In the first comment to a recent post where I agreed with a man who lost his son in Iraq that the media should offer “equal time to the other loved ones of fallen heroes,” a reader quoted a Democratic Senator, who himself was just mimicking one of the left’s standard refrains in criticizing supporters of the war. He called us chickenhawks. He probably thought he had won the argument by accusing certain supporters of the war of being afraid to fight.
But, in so labeling us, he effectively forfeited the field. Instead of taking issue with the facts we are presenting and the arguments we are making, he attacked us personally. They’re no longer engaging us; they’re baiting us. “After participating in a lengthy comment session” on this blog, ThatGayConservative concluded liberals use this tactic to “justify their own hatred.” Sometimes I think he’s right, that liberals are just trying to find a rationale to express their hatred of and contempt for conservatives and our ideas. On my more generous days, I think they’re just looking for means to dismiss our arguments without having to acknowledge our ideas.
The Gay Conservative wasn’t the only one to take issue with the absurd, but standard left accusation. In comment #82 to my post, Joe, echoed Clint in calling the accusation, “petty ad hominem; ‘at best’ trying to get a rise; more likely the mark of intellectual desperation.”
It’s just a mean-spirited charge, especially given the fact that many who serve, indeed, many who have seen friends and colleagues die, continue to stay and fight for our country. According to a report in today’s New York Post, “Every one of the Army’s 10 divisions — its key combat organizations — has exceeded its re-enlistment goal for the year to date.” (If you don’t believe me, read whole thing. (Via Powerline, via Betsy Newmark.)
As long as we have a volunteer army, the Chickenhawk slur is just that, a slur. A means to insult certain conservatives while dismissing our ideas.
All that said, I think it’s a fair question to ask why those of us who support the war have not served. By asking this questions, instead of calling us chickenhawks from the get-go, they might see that many of us have wrestled with our decision not to serve.
More than that. We recognize the quality of the men and women who have signed up.
Perhaps to show how much we honor these great Americans, instead of spending so much time on Cindy Sheehan, we should talk more about people like her son Casey, a true American hero. This brave young man “re-enlisted in the Army in 2004 knowing full well that he could be sent into a combat zone.” On April 4th of that year, he volunteered to rescue his fellow soldiers under assault from forces loyal to Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al’Sadr. Please read Blackfive’s beautiful tribute to Casey Sheehan. Blackfive, by the way, is a blogger who did serve in the Army.
Instead of considering our arguments, too many on the left label us chickenhawks which New England Republican sees as “a childish substitute for not being able to argue your case on the merits.” Or, as John Hawkins put it, the “‘chickenhawk'” catcall is little more than an attempt to stifle debate and divert attention away from the lack of substance that undergirds much of the anti-war side of the debate.” (Last two comments via Lorie Byrd’s excellent post on Michelle Malkin‘s blog.)
The chickenhawk tactic serves primarily to slur those who support the war but did not themselves serve in the military. While those who call us chickenhawks may think they have trumped us, all they really have done is replaced argument with name-calling. Not only that; by their very tactic, they leave themselves open to criticism from countless Americans who have served. Just as an overwhelmingly majority of those who currently serve in the armed forces support the president’s policies, many, many veterans support the president on Iraq.
Although Mr. Bush ran against a man who touted his military credentials in last year’s campaign, he won a higher percentage of the veteran’s vote than did that Vietnam Vet. Indeed, his percentage of the veterans’ vote was higher than his national majority. As was his percentage of the vote of those currently serving in the military.
Let’s have a debate on the merits of the war in Iraq. But, let’s not do it by calling some of the president’s supporters names or misrepresenting the president’s policies, including and especially the case he made for liberating Iraq while Saddam still tyrannized than land.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Since initially posting this piece, Andy (in comment #26) pointed out that columnist Ralph Peters offered a correction to his column where he acknowledged one “substantial error.” While reenlistment rates continue to exceed expectations, the “Army is still falling short on new enlistments.” I have changed the text of this post to reflect that.