Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is My Councilor Better Than His Voters Because He Served?

Honor Guard, James Ayube Roadway Memorial Dedication

Dedication of the James Ayube Memorial Riverway, September 30th, 2011

A few days ago, I was reading the threads on Salemweb, and ran into Lloyd’s political commentary mixed amongst his Christmas best wishes.  (Christmas is not my favorite holiday, but I hope everybody had good festivities nonetheless.)

I don’t pay a lot of attention;  most of the threads on that board rehash old arguments that would never be settled even if Kim Driscoll were hit by a meteorite in bed tonight.

And why would I take issue with best wishes anyway, even if they’re satirical?  But Lloyd, in this thread, said something that has bothered me enough to stick my head out on a topic I never felt safe to bring up before.


To Mike Sosnowski - Many thanks for your hard work in the face of dealing with individuals who have little or no appreciation for your service to your country, or your dedication to the ward you live in. Semper Fi.

I’m sure Lloyd didn’t mean anything negative in particular, except for criticizing those who don’t agree with Mike.

Or who don’t appreciate Mike’s service to his country as a Marine.

I respect his service.  But I have disagreed with Mike on many occasions.  I don’t approve of his performance.  I don’t like how he toadies to the Common and the Federal Street associations.  I was livid when he let someone from Northfields tell me what I should have or not have in my neighborhood.

But he’s a veteran.  I should not speak.


One of Mark Twain’s best short works, “The War Prayer”, goes right to the heart of my unease.  He describes the great swell of patriotism surrounding the Phillipine-American War, which he hated.

In a church, a fervent pastor is leading his flock in excited, vigorous prayer, praying for their young men, soon to go into battle, and for their total victory over their enemy.

In the middle of the prayer, a wild man walks in, and explains:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

If you pray for our victory, Twain says, you are praying for some mother’s son to die, for someone’s home to be bombed, for some child to die in fire.  (It’s worth going back to read the whole piece;  I do it no credit.)

I’m no pacifist.  I’ve grown up all my life knowing a military and veterans and armed forces and I don’t see that going away.  But war, as Sherman put it, is hell, and I hate sentimentalizing it or romanticizing it.

More to the point of my councilor, when I am told to support my councilor because he served,  I hear these unspoken things:

  • “I served and I’m a better citizen than you!”
  • “You can’t tell me what to do.  I served and you didn’t!”
  • “You’d act better if  I sent you to boot camp, wouldn’t you?!”
  • “Yes, I can tell you what to do!  Say Sir, Yes Sir!”
  • “You didn’t serve.  You’re not really a citizen.  Or a person.”

This last point is inordinately cruel:  Though I did register for Selective Service and had no qualms or fears of the unlikely possibility that I would be called up, I would have never been able to pass the physical in any event;  my early eye history and my hearing loss would have certainly disqualified me.

If my councilor is superior to me because he served, and if I could not serve, I would have to think I’m an untermenschen.   (Societies that thought they had untermenschen they needed to deal with have all been stable and happy societies that have never made war within their nations or outside of it.  Right.  Sure.)

Mind you, I don’t think Mike himself thinks this of me.  He might hate what I wrote.  He could even yell at me as if he were my DI—and he’d be perfectly entitled to do so, given our disagreements!

But I’ve heard comments like Lloyd’s from so many people in the past few years.  Several years ago on Salemweb, I had made a comment on Eisenhower (whom I admire) and how I would not necessarily vote for a veteran because none of them were like our former General and President.

I got an extended lecture on the Greatest Generation.

I suspect the person who gave me that lecture, which has become a catechism over the years, did not serve.  Many people who are gung-ho about our military, who love our military above all else, the Fighting Keyboard types who would bomb Iran tomorrow, did not themselves serve.

To too many Americans, our soldiers are totems.  We worship them.  We use them to make ourselves feel better.  We can stand next to the lowest Army private and be his or her friend and be better because we are associated with a soldier.

To hear people tell it, the late James Ayube died for our sins.  I attended the dedication ceremony that named the bypass road for him, and I was dismayed about how my state rep, John Keenan, and my mayor Driscoll, just waved away the facts of Ayube’s death as if they were just a force of Nature.  I am left thinking that ceremony was not so much for Ayube’s family but for ourselves.

I don’t expect a ceremony like that to be a discourse on our foreign policies, but we, the people, are responsible for the well-being, the safety and most importantly the prudent use of our forces, with our  young people that we have asked to fight for us on our behalf.

We can’t take his death for granted, nor romanticize it, nor sentimentalize it.  But I’ve given up on our politicians realizing that because they of all people benefit the most from standing next to a soldier.

Getting back to my point, I’ve heard from a lot of people over the past few years, and not a few of my Facebook friends, who love the idea of a military government, even though it’s against our Constitution.

The military will just make things work!  In a military government, Lloyd can have me sent away for treason.  The Army can kill all them liberals!  Shoot illegal aliens all day, all night, with dogs and choppers and night vision, everywhere! 

I have to think if I am going to toady up to my councilor just because he served, I am helping to insure that the military takeover that we have always criticized other nations for doing, that could never happen because we loved Freedom more than anyone else, will easily happen right here at home.  To hear some tell it, we’re well on our way to welcoming our new Army overlords.

I won’t do it.

Mike can show up at my door anytime and give me General Patton’s method of discipline.  I understand it.  I’ll take it.

But I won’t kiss his ass just because he served and I didn’t.


G said...


Very well put.

David W. Irish said...

That is, after all, the essence of "I'm a Veteran..." when politicians feel a need to mention it as a qualification. It's their way of saying "Screw You!"

When I hear a vet overstating his service to gain something or as a means of telling people to shut up, I keep thinking of Andy Kaufman shouting "I'm from Hollywood!" as he prepares to beat up a woman in a wrestling match.