Saturday, January 15, 2005
Last month, uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote that "abuse and dehumanization of prisoners has [sic] been widespread in the U.S. military. And the Bush administration has already made it absolutely clear that no one of any consequence will be held responsible. They make me ashamed."
Today, he writes that "most of the U.S. soldiers" in Iraq are "amazing": "We really owe them a huge amount of gratitude and support. Of course, it's precisely because these guys deserve the highest of praise that we shouldn't stint in punishing the few bad apples and insane policy directives."
Much as I applaud his more recent sentiment, I think I perceive a contradiction. If "abuse and dehumanization" are "widespread in the U.S. military," then they're not being perpetrated by just a "few bad apples." If a "few bad apples" are the problem, then we can't claim the US military is perpetuating "a culture of abuse."
So which is it, Mr. Sullivan?
Update (1/17): Sullivan effectively answers my question. So much for the idea that a "few bad apples" are the problem: Sullivan seems to think we indeed have a culture of abuse in the military.
Update (1/19): Or maybe not. Now he wants "accountability (and not just an "accountability moment") for the use of torture by some American troops" (emphasis mine). Perhaps this means there are a few bad apples, engaging in not-quite-isolated incidents of torture. Or something like that.
I don't dispute that Sullivan has the right to critique the US military. I'd just like to know what his critique is.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
After my friend Rick Sincere showed me how easy it was, I installed a new site counter for My Stupid Dog. It's a welcome opportunity for me as a writer to learn more about my audience. I'm not sure what it'll tell me in terms of demographics or geography, but at least it'll let me know how many people read these posts and/or check the site. Plus, from a techno-geek standpoint it's pretty cool.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
By now, most of you have already heard about C.A. Tripp's new book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, which claims that the Great Emancipator split more than rails back in the wilds of Illinois. Whatever the book's merits, it's provoking some disturbingly similar reactions from the Left and the Right.
First, the Weekly Standard published a cover image of a limpwristed Lincoln, his lanky body draped over an easy chair in a grotesque parody of seduction. Not to be outdone, the left-wing e-zine Salon.com paired a book review with an offensive cover image of its own. For Salon, Lincoln stands in faded jeans and a muscle shirt (the kind I used to call a "wife-beater" before I succumbed to political correctness), with a tattoo on his left arm, a bracelet on his right wrist, and an upside-down pink triangle button on his shoulder.
If the Weekly Standard caricature would have been recognizable even in the days of green carnations and "Greek love," the Gay Pride clone in Salon seems inspired by the mid-century beefcake erotica of Tom of Finland. This Lincoln is strictly a "daddy type," apparently butch, with his hand firmly placed on his hip. Yet the wrist still seems a bit limp as it rests on his thigh -- not as extreme as Abe's floppy hands in the Weekly Standard cover, but just enough for the audience to know that he's not quite "one of the boys." In both the Weekly Standard and Salon covers, Lincoln's left ear sports an outsized hoop ring: It's the final, outlandish gesture of male effeminacy.
Judging from these two publications, it's disturbingly easy for heterosexual Americans -- regardless of ideology -- to make light of silly fairies, especially if we dare to claim Honest Abe as one of our own. It's clearly absurd to believe that a Great American might also be a Gay American: After all, Gay people lounge decadently in their parlors, or show off their gym-built bodies at Pride Festivals. Meanwhile, history is made by men with stiff wrists, who don't do ridiculous things like wear earrings or fall for other guys.
Because I live in rural Virginia, I haven't had a chance to read Tripp's book or evaluate his evidence. So let's put the question of Lincoln's sexuality aside for a moment, and ask a question about ourselves: If there were evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lincoln was Gay, if we knew for certain that he was sexually attracted to other men, would he still be "Lincolnesque," as he was before? Would we continue to think of him as the Great Emancipator who saved the Union for posterity, honored in story and song around the world? Would he remain an icon of America's greatness?
I'm afraid, gentle reader, that the answer would be a resounding "No." These stereotypical images of a "queered" Lincoln indicate that neither left-liberals nor their conservative counterparts, are able and willing to take Gay people seriously. Whether they see us as clones or fags, we're still strange, vaguely absurd, not quite human. We are Other.
Monday, January 10, 2005
One good reason not to pass the most discriminatory, anti-Gay legislation in the entire United States, is that you tend to atrract lots of fruitcakes like Laurie A. Letourneau. She's bringing her one-woman crusade against Gay people to the Old Dominion, but I doubt she'll find much work here.
Update (1/13): Perhaps the poor dear could buy herself a new license plate.
I am not on the Bush administration payroll. Heck, I didn't even know they were hiring.
(Hat tip: Andrewsullivan.com.)
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