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New America: Kinda Like New Coke, But With Less Sugary Water

February 15, 2012

One of the experiences I’ve run up against today has been the idea that daring to call any authority, be it military or police, fascist is a big no-no. Even if the current state of law enforcement leaves a lot to be desired. See, I tend to think that our military and our police officers are inching close to fascism with every new law passed and every bit of praise heaped onto them for the most banal of actions. Others…well, they certainly feel a need to white knight them and sing their praises.

Now, while this concept isn’t new it is still disturbing every time I see it happen. Usually with a deleted comment or some other bit of, “You better respect them,” lines. Then the trotted out defense, “They put their lives on the line every day,” and if you meet someone who’s really gung-ho about this defense they’ll pull the, “I’d like to see you do that,” line. To which I say: So?

This isn’t to say that I don’t respect what these people do. I’m just of the opinion that respect (no matter how you choose to live) should be an earned commodity. I don’t expect you to automatically respect me for who I am and all I ask is that people do not give undue deference to the military or the police without it being earned. Yes, this does mean with regards to legal and military matters you do respect their knowledge a tiny bit until proven otherwise. This does not mean that if a cop tells you to hand over your cell phone so they can delete your recording of them that you should.

Just that if there’s a burglar on the loose you can expect that cop to know how to catch them. Now, to tear apart the undue ‘respect’ showed toward these groups:

  1. They chose to enter this profession.
  2. It’s their job. Not mine. So any guilt tried to lay onto someone should be followed up by a gentle reminder that it wasn’t your decision for them to become soldier/cop.
  3. You got me. I probably couldn’t do their job…that’s why I’m not doing it. Congrats, it all makes sense now why they’re in the uniform and I am not.

So, now that we’ve gotten that argument out of the way I think the biggest problem I have with this whole issue is that it’s automatically assumed that if you’re critical of any sort of authority figure that you’re an anarchist, a commie, unpatriotic, or just a contrarian. Quite the contrary: I believe order is better than chaos, I hate communism on principle the same way I hate libertarianism, and while I’m not a super-patriot…this is why I’m bothering to write this shit. I think it’s the height of being unpatriotic to be unquestionably loyal to authority figures, groups, or people. Thus far there’s only been about 10 people who’ve earned my loyalty and respect…and they earned it by proving their character through their actions–not because of who they are.

If I had to blame any of this ‘respect’ bullshit on anything I’d blame it on societal guilt over the Vietnam war; the military was really battered after that conflict and it was very hard to reintegrate into normal life. In that case I do feel a lot of sympathy because for a lot of soldiers it wasn’t their choice to go. Or at least that’s how history sees fit to view it. And then the Gulf War I happened and 9/11 happened about 10 years afterward. This is when our fanatic hard-on for all things military, police, and fire reached a crescendo which culminated in a second invasion of Iraq and an invasion of Afghanistan before that.

This led to a lot of criticism being swept under the rug or ignored and viewed as an unpatriotic fringe movement which has also led to military personnel to play internet tough guy by saying, “You need us to protect your freedoms.” Which is followed up by, “Faggit (sic) traitors. Your (sic) no better than the Taliban,” while this may seem extreme…it’s not. I’ve seen worse.

But oh ho…fear not this is New America™, criticism of the military and police can be meted out in public with the caveat, “Now, I’m not labeling all personnel this way,” or, “I’m not unpatriotic, but…” you get the idea. Basically any form of dissenting opinion is seen as a threat and the old lines of, “Protecting freedoms,”, “Brave men and women abroad and at home,”, and, “Isolated incident,” are trotted out while your average citizen nods, claps, and says, “That’s true.” In an unflinching manner that you’d swear they were zombies. Or at least lobotomized.

I think the biggest thing that sticks in my craw (and not just what happened tonight) is that while all of these arguments may seem rational and reasonable that I’m sure someone’s going to confuse my criticism with a generalized view of just hating all things American. That’s the real shame. So if I were going to sum up this whole bit in a way that’s concise it would be: Don’t let anyone tell you who you should respect and to always question anyone who thinks that the uniform is like a dog whistle and that respect should be shown immediately. We’re not fascist authoritarians yet, so don’t act like it.

Aaaand with that…I leave my wordpress for the night.

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