How Conservatives Found Themselves Outed in the Military
Cope. You’ve heard the term. This is cope. That is cope. Someone makes an argument? Cope. It’s so promiscuously used, people don’t even know what they’re saying anymore. As typically employed, a ‘cope’ is a philosophical position (a ‘rationalization’, even) said to be used expressly to emotionally cope, and do little more, with a fundamental humiliation by harsh realities.
The jingoistic, ‘nationalist’, patriotic right-wing, even its more heterodox online manifestation, is steeped in an ocean of purely distilled, viscous cope.
Take yourself back to the early to mid 2000s. Not the 2010s. People drive ‘gas guzzlers’ and listen to Sirius radio in them. Maybe they listen to Howard Stern, joking about Abu Ghraib. Tasteless humor but if you aren’t careful and you switch stations you’ll hear “So you had a bad day” or “How to saave a life” for the millionth time this week. Iced soda sloshes around in your gigantic plastic tub in the cupholders of your credit-financed SUV.
George W. Bush is president. There’s a battle of Fallujah. Lance Armstrong won another freaking Tour De France. Hero. There’s another battle of Fallujah. You watch something on ‘YouTube’. It’s so much better than Metacafe. There’s another Columbine or something, but Terri Schiavo just died? Or something? Lance Armstrong wins another Tour De France, again. Gnarls Barkley is crazy.
What is the general consensus, established over decades of observation and what we now call ‘lived experience’ about being a ‘conservative’? Well, you are for tax cuts and less regulation. But you’re not just for tax cuts and less regulation. Remember? You are also for a strong national defense. This is a thing you say to establish yourself as a serious person.
The other guys, Democrats, liberals, perhaps even New England liberals, are not for a strong national defense. Just the opposite. Cut and run. Code Pink. They’re cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Our team is the tough SOBs that stormed the beaches and fought in the jungles. Their team is the side that has peace pins and says war is wrong.
Does this bear any resemblance to today? When America went to war in Afghanistan, gays could not openly serve in the military. Today, if you question the wisdom of pregnant women being deployed overseas, of mixed gender units (perhaps having read the military’s own investigations of combat effectiveness) or the wisdom of the military providing gender transition services, or any other set of guidances (say, DoD Instruction 1300.28), and you have enough of a profile that others listen, the military will reveal its immense sensitivity and coordinate as best it can to censure you publicly.
Normal conservatives look around at this and in 2021 conclude “ahh, the left has finally gotten the military. The military was ours, of course, always has been, but now, now the ‘wokes’ have gotten ahold of it. Just now. Just the military.” Behold, at long last, the gleaming iceberg tip of conservative cope.
The grips, gaffers, and prop masters and all the other people in the credits of a movie who make it happen — they can be and often are not at all ‘liberals’. You can look up the job listings at major studios; there are diverse career domains that line up with the academic paths and personalities of people almost guaranteed to be right-of-center. Yet even the least attentive conservatives in America understand ‘Hollywood’ as synecdoche for pure evil.
Universities and colleges, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Banks (are there any small versions of these left?), Hollywood, ‘The Media’, and now, the military. And law enforcement before! Observe the normie Conservative’s horror that on January 6th, the day they nearly got the nuclear codes some would have you believe, the FBI and Capitol Police did not side with them.
What does the normie Conservative make of all this? What do they conclude?
When they start watching autosuggest YouTube from the very same Big Tech they know is out to get them, they conclude that all of this is ‘Cultural Marxism’. It’s a purely exogenous phenomenon, something corrupting a country that is good and sweet and pure and true, and that if they don’t get the right kind of nationalist populists elected in the next election — through the GOP, naturally — it’s just all over!
Not only is the military’s top brass and civilian leadership bought into ‘Wokeism’ (dear Normal Conservative, this was ‘a thing’ before 2012 and Trayvon Martin being killed by ‘creepy-ass cracker’ George Zimmerman), it has always been in service of this. The radical egalitarianism and individual rights-based framework that says no matter what, at all costs, we just have to have transgender Afghans using their preferred bathroom in the Korengal Valley, just like Americans at MCAGCC Twenty Nine Palms (DoDI 1300.28), is what motivated the entire American project. Don’t believe me? Ask SCOTUS.
Ask SCOTUS about desegregating the military. Ask SCOTUS about gay marriage. Ask SCOTUS about women in the military or gays in the military, or illegal aliens attending American public schools, or any number of spheres of life, some of which you may feel are morally imperative to have egalitarianism in and others where you think to yourself something like “Self; why come the lady-man need to be in combat?”. SCOTUS will tell you ‘Disparate Impact’. SCOTUS will tell you ‘Equal Protection Clause’. SCOTUS will tell you ‘Freedom of Speech’. Tell yourself whatever you want about combat efficacy and winning wars. Make that case to yourself as perfectly as you wish, and then look at the results of the last two decades of fighting in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have utterly humiliated and militarily defeated the United States of America. Kandahar, Herat, and Kabul. After decades of blood spilled and billions spent, that’s the extent of Afghan Government control; not even so much in control of those cities as it is capable of barricading specific streets and neighborhoods. There are a lot of rationalizations — copes — for this outcome. Our Warfighters will tell you the US’s RoE and strategic decisions made by their leaders hampered them from really doing their jobs well. I agree.
Why were those decisions made? Why was building schools part of the war, for that matter? The basis of American warfighting doesn’t seem to be to ‘win wars’. It seems like something else doesn’t it? What is our actual military objective? Ask a normie conservative to answer these questions and they’ll try to formulate some answer about keeping Americans safe. After all, Osama Bin Laden was in Afghanistan. The Taliban sheltered him. Why did 9/11 happen to us and not, say, Norway? Why not Japan? Why not China? These are also pretty big and powerful countries. 9/11 happened here.
What conservatives are incapable of accepting is that their country isn’t even theirs, much less the military. Its foreign policy objectives and the geopolitical intrigues it enters into, the trouble it repeatedly invites onto its civilian populace and the misadventures it subjects its bravest young men and women to, decade after decade, has no relationship at all to keeping Americans safe.
Michael Herr co-writer of the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket, said about his friend Stanley Kubrick:
Stanley had views on everything, but I would not exactly call them political… His views on democracy were those of most people I know, neither left nor right, not exactly brimming with belief, a noble failed experiment along our evolutionary way, brought low by base instincts, money and self-interest and stupidity… He thought the best system might be under a benign despot, though he had little belief that such a man could be found. He wasn’t a cynic, but he could have easily passed for one. He was certainly a capitalist. He believed himself to be a realist.
The new constitution took shape through a representative process. It was drafted by a nine-member committee of Afghans last winter, reviewed by a 35-member Afghan commission starting last March, revised following nationwide public consultations that began in June, and ultimately ratified by 502 Afghan delegates to the Constitutional Loya Jirga – an event that was beamed live on TV and radio to Afghan households. About 20 percent of the delegates were women, and the debates included hard bargaining on clauses relating to parliamentary powers and the rights of minorities, including official languages.
At the end of the day, the Constitutional Loya Jirga approved the first nationally mandated constitution in 40 years – a constitution that Afghans can be proud of and that can provide a solid framework on which to build the functioning elements of a stable democracy.
Hollywood isn’t there to entertain you, either. Big Tech isn’t there to connect you to your peers. This Tweet is unavailable. The Banks are not your friends.
The signs have been there for a long time. The ‘Globalists’ who run world trade and its open borders and outsourcing? That’s the Atlantic Charter. The ‘Cultural Marxists’ who demand equality at all costs? Read the Charter, really.
Post-war conservatism at one point, gloriously and significantly and correctly took a completely dim view of this planetary enterprise of war-making to no end cloaked in the blood-stained banner of more gooder freedom for all. General Eisenhower didn’t mince words. He warned his society. He probably should have shouted about it more and disbanded certain departments.
Conservatives, if they want to have any future at all, if they don’t think the latest progressive pieties from Rainbow Raytheon are what’s good for their children, need to get serious about the US military as primarily a force for Liberalism worldwide. They must reject it, for it sinned against them first.
But they need not become un-American and throw away their identity. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, once wrote:
“I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.
I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.
But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem…
It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.“
That was 1900. He could be talking about Afghanistan. He may yet be speaking of the Uyghurs. Are you, whomever you are, reading this, more American than Mark Twain? I doubt that, somehow.
Americaness, and your loyalty to this Union, normie Conservative, is the whole game. Here’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tell you all about it:
She’s not wrong. She’s actually perfectly correct. Fundamentally, if you aren’t on her team, if you aren’t on the team of endless Middle Eastern intervention, if you aren’t on the team of transgender rights, if you aren’t on the team of the Union Forever, you’re on the ‘wrong side of history’. Because really, what are you if you’re an American, but resent the US perversely encroaching on you?
Do you have to give up your identity? Is there no future for you as a nation? John Quincy Adams wrote in 1821:
“What has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government… She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.
Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”
Don’t bother; you are absolutely not more of an American or more an American patriot than John Quincy Adams.
Be glad; your patriotism and your martial vigor does not need to be servant to those who hate you. You can even get something out of it besides wounds. You don’t need to persist on thinking that you’ve got a choice between being an American and being a patriot of this particular Empire.
Indian Bronson is a casual observer of culture and systems. His substack is: indianbronson.substack.com.
We are entirely funded by readers like you. Subscribe to our Patreon account or donate via PayPal today to keep us alive.