How to spot plastic patriotism, using 'the troops' for your pet cause

Opinion

VIDEO: The Dirtbag Patriot Olympics

Plastic patriotism only appeals to the lowest common denominator of American. It’s the kind of rah-rah posturing that the-less educated, less-intelligent, less-motivated, and wholly immature of our population seek when they’re unable to find any satisfaction in their personal lives.


Its structure, its nature, is designed to give the satisfaction of success to people who lack success on an individual basis. With plastic patriotism, they can feel accomplished based on historical and group successes — "We won gold at the Olympics"; "We won WWII"; and "We beat the British."

It’s the kind of patriotism that masks for unhealthy levels of nationalism. Those who engage in it are smitten by the rules of liberty, a set of rules they made up that quantifies just how American someone is based on their social behavior and political thoughts. When those rules are broken or tested, we often see the plastic-patriot hordes engage in facile verbal offensives to correct the perceived indiscretions.

When it comes to shaming others into their idea of patriotism, the most valuable tool the plastics have is "the troops." No controversial or talked-about issue is immune from the plastics injecting "the troops" in order to score cheap points.

We saw this during the NFL’s flag kneeling controversy of 2017. It started as a few players constitutionally and quietly protesting police brutality during the national anthem. But the plastics hijacked the narrative, pitting the “ungrateful thug football players” against all the troops who ever died in an American uniform. No metaphor or cliche was sparred by the plastics in their campaign to derail peaceful protest while fetishizing the anthem and the troops.

That’s one of the easy examples. It’s become such a common occurrence to cite the troops in every political argument that it's essentially a joke to everyone but the plastics, who lack the self-awareness to see irony or hypocrisy.

But here’s the dirty open secret about plastic patriots: Their love and admiration for service members more often than not stops the second a troop or veteran tests their worldview. It’s never been about them actually loving the kind of individual that puts on a uniform: It’s about how that individual's super-hero brand can validate their groupthink.

We’ve seen time and time again how Medal of Honor and Navy Cross recipients, former POWs, Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star families, and thousands of combat veterans have had their service or experience relegated because they broke step with the plastics' narratives.

That’s why we often see the plastics using deceased service members as talking points. The dead can’t burst their bubbles by disagreeing. The dead are perfect tools for dismissing athletes who try to peacefully stand up against racial injustice.

It’s selfishness and insincerity in its most egregious form. If you’re a veteran, no matter what end of the political spectrum you fall on, you are not immune from these people speaking for you, telling you how you’re supposed to act, and tossing you to the side once you’re of no use to them anymore.  

It’s not a matter of whether certain views of theirs align with yours or not. This is a matter of them having no respect for your service to begin with. You’ll always just be a talking point to them.

Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.

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My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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The leader of a Chicago-area street gang has been arrested and charged with attempting to aid the ISIS terrorist group, the Department of Justice said Friday.

Jason Brown, also known as "Abdul Ja'Me," allegedly gave $500 on three separate occasions in 2019 to a confidential informant Brown believed would then wire it to an ISIS fighter engaged in combat in Syria. The purported ISIS fighter was actually an undercover law enforcement officer, according to a DoJ news release.

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U.S. military officials may have abandoned their dreams of powered armor straight out of Starship Troopers, but the futuristic components of America's first prototype combat exoskeleton could eventually end up in the arsenals of both U.S. special operations forces and conventional troops.

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The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C (Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider whether military personnel can be prosecuted for rape long after the crime occurred in an appeal by President Donald Trump's administration of a lower court ruling that overturned the rape conviction of an Air Force captain.

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