A commonly repeated feminist principle is that “we shouldn’t teach women to defend themselves against rape. We should teach men not to rape.” While I do think that it is important to educate men, and women, about sexual harassment, I also think that most men in the United States know that rape is wrong. Let’s do a little thought experiment. Replace the word “rape” with “militarism” or “imperialism” or “state sanctioned assassination.” While few if any men will come out and say “rape is good,” most Americans, even leftists, will defend the idea that their country has the right to dictate, even at the point of a gun, how people outside of North America and Western Europe govern themselves.
When it comes to stupid bumper sticker slogans, right wingers are the undoubted champions. “Freedom isn’t Free?” What the fuck does that even mean? “America love it or leave it?” So much for the “freedom of conscience” James Madison wrote about so eloquently. Nevertheless, they occasionally have some competition. Every time the United States government decides to impose sanctions on a sovereign nation, assassinate a foreign leader, or out and out invade someone else’s country, liberals and the mainstream left try to cloak their own jingoism and tacit support for American imperialism in what they like to present as an attack on right wing hypocrisy. It’s not only a few people on social media. Just about the only thing I remember from the Presidential election of 2004 was the idea that while John Kerry supported invading and occupying Iraq as strongly as George W. Bush did, Kerry was a “war hero” — having served in America’s genocidal war in Vietnam– and George W. Bush was a draft dodger or a “chicken hawk.”
“If you support the war why don’t you enlist?”
While millennial leftists like Emma Vigeland might occasionally taunt older conservatives with the “OK Boomer” slogan, their use of the “chicken hawk” epithet against right-wing racists and war mongers like Ben Shapiro only shows how much they still operate within the intellectual framework of the 1960s. Largely because of the exemption for 18-25 year old men attending college, the draft during the Vietnam War was a class issue. If you had the money to go to college and maybe spend a year or two in graduate school, your chances of dying in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia were pretty small. On the other hand, if you were less privileged, you either had to get out of serving in the military by pretending you were insane, or report for duty when your lottery number came up. In 1973, however, Congress repealed the draft and ever since then “we” (and make sure that we is in scare quotes) have relied upon an “all volunteer” army. Liberal and leftist arguments that it’s only the poor and working class who serve in the post 9/11 military largely ignore the facts. Studies have shown that American enlisted men in general have more money and education than their peers in the civilian world. For well-educated members of the elite like Pete Buttigieg looking at a run for political office, a commission in the army and a few years serving the American empire can be a pretty good career move. American casualties in Iraq, at least compared to American casualties in Vietnam, were relatively mild.
So the idea that you can taunt your political opponents by daring them to enlist in general falls pretty flat. Literally nobody on the right cares. Now let’s imagine we use the “why don’t you enlist” taunt, not against militarists or warmongers, but against rapists.
“If you support rape so much, why don’t you go out and commit a few rapes yourself?”
“Trump is a rape chicken hawk. While incel loser Donald Trump was at home jerking off to bad anime porn, Pete Buttigieg was down at the frat house slipping knockout drugs into his date’s drink.”
“Yeah George W. Bush raped Iraq but back in the 1960s while working class draftees were out doing the hard work of raping Vietnam, Bush was at home in the Texas National Guard, which, unlike the Ohio National Guard, didn’t even get to rape a few antiwar protesters at Kent State.”
Anybody who made any of the remarks above would immediately, and correctly, be labeled insane. And yet preemptive war, which is only worse than rape, it puts guns in the hands of potential rapists and sets them loose among helpless civilians, is considered a respectable position to take in a debate about foreign policy, even on the American “antiwar” left. So it’s sad to see younger people dredging up the old canard about “chicken hawks.” It’s not only morally reprehensible, it’s not even politically effective. Google “President John Kerry” to see what I mean. Clearly in addition to “teaching men not to rape” we also have to “teach Americans not to rape other peoples’ countries.”
Not surprisingly, when it comes to the question of Trump’s state sponsored assassination of Qassem Suleimani, there’s one public figure who gets it right, Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, the ex-NFL star who led the resistance in the middle 2010s to police repression of black and brown Americans, correctly points out that the American government would never assassinate a white foreign leader. Yeah, I suppose if Trump droned Vladimir Putin liberal Democratic men would all have to be taken to the emergency room to treat their 4 hour long erections but Russians and Slavs in general aren’t considered truly “white” but a suspect form of “sort of white.” So Kaepernick’s point, which draws the connection between American imperialism abroad and attacks on black and brown people at home, stands. We all need to be a lot more like Colin Kaepernick. And when exactly did jocks stop being assholes and bullies and start being the good guys? Down with the racist American empire.