I was struck by this small moment because it encapsulates the lie of militarism where it is most invulnerable: at the humanity of the men and women who protect us, putting their lives on the line. When all else goes wrong, the troops remain sacred. In a broken economy, the troops are sacred. Militarism is the god we can manipulate.
As the nation celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, many are discussing what Dr. King would say to the nation and world today and tell us to do. But his message to us today is as clear as it was fifty years ago if only we could hear, heed, and follow his warnings about what we need to do to make America America.
I spent years as a political pundit on mainstream TV -- at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. I was outnumbered, outshouted, red-baited and finally terminated. Inside mainstream media, I saw that major issues were not only dodged, but sometimes not even acknowledged to exist. Today there's an elephant in the room: a huge, yet ignored, issue that largely explains why Social Security is now on the chopping block. And why other industrialized countries have free college education and universal healthcare, but we don't. It's arguably our country's biggest problem -- a problem that Martin Luther King Jr. focused on before he was assassinated 45 years ago, and has only worsened since then (which was the height of the Vietnam War). That problem is U.S. militarism and perpetual war.
Zero energy goes into the investigation of actual rape in the military, except in rare circumstances. The military's domination culture, personified by Patton, is constructed on the illusion of granite-etched moral values -- "we protect our loved ones" -- and powered by a belief in its own righteousness.
There's a reason the current president promised to be "no-drama Obama." It's a promise he's delivered on, and that has served the country well. Those who want to know what a re-elected Obama is likely to do should not be distracted by his underwhelming recent performances. They should look back at his first-term record and note how consistent it is with his pragmatic and moderate personal character: an effective, but ultimately modest, balanced stimulus that's helped turn the economy around; the achievement, at long-last, of near-universal healthcare using an idea originating in conservative circles; the comeback of that emblem of American capitalism, the auto industry; winding down two wars and killing al Qaeda's leader in a bold but limited strike that deployed smart power rather than chest-thumping militarism; advancing and protecting reproductive and LGBT rights.