Who Is The Idealist Here?
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Howdy. Subsunk here. I noted a couple of articles on my favorite subject (no, not that favorite subject) during my usual rounds today. Slate has an article by Jacob Weisberg indicating the true cultural divide in America today is between civilians and military people. While I might agree that there is a difference in perspective between civilians who have never served in the military and military members or veterans, I disagree with the foundation of Mr. Weisberg’s premise that "young men who might be called [to serve in a draft] do not want to contemplate having to kill, die, or be maimed in a war that inspires little idealism. Nor do their families want to dwell on such possibilities."
I do agree somewhat with his premise “In the upscale sectors of American society, there remains a primal antipathy to military culture, which has only been heightened by revelations about torture at Abu Ghraib and ongoing discrimination against gay people in the armed forces.” But then I think he believes upscale American society consists only of enlightened, educated people who wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a beer with the country boy from Tennessee who can shoot straighter, run farther, and last longer than the candy-assed frat boys from Hah-vahrd. I guess that just rubs me the wrong way. I guess Mr. Weisberg never met a veteran he didn’t like or distrust.
Some of the finest Men I know came from Texas, Tennessee, Idaho, and even Connecticut, and were just plain everyday high school graduates with backbone, dedication to their country, and more idealism that you can shake a stick at. But Jason van Steenwyk does a much better job of discussing what I think of upper middle class elites, and Chapomatic expresses perfectly how I feel about the divide between elites and military folk. I wish you’d all read them. They have something good to say regarding the difference between journalistic elites, and the Salt of the Earth.
I also disagree with the stats quoted in the Slate article for percentages of our Men and Women injured in Iraq and Vietnam. Since approximately 2.5 million men served in Vietnam over a 10 yr period, a 1.8% injury rate would fall far short of the published casualty stats (153,303 injured). The actual stats indicate approximately 5.9% of the men who served in theater in VietNam were injured in theater, while 3.8% of the folks who have served in Iraq have been injured (since I can't find the exact count, I have estimated at least 450,000 men have served in Iraq in the last 3 yrs --- this is conservative because Army tours are for a full year and Marines serve 7 months in country, and so we would have deployed more than 150,000 a year -- but that's close enough for my purposes)
If you are going to make a case that being in Iraq is more dangerous than serving in VietNam, perhaps you should use the official military stats. But then again, if you are a journalist, you would never believe what the US government official reports are. You'd just make up your own.
So what do you think? Press on.