Errata, Lynch, and Conservatism

Author Subject: Errata, Lynch, and Conservatism
Anders Mattson Posted At 22:33:17 08/21/2003
Hello, everyone.

I thought I found an instance in the second or third chapters where you made a reference to another place in the book, except it said "(see pp. 000-000)." Unless you meant this to be the blank page after the preface, it's an error you should be aware of, if you aren't already. I wish I could find the page, but it's eluding me now.

I'm about halfway through the book, and I apologize if anything I say or ask is treated in the unread chapters.

When I read about Rhonda Cornum and the female US POWs from the early 90's (I was just a babe, so I wouldn't remember mention of them) I thought it was fascinating how in the last ten years or so, the military has changed it's perspective on female soldiers. Whereas the Pentagon wouldn't even declare Rhonda Cornum a POW, it deigns to give Jessica Lynch absolute star treatment, playing up her story to ridiculous heights and opening the doors for the upcoming "telefilm" and book on her supposedly dramatic imprisonment and rescue.

In case you don't already know here's the Pentagon's version and the subsequent debunkers:

Pentagon version: "The 19-year-old Army supply clerk was captured when her convoy took a wrong turn and wound up being ambushed by the enemy. Nine of the soldiers in her unit were killed while Private Lynch was taken prisoner--Lynch emptied out her gun at the oncoming enemy, fighing valiantly even as she sustained gunshot and knife wounds.

Then, when U.S. military officers received intelligence on where Lynch was being held, they launched a special operation featuring Army Rangers and Navy SEALs to retrieve her. Night-vision camera footage, conveniently distributed to the press, showed what appeared to be a daring raid on an Iraqi hospital at Nasiriya. A SEAL team was said to have returned hostile gunfire as it battled its way in, breaking down doors to rescue Lynch."

But actually... "Iraqi soldiers had abandoned their post at the hospital days before U.S. special forces moved in; American GIs were offered the use of a master key, but opted to kick the doors down Rambo-style instead; Lynch did not return fire at her Iraqi captors nor was she wounded or mistreated, as initially reported; and, perhaps the biggest surprise of all, days before her "rescue," Lynch's doctors attempted to take her via ambulance to American forces but were forced to turn back after being shot at.

"'We were pretty frightened. There were about 40 medical staff together in the X-ray department," Dr. Amar Uday, chief resident at the hospital, told the Toronto Star. "'Everyone expected the Americans to come that day because the city had fallen. But we didn't expect them to blast through the doors like a Hollywood movie.""

It's pretty clear that the United States government has realized the potential of using female combatants, reduced to their more societally acceptable submissive roles when taken as prisoners of war, to bolster support for the war effort and to serve the public another healthy dose of liquid patriotism. Yes, it was a great victory for liberal feminists, simply because of the exposure to the public of the idea of female soldiers (she technically wasn't a combatant, right?). But it was a tacky and manipulative move by the federal government, which seems to have lost all shame, in my personal opinion.

Changing subjects, I am aware that there is a study in the Psychological Bulletin, May 2003, Volume 129, Number 3, entitled, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition." It has been stirring legislators up a little, because this federally funded study shows that conservatism can be linked to "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity." They also use case files from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ronald Reagan, Mussolini, and (what argument would be complete without:) Hitler. (

Specifically, this study states:

"Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure, regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r = .50); system instability (.47); dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (-.32); uncertainty tolerance (-.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (-.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (-.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat."

It states that those who prefer to see things as black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, us and "the other," patriot and terrorist, generally tend to be conservative. I can easily accept this data, simply from personal experience (or should I say "my empirical research.") But this data also seems to tie in with things I've read so far in your book about gender, namely binary oppositions in postmodern feminism and the brilliant Virginia Woolf quote on page 44.

I guess I'm asking if the book you're working on next is entitled "Politics and Gender," if you know what I mean. If it's not, I guess I'll just have to write is for my Doctoral thesis. Or maybe I should wait until I get tenure somewhere, right?

Fabulous book, too. Thanks.

Anders Mattson
Joshua Goldstein Re: Errata, Lynch, and Conservatism (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 15:20:51 08/25/2003

Thanks for the post. At least one "p.000" reference was fixed in the paperback edition (just in print) and the hardbound reprint.
The Jessica Lynch story has been interesting. There has been a lot of discussion of it on the Minerva - Women and the Military listserv, which you can find or join at the website
My next book is back to an old interest, war and economics, and actually not about gender, so your interesting questions and data about political conservatism are fair game for anyone's doctoral dissertation.
Anders Mattson Re: Errata, Lynch, and Conservatism (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 20:09:11 09/28/2003

My update is that I finished War and Gender and also read the 3rd Chapter on Alternatives to Power Politics in your International Relations textbook. There is more than enough information there to answer my questions on the relations of "Politics and Gender." Thanks for that.

I'm kinda kicking myself for not having gone to American University because I would have loved to study with people like you or Keith Boykin, who just came here to the University of Minnesota to give a lecture on GLBT Public Policy Setting. I'm only an undergraduate freshman, though. I have a lot of time ahead of me.

I'm actually reading your "IR" textbook in a class at the University of Minnesota taught by John Freeman, who you obviously know well. It's a great class and we love the text.


This post is part of the War and Gender forum.