As the FBI led hunt for the 1/6/2021 Capitol insurrectionists proceeds, we daily learn that additional active or retired members of the U.S. military were among the planners, coordinators and rioters. Last Tuesday’s poster child was a 46-year-old retired Navy Seal, Adam Newbold, photographed sitting atop a police motorcycle in front of the Capitol. In late December Newbold posted a video warning of imminent communist takeover and on 1/12/2021 posted another “mak[ing] no apologies for being a rough man ready to do rough things in rough situations.”
A similar 40 something specimen is former Marine, Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola, who was photographed smoking a cigar inside the Capitol and allegedly spoke of killing Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence and returning on 1/20/2021 to “kill as many people as possible.”
While it is perfectly clear – “crystal” – that the insurrectionist ranks included butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, the qualitative and quantitative prominence of retired and current law enforcers and members of the military is among the most disturbing and dangerous elements of the sedition and so-far thwarted insurrection.
Focusing on the military, we might wonder how this happened – but we don’t – wonder that is. Because it was predictable and predicted by observers wiser than HL back in July 1973, when to a standing ovation from our nation’s affluent and educated elite, President Nixon fulfilled his campaign promise to end the military draft. A draft that from 1940 to 1973 continuously required every American male to register with the Selective Service, and if drafted and not excused for conscientious objection or severe disabilities like the “DTs” or DT’s bone spurs, to serve for two years in the military.
Prior to Nixon’s delivery on his promise – that he thought would drastically reduce opposition to the Vietnam War – the draft had been a basic and central fact of American life. Every day American newspapers followed the paths of celebrities from draft into basic training. The most famous such in the Fabulous Fifties was Elvis Presley’s draft and induction, which later was parodied in the superb Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie and the somewhat less superb movie version.
The military service of celebrities like Elvis, Joe DiMaggio and Clark Gable demonstrated that we really were an all for one, one for all nation and unlike many others did not rely upon mercenaries for our defense. And when that ended, the military did not become exclusively the realm of hired guns and those who just needed a job, but our military’s ranks were substantially stripped of the citizen-soldiers who served because it came with the birthright privilege and passport. Their slots were filled largely by the “rough” men and women “ready to do rough things in rough situations” against perceived enemies in and out of the military. And, also replaced by poor rural boys and girls and those of color who needed employment and the educational and healthcare benefits that accompanied military service and that were aggressively marketed by military recruiters.
At HL, we think that along with 12/7/1941, 9/11/2001 and 1/6/2021 that 7/1/1973 – the day the draft ended – is one of infamy. If we need a military, and we certainly do, then we need some level of participation of most Americans through resurrection of the draft or some national service requirement. A military dominated by mercenaries and the poor is not the best defense abroad and threatens the safety and democracy of the homeland.