The Gen. Kelly controversy: the gulf is just too wide to bridge

To set the scene, I’m sure most of my readers are aware of Gen. John Kelly’s remarks to journalists on October 19th, following the controversy over President Trump’s alleged remarks to the mother of an Army serviceman killed in Niger.  In order to remove any possibility of misunderstanding, here’s a video of every word he had to say.  I highly recommend watching it in full, if you haven’t heard or read his speech already.

Speaking as a combat veteran, albeit in a different country’s armed forces, I endorse what Gen. Kelly said.  I’ve buried enough of my comrades in arms to understand his words very personally, at gut level as well as intellectually.  (See here for just one example from my own experience.)

I thought that was a profound statement from an honorable man.  However, those on the progressive side of the fence seem to view it as anything but that.  For example, here’s Masha Gessen in the New Yorker.

Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments.

. . .

Fallen soldiers, Kelly said, join “the best one per cent this country produces.” Here, the chief of staff again reminded his audience of its ignorance: “Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any of them. But they are the very best this country produces.”

The one-per-cent figure is puzzling. The number of people currently serving in the military, both on active duty and in the reserves, is not even one per cent of all Americans. The number of veterans in the population is far higher: more than seven per cent. But, later in the speech, when Kelly described his own distress after hearing the criticism of Trump’s phone call, the general said that he had gone to “walk among the finest men and women on this earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery.” So, by “the best” Americans, Kelly had meant dead Americans—specifically, fallen soldiers.

The number of Americans killed in all the wars this nation has ever fought is indeed equal to roughly one per cent of all Americans alive today. This makes for questionable math and disturbing logic. It is in totalitarian societies, which demand complete mobilization, that dying for one’s country becomes the ultimate badge of honor.

There’s more at the link.

Ms. Gessen’s personal history makes it clear that she’s been shaped and formed by so many influences that are antithetical to our American way of life, and to the patriotism that’s evolved in this country over generations, that she’s literally incapable of understanding where Gen. Kelly was coming from, and how his words resonate with those of us who share his perspective.  (See, for example, her reactions to President Trump’s election – they speak volumes.)

We see something similar in the reactions of Rep. Frederica Wilson, who proclaimed with a laugh that she’d become a “rock star” after Gen. Kelly criticized her earlier statement.  The fact that she can dismiss, and even be amused by, such heartfelt, sincere reactions, demonstrates that she truly doesn’t understand the enormity of the reaction she’s stirred up.  Of course, I doubt she cares about that reaction, anyway.  Those of us who feel that way are not her constituency and are never likely to vote for her.  She knows that – so why should she care?  Personally, I tend to agree with Karl Denninger’s view of her.  I regard her as despicable.

However, that points to a wider problem.  In general (and subject to all the usual caveats about generalizations), the entire progressive/far-left-wing element of American society appears incapable of understanding Gen. Kelly’s words.  That’s been amply demonstrated by the response of the pundits across liberal media to his words.  They’ve been so brainwashed by the influences to which they’ve chosen to expose themselves that, in listening to him, all some of them can hear is the threat of a military coup d’état, as Ms. Gessen claims in her article.  Others dismiss Gen. Kelly’s reactions as those of a “Trump supporter” rather than a military man whose own son became a casualty of war.  They don’t see the military as a wholesome, or even a necessary, element in society.  Instead, they see it as a threat to their utopian dreams, a collection of knuckle-dragging conservatives (the latter word being, in their vocabulary, a pejorative) having no value whatsoever, collectively or individually.

I don’t know how one can ever get Ms. Gessen, or those of her ilk, to understand where Gen. Kelly was coming from, or the real, heartfelt, genuine perspectives he was expressing in his words.  She, and they, are incapable of understanding that.  The gulf between where they are, and where we are, is just too great to bridge.

What, then, is the answer?  I don’t know.  All I do know is, if anyone disrespects my fallen comrades to my face, in the way that Ms. Gessen has just disrespected Gen. Kelly and his fallen son, I won’t accept responsibility for my actions.  They’re likely to be a very direct expression of my . . . ah . . . displeasure.



  1. I am a veteran, and I served two combat tours. When I was discharged, I put on another uniform, and spend more than two decades serving my fellow Americans in that uniform. I know many fine people who gave their lives or their health in order to serve. There are many Americans who place this nation and its citizens above their own lives, health, and well being.

    The people on the left, who care only for themselves, are incapable of understanding words like duty, honor, or sacrifice. To them, the people who serve this nation as members of the military and public safety agencies of this nation are foolish morons who are deserving of nothing but derision.

    These two views of society, nation, and our place in it are reconcilable. The two views illustrate a difference of opinion that can't be bridged. There is no compromise.

  2. Funny it was not very long ago that lefties were calling for a military coup to overthrow Trump as part of their magic we can make Hillary President delusion. I daresay their disrespect towards the military isn’t exactly going to have service members flocking to their banner for support of their feverish”I’m with her” coup dreams.

  3. "The gulf …. is just too great to bridge."

    And that's assuming a willingness and good faith on each side.

    Congresswoman Wilson, for example, shows neither the willingness nor good faith.

  4. You'll never get Masha Gessen to understand. She's incapable. Her mind simply stops at a certain point and won't go past it. Her friends and associates are the same way.

    So, do you give up trying? Absolutely. You're beating a dead horse. All you can do, all you should do, is plan for the predictable reaction and hose it down as soon as it catches fire.

  5. @Josh O: Trouble is, there are now so many of them, it may not be possible to "drive them out" – not without an irreparable breach in the unity of this country. It may be that secession will rear its ugly head again, because nothing else can work. I only hope that, if it's inevitable, it can be accomplished without the sort of cost that had to be paid by both sides last time.

  6. A complete disconnect between us and them.
    Sort of proves Scott Adams' (Dilbert cartoonist) theory of the movie in your head.
    One of us and one of them can see the same thing and come to conclusions that are 180 degrees apart.
    – Charlie

  7. And, secession wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. It's not graven in rock that the US must always have the current 57 states. (Heh).
    Two resultant countries, on somewhat friendly terms, free to proceed in the way they think best.
    I've read several very good novels on this subject recently.
    – Charlie

  8. "….it may not be possible to "drive them out" – not without an irreparable breach in the unity of this country."

    And the downside to that would be…..?

    As an alternative, should it come to pass that we do enter a period of, shall we say, "extreme personal, economic and social strife" as many suspect we may, given their resistance to adapting to anything outside their self-created bubble, I would expect the survival probabilities of that group to be on the lower end of the scale, one way or anther, so it may turn out to be a self solving problem.

  9. Concur wholeheartedly.

    The problem isn't just that the Left doesn't know what's wrong with them as dysfunctional humans, it's that they don't know that they don't know what's wrong with them, as dysfunctional humans.

    Some people say (wrongly) that you can't fix stupid.

    The fact is that you can.
    If your efforts aren't working, select a larger baseball bat, and try again.

    You can always fix stupid, with a big enough hammer.

    Congressweasel Wilson, and her apologist Gessen, are prime candidates for corrective maintenance. That's not a military coup; it's simply taking out the trash.

    Make Stupid Hurt Again.

  10. One reality is that the "conservatives" have enable all of this by placing their children into the indoctrination camps known as the public school system. Invariably, the apology that I receive when stating this is "yes, but our school(s) are different".
    No Virginia, they ain't.

    And the communist FOB's known as colleges and universities put the finishing touch to the project, because "all children need to go to college", doncha know.

  11. Do we really also need point out that Ms. Gessen is likely fully in favor of civilian disarmament measures that would dramatically lower the cost a military junta would pay in blood and treasure to sustain power?

  12. Somebody over on Denninger just pointed out that Wilson and (Susan)Collins wrote the bill that the kenyan used to send that woman's husband over to Niger.
    So in effect the widow is sitting next to her husband's accessory-before-the-fact murderer. Who says irony is a lost art?

  13. "Two resultant countries, on somewhat friendly terms, free to proceed in the way they think best."

    Charlie, you're joking, right?
    Were the Soviets friendly? Cuba? Chavez's place? You would expect the latest incarnation to be friendly with a polar opposite? Get real.

  14. Peter, if you spit in Gessen's face and I'm serving in the jury that hears your assault trial, I'll do my damnedest to effect jury nullification or at least a hung jury.

  15. "I'll do my damnedest to effect jury nullification or at least a hung jury."

    I highly recommend doing so in that case and any other whenever appropriate. Just be sure you can handle the sputtering rage and not so veiled threats of the judge, prosecutor and state apparatus when you do so. When they figure out what you're doing they get i-freaking-rate. Feels good man.

  16. I remember a Russian leader (not Putin) who said the United States should be broken up. The Russian puppet Obama worked hard to do just that.

  17. Anonymous (6:57 AM):

    That's if you even get on the jury. The last time I was called up, I was dismissed without being seated. The key question the judge asked was whether I agreed to decide based only on the facts presented, and to be guided by him as to the law. I disagreed, because the state constitution specifically states that juries have the right to judge the law (although, the way it's worded, it might only apply to libel cases, which that case wasn't).

    When he dismissed me from the jury pool, the judge told me that I appeared to be "a really smart guy," and that I should reconsider because he thought I'd get a lot out of being on the jury.

    Funnily enough, I've never received a jury notification since then.

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