I know what you are thinking: that General Stanley McChrystal's comments—quoted in the upcoming edition of Rolling Stone—stem from disrespect for President Obama because the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is a racist that doesn't want to serve a black president.
You immediately came to mind when I heard this. And, no, I'm not referring to Obama supporters within black America.
I'm talking to President Jimmy Carter as well as those on the liberal left. To you, the cancer of race is popping up more in America because Obama is the first black president. In 2009, everyone from liberal media personality Janeane Garofalo to the former president of Georgia noted that racism had an impact on Obama's ability to lead the nation. To you, it fits that the same racism that prompted the Tea Party movement, opposition to health care and the overall disapproval of this president factored in this latest act of disrespect by McChrystal, right? You haven't said it publicly yet, but let me voice what you're probably thinking: At some level, having a black president played a role in this incident with McChrystal.
However, you would be wrong. The actions leading to McChrystal's resignation are merely another example of "chickens coming home to roost" due to our lack of American pride and decorum. It's a sign that America is losing the good sense of patriotism and duty that made this nation strong and prosperous as the envy of the world.
I do not agree with McChrystal's words and actions as documented in the Rolling Stone article that had him flying nonstop from the Middle East back to the White House to explain his actions. The chain of command cannot be broken through petty, publicized comments in a tabloid-like magazine. The comments should have never appeared in print and it cost McChrystal his position. (As it should have.) Yet, in the greater content, it symbolizes everything to do with America's slippage from a respected and benevolent superpower to a bully feared by many in the world.
The failure to respect authority and acquiesce to the chain of command has gone on for decades now. It not only involves dissension coming from within our military toward the White House, but also from our commanders in chief toward the American people. The freedom to speak up whenever we desire without any moral restraint to temper those comments creates a slippery slope down which a society of liberty can lose its footing.
It is a downward slide toward disunity and away from mutual support between the White House, the military and the American people; and it started long before President Obama came into office.
Consider Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had a long and tenured military career and a history of disrespecting the occupant of the Oval Office. Like McChrystal in the Middle East, MacArthur was a general who led a promising campaign to re-establish American supremacy in the Far East during both World War II and the Korean War. Also like McChrystal (with his request for additional troops for the surge), MacArthur saw fit to pit himself against decisions made by the White House during wartime. In 1951, President Harry Truman fired MacArthur for insubordination. Sound familiar?
Recently, similar issues concerning the motives behind the Iraqi War and the lack of weapons of mass destruction severely damaged the Bush administration's war effort. Colin Powell resigned as Secretary of State after Bush's first term. Further fallout: The firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld—not to mention electoral losses in 2006. As with other examples in recent history, the American people had entrusted these presidents to guide the nation in turbulent times, only to discover that they were misled by these leaders as America was prompted to war.
So it's not surprising that Americans are wary. But the cynicism has degenerated to the point that many snickered at the ultimate act of disrespect directed at President Bush: when an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at a residing U.S. president during a press conference. Many of those Americans also winked at the fact that a leading presidential candidate in 2008 (now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) was named in a controversy over MoveOn's ad using the "Betray Us" pun used to disparage the approaches of Gen. David Petraeus and President George Bush to the war in Iraq. These are many of the same people who ended up voting for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry in 2004, a man who famously served in Vietnam, only to come home a recently decorated veteran and publicly denounce the nation and its war effort (led by President Richard Nixon). In all of these examples, the right to free speech overrode the unifying notion that during wartime our leadership should not be publicly castigated, even as we properly express our disapproval of a direction in policy.
It is not as though Democrats are the only ones involved in such behavior. Republicans including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) have often railed against the administration over geopolitical policies. In Paul's case, his stances have been prompted by his presidential campaigns and his Libertarian values, yet his comments have raised the ire of the Bush administration and Republicans to a point where the term "Ron Paul Republicans" became a slanderous phrase within the GOP, denoting a group of disrespectful and disharmonious right-wingers within the party.
Our collective disrespect for American leaders during times of war, enabled by our unbridled right to speak freely, seems justified to many because of similar actions by those subverting a core value of American government: that government leaders are fully accountable to the American people. It is unfortunate that President Obama is the latest commander in chief to be engaged in a public falling-out with a noted military leader. However, because of the cauldron of mistrust and disrespect that has been brewing for decades, this latest incident has nothing to do with race or Obama as a person.
So I'm say sorry to Carter and those on the left who have been using racism as the ruse of choice to explain opposition to President Obama. I'm hoping you have been talked out of using it as the explanation for the McChrystal incident.
But there's hope: The immigration lawsuit and ongoing Tea Party activism should provide plenty of opportunities for you to re-inject America's lifelong cancer into the discussion.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the author of the book, Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative). He is featured regularly on outlets including CNN, Fox News and XM Radio. Follow him on Twitter.