Sunday, May 23, 2021

Conservatives Behaving Oddly

I once heard a story regarding former US general and US president Ulysses Grant.  Apparently, while still a general, he was leading a military  expedition of some sort.  Some of his men were telling rather bawdy jokes.  He ordered them to stop.  One of the officers asked why, since no ladies were present.  Grant replied because gentlemen were present.  Another quote that stuck with me through the years is one attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville: "American is great because America is good".   What I have to say in the next paragraphs is directed not towards progressives, but to conservatives who really should wknow better.

Breitbart News posted a story about an Army captain who was reported to his superior offices for bantering on line about a female friend's bra size.  I got wind of it because they also posted it to their facebook page.  Most of the commenters dismiss the crude nature of the captain's action and focus on what might have motivated those who reported the captain to his superiors.  The commenters accuse them of being "leftwing", "pansies", etc.  I will not dispute those characterizations for they are irrelevant to the culpability of the captain.  Perhaps I should mention that Captain Dickson is a public affairs officer - rather ironic.

Many of the other commenters argue that Dickson's free speech rights are violated.  I don't think they understand nor appreciate that military personnel simply don't enjoy the rights as do civilians.  For instance, if any of them were to criticize President Biden as do many of us, they could be court-martialed, for Biden is their Commander in Chief.  Only a handful of other commenters besides myself agreed that Dickson committed an act unbecoming an officer.

But let's look at the commenters themselves.  Many of them chortle at the "topic" of the tweets, seeing absolutely no  problem with the boorish behavior of Dickson and his tweeting companions.  Fifty years ago, no one would have dreamed of cracking jokes about underwear and other adolescent preoccupations.  There was an inherent sense of class and dignity in social conduct.  One commenter remarked that they remembered a strong military.  I replied that I did too, and that time period corresponded with the expectations that military personnel conduct themselves like responsible adults.

Some see the discipline against Dickson as further emasculation of the military.  Since when is it truly masculine to act like guffawing oafs engaging in conduct against decency?  Catholics will recognize authentic manhood in St Joseph, the other saints and martyrs and Our Lord Himself.   Would any of these have been sniggering about a woman's underwear?

Frankly I'm surprised and disappointed in Breitbart.  They are in essence saying that the arguably despicable actions of the progressives excuses the oafish behavior of Dickson and his friends.  In reality, this erstwhile "public affairs officer" has done his share to undermine the morals and morale of the US military.

I'm also somewhat baffled by those who would otherwise seem to respect our military and hope the best for the United States.  It seems that their default modus operandi is to see what position the progressives take on a given matter and then take the opposite position, simply because it opposes the progressives.  They don't stop to examine the facts of the issues on their own merits.  This is not the first time or circumstance in which I've noticed this regrettable tendency.

In this particular situation, otherwise intelligent people see that progressives are lodging complaints against Captain Dickson.  So in order to stand in opposition to the progressives, they are willing to excuse the vulgar conduct of Dickson, downplaying its immorality.  That brings me back to Tocqueville's quote cited in the first paragraph of this post.  Given other situations in which I've seen this odd tendency among some conservatives, I must admit the possibility that some of those defending Dickson's antics are Catholic.  Such Catholics will only hinder themselves and any efforts to pray and work for a restoration of the Church if they are so bent on opposing progressives that they wind up defending immorality.  Can we guard against this?

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