Chickenhawk Meme

Chickenhawk Meme


Every blogging supporter of the U.S. military in Iraq seems to be getting a similar pack of comments and e-mails recently. In effect they say, in tones of supreme snarkiness, “You support the war, so why don’t you go over there and fight it, or else shut up?”

It’s a personalized form of the election campaign insistence that all patriots and military supporters must vote for Kerry because Bush was a draft dodger (so who did you vote for in ’96, when it was Clinton vs. Dole?).

The e-mails and comments have come on so suddenly and are so similar that war supporters have started talking about them as the “chickenhawk meme.”

I wonder if they aren’t a campaign by moonbat trolls lashed into a progressive frenzy from some frothing far-left site. They are dished out without much thought: even bloggers with obvious and well-advertised military service to their credit, such as Baldilocks, get them.

I hardly can conceive a tactic more pernicious to the user. People who write these things must never mentally slot themselves into positions of political power, otherwise they’d see their mistakes in a second.

For instance, I want Iraq to succeed, and America to succeed alongside it, which is exactly why I don’t want to ship overseas a bunch of nearsighted, over-aged bloggers with bad backs, who would just get in the way of real soldiers. But that’s the least of the problems with this “argument.”

The essence of it is, “People who advocate for some exercise of government power have no legitimacy unless those people endure the greatest burden of that exercise of power.”

So by that measure only property owners can approve school budgets based on real estate taxes, if you defend free speech you should become a porn star, and only firefighters can pull fire alarms.

Do the people who write these e-mails not realize that, having set this rule, they will be judged by it? And that if they carry the point that only those who have served or are serving in the military may espouse the use of American military power, they disqualify their own set from high office?

Disqualify, because most Americans, however they may feel about Iraq or Bush, are not absolute pacifists who would entirely renounce America’s military option. Thus they would not vote for a non-military candidate if he would have no legitimate grounds to invoke military options.

All of which just digs the Democrats a deeper hole. The party already has an image problem in the minds of many voters who see it as hostile to the military, or at least not sufficiently understanding of or experienced with military matters to be trusted with the national trigger. The GOP has worked hard for decades to paint this image, but it has gotten good help from the other side, from just the sort of people who wrote these e-mails. By now, the distrust is deep and real.

As one of the best MilBloggers out there, Blackfive, put it recently:

I would venture a guess that many MilBloggers are, in fact, Democrats. That’s right.

But with the recent possibility of a *shudder* President Kerry and the left’s willingness to roll over anyone (including the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan) in order to destroy President Bush, you find many of us on the Center-Right. What other serious choice do they have?

You can blame George Soros or Teddy Kennedy or Media Matters or Howard Dean or Terry McAuliffe for that. If the Democrats took back the center of their party, they’d have a chance at winning some of the MilBloggers back.

Attention Democrats – Gangrene has set in. It’s time for the true Democrats to decide whether to allow the infection to spread or to amputate.

Meanwhile, the chickenhawk meme keeps flowing, from the fertile pens and fertilizer brains of people who relish their poses as anti-authoritarian trickster flower children. They don’t seem to know or care that they’ve doomed themselves instead to be nothing but merry minoritarians.

Previous articleWhat a Tangled Web
Next articleValerie Comes Clean
  • Michael Totten

    I was wondering if I was the only one whose comments box was flooded with waves of “chickenhawk” accusations all at once.

    What I find most hilarious about this is that many of the people who throw that charge in my face will proudly say they supported the war in Afghanistan. But they didn’t go. So they’re “chickenhawks” too.

  • Todd Grimson

    A lot of people died in Central and Latin America in order to avoid being ruled by military juntas… which is only one element bespeaking how superficial and moronic this whole “chickenhawk” idea is.

    Just more namecalling.

  • rzklkng

    Wow…no, most of the most ardent supporters are quasi-political pundits who wouldn’t serve regardless. Those are the people who get the comments about serving. If you are a former service person, you have earned the right to comment on and support this war if you so choose. Very few on the left take any issue with the actions taken in Afghanistan. Just Iraq. I thnk the point is that decision about going to war should be made by military persons, not politicians.

  • tommy

    “I think the point is that decision about going to war should be made by military persons, not politicians.”

    I thought that was one of the things our system was designed to prevent. The military has to answer to the politicians ultimately and I’m pretty sure that is what you want, or do you really want the military engaging in conflicts (or refusing too) and the voters not having the ability to change that decision by electing new politicians to office. Because I’m fairly certain the proponents of the chicken hawk meme would think that if they won the elections that they should be able to make that decision instead of the military.

  • TomGrey – Liberty Dad

    I suspect the London bombings have an element of Islamic chickenhawk-ishness. “If you really believe in Jihad, why not go to Iraq and kill Americans? Or do something here?” — this is part of the flypaper issue. The “true believers” of Jihad are getting pressure by the potential converts: are you putting up?

    It’s still a weak intellectual argument, but it has strong emotional support.

  • Jonathan Cortis

    Thank you, Callimachus,

    It takes a rare tallent to articulate a point that all of us understand, but somehow have difficulty putting into words. I’m going to remember some of you analogies next time someone comes along with this argument!

  • Serge

    To my mind the so called chickenhawk thing was originally a lampooning of the lack of scarifice made by the general public and many in the leadership, especially those who are most vociferous in support of the current misadventure in Iraq. I don’t think, at least at the outset, supporters of the war were seriously expected to go, regardless of age or circumstance. I admit, though, it has evolved into a somewhat more mean spirited form as of late. But there is so much mean spiritedness on both sides these days. Nonetheless, the serious point of this jest is that you aren’t going to make tough choices if you arent presented with any. In that vein, I should think the reintroduction of the draft would at least put everyone at risk and make them more than a passive cheerleader. More importantly, the people who don’t even pay attention to these issues would be forced to consider them. I know the Army prefers it’s volunteer base for a number of reasons, but I think the draft would be good for our democracy and the participation of the general public in it.

  • Jim

    “People who write these things must never mentally slot themselves into positions of political power,”

    This is the key. These people are eternal adolescents in perpetual rebellion. Maybe it will keep them young and hip forever. It’s certainly more fun than having to deal with actual situtions whether you are equipped or not, like a real adult.

    Tommy is right, our system insists on putting the decision in civilian hands. This is not just explict in the Constitution, but a lot of statute law cements it into place. Colonels become generals by acts of Congress. When some Congressman’s staffer asks some unit about a letter they got from a soldier complaining about whatever, nuts drop, assholes clench and answer goes back immediately. And so on. It may sound like an interference that would lead to paralysis, but in fact it helps ensure the health of these organizations.

    I have a lot of years of service, and I don’t mind civilians saying other people should go to war. I just insit that it be an honest and well thought-out position.

  • Glen Wishard

    Serge: To my mind the so called chickenhawk thing was originally a lampooning of the lack of scarifice made by the general public and many in the leadership

    Actually the “chickenhawk thing” goes back to the early 80s (at least) and an older generation of liberal editorialists like Mike Royko and Art Buchwald. These people were known as “humorists” and were mainly concerned with making fun of John Wayne, not making serious public policy.

    These were men who were drafted in the 40s and 50s, during the “good wars”, and who generally had a low opinion of the military and of military service. Telling somebody to join the Marines was their way of telling them to go f–k themselves.

  • Rachel

    To me, the chickenhawk meme is just that – chicken sh-t. If this war was a success (or turns out to be the next Turkey) you can bet your bottom dollar everyone pro and con and in between will be saying how they were rooting for the Iraqis and (gasp) W. Even us Libs, since he’ll he out of office

  • Cutler

    It’s definitely a group that’s been sent out, or a line of attack that was well publicized. They’ve been active on a large number of sites.

    The bottom line is that if we were to limit voting to military members ala Starship Troopers, the Democrats would be a dead party.

    It is a fundamentally unserious idea, from fundamentally unserious people.

  • Justin Gardner


    I read Al Franken’s book when it came out and the chapter I skipped over was the one about all the Chickenhawks. I just didn’t find it very compelling or funny.

    However, I think the point people have tired to make (when you wade through all the attacks) is that when you have people who actively avoided military service during wartime (like Rove and Cheney…and for that matter Dean) they really don’t understand what it’s like to be IN a war. And since a lot on the left felt that the US rushed into the war, critics felt it was a valid observation to make.

    In any event, good post. I think the call for the “chickenhawks” to serve in the military and Michael Moore’s stunt in Fahrenheit 9/11 was pretty damn silly in the end.

  • Tom Grey – Liberty Dad

    I’d guess calls for using the new Kelo powers of eminent domain might qualify as a form of “chickenhawk”/ own petard hoisting if Justice Kennedy’s house is taken away for a higher-tax paying hotel.

  • J. Thomas Duffy


    On a similar tangent, political satirist Barry Crimmins, who was done his share of skewing American politics, would get the hecklers and others shouting at him “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave” … Crimmins had a simply reply.

    “I would, but I’m affraid of our Foreign Policy …

    Check’em out – (


  • Justin Gardner


    Ha ha, something tells me that he’s not going to be too big on Crimmins. Especially since he writes for the Randi Rhodes show. I’ll listen to Franken before I listen to her anyday. I’ve never understood the attraction. Then again, I’ve never understood the attraction to Rush either. I guess it’s all about preaching to the choir.

    You can make a lot of money that way, and as the blogosphere has shown, the same ideological bent carries over.

  • Callimachus

    Sounds very much like the people I work with. I can pay no higher compliment.

  • J. Thomas Duffy


    Back in the early Ding Ho days (late 70’s), Crimmins used to do a bit about listening to talk radio – only because he had sustained a serious head injury …

    It’s a gig … It pays bills …

    If the AAR folks had some wits, they’d have Crimmins with his own show …