Saturday, August 20, 2005

Chickenhawks coming home to roost 

An interesting - and ongoing - survey by Rusty Shackleford of the Jawa Report to find out how many of the top bloggers on both left and right have had military service (prompted by the ever-continuing war of words between "chickenhawks" and "military-haters"). For the sake of disclosure: I have no military background myself.

The results, however unscientific, are not surprising - more right-wing bloggers have served than the left-wing ones. Not surprising, because both active and former military personnel tend to vote more right than left, whether it's the US, or Australia, or, I suspect, many other countries. As a side issue, I have a hunch that current and ex-military might be over-represented in the higher echelons of the blogosphere generally.

The whole debate that launched Rusty's research strikes me as slightly ridiculous. This feeling only grows stronger when I read Maureen Dowd say "The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute" - as if the only opinion on Iraq that matters is that of a grieving parents (and let's ignore the moral authority of all those parents who don't agree with Maureen or Cindy Sheehan) -– or Bob Herbert who writes that "If Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is worth dying for, then the children of the privileged should be doing some of the dying" - masterfully combining the class rhetoric with the generational rhetoric with the chickenhawk rhetoric (hat tip: Decision 08).

All that, in turn, reminds me of the classic tactic to shut down debate and delegitimize other voices and points of view - "you can't write women's history unless you are a woman", or substitute black, Hispanic, gay, or any other group or minority. You can't, because apparently "You don't know what it's like", "You're not authentic", "You don't have credibility." Ironically, the argument is never applied in reverse to those oppressed and marginalized minority members who choose to write about men, imperialists, or capitalist oppressors.

The "chickenhawk" argument is merely the latest variant, addressed variously to those directing the war as well as those supporting it - if you think that the war is so great, why don't you go and fight yourself and/or send your own children to fight?

But in real life, the left is not all too keen to see "put your money where your mouth is" become a universal principle that could be applied to all sorts of situations, and all sorts of people, including themselves. So ask yourself these questions:

a) how many proponents of higher taxes (particularly on "the rich") voluntarily give a greater share of their income to the government, to be spent on health, education or social services?

b) how many "environmentally conscious" people who bemoan the global warming actually drive electric cars and have a wind farm in their backyard?

c) how many white players or sympathizers of the elite "white guilt" industry, who think that America is a deeply racist society, actually uproot themselves from the Upper West Side and move into a minority neighborhood and send their children to a local school?

And so on - but you get the point.

Come to think of it, I wrote about this topic a long, long, time ago:
How about this radical idea: only people who have contributed to economy in productive ways (creating jobs, growing businesses, making inventions, etc.) have the right to credibly speak up on economic matters. As for the others, people who "made love, not jobs" - let's call them (to borrow from the stock-market jargon) the "bear-bulls".
In reality, of course, you don't have to be a woman to write about women's history, and you don't have to be a soldier to write about war, just like you don't have to volunteer for the wars you support, or volunteer more of your money for the big government. But this rhetoric, just like the poor, will always be with us.


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