Alex Blaze

Intellectual size queens

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 29, 2010 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: jon stewart, michael hastings, military, rolling stone, stanley mcchrystal

I posted last week about the weird masculinity issues surrounding former General McChrystal's interview with Rolling Stone, where he seemed to believe that masculinity was defined, partly, by drinking terrible beverages. I wondered what the right's reaction to this would be - they're hard-core authoritarians so they couldn't outright defend his insubordination, but they hate Obama.

A blogger at the "American Thinker" is trying out an angle with which to spin this: blame the journalist. Jon Stewart touched on this last week (video after the jump), when he showed a few mainstream journalists bewildered that Michael Hastings would truthfully represent the person he was assigned to profile. Why didn't he just cover up McChrystal's foibles, as any decent journalist would? G. Murphy Donovan has the answer:

The agent of McChrystal's demise was an effete freelancer who looks and sounds like a prep school refugee. Michael Hastings was on special assignment for a magazine whose usual fare is sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Yet, like Hugh Hefner's Playboy, Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone has cultural pretensions. Those affectations were on full display in the McChrystal issue. Lady Gaga [sic] graces the cover; equipped with a bullet brassiere on full auto. Ms. Gaga is a performance artist whose cultural niche is defined by Madonna groupies.[...]

From any perspective, we have to assume that General McChrystal and/or his staff was aware of these things and the risks of having of an antiwar zealot in their midst. The key question to be answered is: Who was using whom?

That's quite a few different ways to call Hastings a faggot.

The article is promising from the beginning, exhorting what a manly man McChrystal is (I can't find a profile for the writer who, I assume, was never in the military himself):

Crystal is not glass. Strike crystal and it rings like a bell. When it breaks, crystal makes a special noise, a sound like the end of music. The other day, we heard the end of a special elegy, the 24 notes of taps, when General Stanley McChrystal furled his flag.

McChrystal was no ordinary infantryman; he chose the road not taken. Rangers are a unique fraternity where only extraordinary warriors thrive. Those who rise to the top in any calling often walk a fine line between genius and eccentricity, and soldiers are no exception.

Can you feel how close to ejaculation Donovan is? That General McChrystal's a real man, hubba hubba.

Now, I can't help but think that this is part of a deeper cultural sickness, the worship of people like Stanley McChrystal to the point of being unable to really even examine foreign policy. Of course, we all know that half the reason we're in either of these wars is that people who are insecure about their own masculinity (who are often found with large microphones in front of them) thought they had something to prove and the best way to do it was to call for the country to go kill brown people half a world away.

But does that mean that if we somehow got over this masculinity worship, which includes a construction of a very war-like masculinity, that we'd be less motivated to kill people we don't know in order to take their resources?

According to this mentality, we're all supposed to bow before these manly men, especially people who are "effete" freelancers like Michael Hastings. Even though Hastings was willing to publish some pretty harsh criticisms of Obama, he was obviously working for the enemy because he must have known that those criticisms were over the line. Everyone's supposed to know their place and the consequences of their actions and act accordingly.

Anyway, as promised, here's the Daily Show clip where Jon Stewart makes fun of journalists who simply can't believe that another journalist would get access like that and then publish things that make the subject look bad! They're a bunch of sniveling power-worshippers as it is, so someone in their profession doing his job every now and then doesn't help them to look like brave truth-tellers all that much.

'There's just so much wrong with this story from so many angles.

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Not that I figured the critique had much to it on the substance, but I absolutely hate the sort of snotty misuse of "[sic]" that shows up in the first pull quote. It's a stage name. Either use it without comment or use the performer's legal name, but don't be a dick.

Glenn Greenwald has commented repeatedly and at length about all the armchair warriors whose veneration of the masculinity of war--though they, like George Bush, managed to miss it--was one of the drivers of America's current involvement in two wars and counting.

With the attendant pressures to cut social programs because those who make use of social programs aren't manly men and don't deserve it.

One might also view the veneration of guns in this same masculine light.

Hastings, in his interview with Rachel Maddow last night pointed out what always is lost in these stories about personalities/celebrities, the structural issues: Hastings specifically pointed out the corruption of the Karzai government--lost in the struggle between the two manly men, McCrystal and Obama.

But then, who is interested in issues; much more fun to watch a horse race, or a mud fight.

But how many times have we seen the same thing here? We had readers/commenters upset that I wrote about GetEqual or Equality Across America and wrote a critical story instead of a glowing puff piece? They piss and moan that since I had access to the subjects, I should somehow "treat them better."

No, I don't think so. The job is to tell the truth about what we see and think - not play PR flack.

Glenn Greenwald also writes about the difference between "journalists" being nothing more than PR flacks for the subjects--he highlights the interviews of Hastings and Lara Logan (CBS' Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent)on CNN's Reliable Sources on just this point.

Greenwald argues that one of the results of the Lara Logan--and Judy Miller, The New Republic, and all the others--is the American entanglement in wars for lies. Lies that the "journalists," in deference to their subjects, their 'careers,' misplaced patriotism, enthusiastically amplified.

This makes you a true journalist, Bil.

McChrystal was probably the right man all along: a crazy person in a crazy role, taking on a crazy mission in a crazy war. An HR department's wet dream.

I think Alex's first two paragraphs outline one of the right's avenues of criticism - i.e., 'kill the messenger.'
At a site like the Independent Gay Forum (a right/libertarian blog) the ongoing comments on the McChrystal issue have involved criticizing Hastings. The critiques range from claiming Hastings took advantage of soldiers friendly chatter to Hastings threatening national security and the war effort.
There is a disconnect between the appreciation of military heirarchy (anti-insubordination) and a virulent anti-Obama attitude.
The idea that McChrystal is a 'liberal', though, has added new layers to some conspiracy theories ('Obama kept McChrystal this long because the general is a liberal, if he was a conservative he would have been relieved of command last year...').
The charge of being a liberal is due in part to McChrystal's voting for Obama, and reports of McChrystal not allowing Fox News to be broadcast in his command hq. And possibly because Fox has said McChrystal is a liberal (?).

I wonder how conservatives would have reacted if, instead of firing McChrystal, Obama said, "Yeah, I have been a namby-pamby on Afghanistan. I will try to use more of his ideas." Would they be treating Hastings as if he were a traitor?

The guy did his job and he did it better than most people would. How people used that information afterwards isn't his fault if he collected and presented it truthfully.