Jane Fonda Wrote My Last Article

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My father
worked nights for most of my childhood, and as such, he was not
able to attend the majority of my ball games. When he was not
able to make a game, the first thing I would do upon returning
home was to call him at work and give him a recap. Naturally,
it was much more fun when I had played a great game and we had
won, but I looked forward to these conversations regardless. I
consider it a great gift that I have an innate desire to make
my parents proud, while at the same time having never felt some
overbearing pressure to achieve. This desire is no different today
than it was during Little League, so it was with some degree of
difficulty that I listened to my father say of my
last article
that I sounded like an angry liberal. He even
went on to say that Jane Fonda could have written it.

Now, while
I obviously disagree with my father's remarks, he did hit on something:
I am angry. I am angry that the political spectrum in this country
has become so narrow that Bush and Kerry are seen as polar opposites,
and that the denouncing of one means the embracing of the other.
I am angry that while doctors were probing Saddam Hussein's hair
for lice, President Bush was signing the Patriot Act into law
with a degree of stealth that members of Delta Force could applaud.
This act, which has now been denounced by at least 300 separate
municipalities, was originally fought by librarians. I am angry
that it takes a librarian uprising to bring attention to government
surveillance the likes of which the Nazis would have been proud.
I am angry that a supposed conservative congress passed a $400
billion prescription drug bill, only to learn later that the cost
was underestimated by at least a third. I am angry at every gutless
congressman who abdicated their duties and gave President Bush
a blank check with which to deal with 9-11. The political expediency
of shelving the Constitutional requirement to declare war was
apparently too good an opportunity to pass up. The Monday morning
quarterback routine that it created is laughable. I am angry that
it has taken the American invasion of Afghanistan to bring the
plague of abortion to that country. Enduring Freedom apparently
is not a concept to be shared with the unborn. In short, my father
properly surmised that I was angry; perhaps I can do a better
job in the future of explaining why.

Having articles
placed on a website in which the underlying principles are openly
stated is a great benefit to those who write for the site because
it eliminates the need for one's position on issues to be mentioned
in each and every article. Unfortunately, that is not a foolproof
way of ensuring that readers do not mistake certain words or view
them through a distorted lens. Though the vast majority of respondents
to my last article were positive, there were a few attacks worth
addressing. For example, I was accused of having not properly
learned the Marine Corps motto: "Semper Fidelis," or
"Always Faithful." The retired Colonel who accused me
of this, and the Lieutenant Colonel who claimed the Corps was
better off without me, no doubt saw treason in my words. This
is difficult to swallow only because they seem unwilling to ask
themselves what I am in fact remaining faithful to by taking the
stance that I have. In order of priority, I make every effort
to be faithful to the Gospels, to my wife, (pretty much one and
the same), to the Constitution, and to the Oath of Enlistment.
It was only when the curtain was pulled back and I saw the wizard's
misguided political policy that I felt obligated to speak up.
If that is the work of a traitor, then hang me as such, but do
not accuse me of failing to understand the concept of being faithful.
Sure, Jane Fonda and I may agree on this particular issue, but
no one should mistake this one-time occurrence for a common ideology
between her kind and mine. To do so would be like looking at a
northbound-southbound accident on I-95 and claiming that since
both cars were for a brief moment at the same point, they must
have had the same destination in mind.

What is particularly
troubling about the few negative responses I received is the fact
that I believe most of my detractors would agree with several
core principles that I hold. They are not attacking my beliefs,
but rather my refusal to go along with the program. I doubt Colonel
X is an advocate of socialism, and I doubt Lt Colonel Y is a fan
of government aggrandizement. In attacking my stance and being
"Always Faithful" to whatever the government agenda
is, they are in fact supporting concepts most military officers
claim to disdain. What has truly been disappointing about the
negative e-mails is that they offered nothing to make me consider
another point of view. There were no opinions on the current situation
backed up by optimistic facts. No one bothered to claim that the
invasion of Iraq would ultimately bring benefits to the region
and the world. Nor did anyone bother with how we freed the people
of Iraq. My problem with these attacks is that if you are going
to take a stance, base it on a little bit more than simply because
George W. Bush said so.

One of the
reasons given by war supporters as to why our invasion of Iraq
was the right thing to do is based on their belief that Christian
and Muslim have been on a collision course for centuries. While
this is true to an extent, it does not reflect reality today.
The Christian-Muslim clashes of the past were actually Catholic-Muslim
clashes. Lepanto, Granada, and other battles were fought under
one unified Church banner. No such banner exists today. Though
the majority of Americans may celebrate Christmas, there is nothing
overly Christian about our culture today; in fact, the Supreme
Court continues to interpret the Constitution in a manner which
assures that Christianity is demonized. It may be what our culture
is based on, but it is hardly something that one fights for in
21st century America. Further, when the Ottoman Empire
was broken up after World War I, the Arabs petitioned the UN to
have the US be the administrators, not Britain or France. This
largely diffuses the myth that they have always hated us. That
hatred reached its boiling point not because we have the Big Mac
and American Idol, but because we support Israel in all it does,
and manage to plant our flag wherever we please in the Middle
East and around the world. If one thinks that the young Arab blows
himself up in a shopping mall because we get to vote on Super
Tuesday, then you really have been taken in by Fox News. Sure,
if you want to be afraid of another 9-11 type attack, feel free
to head to the hardware store and tape up your windows, but do
not rationalize all-out war with a country 6000 miles away that
can not feed its own people while sitting on the world's most
required natural resource.

One of the
great thinkers/writers of the last century was England's G. K.
Chesterton. His writing encompassed everything from poetry to
politics and everything in between. The fact that so few Americans
know of him today is another clear sign that our culture does
not have much farther to go before we bottom out. On the concept
of empire, he once said: "I would defend England against
the whole European continent. With even greater joy would I defend
England against the whole British Empire." Despite America's
claim to the contrary, empire building is what this war is about,
and like Chesterton, I am trying to fight against it in the only
way I currently can. So, to any Marine out there who thinks I
have lost my way, my nerve, or my mind, have no fear, I am in
possession of all three. The notion of a fight does not scare
me. The notion of being on the wrong side does.

May
7, 2004

John
Schroder [send him mail]
is a graduate of the Naval Academy and a former Marine infantry
officer. Having resigned his commission, he is to begin doctoral
work in political science this fall at Louisiana State.

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