The email’s subject line was “coward.” I had written unconventionally about the armed services of this great nation, and the subject line referred to me.

The sender, a local businessman, opened with, “Your article regarding the terrorist act at Ft. Hood is despicable. You do not deserve to live in this Great country. You are are a coward of the worst variety. How dare you sit back and pontificate on the evils of America and suck its teat for all the liberties and freedoms it provides your sorry . . .” and so on.

He also said I was a “mental pervert”—he’s got me there—who didn’t “deserve any of the blessings and protections . . . afforded by the courageous patriots that serve a greater good.” I thought being from Chicago was enough. I have a birth certificate.

The reader also accused me of hiding behind our brave warriors and simultaneously feeling superior to them. I’m not hiding behind anybody, and I’m not feeling superior either. It’s not that soldiers aren’t brave, it’s that they kill people they don’t know because somebody else said to—like the Manson family—and their indoctrination, strict obedience, and hierarchical structure are consistent with other cults.

A lot of people want the rest of us to agree with them. On everything. Hardly anybody agrees with me—you may have noticed that yourself—and I grant everybody the right to think anything, no matter how goofy I think it is. No matter how unhelpful to the thinker it might appear to be, I stay out of it and I keep my trap shut. It’s a radical approach, like thinking of all murder as just killing with various stories attached, which is my working hypothesis.

Take Iraq. One story was “freeing innocent people from the devil, who by the way had something to do with nine-eleven, and preventing him from hurting us, which he would totally do if he got a chance.” Another, and much older, story is that billions of dollars would change hands for all the stuff to kill people with trillions more for reconstruction and new military bases and whatnot for years to come, in addition to the oil. Same corpses, same invoices, different story. I’m not arguing with the reality in Iraq or Fort Hood, but the story is never reality, which is more than any story.

For our souls’ communion, perhaps, this reader closes, “I’d love to get together with you face to face and see just how tuff you are. . . . Let me know when and where you would like to meet, or just stay in your dark little cave and spew your hate until you need a brave soldier to cover your worthless. pitiful self. Call soon Mr. Big.”

Check me out—“Mr. Big”—like “Dr. Evil.”

Posted Thursday, November 19th, 2009 under government, judgment, patriotism, politics, Uncategorized.


  1. David Kensinger says:

    Truth is a funny thing.

    Sometimes it is not convenient; sometimes it isn’t comfortabe. It seems that your reader has trouble dealing with certain truths.

    I know that you like to push buttons Anthony. But you spoke the truth.

  2. William Stewart says:

    Dear Mr. Porter,
    Just wanted to write you and let you know that you are hardly alone in seeing the armed forces as cults and being more or less read out of the human race for doing so. I was in the Marine Corps for a year and a half during the early 60s. Got out (with an honorable “at the convenience of the government”) after telling them I wasn””t going to shoot anybody just because someone ordered me to. I liked the Corps and I liked being a Marine, but they decided they couldn””t let me stay in after that. I never got any shit from anyone who was or had been a Marine, but I got a fair amount from the sort of people you got that “Coward” e-mail from.
    You might like to know that after getting out of the Corps I was in the Peace corps in Venezuela, and after that got graduate degrees in Latin American Studies and Political Science. Proceeded after that to continue working at understanding Latin America, the United Stattes, and the rest of the world. Everything I learned and figured out says that the cult you identified (and the Marine Corps) exists primarily to create and maintain a world in which the wealthy and powerful in America can do whatever they want in the world. Always good to remember that no one has invaded the United States since 1812, unless you count Pancho Villa shooting up a town in New Mexico to get the U.S. to invade Mexico and make him a national hero. We promptly did, of course.

    All the best,

    Bill Stewart

  3. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your rebuttal, so to speak. My favorite thing about your column is the way you think outside the box. I may not agree with your view all the time (though quite often I do) but I am always delighted at the way your words pull my brain into new and interresting shapes. I am sure people write to either kiss your ass or kick it pretty regularly, and I hate being so predictable, but I also believe that honest, heart felt praise is a beautiful thing. So I just wanted to say thank you. Your weekly editorial is always a much anticipated surprise. The “Military Cult”, I love it!



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