by Ayelet Waldman
The terrifyingly erudite commenters on this blog have ruined my day. I was all set to ignore my TNC obligations and get to work on a particularly grueling chapter of my novel, the action of which involves a stolen U.S. Army truck, a group of Auschwitz survivors, and a flat tire in the Austrian Alps, and the theme of which involves the use of the Holocaust and its survivors by the Jewish political establishment of pre-1948 Palestine in its struggle to delegitimize British rule. Instead, I'm writing a post about the American military, its civilian supporters, and the odd contrast between their points of view. My husband, whom I've left with no fewer than six children trapped in a house with no TiVo, on the first day of grim Maine weather we've had since we arrived, will forgive neither you nor me. Be warned.
As I said earlier, I was a participant in the National Security Seminar at the Army War College on at the historic Carlisle Barracks. (Which is, yes, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but which is close to Harrisburg, or close-ish. At any rate, that's where the train station is. And a lovely train ride it was, too, from New York City.)
I had, before my experience at War College, what I imagine is a fairly typical American liberal attitude toward the military. I imagined the officers corps to be made up primarily of Rush Limbaugh-listening conservatives. I understood there to be a preponderance of Evangelical Christians. I knew for sure that they'd have no patience for a Berkeley liberal like myself. And, on the other hand, I suffered from the same tendency towards idol worship that is fairly common amongst liberals (particularly, I think, men), when faced with someone in uniform who regularly risks his (or her) life in circumstances entirely at odds with my personal experience.