Tag Archives: military

Not Hipsters

There is, or at least can be, a fine line between clothing and costume. A fine line between doing your thing, and schtick.

I appreciate those who do their thing, but I fear far too many are just trying to do “a thing”. For example, I present to you Teddy Roosevelt doing “a thing”.IMG_2573

Now compare Teddy doing his thing.IMG_2571

See the difference?

In one, there is a born and raised New Yorker who has gone out West and dressed up in what he thinks Westerners wear, and in the other, he is wearing something suitable for what he is doing, and where he is doing it… in New York.

So on that note, and along those lines, I present some archival finds that should make any hipster eat his own heart. Not to say that any modern day man trying to claim gender normative manliness with a little extra panache’ shouldn’t rock a hat, but these guys absolutely do it better.IMG_2596

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Manly Men are and Have Been Dandies

… and for the record I own none of these images nor have I had a hand in their creation. They are just here to illustrate a point.

Dandy is not normally meant as a compliment when directed toward a man. It is considered calling the masculinity of the accused into question. I find this curious.DandyCutout

Maybe the man’s clothing show a little too much flair, a bit too fancy, overly decorated, maybe even froofy in the opinion of manliness police. Calling someone a dandy is often the same as, or at least overlapping with, soft, feminine… gay. Interesting.armor

Now in most cases, someone who would call another man a dandy- or metrosexual, or flamboyant, or prissy- in a derogatory way would also think gay to be bad. I have no intention of dealing with anyone’s opinion of homosexuality here, but I would like to address this curious connection with hetero normative masculinity and fancy clothes.custer-portrait

Clothing does not in fact make the man, or even make someone a man. I say this not to deny that humans signal or communicate when clothing themselves (very much the opposite), but rather to challenge what many think the messaging of frilly clothing means relating to hetero-normative masculinity.george-catlin-iowas

There is a stream of popular American culture that for some reason thinks decorated clothes, or colors such as pink, communicate femininity or weakness. This makes me chuckle. It makes me laugh not because anyone has accused me of dressing less manly (I don’t personally like flamboyant clothes or excessively decorated outfits), but rather because it is historically silly.Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Ever

This tends to be normal for anyone mocking someone else for not fitting some imagined standard. Most mockers are ignoring their own shortcomings, however they measure that standard.

Warriors throughout the ages and across many cultures, have exerted hetero masculinity, strength, and aggressiveness… as well as an abundance of feathers, ribbons, and makeup.samuraiWe kid ourselves that armor and military regalia is utilitarian. Plumes on helms deflect sword blows. A forged metal face plate is only for protection, or maybe a touch of intimidation. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Guys wear that stuff because they think it looks cool.hawaiian-tattoo-on-left-chest

Which is great because in most, or at least many, cases it does look cool… but also super fancy. Super decorated, just for looks, non utilitarian, fancy. I’m okay with this. I understand that such clothing tells me little, or likely nothing, about anyone’s orientation, strength, virility… but it does tell me quite a bit about their taste.Birdman-rapper

And I don’t need to have the same tastes as you. That is okay.mma-karma-elite-daily-800x400

I don’t have to be like you, or like you, but if I don’t (like you) my complaints should not be tied to your clothes.slide_308704_2702404_free

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For Your Consideration

Now that the festivities on the fourth are done and the celebration gives way to recuperation, may I offer something for your consideration?

Imagine for a moment the year is 1776 and you are black.  You are owned by a white man, a rich white man.  He is riding off to fight for independence from England.  He has fully embraced the idea of freedom and liberty and an individual’s right to determine their own destiny.  He has not offered you your freedom and has taken certain steps to ensure you don’t try to gain it yourself in his absence.

How important would the fourth of July be to you?

Let’s skip forward a few years.

You are still black, but free and living in Philadelphia, maybe New York.  War has begun with the southern states which are fighting to retain the right to own your people as slaves.  The white people around you argue over what they are fighting for, retaining the Union or freeing the slaves.  Either way, you still aren’t allowed to worship with, go to school with, join the labor guild, or live in the same area as all these lighter skinned Americans.  Even the unpopular immigrants, Irish and Italians, don’t appear to like you.  They are coming over in droves.

How would you feel about America as you watch these newcomers become naturalized citizens, who then riot at the idea of a draft to go fight for black people’s freedom?

Soon the whole world is at war.

Germany keeps invading other countries and declaring themselves superior.  You, a black person watch as the whole country marches off to stamp out the evils of Nazi racism and protect the freedoms of not just America, but the world.  Meanwhile a law was passed saying you can vote, yet you still aren’t allowed to do so.  You can’t testify in court against a white person, no matter who that white person is or what they have done, you still can’t join the unions or go to the same school as the white people, and all the police are white.

In such a situation what might you think when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor?

Then we go off to fight in Asian countries.  We do so to protect against the freedom squelching powers of communism.  Thousand upon thousands of  American soldiers are shipped thousands of miles away to defend the relative freedom of citizens of Korea and Vietnam.  Meanwhile you, remember you are black, still can’t send your kids to the good public school, ride in the front of the bus, join the union, see a white doctor, or live next door to a white person.  Did I mention you still live in Philadelphia?  A bunch of folks from all over are heading south on Greyhound buses and they are getting beaten senseless.  The Police don’t protect them because they are the ones doing the beating.

How, with all this in mind, would you feel about America?

Would you be justified in being angry?

Would it make sense that you lack pride in these United States?

Might you resent this country and its promises applied to all except you and yours?

Maybe.

Lets consider how black people have reacted historically (go back to being white again).  In the Revolution black people signed up to fight.  There was a hope that freedom and liberty would one day trump the slave system.

In the civil war black people lobbied and pushed for the right to fight for the north, and once allowed, did so with vigor.

In the World Wars, black people enlisted.  Knowing they would be relegated to being cooks and porters, they still joined up to go fight for other’s freedom.  Many even enlisted in foreign regiments to be able to see combat.  They did not relinquish their American identity, but had to join a foreign force to be allowed to defend home.  Black troops were on the vanguard liberating Paris and concentration camps.

While the law would not defend black people at home, they were still drafted to go to Southeast Asia.  They fought and died just like the white men.

All throughout American history black people have answered America’s call.  From it’s inception, American’s with ancestral roots in Africa have stood up for the Star Spangled Banner and put their lives on the line.

Who can compete with this brand of patriotism?  What group of people has better earned a right to complain or voice opinion on national matters?  Who am I, to ever cast doubt on the motivations or loyalties of these “others”?  If I ever hear a black commentator, blogger, or author being less than enthused when America is celebrated, maybe I’m the one who should be quiet.

On this, the days after our nation’s birthday, maybe we can think a little about where we have been and where we are now.

God Bless America and all those who call her home.

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