The following is a letter I'm sending to an Air Force veteran friend of mine whose Facebook posts I can no longer abide. I've changed his name, in case he doesn't want to fully cop to his own point of view, but of course if he—and his buddies who seem to share his contempt for the president—would like to engage in conversation here, I'm all ears. —DM
It is with real regret that I tender this letter of resignation, as your Facebook friend.
Since this will leave you with 2,451 friends, I'm sure you won't miss me.
But I will miss you—especially the stunning aerial photographs of you flying your various airplanes in air shows. And of course I don't look forward to an uncomfortable meeting the next time I see you in person; we've had some yuks over the years. As the son of a pilot I don't like breaking ties with an airplane guy—especially one as accomplished and knowledgeable as you.
But I’m made sick by the vile tone of your posts about President Obama, to whom you routinely refer as a “clown,” and from whom you recently said you wouldn’t accept a Presidential Medal of Freedom. That last was a highly hypothetical scenario, I thought, from an ex-fighter pilot who once told me between deployments that you couldn’t wait to get back to Iraq so you could “kill some more little brown people.”
I never begrudged you such monstrous remarks, just as I never spent a lot of time wishing you had anything to talk about beyond your own narrow interests. I figured it’s too much to demand of our fighter pilots that they be skilled, courageous and conversationally curious.
You’re a wonderful pilot—I’ve flown with you—and you served your country well. I’m confident that despite your jocular talk, you never blew the fuck out of one more little brown person than was absolutely necessary. I thank you for all that. Do you think President Obama doesn't respect your service? I guess you don't, because when Obama held a moment of silence for the Aurora victims, you found fault: "How often have we seen this guy stop politics on National TV and ask for a moment of silence for troops that were killed defending this nation? This clown must go!!!"
What's your problem, Bob? You're retired from the Air Force and the proud owner of several expensive flying machines that go through fuel like you go through exclamation points. You get to fly them in air shows just about every summer weekend. How is it that you feel President Obama and his policies are so egregiously cramping your style?
Yes, I know you think that President Obama called for the retirement, in 2028, of your beloved A-10 Warthog fighter-bomber for “purely political” reasons. And I imagine you’re probably bent out of shape to learn that the same clown has learned that unmanned robot planes do as good a job at killing little brown people as you did.
But you know what, Bob? There are a few other issues that we’d like our political pundits to consider, and now that you seem to be appointing yourself one, you might try picking up a newspaper every once in awhile, or a book. Or even a website besides Warthog News.
You’ll find people talking about all kinds of strange things, having nothing at all to do with the demise of the A-10 Warthog. Of course, you’ll also risk feeling a little humility at how little you really know about stuff. But a brave pilot like you should be comfortable with risk, shouldn't you?
In any case, I think you ought to consider a few questions honestly: I wonder under what other “socialist” regime someone with training as specialized as yours could have such a rip-snorting good time in your retirement? I also wonder what better treatment you’re hoping for from a Republican administration. The same wonders you got from the last one, I guess. As you wrote the other day: “Iran … bring it! Give me an excuse to jump back into the game!”
Bob, you’re getting to the age when you really ought to think of your kids, and brainstorm ways other than starting new wars to sate your bottomless appetite for thrills and hero’s congratulations.
And I'm getting to the age when I don't need to read the ravings of crazy people on my Facebook feed.
So long, Bob.