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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Columns

Trump’s military parade displays toxic mentality


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Last summer, President Donald Trump witnessed the celebration of Bastille Day on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The Bastille represented a symbol of the French monarchy’s power over the rest of the population, which is why the storming of the fortress on July 14, 1789, is a historically significant date. It is now thought of as the beginning of the French Revolution and the toppling of a tyrannical monarchy.

The military parade showcases the unity of French citizens and the democratic ideals storming the Bastille.

It does not showcase military might for the sake of intimidation or extravagance. Trump’s order to put on a parade resonates with the erosion of our own democratic ideals and makes a spectacle of our military for purely braggadocios purposes.

His idea of a military parade is not a sort of political spectacle but a man using his power for his own sake.

Trump came back from Bastille Day with the idea to display America’s own military might. It seems that his trip set his eyes on only the superficial idea of putting on a show.

While Trump has the constitutional authority to order a parade assembled, his decision displays his authoritarian instincts. He has ordered the Pentagon to plan a parade that demonstrates America’s military might.

It would be further from the celebratory sentiment of Bastille day and more in line with those tyrannical military parades of Russia or North Korea. The display of military might in those countries includes gargantuan vehicles featuring intercontinental ballistic missiles, tanks, rocket launchers and other high grade weaponry.

The march of thousands of uniformed soldiers in formation sounds ominous to American ears, creating the impression of an unstoppable force.  Americans have always been proud of their military — both the individuals serving and the military as an institution built to keep us safe. We are proud to honor those who served, but never in such a grand scale display of military might.

These displays have always been regarded as gaudy and authoritarian to American sensibilities.  

It is this fact that attracted Trump to this idea, rather than a celebration of the people who serve in our armed forces.

Political supporters have already hailed the parade as an ingenious political stunt. These comments seem to try to find a method to the madness of a famously “all over the place” president. Supporters defend his parade as trying to use our troops, our only remaining institution which still commands unity and respect in this country, as a tool to boost his approval ratings.

Indeed, as Trump continues to settle into the executive office, both supporters and critics have concluded that there is no method, perhaps just madness.

The United States has had military parades in 1865 after the Civil War, in 1919 after WWI and in 1945 after WWII. These parades celebrated victory and the returning of the troops back to civilian life.

They did not mark military might or high grade weaponry. They marked the end of war and large standing armies after massive conflicts.

The military parades ordered by communist dictators like Stalin or Kim II Sung were meant to intimidate and unsettle enemies. It is from this tradition that the modern day military parades in Red Square and North Korea draw upon. A military parade that celebrates military might would create a direct connotation to this authoritarian tradition.

Since the early days after the American Revolution, the country has had a distaste of standing armies.

As America grew, so did its appetite for grander armies, but that did not decrease its wariness with unnecessary displays of power. This is why military parades are not really part of our American traditions or celebrations. 

During serious armed conflicts like WWI or WWII, young men were eager to serve the nation. With the growth of America as a superpower came a military to match its new status. As we dropped military bases all over the world, we had an evolution of the military.

In some instances, it has become a bragging point to have a strong military.

The idea of tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue has never coexisted with our democratic ideals. It is not something that the founding fathers would have approved of or even anticipated.

It is more in line with our traditions to be humble about our military powers instead of being loud about it. The military parade would showcase our military, but beneath that film, it would question our confidence in our strength. The rest of the world knows of our extensive military strength. 

Displaying it in such a shameless way would just make us look like we are bragging.

For America to begin this tradition would make us look rather desperate and weak. We have never needed to showcase our military strength to know it is there, and we should not begin now.

It is unknown if the president’s grand military parade will actually take place. If it does, it will be a huge drain of resources, as it is reported that the parade could cost millions. This will be a waste of funds which could be used on our vets, especially helping our homeless veterans.

Opinion columnist Janet Miranda is a marketing junior and can be reached at [email protected]

 

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