The US should maintain a strong & ready military- to be used for defensive purposes- not nation building. People should have an honest relationship with the US Armed Forces and be able to freely question public policy. Lately, an ongoing militarization of American culture is taking hold- almost to the point of a cult-like idolatry.
Last weekend in Seattle-
Because freedom comes from decades of undeclared/unwon wars overseas, a 3rd try in Iraq, a no-show on 911, etc.
Everyone’s in on it:
School children are raised not to ask questions. The pledge of allegiance conformity drill emphasizes this.
Each November, school teachers across America host Veterans Day assemblies– and promote the idea that The Troops are in distant lands- fighting for American rights and freedoms- as if the US Armed Forces function as some sort of giant civil rights organization.
No such thing as Veterans Day assemblies at the public schools I attended in the 60s & 70s. Back then- veterans were all around- church, school, Boy Scout leaders, family, the neighborhood, etc. It was all just an average thing. These folks weren’t seen as a separate part of American society.
People weren’t stepping over to say “Thanks for your service” to my Dad- who did time in the Navy in the 50s- but looked just like anyone else out in public.
These guys weren’t lining up for free dinner promotions marketed by major restaurant chains.
Where are the veterans who don’t want free meals, discounts, head of the line privileges at the airport, etc.
TV Sports/entertainment industry-
Each football game features militarized tributes to decades of undeclared/unwon wars overseas.
Newspeople play the role of federal public affairs personnel. Zero questions asked about the decades of undeclared/unwon wars that came after the 1940s.
JFK speaks about the role of the press in a free society-
The people who run both major parties & the conventions that nominate presidential candidates are OK with ongoing, undeclared/unwon wars overseas.
Ditto for the TV networks that host presidential debates & ask scripted questions of candidates.
The majority of voters will align with one of these two parties.
You don’t have to look too far to find comments that refer to the troops as “heroes.”
No one who has served in an average military unit would be comfortable with everyone present being called a hero. Some units would be the exception, but for most people who have served over the years, calling everyone a hero would have no connection to reality.
Reality, and an honest understanding of why we send The Troops to far away places isn’t what we’re about though.
Reaching for an honest understanding of US foreign policy makes more sense than “Thanks for your service.”
They love to get in on the self-promotion:
Why the need for a 1965 Voting Rights Act if overseas military operations somehow secured voting rights?
Hey school teachers– If veterans fought for our right to vote- how come women were not allowed full voting rights at the end of WWI?
More here: Voting Myths
This may all be some sort of post-Vietnam guilt at work. The guilt doesn’t seem to work towards ending decades of undeclared/unwon wars overseas.
The worst of it is individuals who claim that Americans wouldn’t have the freedom to post comments on newspaper websites if people had not given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect that freedom.
Hey school teachers– where did this idea come from? Were US troops sent to Vietnam so that Americans could be free to send letters to the editor?
Is there any case in which the US Armed Forces have been sent to distant lands on a mission to protect freedom of speech?
Is protecting freedom of speech even part of training scenarios?
If The Troops are fighting for your freedom to share ideas on the web- why would you be scolded for doing so?
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Photo- Nordland Transit Center