A Peek Behind the Curtain, #2
May 27, 2014
Below is a link to an article that appeared in the NY Times, on May 26th, entitled “Veterans Fire Back at Letter by Senator,” referring to an open letter sent by Senator Richard Burr, R-NC, to the nation’s veterans criticizing the leaders of some veterans groups because, allegedly, they have sold out during the current scandal. This is so, apparently, because only the American Legion has called for Eric Shinseki to step down as head of the Veterans’ Administration.
Now, while I look favorably on any action that would get Shinseki out, as this seems justified as this scandal unfolds, it is important that Burr’s actions have other consequences as well, viz., dividing veterans’ organizations and attempting to marginalize some of them, while making the American Legion seem “mainstream.” Why would Burr seek to do this? Because it is a way of dividing those who are protesting the loudest at the treatment – or actually the lack of treatment – of the nation’s veterans. And why seek to do this? To deflect these protests, which are of course directed at the current political class, both Republicans and Democrats, as they should be. And as these protests have the potential to undermine the current political class, given the heartless and shameful treatment of the nation’s veterans, Burr’s actions are intended to preserve the status quo.
So it is quite ironic that Burr is accusing these veteran groups of serving the status quo. To wit: “Mr. Burr, angry that only the American Legion has called for the resignation of the veterans affairs secretary, Eric Shinseki, accused the groups of being “more interested in defending the status quo within V.A., protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the secretary and his inner circle” than in helping members.” And it is not at all surprising that these groups have responded as angrily as they have, given the utterly shameful charges levied by Burr.
But leaving aside momentarily the particular issue here, what is interesting to me is how the powers that be try to manipulate events, control story lines, in order to maintain the status quo. This particular example illustrates this as well as anything could because, it seems to me, the current political class senses their vulnerability should this issue of how they have manipulated the care – or lack thereof – of war veterans “go viral.”