THE MEDAL OF HONOR HAS NOT BEEN ‘FEMINIZED’ (WHATEVER THAT MEANS)…. I’m a little behind on this one, but I’ve been meaning to mention some of the conservative reactions to Army Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, a genuine American hero, being awarded the Medal of Honor last week.
Giunta’s story is extraordinary, and it’s hard to imagine anyone seriously disagreeing with the award. That Giunta is the first living service member from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to receive the honor makes last week that much more notable.
But a prominent religious right leader was apparently unimpressed, whining that the Medal of Honor, the nation’s top military award, has been “feminized.”
The Army’s official citation details how Giunta “exposed himself to withering enemy fire” during a daring effort to engage the enemy and extract his wounded comrades from an ambush. But Bryan Fischer, a columnist for the American Family Association who has often provoked headlines and consternation with his commentaries, read the narrative as hardly the sort of thing American soldiers were once known for.
“When we think of heroism in battle, we used the think of our boys storming the beaches of Normandy under withering fire, climbing the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc while enemy soldiers fired straight down on them, and tossing grenades into pill boxes to take out gun emplacements,” wrote Fischer, director of issue analysis for the AFA, a longtime lobby on the Christian right. “That kind of heroism has apparently become passe when it comes to awarding the Medal of Honor. We now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them.”
“So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things, so our families can sleep safely at night?” he asked.
When Fischer faced some criticism for his bizarre complaint, he went on to argue that the Christian God honors those who inflict “massive casualties,” in part because “Christianity is not a religion of pacifism.”
We could note, just for the record, that Giunta directly engaged (i.e., fired at) the enemy during the ordeal, as he sought to rescue his fellow American troops, so the idea that he was not “inflicting” casualties isn’t even true.
But at a certain level, the facts just don’t matter anyway. We’ve reached the point at which prominent far-right activists can’t even applaud an American war hero when he’s awarded one of the nation’s highest honors.
The long-held assumptions that the right somehow has the high ground when it comes to honoring and valuing the military are in desperate need of re-evaluation.