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Monday, June 17, 2013
My Recent Trip to Barnes and Noble
I went to Barnes and Noble the other day. I was amused by Joe Muto's book An Atheist in the Foxhole; there was a chapter titled, "Loofah, Falafel, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." I also noticed the book Ben Shapiro's book Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans. I looked through it and thought, "What a douchebag!" Anyhow, I wrote an Amazon.com review. If you like it, you can give it a thumbs up on Amazon.
Strawman Arguments Prevail in this Book
Shapiro is in the new crop of right-wingers attempting to appeal to the graying, shrinking, overwhelmingly white talk radio audience. The book notes Shapiro's impressive educational credentials, which makes his McCarthyite approach and appalling ignorance of basic issues in the book all the more egregious. A notable example of the Shapiro's supercilious tone and the lack of grasp of simple fundamental issues is his approach to the "chickenhawk" issue.
The term "chickenhawk" was coined in the 1990's (about 30 years too late) to describe the phony machismo of many pro-war advocates who took great effort to avoid the dangers of combat (through clever means such as rigged draft boards, questionable medical deferments, and "champagne units"--more on this later). Taking his cue from the right's playbook for the last 45 years, Shapiro addresses this issue in the chapter Shapiro sneeringly titled, "Anti-Patriotic Bullies": "Leftists routinely called President [George W.] Bush a chickenhawk, even though he served in the Air National Guard, because his daughters didn't join the military. (Bill Clinton, who actually dodged the draft, was not a chickenhawk, presumably because he is pro-abortion and raised taxes)."
This passage illustrates either abysmal obtuseness or intellectual dishonesty. Bush's chickenhawk status has nothing to do with his daughters; it has everything to do with his own actions. After Bush graduated from Yale (and no longer had a student deferment), Bush's father, George H.W. Bush (who, by the way, voted for the Vietnam War), used his influence to push Bush the Younger to the front of the very long line to get into the Texas Air National Guard. The reason there was such a long line was not that large numbers of Texans were interested in the Air National Guard; rather, it was because it was an open secret that it was a notorious "champagne unit." A champagne unit is a reserve or National Guard unit that, during times of national conscription, serves to protect the pampered progeny of the influential from the dangers of the wars they supported (and whose stock portfolios were often fattened by a wartime economy). The prevailing thought among much of the American elite of the time was that dying in Vietnam was for the little guy---i.e., Appalachians, inner-city blacks, and men living in the barrio. One of Bush's professors at the Harvard business school noted how Bush swaggered around in his Texas Air National Guard bomber jacket and bragged that even though he was pro-war, he used his father's pull to get a spot in the Guard. Yuck!
Shapiro also demonstrates ignorance of the concept in his discussion of Bill Clinton. Under no circumstances could Clinton be considered a chickenhawk. Certainly Clinton didn't want to go to Vietnam but he didn't want any other Americans to go either.
Shapiro is obviously bright. It's a pity that he prostituted a promising intellect to try to become the next Rush Limbaugh.