April 28, 2003

LEGGO MY EGO

We went to war just to boost the white male ego: With their dominance in sport, at work and at home eroded, Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in... (Norman Mailer, April 29, 2003, Times of London)
The key question remains - why did we go to war? It is not yet answered. In the end, it is likely that a host of responses will produce a cognitive stew, which does, at least, open the way to offering one's own notion. We went to war, I could say, because we very much needed a war. The US economy was sinking, the market was gloomy and down, and some classic bastions of the erstwhile American faith (corporate integrity, the FBI, and the Catholic Church, to cite but three) had each suffered a separate and grievous loss of face. Since our Administration was probably not ready to solve any one of the serious problems before it, it was natural to feel the impulse to move into larger ventures, thrusts into the empyrean-war!

Be it said that the Administration knew something a good many of us did not - it knew that we had a very good, perhaps even an extraordinarily good, if essentially untested, group of Armed Forces, a skilled, disciplined, well-motivated military, career-focused and run by a field-rank and general staff who were intelligent, articulate, and considerably less corrupt than any other power group in America.

In such a pass, how could the White House not use them? They could prove quintessential as morale-builders to one group in US life, perhaps the key group: the white American male. If once this aggregate came near to 50 per cent of the population, it was down to . . . was it now 30 per cent? Still, it remained key to the President's political footing. And it had taken a real beating. As a matter of collective ego, the good white American male had had very little to nourish his morale since the job market had gone bad, unless he happened to be in the Armed Forces.

As one who agrees that America is both the pinnacle of Western Civilization, which is itself the pinnacle of human culture, and the product of white, Christian, racist, sexist, homophobic males, I have trouble getting too worked up about the notion that the war was meant to demonstrate to us and our foes that we remain the dominant cadre of the species. One is chastened though by the multiracial, bi-gendered, religiously diverse and, let's assume, variously-sexually-oriented, make up of the armed forces, administration, and citizenry that prosecuted the war. Why, it's enough to make one think that it's what you think, not who you are, that makes you an American...and even a hawk. Of course, the patriarchal crackers thought up the ideas... Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2003 9:44 PM
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