ARE THE BLUE ANGELS GOOD… OR BAD?

It’s Seafair weekend and it’s time to get down to the classic Seafair take: either the Blue Angels are everything wrong with our society, or you’re not from around here/a snowflake that can’t handle how awesome our country is + loud noises. Let’s dig in!

THE BLUE ANGELS ARE GOOD

I can honestly say that Seafar is something that I truly enjoy. It’s one of the last vestiges of the Seattle I and my parents grew up in. In the United States, we used to be better at creating communal events and experiencing them altogether.

Seafair is one of a few occasions when everyone of all political persuasions and American backgrounds is invited to experience and enjoy the same thing. It’s also authentically local, unlike the Super Bowl or the 4th of July or New Years. Seattle doesn’t have Carnival or St. Patrick’s Day celebrations of much substance, at least not any more.

Despite its corporate sponsorship, Seafair still feels like something weird and place-specific that got cooked up by your ne’er do well uncle from Kent. Seafair is the Space Needle and Rainier beer and a young Ken Griffey Junior and the Kalakala.  If you conveniently forget the fact that the United States displaced and terrorized the Indian tribes that still live here to take over this land, Seattle doesn’t have much (if any) history. Seafair is one of the few things we can hold on to on that score.

The Blue Angels are an essential element of Seafair. It just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Oh, and the Blue Angels are FUCKING AMAZING. Have you seen the shit they do!? They fly like 5 feet apart at Mach 1. Crazy.

THE BLUE ANGELS ARE BAD

God, those planes are so. fucking. loud. I am writing this as they are practicing, and I am wearing earplugs. They just set off a car alarm down my block. It is so, so obnoxious.

Woe betide any parent of young children or guardian of pets this weekend: your afternoons this week are probably trash.

Seriously—do these guys actually need to practice here? Is there any particular reason? Don’t they do the same tricks everywhere? Why do they need to fly directly above one of the country’s largest cities to put on the same show they put on everywhere? Practice at Miramar, you Top Gun hotshots.

THE BLUE ANGELS ARE GOOD

The United States has automated and outsourced war and violence. But when the Blue Angels are in town, you have to remember that wars are fought and the U.S. military is pretty good at winning them.

The Blue Angels are an inescapable reminder that the U.S. military exists and does deter aggression against not just the United States, but dozens of countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. Those continents have not seen cataclysmic total war for almost a century, thanks mostly to the U.S. military. They used to happen to every generation. (There are plenty of global and continental wars before World War I.) We have kept the peace, on a macro scale, for a longer time than any period in human history.

Seattle gets richer and whiter every day, and so the Blue Angels might be the only time that its residents are confronted by the dedication and sacrifice of military service, and think of the people who make that peace possible. After all, white liberals, or just Americans with means, don’t join the military any more. The Blue Angels force you to look up at the sky, cover your ears, and think about America’s place in the world.

THE BLUE ANGELS ARE BAD

America spends obscene amounts of money on the military, to the neglect of almost every other aspect of our society. We spend more on our military than any other country in the world. The military-industrial complex and foreign policy establishment justify that tremendous use of resources by puffing up the danger of regional conflicts to Americans.

The Blue Angels make light of that: the are part of a sustained effort by the U.S. military to find fun ways to gain recruits and keep the machine running.

F/A-18 Super Hornets—the jets that the Blue Angels fly—are weapons of war. They aren’t toys. They are instruments of mass death. Across the world, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, generations of children have heard the sound of American warplanes and feared for their lives.

Actually, some of them didn’t hear the sound at all, because the bomb a Hornet drops would have exploded well after the Hornet was a dozen miles away, since they strike at supersonic speed.

There is a brutal irony to the Blue Angels: American military veterans with PTSD have a horrible time with them. Military jet training over cities and protected spaces is harmful to vets who might never recover from their shell shock. And, of course, there are thousands of Seattle residents who have PTSD from any number of things besides military service, like surviving sexual assault or domestic violence or a house fire or mass shooting or on and on.

ANYWAY, IF YOU CAN, HAVE FUN THIS WEEKEND.

Just don’t get so drunk that you fall off your pontoon and drown.


Also published on Medium.