Or, how about the current opposition to President Donald J. Trump? It’s been cleverly rebranded as resistance, of course. Do you recall when any and all opposition to President Barack H. Obama’s political ideologies and policy initiatives was loudly classified as racism? He was, we were told, the “most disrespected POTUS in history,” and, criticism of him was considered to be “unprecedented in the annals of American political history.” It was racism, pure and simple. And my privilege obscured me from sensing it. The election of Trump, as explained on election night by CNN political analyst Van Jones, was attributable to a reflexive “whitelash” from a country still uncomfortably grappling with taking direction from a black man.
But now a member of that “unprotected class” has again ascended to the highest office in all the land. And for the Left, hunting tags in hand, it is open season on its occupant. His original sin precludes him from any sympathy or protection. His critics’ nascent privilege allowing them to publicly label him an “orange orangutan,” “F_ckface von Clownstick,” and an “orange anus.” [Just a select few of the available internet troll “polite” descriptions of the Left’s Voldemort] Whew! Guess the relieved 44th POTUS can hand off the mantle of “most disrespected ever,” while leftist celebrities and Hollywood bozos begin lining up to advocate for a military coup [Sarah Silverman], or to propose storming the White House in order to blow it up [Madonna], and earn sympathetic free speech support for peddling a music video with presidential assassination imagery [Snoop Dogg].
I recently penned a piece for The Havok Journal that directly confronted the establishment of “Sanctuary City” status in various urban hubs around the country. The plan these cities put forth is to defy the federal government’s enforcement efforts regarding the arrest of illegal aliens by local police departments. These defiant municipalities instruct their law enforcement officers to preclude detention of those arrested and typically held over following the satisfaction of the initial charges, via an immigration hold. These “Sanctuary Cities” have directed their police departments not to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It is a blatant ignoring of the Rule of Law.
To circumvent current Trump Administration efforts to punish these recalcitrant cities by withholding federal infrastructure funds, cities such as Newburgh, New York are finding creative ways to avoid the stigma attached to a “Sanctuary City”. Just recently, they changed their “Sanctuary City” status policy in name only, preferring to refer to their obstruction of federal law enforcement efforts aimed at the plethora of illegal residents from Mexico and Central America by rebranding Newburgh, not as a “Sanctuary City,” but as a “Fair and Welcoming City”.
Could what I am engaged in right now also be fairly critiqued as a form of psychological projection? This condition has been defined in various sources as a theory in psychology in which human beings reflexively defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.
“I know you are, but what am I?”
Is that my white guilt talking? Am I actually buckling under the weight of all your accusations? Egads.
And with all this in mind, I must contend that we will most certainly retreat to our own safe ideological and ethnic corners and choose a side? Hell, that’s exactly what occurs in the penitentiary. No matter how progressive and inclusive you are in your heart, once you arrive inside prison walls, custom dictates you hang out with, associate yourself with, and align yourself with your own kind. Your own safety and security dictates this. Prison has its own culture, not unlike the distinct ethnic cultures that permeate our multicultural and diverse society in America. And for all this slicing and dicing and justifiable critiques of the privileges that those who don’t look like us benefit from, I’ll posit this:
No group is as lucky a beneficiary of privilege as the 99.55%.
No, this is not the population opposite the Bernie Sanders and Occupy Wall Street demonized one-percenters — those who are the wealthiest among us, purportedly owning a disproportionate amount of American capital and political influence.
And no, this 99.55% group is not related to these 2010 Census numbers: Whites, Not Hispanic or Latino (63.7%), Hispanic (16%), Blacks, Not Hispanic or Latino (13%), Asian (5%), American Indian and Alaska Native alone (0.9%), nor even Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (0.2%).
Nope. The lucky 99.55% relates to a widely circulated internet article that has been inaccurately attributed to General David Petraeus. My father recently provided it to me. One of his West Point class of 1960 classmates had shared it on a class distro list. I then shared it with a class I teach at St. John’s University, entitled American Military History 1917-2003. We were all well-intended in the sharing of a brilliant piece that heralded the 0.45%. I wanted to verify and confirm just where General Petraeus had given a speech about the 0.45%. Of course I went to Snopes. And I immediately came upon this entry from their website:
General Petraeus on the 0.45%: Incorrect Attribution.
The author of the piece was actually identified as one Nick Palmisciano, co-owner and co-founder of “Ranger Up.” On the internet, you can also find the 0.45% piece erroneously attributed to General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., “A Marine in Iraq,” and innumerable other undeserving authors. The essay has engendered thousands of “hits” and been forwarded from one end of the internet universe to the other. It is a succinct study in privilege. Though I doubt it was the author’s main intention. I’ll utilize it to make known my own.
Palmisciano provides these telling statistics as to just how less engaged and how little skin in the game our populace contributes to the construct of defending our country and fighting our wars. Yes, there has certainly been a population explosion in our country over the past century. Our military has not grown accordingly to match its size, as a representative percentage, with our rapidly expanding population.
And, any novice war theorist can understand that as technology significantly increases the bang-for-the-buck we get out of every evolved modern weapon, the necessity of increasing our ground force complement becomes an anachronism. And so the following statistics, topping the second paragraph of the short referenced 0.45% piece, are related to the percentages of the American populace that actually endured the full measure of service and sacrifice during the following conflicts:
In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four (4) years. During the Vietnam era, 4.3% served in twelve (12) years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population have served in the Global War on Terror.
Ergo, on behalf of the 99.55% — the truly privileged, if you will — allow me to be the first to unequivocally state that I understand and OWN my privilege. I thank you on behalf of an, at times, unappreciative majority, the 99.55%. We’re often too wrapped up in some slight — real or perceived — by them and aimed against us. We certainly need to focus far less on the divisions and percentages highlighted by that last Census in 2010 and focus far more on and appreciate that miniscule percentage of our countrymen who have borne an inordinate and disproportionate amount of the hardship and sacrifice since 2001.
So, please allow me, for one, to apologize on behalf of the self-absorbed 99.55% — of which I am a member. Yes, ashamedly, we finally see you, the 0.45%, and we’re a bit begrudgingly, admittedly belatedly, recognizing just how much we’ve overlooked your shouldering an unfair portion of the burden, lo, these past fifteen years. Veteran suicide statistics are a staggering indicator of how much we have ignored you. The time for acknowledgment and recognition is long past due. A hot dog, fireworks display, and moment of remembrance on the Fourth of July is simply not enough. Thank you for your service to our great nation and thank you for continuing to go into harm’s way so that we can engage in petty fights on Facebook and hyper-focus on our differences, rather than celebrate all that unites us and makes us uniquely American.
You, and others like you, have blessed us with privilege.
On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you.
A Recently Enlightened, Privileged Member of the 99.55%
This first appeared in The Havok Journal March 29, 2019.
James A. “Jimmy” Gagliano has some three decades’ worth of practical leadership experience, both in traditional military units as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer and in federal law enforcement executive-level assignments with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He spent 25 years as an FBI criminal investigator, SWAT Team Leader, member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), Undercover Agent, Task Force Commander, Legal Attaché (Diplomat), and as Chief-of-Staff for the Assistant-Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Division. He has led tactical and diplomatic operations in Afghanistan and México City, and served tours in parts of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as assignments in combat theaters in Afghanistan, while assigned to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He is a recipient of the FBI’s second highest award for valor, the Medal for Bravery. Now retired from the FBI, Jimmy serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor, instructing undergraduates in Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Military History, and Leadership courses at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens and is a leadership consultant with the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) located at West Point, NY. He is also a full-time Law Enforcement Analyst and Contributor on CNN, and delivers speeches across the country in corporate and university settings.
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