Since I started writing this column for BellaOnline, I have gotten plenty of hate mail from the far right. I wasn’t surprised. I always expected I would get it. Early this year I began writing for another site, IraqSlogger.com, which is a non-partisan site. Many of my readers there assumed because I support my son service in the military, that I also support the Iraq war and the way it is being managed. When readers disagreed with me, they were always polite while telling me why I was wrong. That changed. Today, I got my first hate mail and it was from the far left. It was a good lesson for me. I discovered that hate mail is hate mail, from the left or from the right; they are both as likely to invoke Hitler.
According to this reader, “as long as folks like your family exist we will always have senseless killing. Hitler, like Bush now, depended on mindless morons to do their bidding and act like robots.” The family “like mine” is one that believes that this country is one worth serving and protecting. I had said in my column at IraqSlogger.com that, “You may think this war is wrong, you may think it is being mismanaged, you might even think all war is wrong. But our safety, the ability to protect our country, the ability to influence others in the world, depend on the strength of our military. You can be ashamed of how our civilian leadership chooses to use the military but you never should be ashamed, cringe at the choice of young men to serve, to protect and defend this great country.”
Our Soldiers are asked to serve without question, wherever and whenever they are told to serve. When my son enlisted, Clinton was still in office. But my son did not join to serve one man’s agenda. He joined to serve his country. He believes in the concept of democracy and the right of the citizens to choose the civilian leadership of our country. He believes firmly in civilian control of the military and that the military should do what the people ask without question. He doesn’t think the military should be running around doing what ever it wants. He does have great faith in the American people. He fully embraces the idea that government can be run by citizens. That citizens can be trusted to choose their leaders. That citizens can be trusted to correct mistakes when they make them in choosing leaders.
Maybe believing in democracy is too old fashion of an idea for today. Joining the military is the greatest act of faith one can have in your country. You have to place your trust in the people. Our military, in and of itself, is not evil. It is a tool that can be used for good or evil. You have to trust they will use you, as a soldier, for good and not evil. This reader equates my son’s service with being a mindless moron, doing the bidding of our commander in chief. We, the people of the United States, elected our military’s commander in chief. Even if our choice was a mistake, do we want our military deciding that for us? Do we really want, are we ready for, the military to decide for themselves which orders they will follow? Do we want them to mutiny and overthrow the commander in chief when they disagree with his policies? Are we ready to live in a country where the military is in control, even if it is only until we can have “new elections?”
Democracy has provided us with tools for stopping a commander in chief whose decision we don’t agree with. We can change our leaders through elections, we can call on congress to defund the war, and we can even impeach leaders. We can make phone calls and write letters, we can protest. We can use the media to rally the people. We have lots of democratic methods at our disposal. I still prefer democracy to the military “thinking on its own.” I still want them to listen to the people. Maybe it is old fashion to believe in the people, in democracy, in service to ones country. Quaint old fashion notions-- that are still good enough for me.
By the way, you can use the comment button on the right to send me your own hate mail, or even intelligent discussions.