No, America’s Generals Aren’t Planning a Coup
A bizarre hit piece in National Journal gives the false impression that our military leaders are considering removing the president.
In a cleverly-written hit piece for National Journal (“Retired General: Some in Military Want to ‘Take Out the President’“) Alex Seitz-Wald gives the impression that there is active talk among the brass of assassinating President Obama.
A former top general and current executive at the Family Research Council says members of the military have considered staging a coup d’état against President, but will not because of civilian control of the military.
“People I’ve spoken to would like to see the military ‘fulfill their constitutional duty and take out the president,’ ” retired Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin told World Net Daily, a website best known for pushing Obama “birther” conspiracy theories. “Our Constitution puts a civilian in charge of the military and as a result a coup would not be constitutional. You’re not going to see a coup in the military.”
“I talk to a lot of folks who don’t support where Obama is taking the military, but in the military they can’t say anything,” Boykin said.
Boykin, an evangelical Christian who is now the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, was publicly repudiated by President Bush twice in 2003 for saying Muslims worship an “idol” and not “a real God.” Last year, Boykin abruptly pulled out of appearing at a West Point ceremony after controversy erupted over the invitation. (Boykin has also said Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment” and that there should be “no mosques in America” because “a mosque is an embassy for Islam and they recognize only a global caliphate.”)
Boykin said Obama has purged from the ranks officers who don’t support the president’s “political correctness.” The president’s agenda, including the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowing women to serve in combat, are making the military weaker, Boykin added.
Another former general, retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, bemoaned to WND that today’s military is all “girly-men leadership [and] medals for not shooting and operating a computer.”
Now, Boykin is a well-known crank and Brady is a 77-year-old but less-known crank. Both hold prominent positions in very socially conservative organizations. Both espouse views that I find embarrassing. Neither of them, however, advocate a military coup, which would be anathema to their decades of professional socialization as soldiers.
Seitz-Wald sources his story to a piece at World Net Daily titled “TOP GENERALS: OBAMA IS ‘PURGING THE MILITARY’.” While I have long avoided linking to WND reporting, having found them over the years to be more interested in pushing their right-wing agenda than the truth, they are in this case a much more reliable source than National Journal. Here’s the beginning of WND’s story in its entirety, broken up by my commentary:
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, recipient of the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, as well as other top retired officers, say President Obama’s agenda is decimating the morale of the U.S. ranks to the point members no longer feel prepared to fight or have the desire to win.
“There is no doubt he (Obama) is intent on emasculating the military and will fire anyone who disagrees with him” over such issues as “homosexuals, women in foxholes, the Obama sequester,” Brady told WND
Now, this is nonsense. Lots of officers, especially top officers, disagree with Obama on these issues. But nobody is being fired for mere disagreement. Still, nothing is particularly offensive or surprising about Brady’s views here; they’re very reflective of military thinking circa 1993, when Brady retired from the Army. (Indeed, they reflect my own thinking circa 1993. In my case, my views have shifted in light of the evidence.)
“They are purging everyone, and if you want to keep your job, just keep your mouth shut,” one source told WND.
Not only are military service members being demoralized and the ranks’ overall readiness being reduced by the Obama administration’s purge of key leaders, colonels – those lined up in rank to replace outgoing generals – are quietly taking their careers in other directions.
We’re not told who this “source” is, or even whether they’re in the military. But it’s actually pretty routine for top officers to be selected or not for advancement based on whether they’re aboard with the agenda of their commander-in-chief.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who was with Delta Force and later Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under President George W. Bush, says it is worrying that four-star generals are being retired at the rate that has occurred under Obama.
“Over the past three years, it is unprecedented for the number of four-star generals to be relieved of duty, and not necessarily relieved for cause,” Boykin said.
“I believe there is a purging of the military,” he said. “The problem is worse than we have ever seen.”
I’ve not noticed any especial acceleration of retirements, much less any “purge.” But, certainly, nothing treasonous here.
Boykin points out that the military adheres to the constitutional requirement of a civilian leadership over the military. As a consequence, officers are not allowed to criticize their civilian leadership, as occurred when Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was relieved in 2010 of his command of the International Security Assistance Force and commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.
He was relieved due to what has been described as unflattering remarks made about Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials in a Rolling Stone magazine article. He was recalled to Washington where Obama accepted his resignation as commander in Afghanistan.
Boykin says that because of the fundamental civilian leadership over the military, McCrystal was “appropriately forced to retire.”
Some officers were involved in adulterous affairs and those situations, Boykin said, also were grounds for dismissal.
So, not only is Boykin not advocating a coup, he’s actively arguing that such a thing would be an outrage. Like virtually all current and former officers, he understood that McChrystal had to go, theretofore sterling record or no, for allowing a command climate disrespectful to its civilian leadership. And, not surprisingly given his devout religious views, he’s also fully on board with firing officers with zipper problems.
Boykin specifically said that because of the civilian-military relationship, he did not see any prospect for a “coup” coming from the military ranks.
“People I’ve spoken to would like to see the military ‘fulfill their constitutional duty and take out the president,'” Boykin said. “Our Constitution puts a civilian in charge of the military and as a result a coup would not be constitutional. You’re not going to see a coup in the military.”
Again, Boykin specifically rules out a coup. The “people” he’s “spoken to” who bring up the topic are almost certainly not people with significant military service, especially in the officer ranks. The notion is simply alien to their code and Boykin is pointing that out.
Nevertheless, Boykin said the future of the military is becoming more and more of concern, since colonels who would be generals also are being relieved of duty, if they show that they’re not going to support Obama’s agenda, which critics have described as socialist.
“I talk to a lot of folks who don’t support where Obama is taking the military, but in the military they can’t say anything,” Boykin said.
Now, again, I haven’t heard of a wave of colonels being relieved for not supporting the president’s agenda. But, naturally, it’s the duty of soldiers to carry out the lawful orders of their commander-in-chief. And, while he clearly would prefer a different commander-in-chief, Boykin not only understands that but he goes further: officers don’t even have the right to publicly disagree with the president on matters of policy. (There are some limited exceptions, such as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testifying before Congress, but they’re not applicable here.)
As a consequence, he said, the lower grades therefore have decided to leave, having been given the signal that there is no future in the military for them.
Boykin referred to recent reports that Obama has purged some 197 officers in the past five years.
These reports suggest these officers were suspected of disloyalty or disagreed with the Obama administration on policy or force-structure issues. As Boykin pointed out, a number of them have been relieved of duty for no given reason.
“Morale is at an unprecedented low,” Boykin said, part of which is due to sequestration.
Sequestration has seriously cut back operational readiness for the military to the point where Boykin said that often they have no ammunition and are unable to conduct training because of the planned cuts.
“These officers want to train for war but are not be allowed to” because of the preoccupation not only with sequestration, but what Boykin said were other concerns surfacing in the military under Obama as commander-in-chief.
Now, it’s a little silly to lay sequestration fully at the feet of the president. Yes, it was his administration’s idea. But they introduced it as a poison pill—a practice so stupid and draconian that it would force Democrats and Republicans in Congress to strike a grand bargain—not as a preferred means of operating. Regardless, this is garden variety political bitching, not advocacy of a coup.
He referred specifically to the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which now allows openly homosexual personnel in the military. In addition, he said the integration of women into the infantry “will reduce readiness of units.” He also was critical of the rules of engagement which he says favor “political correctness over our ability to fight to win.”
“The last time we won an all-out war was in 1944,” Boykin said. “Now, we don’t have the will to win.”
Again, this is silly. But, again, this viewpoint has been prevalent among soldiers for time immemorial. It’s slowly changing among younger officers. Regardless, the Services are carrying out their orders.
Brady, who was a legendary “Dust Off” air ambulance pilot in Vietnam and detailed his experiences in his book, “Dead Men Flying: Victory in Viet Nam,” said, “The problem is military people will seldom, while on duty, go on the record over such issues, and many will not ever, no matter how true.
“I hear from many off the record who are upset with the current military leadership and some are leaving and have left in the past,” he said.
However anecdotal, I’m sure this is right: some significant number of military personnel are unhappy with rapid changes to their culture. But almost all of them are choosing among their two available options: shut the hell up or get the hell out. Those few who choose to stay in and undermine the civilian leadership are appropriately being punished.
From there, the article devolves into conspiracy theories about Benghazi, “girly-men” leadership, and various other rantings not addressed in Seitz-Wald’s piece or worth getting into here. But there’s zero evidence in the piece of even a single officer, active or retired, advocating the unlawful removal of the president.
Of course, there are those on the extreme right wing alternative universe who are openly hoping for such a putsch.
We can write this off as a bunch of crazies spouting off, but last month a similar band of nutcases literally shut down the government and came within a hair’s breadth of defaulting on our national debt over….nothing. The Tea Party is playing with fire – and I’m beginning to worry about them scorching a lot more earth than I used to think a tiny minority was capable of.
Realizing I sound a bit like the nutbags who talk about Obama himself not caring about the constitution – I do feel like my own concerns are based on real behavior, not birther/Kenyan/Benghazi crap. I no longer have any doubt as to the Republican party’s complete disloyalty to the United States. Talk like this frankly scares me to my core given their demonstrated history. These are topics you just don’t bring up. Period.
I seem to recall a disturbing number of senior officers also being dismissed, of late, for just being screwups. Not sure how getting rid of a screwup that is in charge of nuclear weapons, or a warship, is a victory for Political Correctness.
Now, it’s a little silly to lay sequestration fully at the feet of the president. Yes, it was his administration’s idea. But they introduced it as a poison pill—a practice so stupid and draconian that it would force Democrats and Republicans in Congress to strike a grand bargain—not as a preferred means of operating.
This is a rationale I am hearing more and more about the Obama administration, and I don’t recall hearing it much before. “Yes, he lied, but he had to do it, and nobody believed him anyway, so it doesn’t count.” Whether it’s about his bluffing on sequestration or “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it” or his opposition to gay marriage, it seems that it’s OK for him to have lied because 1) most everyone knew he was lying at the time, and 2) he had to lie because people wouldn’t accept the truth, and enough of the rubes would believe him to get away with it.
On the sequestration, you are arguing that it wasn’t Obama’s fault because he put it out as a bluff, and it was inconceivable that his bluff would actually be called, and it certainly isn’t his fault that his bluff was called.
It’s one thing for you to believe that — everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs — but do you really think that it’s so eminently reasonable and self-evident that others should buy into it, too?
In light of incidents such as the LAX shooter, there is no question in my mind that some “patriots”-including a few in the military-would sign up for such a venture,and a few may be even planning something. I’m sure that the FBI and the DIA are alive to such threats, though , and have been since the day Obama was elected.
Sorry sir, but that is incorrect. We no longer have the will to go to war. The only way to win a war is through total war, something we have not the stomach for because the last total war cost over 60 million lives and the NEXT total war could cost the US and the US alone that many if not many more. Not to mention the fact that nobody wants the blood of 25 plus million Iranians on their hands.
In other words, sir, we have come to the inescapable conclusion that war is not the answer, it is the problem. That wars are the surest sign of failure.
@Jenos Idanian #13: Shorter Jenos: In my alternative universe all is Obama’s fault, including the impending implosion of our sun. A real leader would forbid our home star from expanding into a red giant thereby consuming our fragile planet in the fires of hell, and then imploding and banning our lonely planet to an infinity of time wandering the cold lifeless immensities of the universe.
While I do trust that senior military officers are professionals, I’m under no delusion that the military is free of pathologies found in public and private life.
The American Right has been moving further right by inexorable, incremental steps. The shutdown strategy would have been publicly ridiculed by senior Republican leaders thirty years ago. Anyone here want to bet the mortgage they won’t do it again within a few months?
Like every other large organization in America, there are Republicans in the officer corps. Some of these people are further Right than others, and are more sympathetic to the apocalyptic hysteria now commonplace throughout the Right’s media every day of the week.
I’m sure that Boykin and his ilk are a small subset within the military. But I’m equally sure such a subset exists.
@Tony W: I have to wonder how many Tea Party Generals are out there.
You know these coup theories come out every few years, but they never address the underlying question: Why would the rank and file go along? It’s sad how little thought many give to their oath but it is still there, lingering. “to protect and defend the Constitution…”
And why a coup? Just hang on for 3 more years and their will be a change. All the while, bureaucratic red tape can grind things to a standstill. Or you rush head-long to implement the new policy to expose its underlying fallacies. The generals didn’t get to where they are by not understanding how to use the weapons at their disposal.
Not to mention that terrible fear of all those guns out there among the hoi polloi, well, they’d still be there. In the hands of many who took the oath as well.
The Flag officer corps is almost by definition not for small government and fiscal control.
World … Net … Daily
@Jenos Idanian #13:
You do understand that poison pill ≠ bluff?
If it were a bluff, then we wouldn’t be operating under sequestration now. You really should think before you post.
The President preferred a Clean Debt Ceiling increase to the GOP’s ultimate preference of Sequestration.
He preferred a Right-tilted “Grand Bargain” to it as well.
He and the Dems would do away with the entirety of Sequestration, at any moment, if the GOP would allow it to go.
The only instance where the President’s preference was Sequestration was when scrambling for an alternative to impending, manufactured default.
@Jenos Idanian #13: Sequestration was a device that simultaneously allowed the passage of a short-term spending resolution and was supposed to trigger a major compromise down the road by making the alternative something that both parties hated: massive cuts to social programs and Defense. Republicans ultimately decided that their antipathy to government spending outweighed their love of the military and allowed sequestration to go into effect.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Funny thing, I’m not hearing that “more and more about the Obama administration” primarily because I’ve been hearing conservatives run that one for over 5 years now.
Any newsletter that thinks WND is worth quoting from obviously gets its income from ads from Goldline.
@al-Ameda: Funny thing, I’m not hearing that “more and more about the Obama administration” primarily because I’ve been hearing conservatives run that one for over 5 years now.
The differences are 1) now it’s not just conservatives saying it, and 2) there are more and more examples to cite.
This is a very poor “change-the-subject” attempt to deflect the argument from reality to fiction. It’s not surprising though since distorting truth is the standard M.O. of your political class. If you think this statement of mine is wrong, explain to me why everything was “Bush’s fault” for the last several years. He had the same control over our star as your pitiful, put-upon president.
If you think the Tea Party is some sort of cohesive anti-American political force you are giving us way too much credit. We think of ourselves as grounded in the values enshrined in the Constitution and given by God. You don’t believe in God so you believe in Father Government. Good luck with that, boys. The world you leave our heirs will be rent by the same divisions that have always prevailed when the government of secular humanists fails yet again to rise above the shortcomings of man.
They wouod not dare, especially since we seem to have so many of them being right-wing religeous nuts too.
I still remember reading Seven Days In May when I was in college or high school, I can’t remember which. I think I’ll go check to see if Netflix has the movie.
It does although not available for streaming you must get the CD.
As it turns out there was also a remake in 1994, The Enemy Within also available as a DVD at Netflix.
A military coup against Obama would certainly be a Tea Party member’s wet dream. If there are any Pinochet-wannabes in the U.S. Armed Forces willing to make their move, they better pray they succeed. If they fail, the coup-plotters and their GOP & right wing media enablers (make no mistake, the GOP and talk radio clowns would enable this) will be in a vast world of hurt.
It’s amazing how popular treason is with the TP/GOP.
No, it isn’t amazing. That’s the amazing part.
I don’t think the GOP as a whole is anti-American or anti-Democratic. The mainstream Republicans aren’t that crazy, they’re just cowards.
But Tea Partiers are looking to a convergence of Big Business, Militarists and Racists. It’s worked before. It’s the Nazi coalition.
But that’s not the GOP generally. The GOP generally is just the German National People’s Party, the guys who thought they could use the Nazis and ended up getting used themselves.
And before some ninny pops up with Godwin’s Law, I’d point out that Godwin was attempting to limit inappropriate references to Nazis. Even then, there’s an obvious flaw in the underlying logic of Godwin’s: in practice it uses as its point of reference the full weight of Nazi atrocity, all 12 years of it. But of course when the Nazis were on the rise they weren’t guilty of anything but racism, cynicism, hatred and a bit of swaggering and light-weight thuggery.
Now who does that remind me of?
If Obama were overthrown by a military coup, rest assured that Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and Levin would fight…
…each other for the position of junta press sectretary.
Wow, you went right for the Nazi comparison, didn’t you? Didn’t even pause at McCarthyism or something. I have issues with the TP, but given that they are opposed to further military adventurism (e.g., Syria) and opposed to corporate bailouts, I would say your comparison is quite definitely not an appropriate reference.
I do get sick of this nonsense of taking a movement that has millions of people and ascribing to it the views of its most extreme wing.
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
We shouldn’t be giving any oxygen in this blog to the antics of the FRC, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
I didn’t compare them to McCarthyites because that would not be the apt comparison.
The Tea Party is financed by big business, and it’s nonsense that they oppose further adventures overseas, they just deny Obama’s right to launch one. Poll the TP and see whether they are more or less likely than mainstream Republicans or Democrats to use military force against Iran. Ask them if they are more or less likely to believe Obama cut and ran from Iraq.
Does the TP worship at the altar of the military? Yes. Do they despise homosexuals? Yes. Do they believe the homeland has been harmed by “alien” elements in society? Yes. Contempt for learning and the arts? Yes. Nostalgia combined with a belief that they’ve been robbed, deprived of the honor they deserve? Yes. Believe themselves to be ruled by weak men with suspicious connections outside the country? Yes. Believe it’s very important for white women to have lots of babies? Yes. Have a marked tendency to be in thrall to dynamic orators? Yes. Limit themselves to reading and watching only their own media? Yes. Use violent language and imagery? Yes. Xenophobia? Yes. Belief in the superiority of the white race? Yes. Disregard for the norms of proper government? Yes.
Now, we don’t have 100% match here, obviously. You never get 100%. But remember, we’re not talking the Nazis at Nuremberg rallies, we’re talking earlier. Back when they were one political party among many, and not an especially strong one. And there we have a pretty good match.
Your rant reminds me of the kind of things I hear from the Tea Party — taking whatever negative ideas you can conjure up and assigning them to your political opponents (e.g. “Does Obama hate the institutions of our country? Yes. Does he pal around with terrorists? Yes. Does he want to spread the wealth around? Yes.” Continue on ad infinitium). I can not peer into people’s souls and know that they are motivated by racism, racial superiority, nostalgia or whatever. But I do know many members of the Tea Party and would not ascribe that worldview to any of them. The dominant thing I hear — over and over again — is concern that our country is in a death spiral of spending and debt (a view I disagree with and think has been deliberately misinformed by political leaders and commentators).
There is a lot of disagreement in the Tea Party about issues beyond the size of government. Two of the biggest Tea Party heroes are Rand and Ron Paul who … oppose military adventurism and favor ending the War on Drugs. We can only ascribe Tea Party views to them when they say something nutty? CBS’s polls indicate only about 10-15% of Tea Partiers think social issues are important.
On this specific issue, Tea Party rallies have specifically eschewed violence (even that nutcase who told Obama to “put down the Koran”). I have yet to see a mainstream Right Wing blog cite this piece favorably and the conservatives I ran it by regarded it as link-bait nonsense. Yeah, Word Nut Daily. How many Tea Partiers do you think actually read that web site?
Look, I am concerned about the direction of the Tea Party. I think some of their view are dangerously wrong and I’m frustrated that they get their news from the same sources that mindlessly supported the GOP when they betrayed every conservative ideal under the sky during the Bush years. There are hundred right-wing political movements you could compare them to (or you could, you know, just deal with their ideas). But don’t you think going to the most murderous regime in history is a bit absurd and inflammatory? Doesn’t it annoy you when Right Wingers do that to left wing movements?
@Ron Beasley: Yeah, the remake is soft and limp in that 90s TV movie way. The Frankenheimer/Serling original is just an amazingly tough movie. The only thing dated about it is the thought that a general might resign on the verge of the coup if word of his affair leaked… hetero affair at that. And a great, great case. Stick with the original!
It’s been too many years since our friend, Lee, passed away while working overseas. I commend you for keeping his blog alive. Although I don’t visit there much, I still hold fond memories of the too many hours I spent arguing with you and so many others at RTFTLC.
I often think back to his blog, and wonder what he would have thought about the Tea Party, because as conservative as he was on certain issues, he was super liberal on others, moderate on yet others, was against stupidity more than anything else.
The current Tea Party – with the likes of Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and the clowns at FreedomWorks as leaders – is, above all, stupid. For proof, see Angle, Sharon; Akin, Todd; Murdock, Richard; O’Donnell, Christine, among others.
What do you think Lee would think of the current GOP incarnation?
Yeah, a popular general like General Petraeus wouldn’t resign over an affair coming to light these days.
Yes. The Tea Party would never consider supporting someone like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mia Love, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley…
Says a devotee of Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson,
Looks like a lot of transference going on in your rant. You might want to see someone about that.
@wr: Good info, I’ll skip the remake. Thanks, while I read the book I don’t recall seeing either movie.
The difference between liberals and so-called conservatives:
Liberals: “We don’t like President Bush, but a military coup overthrowing him would be a really bad idea”
Cons: “We don’t like President Obama, so a military coup overthrowing him would be a really *great* idea”
He has stated his devotion to Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? Really?
As the old saying goes, the Tea Party has a couple of best friends that are black.
Do they also have the inside scoop on the specialized weapons these Generals will be using to take down the extra-dimensional reptilians living in the White House?
Hey Boykin: 1945, actually. Feel better?
You forgot, “”
@OzarkHillbilly: Heh… I forgot to beware computer/internet stuff I don’t understand. What you forgot:
“and Yeah, the Supreme Court voided a free and fair election,”
The difference between Liberals and Conservatives:
Liberal…I don’t like Bush because of 9/11, Iraq, Medicare Part D, the Bush Tax Cuts, outing Covert Operatives, poorly handling Katrina, and the Contraction of ’07, and ’08.
Conservative…I don’t like Obama because…BenghaZZZZiiii!!!!!
@JKB: “Yeah, a popular general like General Petraeus wouldn’t resign over an affair coming to light these days. ”
Good point — but in the movie in question, the affair is brought up a day before this general is going to launch a coup to take over the United States in hopes this would stop him… in other words, the idea is that the shame of philandering would be greater than the ignominy that might come from treason.
I’ve heard that Petraeus contemplated running for office, but never that he thought about overthrowing the government…
And then you have Rand Paul wanting a duel with a pundit that called him out on his blatant and repeated pagarism. Oh yeah…And his stand on the CRA, before that.
So if you have nothing to sell…no new ideas, no solutions…if your party is becoming increasing irrelevant…and you yourself are seen as a joke….then threaten your opponents with violence. It’s the GOP way.
The only thing that would change nowadays is that Fox News would offer the coup-plotting general a contract.
Curious comment at the National Journal link:
It’s not often that the GOP Outreach Coordinator opines on a website article.
@EddieInCA: That’s why I don’t think we’re going to see Nazis, Round II. Hitler and at least some of his followers (Rommel) were pretty smart.
The chunk of the Tea Party that wants to gain political power doesn’t have the smarts to do so, and the chunk that does have the smarts (Limbaugh, etc.) realizes it’s much more profitable to fleece the rubes for $$$.
After all, why bother to go through the hassle of an election and getting stuck with, godforbid, the task of running the country when you can sit on the sidelines, pontificate your heart out, and get just as much adulation and far more cash?
Thanx. A lot. I don’t go to places like the NJ for the specific reason of avoiding such vile diatribes. Now I need a bath.
At various times the Nazi party also rejected violence. At times the Nazis made common cause with people they despised: the USSR being the obvious example.
And the difference between your examples, “Does Obama hate the institutions of our country? Yes. Does he pal around with terrorists? Yes. Is that mine are true and the ones you cite are not. It’s not paranoia if it’s true.
Look to the emotional truth, not the lies people tell or the self-deception they engage in. Look at what they feel. In the Tea Party the dominant emotions are rage, an absurdly contra-factual sense of victimization, self-pity, a hunger for glory and importance, suspicion of and hatred of the Other. That’s your Nazi emotional cocktail right there.
Look at the specific targets of contempt: other races, other countries, other religions, unions, intellectuals, gays, liberals, especially wealthy liberals in the media. It’s true that Tea Partiers don’t hate Jews and sub Latinos and African-Americans instead, but that’s a detail.
Look at the language: aggressive, sneering, contemptuous, threatening, violent.
I’m sorry, but Godwin’s notwithstanding, the parallels between the early days of the Nazi Party and the early days of the Tea Party are compelling.
You show your hand when you assume I’m a devotee of Mr. Obama, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton.
The connection between those three? All black. Duh. And your assumption is based on what, exactly? Purely on the fact that they are black and I’m an Obama supporter. In your mind it must follow that if I support a black president I’m also a rabid fan of every black orator. Because. . . black.
It’s funny. Racists work so hard at hiding it, but it always comes leaking out. Why don’t you guys just grow some balls and stop weaseling? Because right now you’re not just a racist, but a dishonest and cowardly one.
Meanwhile, over here in reality I’ve never been able to stand Jackson or Sharpton. And I’ve never thought Obama was all that great as a speaker. He’s certainly competent, but he’s no spellbinder.
@michael reynolds: Yes, but are these people intelligent enough to pull it off?
From what I’ve seen, the chances are high that the conservo-entertainment complex will take them over, lock, stock, and .45 rifle. It’s so much more soothing to turn into a talking head on Fox News and natter on about Teh Eebil Libruls and write books to sell to the
marksUpstanding Real Americans rather than, y’know, to actually WORK.
Basically, they’re too lazy and having too much fun swimming around in their paranoid crazydreams to actually make them come real.
I think the big difference is in the population. Americans are nowhere near as scared, angry and desperate as Germans were post WW1 and in the ensuing Depression. Also, the days when you could seize a newspaper and the radio station and thus control the media has long-since passed. And the American Army is not the Prussian-dominated Wehrmacht.
No, I think the Tea Party shares the emotional core of the early Nazis, but I don’t think it translates much beyond their dwindling base. And there’s the fact that Jews were just about 1% of the German population pre-war, while African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Muslims are what, a third of the US population give or take?
Then there’s the map: Canada to the north, Mexico to the south. It’s hard to really ramp up the paranoia when you lack the Soviets, the British Empire and France.
Thanks for the kind words, Eddie. I can’t speak for Lee, but I know he had very little tolerance for fools, including right wing ones (he came to despise Ann Coulter for example). We tended to be of a hive mind about many things so I hope he would have reacted to the Tea Party the way I have: with initial enthusiasm and then frustration. I think he would have liked Chris Christie. And he would have had fun at the expense of the likes of O’Donnell, Cuccinelli and Angle.
One thing we always had in common was a dislike for straw-manning. Nothing makes me more sympathetic to the Tea Party like the arguments given above (“but our slagging off of the views of millions of people and comparison of them to Nazis are legit“).
The Nazis had their useful idiots too, or do you believe everyone i Germany who either voted for (as long as that was possible), were a member of the Nazi Party, etc shared the same views as the leadership?
I’ve heard such talk among the citizenry, but never among the DoD — Military or Civilian.
@Tony W: Maybe this will provide some comfort:
In the military they are taught teamwork and a “mission first” attitude. They don’t care if you like SGT Snuffy — just get the job done.
In Congress, they worry only about the media and getting re-elected. Screwing the “othjer guy” so they can stay “on top”. They don’t care if you get the job done — just score political points.
Completely different attitudes.