Conservative radio personality Michael Savage (whose real name is Michael Weiner) drew condemnation this week for startling remarks about what he calls the “celebration of weakness and depression,” which he claimed included the rise of post-traumatic stress symptoms among veterans.
According to Media Matters, it all began when Savage was interacting with a caller who identified himself as a veteran with PTSD.
Savage hosts a radio show called “The Savage Nation,” which must be a reference to a mythical, imaginary place where post-traumatic stress is a fake problem and veterans and service members are sissies if they report it.
“See, I was raised a little differently. I was raised to fight weakness. I was raised to fight pain. I was raised to fight depression. Not to give into it. Not to cave into it and cry like a little baby in bed,” Savage said.
Savage, who has never served in the military during any era, reflects a profound lack of understanding of how post-traumatic stress works.
There’s so much wrong with this it makes my head spin. It both stigmatizes PTSD, and promotes the narrative that it is a problem exclusive to veterans.
So let’s clear some things up:
- Post-traumatic stress is not a new problem. We’ve only gotten better at diagnosing and treating it. Studies on PTSD go back decades.
- Post traumatic stress is not an exclusively military problem. Victims of violence can have PTSD. People in car accidents can have PTSD. Thousands of people who were unfortunate enough to endure listening to Savage’s show also could now have PTSD.
- There’s nothing weak about it; as a matter of fact, a military that ignores or neglects PTSD within its ranks has worse readiness and is less effective.
Savage has a reputation for saying vitriolic things. It is perhaps unfair to even call him politically conservative, he’s radical and has been denounced by many on both sides of the political aisle. He once claimed that autism was a racket created by poorer families who “have found a new way to be parasites on the government."
He has even been banned from entering the United Kingdom because he is "considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence."
In this latest incident, he went on to say, “No wonder we're being laughed at around the world. No wonder ISIS can defeat our military.”
To be clear, ISIS can’t defeat our military. ISIS can hardly defeat the politically and militarily vulnerable regimes in Iraq and Syria. If ISIS were ever to defeat the American military, you’d know it, Michael Savage, because you would lose your freedom to say stupid things on the radio, a freedom secured by many of those veterans who you term weak.