Recently I was involved in a conversation on a libertarian blog and while the host was exchanging expletives with a more left-leaning commenter, he asserted that, since he was a former U.S.A. soldier, nothing he said could possibly be shameful or lacking in decency or integrity. The host also went on to denigrate the commenter as a yellow-bellied coward simply because he hadn't served in the military.
On more than one occasion, I've heard conversations like that where mentioning some one's person's military service is used in an attempt to deflect some criticism of their behavior. In fact, it seems increasingly common given the fact that our nation is approaching the apex of a very heated battle for the Presidency and the contest is between a senator who is a military veteran and another senator who is a civilian with a prior background as a professor and law expert.
I have a few feelings about the tactics that are being used by some of those people who've been confronted about the problematic behavior of a former member of the military and now I want to use this post to speak directly to those folks.
Any half-educated person in this country can probably name several examples of people who were soldiers but went on to engage in unethical behavior and make fools of themselves in very public ways. Remember, Benedict Arnold was a soldier too. Are you going to tell me that having been a soldier means he didn't make a fool of himself or engage in shameful behavior? Think about the implications of what you're saying.
The idea that not serving in the military says anything about one's character is just illogical. For instance, I come from a long line of soldiers. One of my ancestors even fought besides George Washington himself. However, I have never joined. Is it because I lacked the courage to serve as a soldier? Nope. I am simply too disabled to qualify.
Though I couldn't join, I did sign up for a civilian job on the Navy base instead. That was the way I managed to serve my country. When my brother joined the army, I did my best to support him with my prayers and my words of encouragement. When his bunk-mate and fellow soldier dropped dead before his eyes, our family helped him pick up the pieces.
Besides us, I know plenty of people who have never enlisted and will never be soldiers but have managed to serve their country just as much and sometimes even more. There are the researchers working in labs discovering new and better armor for the troops. There are the scientists working to create treatments and preventatives for the soldiers who may have to be deployed to God only knows where, where they may face all sorts of harmful biological and/or chemical agents. There are the linguists working in various branches of government, helping the USA keep track of our interests around the world in as close to real time as possible. There are the wives and husbands who hold down the fort all by themselves so that the soldiers have a loving and nurturing home to look forward to coming back to.
Lots of these people aren't Libertarians or Republicans or Democrats and lot of them are. In the end, they are all doing what they can to make this country a better place. In my opinion, that means they deserve better than to be called cowards or any of the other expletive-riddled insults being used to describe non-soldiers that criticize what they see as unethical or untruthful.
That's just my two cents. Take it or leave it.