Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Don't Tread on Me

This week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling on a case brought by a collection of law schools challenging a 1996 act of congress that denied federal funds to any school that denied access to military recruiters. That this case made it all the way to John Roberts and crew is amazing on several different levels. The law schools' argument was that the law forced them, in effect, to associate with someone (in this case, military recruiters conducting the business of the nation on a law school campus) whose views (in this case, DoD's prohibition on homosexual conduct) were repugnant to them. Any normal American (defined in this case as the majority population in "red" states and the minority population in "blue" states) could see the fallacious nature of this argument without the benefit of a law degree or even the benefit of having watched Perry Mason once. I am forced daily to associate with punks, rascals, scoundrels, thieves, reprobates, and other assorted low-lifes (all in a quick trip to Wal-Mart) and I don't believe I have a legal claim to a First Amendment right to require one half of the population of my fair city to get out.

In fact, this farcical suit exposes the litigants for the Home of the Brave-hating hypocrites that they are. They wallow in the rights of this free land and yet refuse to accept the price of its protection. The present ruling generation (of which I am, sadly, a member) has forgotten (maybe never learned in the first place) that "Freedom isn't free."

I am touchy on this subject in general because I served with, and am related to, great Americans who sacrificed comfort and compensation to protect the freedoms most Americans take for granted. I am touchy on this subject in particular because I served for a fifth of my Marine Corps career as a recruiter and saw first hand the lack of a sense of civic and national duty that is prevalent in our society. We have what we euphemistically call an "All Volunteer Force" when, in fact, the vast majority of those who join today's guardians of freedom, do so only after being contacted by a recruiter and sold on the benefits of a vocation for which the idea of pursuing had never previously entered their minds. I'm not knocking the young men and women of our nation here--when finally taught that freedom has a price and presented the call to serve, they do so admirably. I am indicting their parents and influencers (teachers, coaches, and counselors)--my generation--that grew up in the most affluent period in our nation's history and refuse to accept (or teach our children) that service before self is a primary virtue.

And another thing, while the spirit moves me... When the rest of our nation went through a paroxysm of flag-flying, skin-deep patriotism post 9-11, the true life-long patriots looked on with a mixture of wonder and scorn. Where was your flag on 9-10? Where is your flag, now? I will tell you that mine stayed reverently folded in my pack, where it had been for more than two decades, ready to be raised over a captured enemy citadel. It is still reverently folded and lying in a position of honor on my desk. True American patriots don't fly the flag like a banner on the way to a football game--it is way too dear of a symbol for that.

Okay. I'll take a deep breath now, and let the coffee push the curmudgeon back into his hole.
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