As I get older, I find myself less and less willing to suffer fools gladly. Things that I might once have laughed off can really get under my skin, and examples of willful and blissful ignorance and stupidity can send me into a rage.
Enter the city of Berkely, California, stage left.
Berkeley has long been known as one of the most ultra-liberal cities in an ultra-liberal state. Students of UC Berkeley were some of the earliest and loudest opponents of the war in Vietnam, and the city has ever been in the forefront of far-left causes and interests. And that's fine. This is America, where the right to express one's opinions, however unpleasant or silly, is enshrined in the Constitution and protected by law.
But Berkeley has now gone far beyond the limits of common sense, decency, and simple politeness. In it's opposition to the war in Iraq (which, you will recall, I have also opposed from Day One), the Berkeley City Council has declared its own war on Marine Corps recruiters operating in the city. The council has officially and unofficially harassed the Marines, reserved parking places directly in front of their office for protesters to park and has declared the United States Marines - the defenders of their very right to live free and act stupid - to be "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" in the city, demanding that the recruiting office be closed.
I am a firm believer in the value of a military career for young people. Military service teaches concepts of personal responsibility, discipline, and leadership that no other career can match. As a 23-year veteran of the Air Force, I had the opportunity to work with - and for - people of every race and religion, both sexes, and all sexual orientations (I neither asked nor told). I learned that there are fine and decent people who are black and white, Christian and Jewish, male and female, gay and straight. I also learned that, contrary to the simplistic bumper-sticker mentality of anti-military demonstrators, there are in fact some problems it takes war to solve. You can thank a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or Airman that Adolf Hitler never got to finalize his "final solution;" that the Japanese empire was defeated; that the Cold War never turned hot; that Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation; that ethnic cleansing in the Balkans was stopped.
Some people never learn that the concept of civilian control of the military illustrated by the constitutional designation of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces means something. It means that American generals don't wake up in the morning, yawn, scratch their armpits, and decide to invade some small country for fun. It means that the President and Congress make the critical decisions of war and peace, and that the military forces become the blunt instrument in the national toolbox, to be used when all other tools fail. This is why I shake my head in disbelief at the simple-minded idiots who demonstrate against the war in Iraq and the military in general at the Pentagon every Monday morning. This is why I think the members of the Berkeley City Council give morons everywhere a bad name. Do you hate war? I guarantee that the members of the military who have actually seen it face-to-face hate it worse than you do. But they have volunteered (yes, volunteered...the draft has been gone since 1973) to do a dirty, dangerous job to keep you safe...to ensure you continue to enjoy the freedom to tell them they are "uninvited and unwelcome" in your town.
Think about this when you go to the polls. Think about it when you oppose the actions of your government. If you don't like the way the country is going...if you opposed the war in Iraq, or any other particular action of your government...don't waste your time demonstrating against people who have volunteered to serve their country. Exercise your right and duty to vote and change the government that acts in your name. Get rid of the right morons.
And thank a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine for protecting your right to do it.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.