>It always tickles my fancy whenever I hear evangelical, right-wing Christians complaining of the downward spiral of America. Leave it to Bryan Fischer to further poke my funny bone with his opinion about President Barack Obama awarding the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta for his heroic decision to save lives rather than to take them:
(As an aside, Fischer based his contributions on an op-ed penned by William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal. It seemed Fischer may have misunderstood McGurn’s point and instead injected his own belief about the Medal of Honor).
This is just the eighth Medal of Honor awarded during our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Sgt. Giunta is the only one who lived long enough to receive his medal in person. But I have noticed a disturbing trend in the awarding of these medals, which few others seem to have recognized.
We have feminized the Medal of Honor. According to Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal, every Medal of Honor awarded during these two conflicts has been awarded for saving life. Not one has been awarded for inflicting casualties on the enemy. Not one.
Gen. George Patton once famously said, “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.” 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 do Hoc while enemy soldiers fired straight down on them, and tossing grenades into pill boxes to take out gun emplacements.
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?
So, killing people and breaking expensive military toys during a battle makes a soldier more worthy that one who saves the life of a fellow soldier? A soldier who proves to be a more effective mass wartime murder and takes his frustration out on the enemy’s equipment is more deserving of the Medal of Honor?
Predictably, Fischer blames this “feminization” of the Medal of Honor on our society:
I would suggest our culture has become so feminized that we have become squeamish at the thought of the valor that is expressed in killing enemy soldiers through acts of bravery. We know instinctively that we should honor courage, but shy away from honoring courage if it results in the taking of life rather than in just the saving of life.
So we find it safe to honor those who throw themselves on a grenade to save their buddies. Jesus, in words often cited in ceremonies such as the one which will take place this afternoon, said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). So it is entirely right that we honor this kind of bravery and self-sacrifice, which is surely an imitation of the Lord of lords and King of kings. However, Jesus’ act of self-sacrifice would ultimately have been meaningless – yes, meaningless – if he had not inflicted a mortal wound on the enemy while giving up his own life.
The significance of the cross is not just that Jesus laid down his life for us, but that he defeated the enemy of our souls in the process. It was on the cross that he crushed the head of the serpent. It was on the cross that “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). The cross represented a cosmic showdown between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, and our commanding general claimed the ultimate prize by defeating our unseen enemy and liberating an entire planet from his bondage.
We rightly honor those who give up their lives to save their comrades. It’s about time we started also honoring those who kill bad guys.
Yeah! Just kill as many bad guys as you can–don’t worry about military strategy or conjuring up ways to outsmart the enemy and win the war. Just follow the advice of blood-thirsty evangelical Christians who hide behind their computer screens and commit mass murder just to prove your manhood.
I know we shouldn’t take Fischer’s blog rant seriously, but it speaks to the mindset many in this country have about war and who is worthy of honor during wartime. Contrary to what Fischer may believe, our society has become so desensitized to violence that we expect to be entertained by it during our gathering in front of the teevee. But, that’s another subject that I’m sure will be discussed another day.
The idea that the Medal of Honor has been “feminized” because a man who did not inflict mass murder on the enemy was honored reflects the latent Rambo mentality may people in this country have due to the embarrassing loss in Vietnam. (As an aside, some scholars believe Rambo and other fictitious characters were created in 1980s movies that depicted American soldiers during the Vietnam era. They essentially provided heroes to the American movie viewers who were still heartbroken over the loss of the Vietnam war). These Rambo-like characters were ruthless, gutless and empirically attacked and killed enemies with a no-holds-barred tactics that made the American movie goers proud.
This Rambo mentality romanticizes war as a way American soldiers should flex their military muscle and might. They view war as an opportunity for soldiers to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible to, in Fischer’s words, “so our families can sleep safely at night.”
Furthermore, the notion the Medal of Honor has become feminized reflects the ongoing trend of some male “scholars” and commentators to label feminism/femininity as a ideology that seeks to dethrone men from their self-appointed dominance in American society. These scholars continuously sound the alarm that men/boys are being eclipsed by the focus and attention being paid to girls/women, thus threatening masculinity, what it means to be a man and the male-dominated/centered American culture. Since our society wrongfully and stupidly equates being a man to soldiers “who kill bad guys,” the use of word “feminized” is just another ploy to lament the so-called rise of women at the expense of men.
It’s truly convenient for Fischer and his followers to sit back and criticize Giunta for not “killing people” and the Medal of Honor as being feminized because a man who didn’t live up to your fantasy had the honor bestowed upon him. They aren’t the ones who have to leave their family for months at a time and serve in a country that doesn’t have any comforts of home. They aren’t the ones who risk death because of the prevalence of IEDs or suicide bombers. They aren’t the ones who have to choose between saving yourself or saving a comrade in a life-threatening battle. They aren’t the ones who have to make decision to take another life in the name of war.
So, to Fischer: giving the Medal of Honor to one who decided to preserve a life is just as honorable as those who received the honor for taking a life.