Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If You Work For the Federal Government, You're Not a Real Patriot

The right wing in the US has some really screwy ideas. This is not breaking news. Some of them think that I'm more dangerous than a terrorist attack. Others are totes fine cheering about letting someone die if he doesn't have health insurance, or calling Social Security - an enormously popular program - a "Ponzi scheme."

But now they've decided that they get to have a say in whose coffins get draped in the flags after they die in service to our country. Federal employees who die in the line of duty but aren't in the military are, apparently, not sufficiently patriotic to have a flag draping ceremony. Which, by the way, costs almost nothing, especially compared to the enormous amount of money we spend on the military every year.

I have a friend stationed in Kandahar with the State Department. As he pointed out, the people who think he is unworthy of a flag probably don't spend all their days in a bunker while rockets and gunfire whiz into their place of employment or their homes. Some of them may be military veterans, but not all of them, and those who did serve in the military should be aware of the risks that people who are in dangerous places like Afghanistan are undertaking.

These are the same people who want to pour tons of money into the military because it makes them feel like big strong men, and who call the federal government "the nanny state." They don't want the government involved in their lives,* but they want the military to be as big as possible. It doesn't take a genius to realize that they have masculinized the military and feminized the government, and that they see masculine as superior to feminine.

These are also the people who don't want homoseckshuals to serve in the military, because in their minds, gay men (lesbians rarely come up in these "discussions," even though women - and minorities - are disproportionately discharged under DADT) are not masculine enough for the military. They make arguments about feminization, about fear for the security of the nation of gays are part of the armed services. Of course, there have always been gays in the military, but now they're able to serve openly.**

So it appears that the latest screwy idea of the Right is that federal employees, like gays, are not manly enough for the flag. They are insufficiently patriotic. This is how they want to re-define America, y'all: The only people who can be truly American are the ones who are truly masculine according to their definition, which is cis and straight (and, for the most part, white, and rich, and Protestant). They want their country back.

This is extremely dangerous, because it is an attempt to define who is worthy of respect in this country, an extension of their views on who is worthy of citizenship. Anyone who isn't worth having a flag draped on hir coffin is not worthy of the rights and benefits of American citizenship. This kind of fight is so hard to counteract, because the connections aren't necessarily clear to someone who hasn't spent tons of time thinking about the way gender and privilege co-function in society.

So, now what? I think we need to keep working to call out idiots like the politicians who oppose flag-draping ceremonies for federal employees and gay rights and abortion access, and not let them define citizenship for us. What form do you think that takes?

* Although they do want the government involved in any and all uteri!
** Yes, I am anti-war. I still think DADT should be repealed.

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