Privilege on parade

Is it wrong to look at photos like these (from a Washington Post story on a polo match/party in suburban Virginia) and find it disturbing that other men and women of the same age, and mostly far less privileged, are simultaneously sweating and fighting and risking their lives– sometimes for the second or third tour– in Iraq and Afghanistan?

polo fans.jpg

Then call me wrong.

In my more rational moments I’m a reformist social democrat. But prolonged exposure to scenes of blatant class prvilege make me sympathize with the not-so-subtle message of this turn-of-the-20th-century drawing titled “From the Depths.”

from the depths.jpg

Update: From a review of a new book called called “AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes From Military Service — and How It Hurts Our Country”:

…In 1956, 400 of Princeton’s 750 graduates served in uniform. By 2004, only nine members of the university’s graduating class entered the military. Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia and many other schools do not even allow ROTC on their campuses. The gulf is growing in Congress, too. In 1971, three-quarters of our representatives had military experience. Now, fewer than a third do, and that number drops with each passing year…

“When those who benefit most from living in a country contribute the least to its defense and those who benefit least are asked to pay the ultimate price, something happens to the soul of that country,” write the authors.