Dean Barnett’s 9/11 Generation

Whenever right wing pundits and bloggers try to make a blanket observation about their political opponents, they always get themselves into a rhetorical knot.

Take…  Dean Barnett for example.

The strain of the “9/11 Generation” of which Barnett is a part, which is represented by the Weekly Standard and National Review Agenda of Endless War and led by George Bush and Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romeny and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, is captured perfectly by those passages, which reveal the core mentality of this movement:

We need to prove to the world how powerful and tough and strong we are by kicking ass and starting wars and putting our boots on the ground and getting our hands dirty and bombing and invading and fighting like the Real Warriors we are because Civilization is at Risk. And the way we should do that is by sending those people — the ones way, way over there — to go and fight and risk their lives in the wars I love.

I am a full-throated Supporter of the Epic War of Civilizations, but I can’t fight in it, because my knee hurts and I need to collect advance checks from Regnery and I want to stay at home and wipe dribble from my baby’s chin. But those people over there can and should fight. And between watching Star Trek on television and playing war video games, I will log off periodically to write articles and posts about how great these wars are and I, too, will therefore be strong and noble and resolute and brave. That is the grotesque and principle-free face of the “9/11 Generation” which believes there is wisdom in the Weekly Standard and praises Barnett’s article and cheers on one American war after the next.


To begin with, while Barnett contrasts two significant groups of the Vietnam era — those who bravely volunteered for combat and/or who were drafted (Jim Webb and John McCain and Chuck Hagel and John Kerry) and those who protested the war — he revealingly whitewashes from history the other major group, the most ignoble one, the one which happens to include virtually all of the individuals who lead Barnett’s political movement: namely, those who claimed to support the war but did everything possible to evade military service, sending their fellow citizens off to die instead in a war they urged.

Most revealingly, Barnett condemns those who refused to fight because they opposed to war and chose instead to work against it, but ignores completely those who favored the war but sent others to fight and die in it. Barnett has to ignore this group. He has no choice. He cannot possibly criticize such individuals because this group includes the editors and writers of the magazine in which he is writing, his blogging boss, and virtually the entire leadership of the political movement which he follows.

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