Footprint of the American Chicken Hawk
Just the other day, a reader brought a new piece of cultural jetsam to our attention. A number of conservative websites have started offering bumper stickers for sale that show a peace sign accompanied by the words "Footprint of the American Chicken."
My first reaction to seeing these stickers was befuddlement. The last time I had heard "Chicken" used as an epithet was in my high school gym class, for goodness' sake. Isn't there a better standard than name-calling for determining the best policy direction of a nation of 281 million people? One such standard might be rationality. A rational observer might note history, in which violent action again and again leads to violent backlash. The same observer might note that given a lack of any proof of military threat against the United States from Iraq, the only certain way that Americans would be killed would be to go to war. Hundreds of Americans (not to mention tens of thousands of Iraqis the deaths of whom, curiously, are almost never mentioned in the news) have, as a matter of fact, died as a direct result of the order to go to war. Rationally speaking, isn't this result more deadly than the danger posed by non-existent nukes, a single pilotless drone held together by masking tape and apparently invisible chemical and biological weaponry? Rationally speaking, hasn't the war proven more deadly to Americans than the continuation of less exciting and more ambiguous diplomacy?
Let's move on and address the chickenheads on their own schoolyard turf. The idea that those in favor of peaceful policy are "chickens," people driven by fear, disintegrates upon close inquiry. Those Americans who opposed a war against Iraq claimed a willingness to live with a possible increase in the risk of an attack against the United States in order to preserve the principle that the United States doesn't start wars without provocation. That's not only high-minded, but brave.
In the meantime, the vast majority of pro-war Americans, including George W. Bush, pushed for war but did not bother to enlist in the armed forces to carry out that war. Instead, they pushed for other people to go kill and be killed so they could feel safer against a threat that turned out to be both hypothetical and over-hyped. If that's not chicken, what is? There's a name for those who zealously push for other people to enter combat but won't go themselves: Chickenhawks.
We're tired of watching the fearmongers and irresponsible you-do-it right-wing bullies push the rest of us into cowed, silent compliance while they stand reality on its head. We feel sick watching politicians who really ought to know better go along with utter nonsense in foreign policy and even begin to side with the violent thugs of war in the panicky hope that maybe they won't get hit. The truth is that if you hang out with thugs you don't get anything but bruised -- and you can never beat a bully by giving in. The only way to stop this nonsense is to stand up to it, to stop agreeing that black is white. Listen to the bullshit detector in your soul. It is high time that those of us who believe in rationality and responsibility plant our feet on the ground and start speaking the truth out loud, even as our voices shake.
If we won't do it, no one will. If you won't do it, who will?
To help you make a counter-statement against the Chickenheads, we at Irregular Times are proud to offer the images you see to your left. If enough of us slap these up in public spaces, the bullies (who, like all those who cry "Chicken," are really the most driven by fear) will recede, leaving a space for rationality to reclaim.
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