that would be boring, but accurate.

And, yes, I cited the 'omni-sexual' Gore Vidal absolutely on-purpose.]

[UPDATE 2: Commenter TEd clairifies my point for me with this:

the link of D/s to the military is cute, and it's been done before, but the reasons for entering into the relationship are very, very different. In one, you submit to survive. In the other, you submit because you want to.

Exactly. Mr Swiftie and the millions of others of like mind are civilians; they are choosing the military mindset: the B/C '04 strategy in a nutshell. Thanks Ted.

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