Monday, July 07, 2008

Military guilt

People often talk of "white guilt". Shelby Steele wrote a book about it. I'm wondering if there's such a thing as "military guilt". The people who serve in the armed forces in our country often have to endure a lot of risk and suffering for relatively little reward. One only has to examine the discrepancy in compensation between private contractors in Iraq and military service people doing the same job to see how huge the gap really is. The Walter Reed scandal and the difficulty many veterans encounter getting treatment for injuries suffered during service reinforce in my mind the idea that many veterans are getting a raw deal from society.

So I'm wondering if there's such a think as "military guilt": an often unacknowledged awareness that veterans are often getting the short end of the stick from society. I certainly feel this to a certain extent.

So how does this military guilt play out? I think one way it comes out is a reluctance to criticize people who have suffered in combat. I'm thinking of the recent flap about Wes Clark's remarks to the effect that McCain's experience in Viet Nam as a prisoner of war doesn't necessarily translate into a qualification for being president. There was this aura of indignation around people's reaction to Clark: how dare he. Of course, Clark was right: being taken prisoner or any other particular wartime experience is not necessarily a qualification to be president. But to point this out is somehow supposed to be deeply disrespectful. I wonder if there's some sort of subconscious transaction going on here.

Of course, "military guilt" didn't stop Republicans from mocking Kerry with purple heart band-aids. So the phenomenon certainly isn't universal.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Effluent said...

"One only has to examine the discrepancy in compensation between private contractors in Iraq and military service people doing the same job to see how huge the gap really is."

You're making a valid point. However you'll find that most of the contractors don't do jobs nearly as dangerous as the one front line troops do.

3:53 PM, July 16, 2008  
Blogger Michael said...

And being a "community organizer" is a proper qualification for president I suppose?

9:17 AM, October 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael is a racist dumbass

8:58 PM, March 20, 2011  

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