Salon Writer Smears Troops, Calls Patriotism “Chauvinistic,” “Totalitarian”

A Salon writer attacks the U.S. Military.

It’s been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom. Forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism must end.” – David Masciotr

In a November 9th piece for Salon, David Masciotra decried “forced” respect, and support of troops as chauvinistic, nationalist, and totalitarian. As I quoted above, he seems to believe that the war is what makes the soldier. His definition of a soldier who should be supported is predicated on the war in which the soldier is fighting, rather than the sacrifice made by the individual soldier regardless of the setting. He goes on to list (see: rant) additional reasons why our “totalitarian” support of the troops is such a horrible contrivance. I think it’s necessary to quote Masciotra’s article in its near entirety in order to deconstruct it properly

Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as ‘heroes.’ The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible. It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane. It is equally challenging for anyone reasonable, and not drowning in the syrup of patriotic sentimentality, to stop saluting, and look at the servicemen of the American military with criticism and skepticism. There is a sexual assault epidemic in the military. In 2003, a Department of Defense study found that one-third of women seeking medical care in the VA system reported experiencing rape or sexual violence while in the military. Internal and external studies demonstrate that since the official study, numbers of sexual assaults within the military have only increased, especially with male victims. According to the Pentagon, 38 men are sexually assaulted every single day in the U.S. military. Given that rape and sexual assault are, traditionally, the most underreported crimes, the horrific statistics likely fail to capture the reality of the sexual dungeon that has become the United States military.”

Let’s get several admissions out of the way. First, sexual assault of any kind is disgusting, immoral, and should be punished. Second, abuse of power, from the police, or within the military, is something that should never be tolerated. However, there is not a single person on the other side of that argument–anyone rational, that is. No one is advocating these things.

The first sin of Masciotra’s piece is to assume that issues such as sexual assault in the military, and abuse of power by police officers are not being addressed, and that Americans are unconcerned with these behaviors. He writes as if Americans are unable to distinguish between those who serve with honor, and those who violate the public trust, and the trust of their fellow officers. That is patently absurd, and I’m sure that he knows that.

The second sin of his piece is his transference of a set of problems within a body to the entire body at large. Masciotra ascribes to the entire military the criminal behaviors of a minority in the military, and in doing so, alleges that the American people should not support the military as a whole, but dishonor them as a whole due to the behaviors of that minority. By his logic, we should not respect or honor the work of teachers because there are some who have had inappropriate relationships with their students. Instead of addressing the problem on its own, he is discarding the military, and the police force entirely.

Masciotra’s final sin is to make allegations regarding the death of Michael Brown without knowing the facts of the case. He writes about it as if it were a murder, even using the word “murder,” because he has already come to his own conclusion based on his view of the police in general as a bloody force of victimizers. He writes of several cases of police brutality as if those cases represent the entirety of the thousands of daily police interactions across the United States. He is painting a very large picture with a very small brush.

Masciotra indicts patriotism, and troop support based on a selective case study that is clearly biased by whatever has happened to him in his own life. He shows such disdain for police officers, and members of the military who willingly, and on a daily basis, risk their lives defending our freedom, and the rule of law simply because of the vile behavior of a subset of individuals. His entire argument is intellectually bankrupt.

I support the troops regardless of the war they are fighting, because they, as a whole, are honorable. I support the police force regardless of the criminal behavior of a minority of officers. I do this because I’m not a moron, and can distinguish the difference between the two, and still have rational discussions regarding problems within these forces which need to be dealt with. But thanks for the rant, David. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded how much smarter I am than the staff at Salon.