Sunday, July 20, 2008

Patriotic Sentiments?

I was DJing a wedding reception at the Oglesby, IL B.P.O.E. clubhouse yesterday. Before the guests arrived, but after I had set up my equipment, I was sitting in the clubhouse bar, drinking a diet Coke (yes, I was, so there!) and my eye happened on a small poster on the bulletin board. I read it through several times, and thought about it. I have tried to find it on the web, and on the Elks' website, and while I'm sure if I had a bit more patience I probably could find it, I wanted to get this post out there, so I am paraphrasing it here:
Remember, it's the SOLDIER not the journalist who guarantees freedom of the press. It's the SOLDIER not the poet who guarantees freedom of speech. It's the soldier not the activist who guarantees freedom of assembly. It's the SOLDIER who wears the flag, whose coffin is draped in the flag that gives other the freedom to burn the flag.

We have heard a lot of this kind of thing since 2001. Our freedoms are protected and guaranteed by our military.

Actually, this is not only wrong, it is almost fundamentally anti-American. Our freedoms are guaranteed by laws and the Constitution of the United States. Our military does not protect our freedom. They protect our physical existence from physical threats. Since most attacks on our freedoms come from legal issues - laws passed without regard to constitutional provisions - the military does nothing to deal with the very real threats to our freedoms posed by such laws.

There are countries, however, where the military is placed above the legal and political mechanics of governance. They are called military dictatorships. We do not live in one - yet - so I do not see where celebrating the military for protecting our freedoms make any sense whatsoever except to desensitize us to the possibility of such an eventuality.

This is not to denigrate the military in any way. On the contrary, it is to remind people that, in the United States, the military is under civilian, political control. It does not exist to protect our freedoms. It exists, as do all military bodies, to protect the physical and political integrity of the state from threats of violence. Members of the military do not swear an oath to protect our freedoms; they swear an oath to protect the the country from all threats foreign and domestic. With the possible exceptions of the War of 1812 and the Second World War, the United States has never faced an adversary that threatened our sovereignty in any substantive way. Yet, when called upon, they put themselves in harm's way without a thought, and very often with an enthusiasm that should make all Americans proud.

This doesn't mean they protect our freedoms. That is done by courts of law upholding provisions of the Constitution.

Virtual Tin Cup

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