General Stupidity

30 03 2010

Lt. General Benjamin Mixon needs to be hauled before a court-martial, stripped of his stars and tossed out on his ass. His call for soldiers and their families to resist the President’s intention of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is clearly insubordination of the most flagrant type. In an unusually acerbic reply, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, suggested an officer holding Mixon’s views should “vote with his feet,” or in other words – get the f**k out. Here we have a microcosm of the deep, cultural divide in the U.S. today. General Mixon is a graduate of North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia. He has an MA in public administration from Western Kentucky University and another from one of the army’s own schools. Admiral Mullen on the other hand, grew up in a show business related family in Sherman Oaks, California. His father was a Hollywood press agent and his mother was an assistant to Jimmy Durante. He graduated from Annapolis. Though he attended a Catholic High School (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) he knew gay students there and in fact, was friends with the sister of a gay friend of my own. This is not to say Admiral Mullen is an advocate of gay rights. I have no idea what his views on the subject are. His reprimand of General Mixon was based on the insubordination aspect of the affair and does not address the gay rights issue. However, he is clearly a product of a liberal culture, while General Mixon comes burdened with the deeply ingrained prejudices of the Old South. Mixon does not seem to be a stupid man, nor is he an armchair general. He has had an active and varied service career, seen action in Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom, held many command positions  and has been repeatedly decorated. His record indicates that he is what one might call a soldier’s soldier. It is self-evident that he knows Rule #1 of the officer’s manual: never criticize your superiors in public – and that goes double for comments about the Commander In Chief. Far more brilliant careers than Mixon’s have sunk on those rocks. General Douglas MacArthur comes to mind immediately. Mixon must have understood that by taking a public position opposing the policy of the President, he was making a career ending move at minimum and placing himself in danger of court marital as well. Having only said something out of line and not having done something out of line, a court-martial is unlikely. Nonetheless, Mixon’s career is over. If he isn’t actually thrown out, his next command will be something like being in charge of the radioactive testing sites in Salt Flats, Utah – or perhaps the Pentagon Special Study Group for Latrine Management.

So – why would Mixon do this to himself? Is he simply stupid? There have been plenty of really stupid generals throughout history. Even a cursory examination of both the British and French High Commands in World War I for example, will display rigidity, utter failure to learn the most obvious lessons from experience and a stupidity so deep and broad that it is truly breath-taking. World War I is far from the only example. Google the name “General Dyer” if you are interested in seeing an example of bloody-minded stupidity that almost defies belief. In U.S. history, try General Butler in the Civil War. The famous George Armstrong Custer was clearly not a military genius either, based on results.  We could go on and on. General Mixon’s record however, shows this is not the case with him. There can be only one reason: because gays trigger a revulsion in him so deep as to verge on the psychotic. There, as I noted above, we have a microcosm of the problem. This is a revulsion bred into him from infancy and constantly reinforced by the know-nothing, far right culture of fundamentalist religion, the blatant editing of educational standards in many southern schools and colleges to adhere to or at least accommodate out dated and even nonsensical religious dogma and an overall culture that clings to stereotypes and prejudice. Clearly Mixon learned nothing at Western Kentucky University that would call those views into question – nor would we expect otherwise.

Mixon’s self-destructive course of action should not be viewed as an isolated aberration by a loon. His record shows he is far from being a loon. He is evidently a highly trained and competent officer with a great deal of experience. Instead it should be taken as a grave warning of how deeply and irrationally our enemies hate us. It is a hatred that can defy education and experience of the world outside of Georgia and Kentucky. It can defy logic and science. It is visceral. When someone like General Mixon is willing to toss a brilliant career on the scrap heap just to give voice to his fear of gays, we must be alarmed and warned that we are still a very long way from the security of equality, acceptance and full citizenship. To this end, we owe Mixon a debt of gratitude for showing us the dangers of complacency as well as reminding us that we are deeply hated by people who know how to use guns.

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2 responses

30 03 2010
perrybrass

I think the only way to understand this is to realize that the level of stupidity Gen. Mixon shows is simply routine behavior in the US service, and will stay there until something comes along to change his attitudes. This same level of stupidity in regard to race was the norm. In fact, being seen in as “stupid” in the service is a necessary mask to hide behind because the whole culture of the service either demands it or enforces it. The whole thing is sad, and is one reason why suicides among servicemen is now at a record level. It’s better to be seen as “stupid” than as weak. So what Mixon is showing is that he’s not weak, or even worse, “gay friendly.” Until he realizes that stupid, gay-friendly, and being open-minded on this issue are not the same thing, nothing is going to change.

30 03 2010
Bily Glover

A very good view of the real world, military and otherwise and your last thought is exactly what the founders knew was ahead. But it seems to me that they would say that the world of today is much better than they thought it would be at this stage, as it does take education and a better view of the Bible. Just as education was needed when the religious, Bible quoting citizens supported slavery and later legal racial segregation-which means they feared that if there was no law people might actually learn to live in an interracial society-see Obama-and that would be a fear that many people would have no personal problem with homosexuality if not forced to oppose it by law. And these same ignorant people are fighting the losing battle by making laws against believing evolution-again using their Bible.

As difficult as it may be for many, especially young, glbt people, this shows that it is difficult to be a perfect religious nut in today’s world.

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