The Posse was amazed and truly impressed by the Army recruiting video featured over at Blackfive.
Though our first response to the new Army slogan, "Army Strong," was one of deep cynicism, the feature converted us. It is brilliant.
The interesting part about the campaign was not the overwhelmingly positive response the video received in the comments, but the superficial and hateful remarks by anti-war readers.
On one level, they can be disregarded as nothing more than comments-section trolls looking to start a flame war. However, many of their arguments hearken back to the old "chicken hawk" slur that the left has deployed with numbing frequency.
As has been repeatedly pointed out, the "chicken hawk" argument is ultimately no argument at all, but an attempt to end discussion. It is an exclusionary tactic. However, it also bespeaks something deeper - a long-festering contradiction within the anti-war Left that is only now coming to the surface.
Forty years ago, the anti-war Left attempted to make a virtue out of cowardice. "Don't be a hero" was an admonition to survive and a rejection of the traditional value society placed on courage in battle. Indeed, the Left smeared soldiers as "baby-killers" and mindless deathbots whilst elevating slacker middle-class college students as moral exemplars.
To the anti-war movement, sitting at home and smoking pot in your parents' basement was not just physically more convenient, but morally superior to heeding the call of one's country and serving honorably - even valiantly - in the military. This was denounced at the time by traditionalists as "cowardice." But the Left attempted to turn the tables. "No," they argued, "cowards follow orders. Truly brave people do what they believe is right," which apparently involved a lot of student deferments and ski vacations in Colorado.
For the next three decades the Left persisted in this narrative, deriding military men at various times as: brainwashed victims, starving conscripts, repressed homosexual rapists, and mentally unbalanced killers. The strange thing about all of this is that for all its revolutionary thoughts, the Left was still constrained by the "coward/hero" framework. Though explicitly rejecting the notion of physical courage, it could not successfully discard the concept - the best it could do was try to invert it.
This is what makes the Left's use of the term "chicken hawk" so noteworthy. After forty years of trying to eradicate the idea that military service includes the virtue of courage, they are now embracing it in an effort to smear their political opponents. Refusing to serve in time of war is once again "cowardly."
But there is more to this than just an attempt to score political points. What is really going on is that, deep down, the Left is facing a situation where its own moral failings are painfully clear. That is why the use of the "chicken hawk" term has become so wide-ranging as to be meaningless.
For example, it isn't merely enough to smear military-age civilians who simply choose not to enlist. No, serving military members have been called "chicken hawks" because they have not remained in theater on a continuous basis. Essentially, no level of courage is enough for the anti-war Left.
One may counter that they are merely trying to mirror the values of the military community to expose its alleged hypocrisy. But if that is the case, the Left is utterly blind - the military is remarkably at ease with people who support them but don't serve. They also understand that not everyone can be a rifleman kicking in doors 24/7, 365 a year.
Now a slight digression.
Some years ago, the Posse had the incredible honor of meeting Joseph Beyrle and several of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen. Beyrle (who died last year) was the only American to serve in both the U.S. Army and the Red Army during World War II.
A paratrooper with the 101st Airborne, he was captured behind enemy lines and sent to a prison camp in Germany. After making his escape, he linked up with advancing Soviet forces and - since they were allies - served along side them. He was badly wounded and, to make a long story short, returned home after being given up for dead.
Beyrle and the airmen were both scheduled to speak before a group of students and entered the building from different entrances. When he learned the Tuskeegee Airmen were also in the building, he insisted on meeting them. They were equally insistent on visiting with him.
This meeting was one of the most sublime, powerful things we have ever seen.
The Tuskegee Airmen are legends within the USAF, with an unmatched record for valor and coolness under fire. Here was a gathering of true heroes and the moment of their meeting was profound.
They looked each other over with total respect. They chatted briefly about where they had served and it turned that they knew some of the same prison camps (one of the Airmen, Col. Alexander Jefferson, was shot down and captured).
They then posed for a group photo. Surrounding this august gathering were active and reserve military members. They were utterly in awe, treating their guests with hushed reverence. It was clear that every one of those younger folks were thinking the same thing: here are men that are better than me.
It was said not with pride, or resentment, but complete, selfless admiration.
Many shook their heads at some of the stories, doubting that they could do half as well. As for the Airmen and Beyrle, they radiated the calm of people who have had their mettle tested and have been found worthy. They didn't have to prove anything to anyone. These warriors were in the autumn of their lives and they were at peace.
We mention this because it shows a clear line between the military community (which includes civilian family and friends) and the anti-war movement. The military is often alleged to be close-minded and arrogant, but in fact they are deeply humble.
Even the most swaggering officer is brought up short before a true hero. If you don't believe us, ask Blackfive, or LT Smash, Greyhawks and the others.
At its core, the military understands that there are people out there who are better than you. And they venerate them.
The anti-war Left cannot get over itself in this regard. The cult of self-esteem is so pervasive that they simply will not accept that they are inferior to anyone - yet - and this is the really important part - in their hearts they know this to be true.
And it pisses them off beyond all reason.
That is why they lash out with such venom at every veteran they can find. For all their comforting platitudes, their empty moralizations and their hollow claims of courage, they know that men and women who have worn the uniform and endured hardship in the name of freedom have done something they never can do.
They should admire them, but to do so would utterly upend their precious worldview. So they resort to name-calling instead. We will note that true heroes do not need medals or citations. Indeed, they often don't think of themselves as all that extraordinary. But every one that we've met has had a calmness about them, a sense that they've passed some internal test.
Indeed, we've met more than a few warriors who, while at peace with themselves, avoided the term "hero." "The real heroes are in Arlington," is often a remark we hear. Modest yet at peace with one's own service - this is the model of true valor.
The anti-war Left knows this, and despite itself admires it. And it drives them crazy.