A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 20, 2012
Chickenhawk (Chicken Hawk)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Chickenhawk (politics)
Chickenhawk (also chicken hawk and chicken-hawk) is a political epithet used in the United States to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who strongly supports a war or other military action (i.e., a War Hawk), yet who actively avoided military service when of age.

The term is meant to indicate that the person in question is cowardly or hypocritical for personally avoiding combat in the past while advocating that others go to war in the present. Generally, the implication is that “chickenhawks” lack the experience, judgment, or moral standing to make decisions about going to war. The term is not applied to those who avoided military service without subsequently adopting a hawkish political outlook.

The term was first applied to vocal supporters of military action who were perceived to have used family connections or college deferments to avoid serving in previous wars, particularly the Vietnam War. In current usage, the label is used almost exclusively to describe ardent supporters of the Iraq War who have themselves never been in combat; it is less often used to describe supporters of the more broadly supported war in Afghanistan as such. People who use the term have not necessarily been in the military themselves; people labeled “chickenhawks” have sometimes served in the military, but have not seen combat. Although it is possible to have a military career and never be at war, the term is often used in the context of someone who has been in the military in time of war but made efforts to steer clear of combat.

Origin of the term
In political usage chickenhawk is a compound of chicken (meaning coward) and hawk (meaning someone who advocates war, first used to describe “War Hawks” in the War of 1812). The earliest known print citation of chickenhawk in this sense was in the June 16, 1986 issue of The New Republic. (The magazine used the term in a way that suggests it was already in usage.) An association between the word chickenhawk and war was popularized several years earlier in the 1983 bestselling book Chickenhawk, a memoir by Robert Mason about his service in the Vietnam War, in which he was a helicopter pilot. Mason used the word as a compound oxymoron to describe both his fear of combat ("chicken") and his attraction to it ("hawk"), a slightly different use of the term which nonetheless might have inspired the current usage.

Google Books
Long Time Passing:
Vietnam and the haunted generation

By Myra MacPherson
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1984
Pg. 630:
Chicken hawks — chickens then, hawks now — is the nickname veterans reserve for one political species. They include student-deferred Representative Newt Gingrich, Cheney, Quay;e, and Pat Buchanan, compulsive hate and jogger, whose bum knee kept him out of service.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, January 20, 2012 • Permalink