MAGAs: Tell Tammy Duckworth what you think a “liberal hero” is
A Trump lover on my Facebook feed posted a provocative meme that has really gotten under my usually thick political skin and relegation of the usual MAGA stuff as snarky nonsense.
As you see, the meme depicts “liberal hero” entertainer Billy Porter wearing a tux dress to the Oscars, and compares him to a “conservative hero” soldier in full combat gear and missing a leg below the knee.
Funny not funny.
The MAGA message, of course, is that silly Hollywood liberals and the media they control and cram down our throats define heroism as a man preening in a Christian Siriano gown and cummerbund bustier. While smart, patriotic American conservative patriots define heroism as a soldier standing tough in the desert risking life and limb to defend our freedom.
(Subtext: Smart conservatives hate silly liberal Hollywood media while either voluntarily watching silly liberal Hollywood media or enjoying having the silliness fed to them and fulminated about on Fox or Facebook to parrot. Either way they are entertained.)
Incensed, I responded to the Facebook post and meme with a picture of Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois in her wheelchair to illustrate what a “liberal hero” really is.
As many know, as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq War, Senator Duckworth suffered severe combat wounds causing her to lose both legs and some mobility in her right arm.
Yet determined to keep serving the country in uniform, Duckworth sought a medical waiver to continue in the Illinois National Guard.
Some hard-core conservatives consider Senator Duckworth a hard-core liberal. In her selfless service and sacrifice — and continued service in the U.S. Senate — to me she defines “liberal hero” and makes it a badge of honor and courage.
Note to MAGAs: Liberals know Hollywood does not define what we regard as heroism.
Sorry to burst your closed and shrinking Trump/Fox/alt-right echo-bubble.
We know liberal heroism goes beyond being multicultural, respectful of everyone however different, and open-minded.
We know liberal heroism goes even beyond Lincoln, FDR, JFK, LBJ, MLK, Rosa Parks, John Lewis and the countless who risked life and limb as unarmed civilians to advance our Constitutional rights, equality and progress.
Liberal heroism also goes beyond what MAGAs think liberals think of Obama, Hillary, Bernie, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Rachel Maddow.
And liberal heroism is not just doing the patriot’s duty of holding the President of the United States accountable for a lot of bad stuff that’s already proven, stuff for which MAGAs would already have had Hillary in a perp walk, leg irons, orange and real hair.
Liberal heroism is happening every day in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Just like in the “conservative hero” half of the meme.
It happened every day when millions of Americans — whether conservative or liberal — lost their lives, limbs, and physical and mental health in every war we have ever sent troops to fight.
The wave of young Democratic military veterans who swept the House in November 2018 was a reminder — perhaps news to some clueless — that a significant share of the U.S. Armed Forces, like America, are Democrats or at least moderate and definitely not conservative.
Consider research from JournalistResource.com (unless “journalist” automatically connotes “fake news” if not in a Breitbart byline, in which case, pity you’re a lost-cause ignoramus):
Contrary to popular belief, U.S. military veterans haven’t always been affiliated with the Republican Party — in fact, throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s and into the early 1990s, veterans were more likely to be Democrats, according to a new analysis published in Sociological Spectrum.
Among those who came of age before World War II, 55.4 percent identified as Democrats, 38.3 percent identified as Republicans and 6.2 percent considered themselves Independents.
That’s right: The Greatest Generation of U.S. combat veterans, those who fought and died to defeat Hitler and save the planet from global tyranny, were mostly Democrats.
Today, about half of younger veterans tend to lean Republican and a third lean Democratic, the article says.
While below a majority, ~30 percent is still a lot of liberals in the military serving and risking their lives to protect and defend America. (That’s coincidentally the same percentage of MAGA Americans who will stick with Trump no matter how much he is proven to lie and cheat.)
And this post by a U.S. Army veteran on Quora.com suggests the troops drift more liberal the longer they serve:
This may seem odd to most people who have little experience with the military, but it always seemed that the longer you are in, the closer to the political center you lean. I think it is a result of sharing living space with people of all races and backgrounds. It liberalizes servicemen by the classical definition. It opens your mind via experience.
Then, when all is said and done, once servicemen finish their years of service, they seem to lean left except in terms of military matters. You fought for American children, so it hurts to see them suffer. You met people who were truly foreigners when overseas, so your fellow Americans seem easier to understand regardless of our differences.
It probably helps that, if you think about it, the military is a Socialist organization with globalist and technocratic tendencies. These are not right-wing friendly traits.
By the way, the Quora poster had perhaps the rarest courage of all today: He signed his name to his views, Christopher Aeneadas, former Soldier 98C Korean Linguist Signals Analyst at U.S. Army (1999–2003). Look him up; he seems legit.
Aeneadas’ experience was similar to mine long ago during my four years on Navy active duty (1974–78).
Being forced to live in close quarters with, eat with, train with, team with and count on people who are different than you shapes you.
My Navy experience was reinforced by my five years heading speech writing at the Pentagon for the Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration.
There I had the privilege to meet and work closely with remarkable women and men in uniform at all ranks, from the very top brass to petty officers, Democratic and Republican, from the polished executive halls of the Pentagon outer E-Ring, to the smoldering killing fields of Bosnia where our troops were stopping the slaughter and keeping the peace.
My most humbling privilege was helping officials find the words, and the meaning beyond the words, to honor and celebrate the troops and their leaders, the living and the dead, the true heroes of America, those who put country over party — and the Constitution over the president — to protect and defend the country.
Yes, even the freedom for Billy Porter to wear a tux to the Oscars, and yes, freedom for Trump-loving Facebook friends to post sneering memes about “liberal heroes.”
To confess, my first reaction to the liberal/conservative hero meme was not my charitable best.
I wanted to say something huffy like, “I love these chicken-hawk MAGAs who, unlike many of the ‘liberals’ they revile, never served or sacrificed a day in uniform. Like Trump. They call themselves ‘patriots’ and wave or wrap in the flag, or use the flag as a sword and a shield to attack other Americans who simply disagree politically. In doing so, these MAGAs are passionately clueless that they are desecrating the flag they declare they love more than the liberals do.”
I resisted the impulse. Mostly because this rhetoric is mean, over the top and self-indulgent. But also because my Facebook friend said the meme was merely commentary on the Hollywood media liberals telling America what heroism is, a man in a dress. It definitely was not about liberals in general. A MAGA would never gratuitously slam a liberal.
Besides, LOL, a meme is just a meme.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.