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Friday, November 18, 2005

Don't Serve / Don't Tell

Kate Thornton Buzicky, a first lieutenant in the United States Army, attending Harvard Law School talks about her experiences in Don't Serve / Don't Tell:

Service is an everyday thing; it means that an individual regularly sacrifices for the good of the whole. Sometimes that sacrifice is trivial (maybe I would like to wear bigger pearl earrings with those Class As, but I don't) and sometimes it is serious, such as complying with the regulations that govern political activity among Army Officers. In both situations, soldiers forgo a privilege in the name of a bigger purpose--serving their fellow citizens. I never ask that my fellow liberals agree with me, just that they respect my sense of obligation and professional duty. But at Harvard, that's a tough sell. Here, the emphasis is on the individual--the 'me', the 'I,' and the 'mine.' It is difficult to explain a group obligation to people who idolize the first person singular. But the most difficult part of the recruiting period has been learning the limits of liberal tolerance. It has been uncomfortable to see that the lessons I learned from the traditional liberal platform appear not to apply to me.
Liberal groups loudly protest that they should be able to question the war without having their patriotism attacked and that they still 'support the troops.' For the most part, I fully agree with them. While there are some tactics that may be unpatriotic, on the whole it is certainly allowable, even desirable, for their to be dissent. That is part of what being a democracy means. However, I think that opposing military recruiting crosses the line from patriotic dissent on policies to outright unpatriotic activity. It certainly doesn't 'support the troops' who would obviously benefit by greater recruitment. The recent anti-recruitment initiative in San Francisco is a particularly egregious example of this. It was of course lauded on many liberal blogs (and famously criticized by O'Reilly with his typical over reaction.) It seems to me that liberals who are concerned with illegitimately being percieved as unpatriotic should take great care to not associate with, or support, things that actually are unpatriotic.


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