Resolute Square

Betrayal: When Veterans Choose Killing Americans Over Protecting Them

Radicalization takes time, but the initial challenge of finding the freakshow of preppers, anti-government militias, and racists online is a part of the appeal. It bathes the insecure and pathetic in the dopamine of specialness and danger: the danger of “Antifa,” the danger of “communists,” and the “deep state.”
Published:March 15, 2023

By Dan Barkhuff

I knew a man who went into battle with an American flag, a small one, underneath the ceramic plate in his body armor. He was a lion amongst men. He bled out in the dust on a floor in a country where American leaders sent American men in American uniforms to fight to keep American men, women, and children back home safe from harm. 
He had a child of his own. 
The propaganda that Rupert Murdoch and Fox News have injected into the American discourse and, by extension, American life has been remarkably effective. The fine print on the Fox nightly lineup has repeatedly, under oath, been elucidated: It is opinion only, and no reasonable person would treat the condescending ramblings of Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham as fact. One court ruled that Carlson is “simply bloviating for his audience,” but who reads the fine print or court rulings anyway? 

Murdoch has been having his cake and eating it, too, for decades. He has successfully kept his viewership’s rage at a low boil with Republican politicians enslaved by the steam while simultaneously slipping through the occasional legal challenges by arguing, “at no point do we proclaim we tell the truth.” It’s been so effective that Tucker and Fox have higher ratings than CNN and MSNBC combined. So effective the Russians, the Khrushchev-banging-his-shoe-on-the-podium-threatening-to-bury-us, recognized it, embraced it, and amplified it. 

Russia still wants to bury us. Ukraine may stand in the way, but the enemy is America. 
Some of our fellow citizens, after years of smoking the gateway drug of Fox, move on to mainlining the hard stuff: extremism found only online. The chat rooms and the comments section on more mainstream sites eventually lead to contact with specific hate sites like the Daily Stormer. The radicalization takes time, but the initial challenge of finding the freakshow of preppers, anti-government militias, and racists online is a part of the appeal. It bathes the insecure and pathetic in the dopamine of specialness and danger: the danger of “Antifa,” the danger of “communists,” and the “deep state.” 

These dark spaces online and in UHAUL vans crammed with incels on the way to another Patriot Front rally are inhabited by two types of people. There are the lost young men hooked on their first dopamine hit of belonging to a group created to be violent; then there are the military veterans who are jonesing for the dopamine rushes they got in uniform and would do anything for another taste. It’s pathetic. It’s revolting. It’s dangerous. 
The LARPERS are obsessed with using their guns. They offer prayers to St. Rittenhouse and run up unimaginable credit card debt to dress like Green Berets in Helmand Province. All this in service to their fantasy of “justified” violence against their fellow citizens. Us. They want to “paint the streets red” with our blood. That’s not hyperbole. Those are their literal words expressing their goal of pivoting from using violence to keep us safe to using violence to keep us in our place. This isn’t the exaggeration Carlson, and his ilk use to stoke their rage. These are their words, said with a cheek weld on the stock of an AR-15, looking down on American streets through an Aimpoint optic, no doubt with a 5.56 caliber bullet in the chamber. How is this the place we have come to? 
Perhaps this is the price of democratic government. That we, in a generational manner, are compelled from time to time to defend the decisions and rights of the majority to make those decisions against the dark dreams of a manipulated minority - a minority so deluded by the propaganda they embrace an ideology where trampling the very safety of others is a logical and moral good. Similarly, I cannot countenance the actions of some of my fellow veterans who have worn the cloth of this nation, offering their knowledge and credibility to the delusions of the basement INCEL racists. 

We, as veterans of service and combat, must be willing to make every effort to prevent our former battle buddies from chasing that narcissistic impulse so strong that after 20 years of killing members of transnational terror organizations, they would desire to bring this sort of violence home. This time, they would use the training they received to protect American citizens against those citizens, the very men and women they were born aside, raised aside, and live aside today. Their motives are incidental and irrelevant aside from understanding how best to defuse them, for there is no moral argument capable of justifying what they’ve already prepared, threatened, and attempted to do.
Who the fuck wants to murder other Americans?
This is where we are. The national divorce LARPERS possess no insight. They are betting the pot on enthusiasm mistaken for capability. I am nowhere near the only American who had a friend bleed out in the Mesopotamian dust, and the lot of us owe these men and women who did not come home and their children our best attempt to live up to the devotion they exercised in their final act. We can never set down our shield. We can never sit back and allow our country to slip into sectarianism and violence. And we must never allow the memory of our friends, whose return to America meant being unloaded on the Dover tarmac, to be tarnished by veterans who have so perverted their oath.
This is duty.