I am so tired of hearing the rhetorical question from Those People: “Where did you serve? Were you ‘in country?’”
Visiting the garden spot of Southeast Asia does not confer a special moral authority upon someone. I feel for Cindy Sheehan; she lost a son…my father was murdered by a serial killer in 1985. There are at least four families suffering, and I alone speak up for them. Dad brought home a Silver Star from War II, and never made a big deal of it. He charged Panzers in the dark during the Battle of the Bulge; it was a big deal.
I am weary of hearing the question about service to the country. By the lights of those who oppose finishing the job in Iraq, anyone who supports the efforts of our troops is a merciless babykiller who sends “children off to die” in a corporate cause. The role of corporations in the American way of life is a future rant. Go read some Ayn Rand in the mean time. We’re on service here.
Service to one’s country does not confer some special moral authority. Al Gore polished the one bullet he was allocated, while he sat in Saigon with the PIO. John Kerry almost shot himself in the arm, while piloting his “brown-water-navy” boat. We endured years of lack of leadership from a pudgy, priapic president who made a big deal out of not serving. He had a sweet spot carved out, through influence, in the Arkansas National Guard, but even that billet offended his “moral sensibilities.” It is arguable that his raining of cruise missiles on Afghanistan, as diversion for his oral sex escapades, made Osama bin-Laden a sworn enemy of the United States, but that, too, is a rant for another day.
“Moral authority” is not an endowment of gunfights. To wear a uniform for five minutes does not allocate any specific right to judge, or step aside, on any moral issue. I’ve had gunfights; so what? I’m worse than most who will read this; the fact that I survived doesn’t give me any special right to tell you how to live your life. My moral judgments are exclusively personal, and based upon my Christian faith. I endeavor to be a loosey-goosey Libertarian in my relations with others; do what you will, but don’t approach my family. Don’t do it in the road and scare the horses. Otherwise, have at it.
I use my little space here to encourage veterans of any war not to respond to Those People who pose that question of “where…when did you serve, chickenhawk?” These people are not worthy of reply. It is a “straw man” question, at any rate. Moral authority is not conferred by military service. You did, or you didn’t. No one holds it against you, whatever your choice was. Do not be a hypocrite and say “I support the troops”, then turn around and claim they are innocent children, sent off at the point of a gun by cynical parents, to die for some imagined corporate greed. They made their choice; they may not be happy with it, but they show up. Every damn day.
Moral authority emanates from belief and practice of that faith, not from the wearing of a uniform. I have no special claim on so-called moral authority, and I will not reply to questions about my service in Nam. Take a swing; you have the 50/50 chance of guessing correctly. Does it matter, either way? Your point is something dark and sinister, and the service question is only a rhetorical tool. People are dying for your right to pose the question. Consider that, not the past service of others.