Friday, February 6, 2015

Brian Williams (2)

I believe Williams’ false memory/lie was due to desire, a sad desire: a sense that his own labor as anchorman is somehow less real or authentic than that of men who do ‘real’ work such as soldiers, policemen, and builders. In addition, it reflects the fact that within this realm of ‘real man work,’ soldiers occupy an especially privileged position (a working class prestige increasingly accessed by women). The humble, hero-refusing ‘grunt’ of earlier wars has been replaced since 9/11 with a ‘warrior’ who feels entitled to social reverence. As America has increasingly enshrined an image of itself as ‘victim’ (the reason I dislike the national memorialization of the 9/11 attacks, as opposed to proper memorials held by those directly related to those who were killed), the soldiers seen as defending the nation against encircling barbarians have morphed into ‘warriors.’ I acknowledge the dangerous nature of soldiers’ work, and the courage that such work requires. However, I reject the common notion that the United States is essentially a victim, and the related idea that these tiny terrorist groups actually threaten the existence of our massively powerful country. In rejecting these false ideas, I also reject the blanket use of the term ‘warrior’ for all military combat personnel. There are heroes, in the military and in other occupations, but just as not every academic deserves to be called a scholar nor every politician a public servant, not every soldier can be a hero.

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