Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal: Marine Corps sweep

By James Knudsen

I just swept my front walkway. Let me repeat that, I just swept my front walkway. I never sweep the front walkway, NEVER. But I had to do something, the frustration, the anger, the...crap on Facebook finally was just too much and I had to pick up a broom.
    I think that, deep down, I knew joining the Marines Corps was not a good fit for me. The bravado, the general lack of sophistication I’d grown accustomed to, living in the home of our good Mo, always ready with a bon mot, was quite different from the world I spent four years trying to navigate. Even my natural stride was at odds. One day, in my final year of service, a WM [Woman Marine] sergeant remarked on the way I walked, I was a “toe walker.” In the Corps, you plant your heel with every step. Has dichotomy ever been more clear?
    Thirty years later I find myself still at odds with that world. Technology has reconnected Marines, now graying, less lean, and mostly less mean. Mostly. Where before it was my walk that was out of sync, now it is my talk. I am fairly certain that I am the only one who self-identifies as a liberal, who opposed the Iraq War – before it went bad – who has never bought into any of the “Obama’s a Kenyan, Marxist, Muslim, Hitler, Communist” stuff. Besides, aren’t most of those contradictions?
    And then there are the social issues. Guns, the only restrictions my fellow Marines seem willing to co-opt is the Disneyland sign that says, “You must be THIS tall.” Gay rights? We served before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, when it was just, “Don’t!” And the current debate over transgender issues had been met with responses that include a video of a guy using the inaccurate term “weenie tuckers” followed by “Go, Trump.” Meanwhile, all attempts by progressives to create a more inclusive society are framed by my online dissenters as dictates lifted straight out of Mao’s “Little Red Book,” which I still haven’t read. And should a single tax dollar be appropriated for my profession, the arts, you may be assured it was lifted from their pocket by a jack-booted, IRS brownshirt.

I expressed anger at the top of this piece, but there’s also a good deal of disappointment. While I was in fact a member of the nation’s rowdiest branch of the military, I was an air-winger. The air wing is a little less spit & polish and gung-ho, and more fluff & buff and easy going and soft-shoe shuffle (that’s hyperbole, none of us can dance), and a bit more cerebral. Qualifying for technical training meant you had done well on the aptitude test, with my specialty, avionics, being one of the most difficult, so the people I served with are intelligent. Hard to discern that from their Facebook posts, though.
    And they do take their toll. I suppose it’s part of being a bleeding heart, but the daily barrage of callous, boorish, stupid, and sometimes, racist – there, I said it – posts are difficult to read without becoming discouraged, disillusioned, disgusted. The simple, easy remedy is to remove these irritants from the newsfeed. But then where would I get my gluten?
    I am a liberal, progressive, Democratic, pro-choice, pro-LGBT United States Marine. Semper Fidelis!

Copyright © 2016 by James Knudsen


  1. thanks, as always. somehow..i suspect you are not alone. no group is monolithic. and, this is a challenging year for all of us. the non-liberals as well, i suspect. anger and fear are hard to bear. all our walkways should be clear....soon.

  2. James I know how you feel. I cut off relations with the men I served with long ago but then made the mistake of moving back to Mississippi because I was told and thought things had changed down here. The four years in Costa Rica has only made it harder to deal the stupid shit that comes out of the mouth of people with college degrees. It becomes a lonely world when all the noise is coming from the other side. There is no facts or any debate that can change these people---so we liberals can only watch the hell explode around us.

  3. James, was there any particular incident that set you off? Something on facebook?

    I'll admit to years of nightmares at the idea of being forced to serve in the Marines (even though I understand that never happens.) I knew even as a child that being treated that way would, sooner or later, have ended in lethal violence.

  4. Both Chuck, a general boorishness to the comments, a constant pursuit of the lowest common denominator, a insistence that the U.S.A. is the only place where good ideas are conceived. And specific comments like, "I just love freedom." Like I don't? I'm an actor, dictators come looking for us real quick. And the guy who hurled that at me? He works in aerospace. There's always work for him in a totalitarian regime.