Saturday, September 25, 2021

Alpha: The Good Guys v. The Bad Guys


Alpha: The Good Guys v. The Bad Guys

Peter Schultz


            David Phillips’ excellent book, Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALS, covers the story of Eddie Gallagher, a highly decorated Navy SEAL, who was accused and tried for murdering an ISIS prisoner during the battle of Mosul in Iraq. And Phillips makes a strong case that Gallagher prevailed because of a concerted effort by some “bad guys” – Gallagher and other “pirates” in the SEALS, Fox News, and Trump – that overwhelmed the Navy’s attempts to do justice. [Except in a legal sense, Gallagher’s guilt is indisputable.] There is much truth in Phillips’ argument but there is also much truth in the argument that Gallagher and the his SEAL buddies, the “pirates,” prevailed because they drew strength from powerful American values. In fact, American values gave them more support than they gave to “the good guys.” Throughout these events, as Phillips’ account makes clear, it wasn’t “the bad guys” who were on the defensive; it was “the good guys.”


            The links between the bad guys and American values are easy to see. Take the following description of Eddie Gallagher’s wife, Andrea: “Andrea had conventional Fox News good looks, a conservative Christian heartland worldview, a fierce sense of loyalty to her husband, and a killer instinct.” [265] Why Phillips wrote Andrea had “conventional Fox News good looks” is puzzling insofar as Andrea’s good looks could be found on any TV newscast, including MSNBC. But note that she had good American values, “heartland” values, “Christian” values, and was loyal to her husband. Sounds almost like a model woman in large parts of the U.S. Andrea was and is a lockdown American, as it were.


            Eddie also was a lockdown American. Here’s the description of him arriving for the first day of his trial: He arrived “in a sleek white Mustang convertible with the top down [and] walked up the front steps in inscrutable RayBans [and] was buff and fit, impressively tan. Andrea was on his arm, meticulously done up with a new hairdo, a fitted striped dresss, and strappy high-heel sandals.” [294] And of course Eddie wore his dress whites with gold anchors on the shoulders and his Trident hanging on his chest. “The bad guys” were “all Americans!” And, of course, “the good guys” couldn’t compete.

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