Katniss Everdeen, Thank You For Your Service, Ben Adams, Overthinking It, December 15, 2014
The individual experience of a veteran is as diverse and varied as any other institution with millions of members – prior to serving, those who served in the military come from all walks of life and backgrounds. During service, the experience of each service member varies widely, from a desk job in Washington DC to driving a warship through the Pacific to humping a rucksack and a rifle through the Taliban-controlled mountains of Afghanistan. And after leaving the military, veterans can be seen in all facets of society, making art, starting businesses, Overthinking things, etc.
But it is far too easy to leave this individuality behind and force the modern American* combat veteran into one of two competing narratives: the Courageous Hero or the Downtrodden and Broken Victim. In the Hero story, the veteran was born waving an American flag, traveling stoically across the sea to do battle with a distant enemy and returning home unbowed and unbroken; in the Victim story, the veteran was exploited by forces beyond his control, forced into the desert, subjected to unthinkable tragedy, and is now a hollow shell, subject to either crippling depression or psychotic breaks.
As with Katniss, veteran stories of heroism and victimization aren’t necessarily wrong. To be sure, many veterans have in fact accomplished any number of heroic deeds, sacrificing themselves for their fellow soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire. And to be sure, many veterans have in fact been victimized by combat, coming home either not at all, or with wounds both physical and mental.
But in the stories we tell ourselves, the actual living, breathing, veteran frequently becomes just a stand-in for an undifferentiated mass of Veterans.
Gun nuts’ racial duplicity: How Ferguson and Garner undermined their Second Amendment crusade, Amanda Gailey, Salon, December 15, 2014
Ferguson provides us with yet more evidence that what gun extremists mean by “freedom” is really the freedom to insist on the special social and economic supremacy of armed white men — it’s not about fighting oppression, it’s about violently intimidating a nation with changing demographics into recognizing the continued special status of white conservative men. When gun extremists see Wilson and Brown, they don’t care about oppression because they don’t see themselves as the oppressed party. They identify with the white man with the gun, because, for them, now as always, white and might make right.
It’s Okay To Hate Republicans, Susan J. Douglas, In These Times, December 15, 2014
How did we come to this pass? Obviously, my tendency is to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats, which may seem biased. But history and psychological research bear me out.
Let’s start with the history. This isn’t like a fight between siblings, where the parent says, “It doesn’t matter who started it.” Yes, it does.
A brief review of Republican rhetoric and strategies since the 1980s shows an escalation of determined vilification (which has been amplified relentlessly on Fox News since 1996). From Spiro Agnew’s attack on intellectuals as an “effete corps of impudent snobs”; to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech; to the GOP’s endless campaign to smear the Clintons over Whitewater, then bludgeon Bill over Monica Lewinsky; to the ceaseless denigration of President Obama (“socialist,” “Muslim”), the Republicans have crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.