War Is Corroding the Souls of Some Sarah Palin Fans

By Conor Friedersdorf

On her Facebook page, an alarming number are openly calling for atrocities, mass murder, even the nuclear annihilation of a whole region.

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As Sarah Palin Facebook missives go, her latest isn't particularly provocative or even objectionable: "Obama apologizes for the inadvertent Koran burning this week," she wrote. "Now the U.S. trained and protected Afghan Army can apologize for killing two of our soldiers yesterday."

What's noteworthy is the response to the post. Almost 20,000 people have "liked" it. They've left 2,238 comments. It wouldn't be fair to credit or blame former governor Palin for their content, or to take them as representative of what conservatives think about the War in Afghanistan. But the comments shed light on how one faction in the conservative movement, fervent Palin fans, are reacting to the ongoing presence of American troops in a Muslim country.

Some are completely unobjectionable. But explicit xenophobia is alarmingly common, characterizing comments on both sides of a significant divide. On one hand, there are Palin fans who think we ought to bring all our troops home immediately, that interventionism doesn't work. There are, at the same time, voices urging America to fight more aggressively; some even urge mass murder and other atrocities. After reading through every comment that appeared, I concluded that a powerful argument for bringing out troops home is that waging war abroad is having a corrosive effect on the character of some Americans, whose worst impulses are being stoked.

Perhaps you'll agree -- or reach a different conclusion. Either way, I've tried to err on the side of including lots of examples. I've laid them out in two batches: the (sometimes xenophobic) "bring the troops home" arguments first, and then the uniformly alarming "look at what this war is doing to us" comments. Again, I am not being critical of Palin herself or of her supporters generally. This is a post about the toll that war takes on a nation's culture, how it changes the mindset of some citizens. I've written related posts about the progressives who abhorred indefinite detention, and now defend actual killings without due process now that President Obama is carrying them out.  

My concluding thoughts follow.

Bring the Troops Home

  • Chris Fredette: They won't apologize -- we need to stop helping those sick pieces of trash IMMEDIATELY ! They deserve nothing ! and they hate America so NO MORE HELP ! Let them deal with their on ineptitude and disgrace. Let them fight their own battles and deal wth their rape champers. END THIS NOW !! They are ingrates, complete barbarions. AMEN!
  • Bob Russell: We need to get out of there and let those stone age morons kill each other. We can't stop it so why put our people in the line of fire for no reason?
  • Eric Li: What about America just leave and mind their own business, it saves us money, and it makes everyone love us in the first time in History.
  • Donny Terry: Like that would ever happen. We should pull all our troops out of that part of the world and put them on our own borders and let those heathens finish detroying each other.
  • David Bolding: How about we pull our troops out totally, i mean don't even leave a bullet behind, take it all. That entire area doesn't appreciate us nor do they want to give up their ancient habits. Good riddance
  • William Benedict Cusack: Maybe Bush can apologize for losing billions in cash which ended up in the hands of TERRORISTS TRYING TO KILL AMERICANS. That would be awfully nice to ALL THE DEAD AMERICANS KILLED BY TERRORISTS WHO BOUGHT THEIR WEAPONS WITH AMERICAN CASH BROUGHT TO IRAQ BY BUSH.
  • Laurie Lucas Mizell: I do not believe we will ever see any apologies for our soliders killed. They use any excuse they can to try to justify murder of our soliders. We just need to come home, shore up the USA and keep our military protecting our country at home.
  • Johnny Thompson: The idea of killing our people over the burning of a book!!!! Just paper and ink??? WTF??? Time to pull our troops out of that douche bag country and let them all kill each other! Osama is dead. Mission complete. Pull our brave troops out before anymore American blood is spilled on their stinking Afgan sand


Look at What This War Is Doing to Us

  • Bob Glosson: Why don't we simply burn ALL their Korans and be done with it..
  • Angela Weddle Smith: that dessert needs to be turned to glass. I am sorry...but there will never be world peace. John Lennon was dreaming when he wrote that song.
  • Tim Turner: I would have wiped my butt with the pages before I burned them.
  • Peter Day: Obama is a disgrace we should pull out of there and carpet bomb them all they are not worth one american child's life.
  • Gregory Hefner: load up about 100,000 korans written on 2000 pound bombs drop them out of a plane at ten thousand feet over there city until they stop complaining..the bombing will contiue till there complaining stops.
  • Tom Schultz: Ther eis no such thing as an inadvertant burning of the Koran. It is done because it needs to be done. The Afghans, Iraquis and the Iranis should have been dust when they started teir crap. Just one big glass parking lot in the Middle East. I say this as someone who has been in the worlds largest cat box.
  • Reggie Massey: I say an eye for an eye. When they point at us, I saw we point at them! For everyone of our troops that die, I saw that we kill 10 of their troops and wrap their body in a swine blanket.
  • Homer Cantrell: O.k. it's time to pull the ground troops out of the Middle East and call in the B-52s. Carpet bomb Syria, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
  • Pamela Ehrhart: I think I will burn a Koran in my fire pit this wkend...Obama is a weiner and all Muslims suck..if u put that together it would be Muslims suck Obama weiner...lol..
  • Dean DeWitt: Our problem is that we need to be burning those Korans while the Muslim Terrorists have them duct taped to their foreheads...
  • Howie Cushman: Get all our people out of there and accidentally drop a nuke or two..
  • Chris Feske: should have peed on them to put them out....no hold on they got in trouble for that too...so we take the Bible out of everything and we apologize for doing something to their bible. what a load of crap. this counTRY NEEDS TO REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS FOUNDED ON......THE GOOD WORD!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!! get a president in the oval office who is christian and american.

Concluding Thoughts

There were a very few commenters who reacted against these prevailing sentiments. "Lets grow up people. I love S.Palin and think she is awesome," William Darden wrote. "However, as a soldier, I swore Oath to my President to defend the country from Foreign and domestic terrorist. Most of the Muslim people are peaceful and good hearted people who try to make a difference in the community. When we say Ignorant comments about strapping C4 to Korans and dropping them to kill people that is not something a man of Christ would say."

Religion aside, it is deeply disturbing that this faction of Americans is comfortable publicly calling for war crimes, the desecration of corpses, mass murder -- even dropping nuclear bombs on a whole region. This is naked bellicosity. It is also arguably inevitable for some percentage of the population to react this way after a decade of war against a faraway enemy, and the occupation of a region whose inhabitants are constantly demonized in the American media.

Image credit: Reuters

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/war-is-corroding-the-souls-of-some-sarah-palin-fans/253542/