To set the scene, I'm sure most of my readers are aware of Gen. John Kelly's remarks to journalists on October 19th, following the controversy over President Trump's alleged remarks to the mother of an Army serviceman killed in Niger. In order to remove any possibility of misunderstanding, here's a video of every word he had to say. I highly recommend watching it in full, if you haven't heard or read his speech already.
Speaking as a combat veteran, albeit in a different country's armed forces, I endorse what Gen. Kelly said. I've buried enough of my comrades in arms to understand his words very personally, at gut level as well as intellectually. (See here for just one example from my own experience.)
I thought that was a profound statement from an honorable man. However, those on the progressive side of the fence seem to view it as anything but that. For example, here's Masha Gessen in the New Yorker.
Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments.
. . .
Fallen soldiers, Kelly said, join “the best one per cent this country produces.” Here, the chief of staff again reminded his audience of its ignorance: “Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any of them. But they are the very best this country produces.”
The one-per-cent figure is puzzling. The number of people currently serving in the military, both on active duty and in the reserves, is not even one per cent of all Americans. The number of veterans in the population is far higher: more than seven per cent. But, later in the speech, when Kelly described his own distress after hearing the criticism of Trump’s phone call, the general said that he had gone to “walk among the finest men and women on this earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery.” So, by “the best” Americans, Kelly had meant dead Americans—specifically, fallen soldiers.
The number of Americans killed in all the wars this nation has ever fought is indeed equal to roughly one per cent of all Americans alive today. This makes for questionable math and disturbing logic. It is in totalitarian societies, which demand complete mobilization, that dying for one’s country becomes the ultimate badge of honor.
There's more at the link.
Ms. Gessen's personal history makes it clear that she's been shaped and formed by so many influences that are antithetical to our American way of life, and to the patriotism that's evolved in this country over generations, that she's literally incapable of understanding where Gen. Kelly was coming from, and how his words resonate with those of us who share his perspective. (See, for example, her reactions to President Trump's election - they speak volumes.)
We see something similar in the reactions of Rep. Frederica Wilson, who proclaimed with a laugh that she'd become a "rock star" after Gen. Kelly criticized her earlier statement. The fact that she can dismiss, and even be amused by, such heartfelt, sincere reactions, demonstrates that she truly doesn't understand the enormity of the reaction she's stirred up. Of course, I doubt she cares about that reaction, anyway. Those of us who feel that way are not her constituency and are never likely to vote for her. She knows that - so why should she care? Personally, I tend to agree with Karl Denninger's view of her. I regard her as despicable.
However, that points to a wider problem. In general (and subject to all the usual caveats about generalizations), the entire progressive/far-left-wing element of American society appears incapable of understanding Gen. Kelly's words. That's been amply demonstrated by the response of the pundits across liberal media to his words. They've been so brainwashed by the influences to which they've chosen to expose themselves that, in listening to him, all some of them can hear is the threat of a military coup d'état, as Ms. Gessen claims in her article. Others dismiss Gen. Kelly's reactions as those of a "Trump supporter" rather than a military man whose own son became a casualty of war. They don't see the military as a wholesome, or even a necessary, element in society. Instead, they see it as a threat to their utopian dreams, a collection of knuckle-dragging conservatives (the latter word being, in their vocabulary, a pejorative) having no value whatsoever, collectively or individually.
I don't know how one can ever get Ms. Gessen, or those of her ilk, to understand where Gen. Kelly was coming from, or the real, heartfelt, genuine perspectives he was expressing in his words. She, and they, are incapable of understanding that. The gulf between where they are, and where we are, is just too great to bridge.
What, then, is the answer? I don't know. All I do know is, if anyone disrespects my fallen comrades to my face, in the way that Ms. Gessen has just disrespected Gen. Kelly and his fallen son, I won't accept responsibility for my actions. They're likely to be a very direct expression of my . . . ah . . . displeasure.