Here’s a pretty hot take from The New Republic on “the white men who wanted to be victims.” The author looks at the political landscape of the era, including the civil rights movement, and how white Vietnam vets decided they wanted to be part of the action, fashioning “their own new brand of therapeutically inflected grievance politics.”

The piece is written by Chris Lehmann but leans heavily on the work of Joseph Darda, author of “How White Men Won the Culture Wars.”

Lehmann writes:

Another potent channel of this emerging dynamic of white blamelessness was the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action movement, which also managed to transmute a cross-racial vets’ issue into a politics of white grievance…. “The whiteness of the Operation Homecoming vets, the most visible and distinguished former prisoners of war, made the POW/MIA movement a vehicle for white racial grievance,” Darda writes, “and the POW/MIA flag has been a common sight at white supremacist rallies ever since. When a 1985 Newsweek headline declared ‘We’re Still Prisoners of War,’ some readers, whether conscious of it or not, would have taken that ‘we’ to mean white America.”

How about these Vietnam vets and prisoners of war trying to achieve some sort of victim status? Even John McCain “built a political career on the idea that his sacrifice and suffering were emblematic of his generation of veterans” — a “lily-white, mediagenic presentation of returning prisoners of war.”

 

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