Saturday, March 03, 2007


"Being in under Carter and too old to go back now rates me nowhere with the chickenhawk crowd."
-Purple Avenger

Red Tailed Hawk
Chickenhawk is the derogatory term that anti-war leftists use to describe people who have the audacity to support a military effort without personally signing up to be a part of it. Their thinking is that if you support war, you should be a part of it or you aren't really supporting this effort. Real Chickenhawks are also more commonly known as Red Tailed Hawks in our area, and are not uncommon - they are beautiful animals who are very distinctive and pleasant to see on the wing.

As you'll note, I'm a part of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, the "keebees." The symbol for the keebees is a chickenhawk, the motto "We eat chickens for lunch." This is deliberately mocking those who use the term "chickenhawk," laughing at their term and taking it for an affectionate mascot. The origin of this blog roll is described by Captain Ed this way:
I've thought about that for a while, wondering what exactly about both epithets [101st fighting keyboardists was used by a few] appear so fascinating to left-wing bloggers. As a middle-aged grandfather supporting a chronically ill wife, I have few options for doing my part in the war on terror. After 9/11, I spent weeks looking into different options for service while trying to balance my family obligations. Our family found out just three weeks after the attack that the Little Admiral would soon join us, and the implications of terrorism and war weighed heavily on my mind. I resolved to use the skills I had -- writing -- to make the case for fighting a forward strategy against terrorists. Eventually that led me to this blog, but in the interim I argued for a continued muscular offensive against the Islamofascists that had murdered thousands of our fellow Americans.

Is that the same as military service? Of course not. The men and women of the military do the real fighting, and we salute them and support them by supporting their mission. Milbloggers give us the best of both worlds by not only defending our nation and fighting (and beating) terrorists around the globe, but also by reporting on the fight first hand. There is honor in engaging in public debate for policies which we believe are in our nation's best interest as well. For many of us, we know that without presenting our arguments in the national forum, many in the media and the public will quickly overpower the debate and threaten the policies we feel give us the best long-term opportunity to defeat terrorism and the states that fund and shelter them.
And why the chicken hawk? When we looked into it, it turns out that the chicken hawk is a pretty impressive predator. It's the largest of its family. This species vigorously defends its territory, getting even more aggressive when the conditions get harshest. It adapts to all climates. Most impressively, it feeds on chickens, mice, and rats.

Make of that what you will.
If you want to know more about chickenhawks, Frank J has written up a fine (and amusing) FAQ on the subject. The left continues to use this term, although politicians have quit mentioning it in public. It's one of their favorite words of contempt for those who dare support the war on terror. They ask how much time we've served in Iraq, why we haven't signed up yet. On conservative sites, liberals tend not to do it more than once or twice in the comments section because the response is humiliating for them.

There are a host of ways to point out how goofy this line of thought is. I support our fine and heroic firefighters, but feel no compulsion to sign up to prove this is honest support. I support doctors, policemen, ministers, and many others, but I don't have to have any of those jobs to show my support for their efforts. Iraq is always the service brought up, but as many have pointed out: almost all liberals will claim they support and believe the invasion of Afghanistan was reasonable and just. How many of them signed up to join the battle there?

The biggest joke of all this is the presumption that nobody who has not served can call for military service by other men. You mean, like FDR, who was never in the military? Or President Clinton, who sent men to die around the world but never served and in his youth protested against the military, stating he "loathed" it? This position is ridiculous, by that logic no mayor who had not served in the police could call on cops to go out and do their jobs. It is patently absurd, the same kind of spurious logic that claims you can't know anything about women unless you are one.

The presumption that you cannot honestly and fully support the troops and their mission without signing up to the military is absurdist at the very least. Not only do troops need people back home doing their jobs and keeping the country running while they fight, there's no logic in the assumption that one must join an organization or effort to support them. After all, almost every single anti-war radical will claim they support the troops, yet none of them sign up for military service.

Jules Crittenden has done a fine job pointing out the hypocrisy and foolishness of this attitude with the term "Chickendoves." Those who oppose the war effort, but leave the opposition to others, staying home to make statements. If it is wrong and inconsistent to not sign up to the military while you support the war, then it is just as wrong and inconsistent for those who oppose the military's efforts and stay home.
Back when the war started, there were some highly principled peaceniks who decided to go to Iraq to shield the innocent Iraqi people from the onslaught of American imperialist war criminals. This effort, unfortunately, did not persist long enough for any of them to hear a shot fired. They left in indignant frustration when they realized Saddam Hussein was placing them in military installations.

This was too bad. I supported what they were doing. I thought if Sean Penn could save the lives of innocent Iraqis by bravely taking a round, that was good. I could have some respect for the legions of lefties, if they chose to get splattered in furtherance of their beliefs. But they didn't. It was a great disappointment.
These human shields were upset because the heroic Iraqi government and its freedom-loving leader kept stationing these human shields by military targets instead of civilian ones. They did offer game consoles and other goodies to these useful idiots, but that was not enough to tempt them to stay at their posts. Before the war started, every single one came back home, having accomplished nothing but boosting the morale of our enemies.

There are more up to date chickendoves, of course. If you support the troops yet oppose their mission (this position makes sense to the anti-war radical), why aren't you in Iraq talking to our enemies and convincing them to let our soldiers go home? After all if they stopped causing trouble, our guys would go home and then the peace would reign eternally in Iraq, right? Surely you can take your awesome powers of persuasion and incredible ability to speak the truth to power to these brave freedom fighters struggling in an asymetric battle against the imperialist United States and its "lapdog" allies, right? So why are you sitting at home behind a computer?

If the test of commitment and conviction in your beliefs is taking physical action on site, then surely you can lead the way of enlightenment by heading out immediately to show us dumb chickenhawks how we should behave. Or are you just a chickendove?

Leftist CamoIf you are opposed to violence and war by anyone, why is it that the anti-war folks only protest the US when war starts? Where are they when Hamas or Hezbollah are fighting a war? Why aren't they in Baghdad protesting the death squads and terrorists? Surely the sight of Cindy Sheehan with a big sign saying "make love, not war" would convince them to stop, right?

Douglas Kerns puts it this way:
Any yammering propeller-headed nitwit can tell the world to make love, not war, and no one can impeach his sincerity in making that plaintive demand. By contrast, anyone who supports the war had better be a card-carrying military veteran, or else be condemned as a "chickenhawk" -- no matter how wise, eloquent, or inspiring their pro-war position might be.

I have a better way: snip off your ponytail, drop thirty pounds, and enlist. With all of those master's degrees in Folklore Studies, you'll be a shoo-in to make Officer Candidate School. In no time you'll be a Platoon Leader, responsible for the combat readiness of dozens of men. When the moment is right, and the bullets start to fly, you can order your men to stand down and Give Peace a Chance. For that brief, shining moment, you will have brought peace to the Middle East and halted the genocidal policies of George W. McHitler. Admittedly, your platoon sergeant will buttstroke you to the head at the first opportunity. After a quick court-martial, you'll spend the remainder of your adult life making big rocks into little rocks in beautiful, scenic Leavenworth, Kansas. But so what? You gotta walk the talk. If you're willing to send chickenhawks off to die in order to earn the right to support war, surely you're willing to send yourself off to incarceration and dishonor in order to earn the right to support peace.
Baldilocks notes that if it is reasonable to argue that people who have not served lack credibility, authority, and understanding to support the war, then by definition that's true about people who do not support it too, right? After all if you can't support the war without serving, you are under the same limitations for opposing it too.

Don Sensing points out that the reason anyone has the freedom to speak out against President Bush and oppose the war is the men who serve in the armed forces. Presumably these chickendoves support this freedom and its greatness, why aren't they in the military to demonstrate this support? Given, men like Michael Moore are not in any shape for the military, they wouldn't be accepted by any recruiter, but I'm sure there are plenty of fine chickendoves out there who are in better physical condition... right?

Both chickenhawk and chickendove are absurd, they are silly terms used to attack and draw emotional response rather than discuss, think, and consider rationally. They are the kind of argument style that was used on the playground in grade school. The truth is, both peace activists and war-bloggers, both anti war and pro-war on terror bloggers are serving in their own way, contributing to the public discussion, adding to the awareness of what is happening and why.

The "chickenhawk" attack will not go away any time soon, it's gotten into the radical leftist lexicon with "neocon" and "bigot" and they'll try to wield this as a club until they die. In a way, it is like watching a little kid who heard a new word and walks around saying it all day long without even knowing what it means or what sense it makes. The best way to deal with someone using the term is to laugh at them and pat their head. Maybe some day they'll grow out of it.

*UPDATE: Right Wing News commenter Senator pointed this out:
The "Chickenhawk" arguement is really an arguement against the First Amendment. It implies that citizens have no right to advocate policy stances. That is a dangerous thing to advocate, really.
Beyond the soaring thrill that lifts the heart
To martial music and to marching feet,
Beyond the thin call of the fife - apart
From brave emotion, and the sudden heat
Of young enthusiasm, and the cheers
Of crowds which weep and rally at a word -
Beyond the Fire and the Wind and Tears
The still small voice of Sacrifice is heard!

The cripple in his chair who does his bit -
The bent old woman in her garden-plot -
By such small flames the holy Lamp is lit -
And who can say the Country needs them not?
Not for us all the right to rise and go
To unknown Terror over haunted seas -
Yet all shall reap as We-At-Home shall sow -
And thus we serve - unto the least of these!
-Faith Baldwin, They Also Serve
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Anonymous said...

When I was a younger man, in my early twenties, fresh from a liberal college, I used to be gleeful when I saw military men failing. The reason? I secretly respected them, their solidness, their character and in my pathetic state, I derived joy from their pain. Then 9/11 happened and I completely revamped my outlook. I even enlisted in the military, became successful, and got a commission as an officer (after a lot of effort.) Now I work on myself, becoming that man of chaacter, leadership. I no longer am gleeful at military failure, simply because it is our country and my life if we fail. I love our Armed Forces. (and I love the internet which allows me to make this public confession on a site I enjoy reading. . .)

Anonymous said...