People Are Mad About Profanity At The Concert For Valor. That’s Pretty F---ing Dumb

AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster

On Veterans Day in Washington, D.C., this year, thousands of people descended on the National Mall for a night concert hosted by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, HBO, and Chase.

It was one of the largest veterans events in recent memory. Rihanna, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood, Dave Grohl, Metallica, the Black Keys, and Zac Brown performed. Celebrities John Oliver, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, and Jamie Foxx were there.

The event raised a ton of money for great veterans charities like Got Your 6, and perhaps more importantly, raised awareness about a new generation of veterans of the post-9/11 era who feel all too disconnected from American communities that may not have felt the effects of more than a decade of war.

But in the days after the concert, all some people seem to be talking about is the amount of profanity used by the performers. A USA Today article titled “Did f-bombs ruin the concert for valor?” says that the word “fuck” was used more than 50 times.

Eminem concluded his performance by shouting, "Happy Motherfucking Veterans Day!"

I, for one, would like to join Eminem in wishing my fellow veterans, my fellow Americans, a happy motherfucking Veterans Day.

People are angry about this, but they shouldn’t be. Veterans are not delicate. To me, this stems from the flawed notion that being pro-military or pro-veteran is a conservative value, so it’s conflated with other conservative values, in this instance, family values. That’s not true, and it’s harmful. We need to view the highly diverse veterans population outside of the sphere of politics. If you’re offended by profanity, that’s fine, maybe don’t attend an Eminem concert. But don’t say it was offensive to veterans.

Eminem is one of the faces of the millennial generation, more than 2 million of whom volunteered to serve in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. But the vast majority of millennials have no connection to the military or the past decade of warfare. Eminem’s presence on that stage was invaluable.

Army veteran and Center for New American Security fellow Philip Carter described it as a loud, profane, and awesome bridge across the civilian-military divide.

Cursing isn’t disrespectful to the military community. If you don’t believe me, follow me to the nearest barracks smokepit. Alternatively, watch this video of a pre-mission briefing in Iraq and count how many f-bombs the Marine lieutenant drops in one minute.

In perhaps an even dumber indictment of the concert than the profanity, some folks are mad that Dave Grohl, Zac Brown, and Bruce Springsteen teamed up to sing “Fortunate Son.”

In a piece for the conservative Weekly Standard, subtitled “Unfortunate Son” [Ed. note, GREAT pun] Ethan Epstein Writes “The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at ‘the red white and blue.’ It was a particularly terrible choice given that Fortunate Son is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organized to honor those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Too bad “Fortunate Son” is not anti-military. It’s anti-draft, certainly, anti-blind patriotism. But it’s pro-soldier, pro-dissent, pro-America. I listened to it on repeat while writing this piece because it’s awesome. The 1969 classic ballad by Creedence Clearwater Revival embraces the everyday Americans who fought the Vietnam war and indicts the politicians who waged that war with no skin in the game who dismissed any dissent as being “anti-American.”

As actor and comedian Patton Oswalt noted on Twitter, himself the son of a Marine colonel, the song is pro-soldier and anti-chickenhawk.

The outcry about the song being performed prompted former Creedence frontman John Fogerty to release a statement.

"Years ago, an ultraconservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as 'un-American,'” Fogerty said. "That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam. As a man who was drafted and served his country during those times, I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve."

These knee-jerk criticisms of the Concert for Valor represent the worst kind of supporting the troops. Supporting the troops is not about flag waving in a censored and sanitized America that just says “thank you for your service” and supports every war no matter the circumstances.

Supporting the troops in 2014 needs to be about connecting the veterans of the messy and politically sloppy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to an American populace that was far too separated from the warfront. That’s what this concert sought to do. It’s not neat, it’s not polite, it’s certainly not easy. But holy shit, is it important.

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less