He was his father's "glass" (see photo below): 1 Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr. May he rest in God's peace.
“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.”
Professor Andrew Bacevich of Boston University is a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam. He is a scholar of tremendous depth and accomplishment and, what's more important, a serious Christian patriot who has expressed alarm over the direction in which our country has been misled.
Bacevich's recent book American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, is indispensable reading for those who want to understand just how deeply the Military-Industrial Complex is embedded in our culture, and the extent to which it propels public policy. Like any decently informed and morally serious person, Professor Bacevich opposed the Idiot King's war in Iraq and the needless, destructive bellicosity of his regime toward a world that once admired the US, but now looks on us with a mixture of puzzlement, disgust, and fear.
God blessed Andrew Bacevich with one son, who took his father's name and followed him into the military. The Idiot King's war has now stolen Andrew Bacevich, Jr. from his father and family, just as it has stolen tens of thousands of other children, American and Iraqi, from their families.
George W. Bush has never served our country – no, ruling it doesn't count as service. His hands have never known honest toil; his hominid brow has never been creased with the effort of socially productive thought; he has never known the mixture of pride, dread, and anxiety with which American parents – his superior in every relevant way – send their young children off to kill and die in a war produced and sustained by his intransigent vanity; and he will never know the emptiness, deeper than the flesh and too painful for the nervous system to register, of a parent called on to bury his child.
More than three thousand American families have been forced to carry out that ritual in which the shattered body of what was once a young and capable human being is exchanged for an artfully folded piece of colored cloth, presented with the “Thanks of a grateful nation.” This is done as if that benediction from a cold abstraction called the State can somehow palliate the loss of a son or daughter, a mother or a father.
For many, World War I -- the murder-suicide of the Christian West – exposed as a lie Horace's ancient truism, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” Wasting one's life in the service of a ruler's vain ambition is neither sweet nor just, nor is it an act of patriotism.
After WWI claimed his son, Arthur Conan Doyle was driven to bitter reflection on the annihilation of millions of young patriots on all sides. He execrated its architects as “the high-born conspirators against the peace of the world, who in their mad ambition had hounded such men on to take each other by the throat rather than by the hand."
Those conspirators (to use Doyle's expression) have devised a well-wrought counterfeit of patriotism – the natural and commendable love of one's country – in a form of militarist collectivism that treats the death of young men and women as a proper and necessary blood tax collected by the State. This makes about as much sense as the more forthright version of pointless human sacrifice my Aztec ancestors offered on the altars of Huitzilopochtli.
At least the Aztecs didn't marinate their rituals in the mixture of bile and bathos that typify the acolytes of the War God who infest our popular culture.
Few celebrities are more bilious than Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the talk radio shrike who had a brief career in amateur pornography before emerging as the self-appointed moral tutor to American housewives. During a recent stop at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Dr. Laura rebuked military wives for “whining,” offering as healing balm to their tortured souls the observation that some of their husbands “could come back without arms, legs or eyeballs – and you're bitching?”
[CLARIFICATION: See the comments at the end of this post.]
She also praised husbands who “have the courage to leave their families to fight for the nation,” as the Salt Lake Tribune summarizes her remarks.
“When you're in the military, that comes first,” she declared, unwittingly making the case for abolition of the military: Any loyalty or obligation that comes before God and family is an idol.
Some captions just write themselves: Pardoned felon Oliver North with admirers outside a Sean Hannity "Freedom Concert."
For sheer unalloyed bathos, it's hard to top “Arlington,” a hymn to the War God recorded by country schlockmeister Trace Adkins. (Some sense of the wretchedness of Adkins' alleged music can be found in the fact that he'll be headlining at least one of the five cornpone Nuremberg Rallies Sean Hannity has scheduled this summer.)
The song's narrator is a recently deceased soldier whose mortal remains have just been interred at Arlington National Cemetery. It says much about that shrine that part of it was stolen from land owned by the noblest 19th Century American, a man who put his community above the demands of the State. The moral universe depicted in that song is one in which the State is the font of all holiness, and none are to be revered above those whose lives were extinguished in its service – save, perhaps, for the Pontifex Maximus of the War Cult, who dwells at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
I never thought that this is where I'd settle down.
I thought I'd die an old man back in my hometown.
They gave me this plot of land,
Me and some other men, for a job well done.
There's a big White House sits on a hill just up the road.
The man inside, he cried the day they brought me home.
They folded up a flag and told my Mom and Dad:
"We're proud of your son."
And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company.
I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done.
I can rest in peace; I'm one of the chosen ones: I made it to Arlington.
As the song proceeds, we learn that the narrator's father “brought me here when I was eight; we searched all day to find out where my grand-dad lay....” We're also told that the long-departed grandfather “clicked his heels, and saluted me,” on “the first day I came in” -- meaning, apparently, that military rank and discipline still exist in the celestial realm – as least as heaven is imagined by adherents of the War Cult.
Our National Anthem describes an entirely different vision of patriotism, one in which it is the duty of "freemen ... [to] stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation...."
It is when our homes are threatened -- when we are facing the enemy with our families at our backs -- that war is justified, not when our soldiers are dispatched halfway around the globe on patently false pretexts to invade the homes of people who neither injured nor threatened us. In those circumstances it is our purported enemy who is in the right, fighting on his home soil in defense of his own home -- and the lives of our soldiers are wasted.
Genuine patriots of every nation understand this principle. Authentic American patriots understand that while foreign enemies rise and fall, our eternal enemy is the Regime under which we live, and the rulers who squander lives to which they had no legitimate claim -- lives like that of 27-year-old Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr.
About that Dr. Laura quote...
Thanks to the timely help of a reader who posted in the comments section, I was directed to Dr. Laura's blog, which contains the following clarification concerning the comments attributed to her by the Salt Lake Tribune:
"I am so deeply sad and disappointed that this out of context comment appears to have caused hurt and pain to military spouses - people that I’ve spent so much time helping. I am frustrated that people who haven’t heard my program would be misled as to my attitude and intent. I am a military mom. I whine to my husband every day about how scared I am for my son and how helpless I feel to protect his body and soul. However, I never whine to my son when he is able to call between missions. That, and only that, is my point. Of course military spouses endure fear and domestic burdens. Of course they often need emotional support and practical assistance. As I said to the reporter, and many times on my program, family services, clergy, family, friends, and the camaraderie of other military spouses are available outlets. However, burdening one’s warrior spouse with your fears, upsets, loneliness, etc., is a huge mistake as it demoralizes the warrior and thereby undermines their concentration while they are in life-death situations."
Taken by itself, this point is sound and unobjectionable. In fact, it is very similar to the one made by cartoonist and anti-war activist Gary Trudeau in today's "Doonesbury" offering:
[Click on strip to enlarge]
I respect and appreciate the virtue of stoicism in bearing burdens and making sacrifices on behalf of freedom.
But the occupation of Iraq has nothing at all to do with freedom. Not a single damned thing.
What I find galling is the fact that Dr. Laura, one of the country's most influential pop moralists, is urging military families to bear with docility the burdens inflicted on them by the Regime in a patently and obviously immoral war, rather than suggesting ways that they can use their influence to extricate their loved ones from the Mesopotamian morass.
In his familiar style, Trudeau (someone for whom I'm not excessively burdened with respect) made the relevant moral point: It is life, and not war, that is supposed to "go on." The men (and -- God forgive us -- women) mired in Iraq don't belong to the Regime; their families have an infinitely greater claim on them than any government ever could. Inverting the moral order by placing the Regime above the family isn't patriotism in any sense genuine Americans can recognize.