Fight For Your Right

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“I spent 23 years in the United States Air Force, and another 20 years in multicultural workforces. I list persons of all races amongst my group of friends, having lived and worked with them throughout the years. Now I realize that this is probably going to trouble you, and possibly cause you a sleepless night, but what I do firmly believe, is that I will welcome LEGAL immigrants into this country, however, once here, they should learn & speak the English language, besides learning the ways and customs of this country.” — newspaper site comment

Dear Veterans:

Thank you for your service. I have a question, though, that may seem disrespectful, and I apologize in advance: Why is a military career so often held up in public debate as a  platform from which to dictate the “right” behavior, the “right” public policy, the “right” interpretation of the law?

I think being a veteran or serving our country should be a prerequiste for everyone in congress – including the president, vice-president, etc. It would show their sense of patriotism by willing to truly give it all – lay it all on the line – for our great nation. We need to go back to our founding fathers where they were voted in to lead the country from their leadership skills of leading military.” February 21 at 8:17am

Some veterans are prone to this reflex, but certainly not all. And in many cases it’s an affectation of pundits and camp followers, appropriating honor of  the military service as a fulcrum for their own arguments. “As a veteran” or “out of respect for our veterans” becomes a flag planted in the moral high ground, implying hard-won wisdom beyond civilian ken.

Observe the pre-Surge politicking with regards to the Iraq War, wherein congresspersons, the media, even the president all bent double to kiss the feet of General David Petraeus, high-caste warrior of the Iliad-worthy surname, vowing that he would know the way forward through the quagmire. No one else, certainly no one out of uniform, had such vision, such insight, such a strong hand on the tiller.

The “Veteran Gambit” also seeks to claim certain privileges that, it’s implied, should be denied those who have not worn a uniform.

I personnally believe that the right to vote or serve in a political office should have a prerequisite of serving your country/community in a selfless manner.(Military, public medicine, police, teacher, etc). It seems wrong to allow people who don’t readily appear to have made such sacrifices to serve in offices which are supposed to be about serving the people first.”

Particularly if citizenship is at issue.

“My family has been in this country for over a hundred years. They have served in the Armed Services, as teachers, Law Enforcement, engineers, and numerous other professions. They  have served in wars died and been wounded for OUR COUNTRY. I am a Veteran of the US Air force, My daughter is in the US Navy, and My son is a US Marine. None of them died or fought for the Mexican Flag.  Everyone of them died, was wounded, or has fought for the U.S. Flag.”

Sad news: We don’t live in Ancient Rome, where you could only run for office by displaying your battle scars, and where veterans could usually expect to retire with a generous grant of conquered land. (Given mostly because Roman legates and emperors were terrified of their military, always fearing a coup.) We also, for the time being, don’t live in Johnnie Rico’s Terran Federation:

Major Reid smiled cynically. “I have never been able to see how a thirty-year-old moron can vote more wisely than a fifteen-year-old genius . . . but that was the age of the ‘divine right of the common man.’ Never mind, they paid for their folly. The sovereign franchise base been bestowed by all sorts of rules–place of birth, family of birth, race, sex, property, education, age, religion, et cetera. All these systems worked and none of them well. All were regarded as tyrannical by many, all eventually collapsed or were overthrown. Now here are we with still another system.. . . and our system works quite well.” — Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959)

Embrace the Veteran Gambit too fiercely and that’s where we’re left. Society becomes a militocracy where citizens enlist not to defend the rights of others, but to secure rights — particularly the voting franchise — for themselves.

“And who can argue with the assertion that in democracies citizens with little invested in the system often make unwise and poorly-informed decisions when voting? So many who live irresponsible lives? Look at the drug problem in the United States, for example. Everywhere we look we see chaos, lack of order – the ‘degeneracy’ Heinlein vigorously disdains. Look at the poverty, ignorance, and violence seen in the major American cities! In contrast, the global society into which Rico is born only lets those who have ‘placed the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage’ become citizens and vote. In other words, it are only the soldiers and others who have put their lives on the line who can vote and be trusted to do so wisely. Consequently, society is better arranged while peace and prosperity rule the day. The military caste are the Brahmins of Heinlein’s ideal society; there is an offhand contempt for everyone else.”

Here’s something anti-immigration activists who deploy the Veteran Gambit might find amusing. At the moment, military service as a route to improved rights only works for one class of enlisted person: the immigrant non-citizen.

The Morning Benders — Waiting For A War


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