FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

George Bush, the Anti-Family President

Behold the perverse and heart-wrenchingly anti-family policies of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney: Women reservists, young mothers of infants and small children, leave their families to go halfway ’round the world to act as cogs, expendable parts, in the machinery of the deeply anti-American Empire. And hearken to the silence of the courtiers and grant-grubbers of Establishment Conservatism, whose mingled nescience and cowardice testify to the gutlessness and wicked stupidity of what passes for the Right.

As a radical AND a reactionary–a patriot of the old America–I am appalled by the violence done by the military-industrial complex at home as well as abroad. The images of families cleaved by the Iraqi War and occupation should outrage family-values conservatives–many of whom, especially at the grass roots, are sincere and decent, no matter how weasely the Bennetts and Bauers are. Here is yet another issue on which good people of the Greenish left and anti-imperialist right ought to unite: the first casualty of the militarized U.S. state is the family.

I once asked former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger if the U.S. military wasn’t “a government-subsidized uprooting of the population.” He replied, shall we say, in the negative; I may as well have asked Caspar the unfriendly ghost if he preferred the Clash or the Sex Pistols. But I was dead serious: the single greatest cause of rootlessness–the great undiagnosed sickness afflicting America–has been our standing army. (If it really were standing it wouldn’t be so bad; alas, it never stops moving.)

Benjamin Rush proposed in 1792 that two mottoes be painted “over the portals of the Department of War”: “An office for butchering the human species” and “A Widow and Orphan making office.” Rush was right. He might have added, “The Greatest Cuckold-Maker,” for no government agency separates husbands from wives quite like the mendaciously renamed Department of Defense.

Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but love requires presence above all. The divorce rate more than doubled between 1940 and 1946. The Second World War, by removing men from households and removing many of those households from the rural South into the unwelcoming urban North, waged its own mini-war upon the American family. Rosie the Riveter propaganda aside, the domestic face of the warfare state was sketched by an Arkansas social worker: “children’s fathers go off to war and their mothers go to work, and thus the interests of parents is diverted from the home and the children.”

Government-subsidized daycare was one offspring of the Second World War; thanks to the Lanham Act, over half a million children were cared for by strangers in these cold institutions. Today, Hillary Clinton and the corporate feminists point to the U.S. Army as the model daycare provider. And yet conservatives, who froth at the merest hint of the carpetbagger’s name, are quiet, struck dumb by their worship of the widow-making bureaucracy. (The Middle American left should be anti-daycare. As Mother Jones said, “The human being is the only animal which is neglected in its babyhood. The brute mother suckles and preserves her young at the cost of her own life, if need be. The human mother hires another, poorer woman for the job.” And: “The rich woman who has a maid to raise her child can’t expect to get the right viewpoint of life. If they would raise their own babies, their hearts would open and their feelings would become human. And the effect on the child is just as bad. A nurse can’t give her mother’s love to somebody else’s child.”)

Authentic conservatives–those who defended the near and dear things against remote and abstract powers–used to understand the iniquity of militarism. In 1945, Mrs. Cecil Norton Broy, representing a ladies’ study club in Arlington, Virginia, told a roomful of snickering U.S. senators that an interventionist foreign policy would lead to “the further disruption of normal American family life…Our men would be like hired mercenary soldiers going forth to protect the commercial interests of greed and power. Our men thus forced into foreign service would see little if any of their native soil again. We would be working on the principle of scattering the most virile of our men over the face of the globe.”

Tens of thousands of abandoned Amerasians who grew up without fathers shake their heads in assent. Yet in the unlikely event that a contemporary Mrs. Broy made it past the thought-crime detectors and into a Senate hearing room today, I expect that she’d be given a stern lecture by a GOP family-values fraud and be sent on her way with a minatory copy of the Patriot Act.

I could go on and on about the ways in which post-World War II militarism has eroded American family life. (I do go on and on elsewhere; see the chapter on the military vs. the family in my WITH GOOD INTENTIONS? REFLECTIONS ON THE MYTH OF PROGRESS IN AMERICA.) Divorce, dispersal, disruption of courtship patterns: ye shall know the warfare state by its rotten fruits. These include even the people-scattering Interstate Highway System, which was conceived during World War II by the top-down planner extraordinaire Rexford G. Tugwell and made concrete by a deracinated general named Dwight Eisenhower, who had admired Hitler’s autobahn and got one of his own: the tellingly titled National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Cohesive working-class neighborhoods in countless American cities were sacrificed to the Road Warriors.

The leadership of the family values Right is hopelessly compromised by its long-term adulterous affair with the Republican Party. But plenty of good folks who call themselves “conservatives” mean by that now-useless term that they believe in the integrity of families and small communities and detest the vulgar, home-wrecking, and even murderous intrusions of corporate capitalism and Big Government. As they watch this latest American diaspora, as young husbands and wives tearfully leave spouses and children and extended families to serve the Empire, we should remind them that the only foreign policy compatible with healthy family life is one of peace and non-intervention.

Come home, America. Come HOME.

BILL KAUFFMAN’s “Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive” has just been published by Henry Holt. He can be reached at: kauffman@counterpunch.org

 

More articles by:

February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail