A Salute to Joe Darby, Sam Provance and Jim Massey

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Army Reserve Specialist Joe Darby, Army Staff Sergeant Samuel Provance, and Marine Staff Sergeant Jim Massey are the kind of soldiers and marines we need to recruit in droves.

Darby, knowing what he was seeing in Abu Ghraib was wrong, said something about it and then took action to stop it. It worked.

Provance, after he was interviewed as part of the Army investigation into the abuses in part exposed by Darby’s actions, suspected a cover-up. He may have been wrong about that, but he followed his conscience in publicly saying what he heard in the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion regarding abuses inside the prison. It worked.

After leaving the Marines, SSgt Jim Massey is speaking out about the actions he and his platoon took in Iraq, specifically in terms of civilian casualties and un-gentlemanly behavior on the battlefield. Massey’s participant account of what Iraq is really like on the ground obviously contradicts the official storyline. He is therefore a pariah.

Darby, Provance and Massey are notably NOT among the best loved of American soldiers and marines, at least within the higher reaches of the Department of Defense. If they were, you would hear about their public invitations to meet with and be congratulated by General Richard Myers and Secretary Rumsfeld. Instead, Darby has been threatened with prosecution for failing to report a crime, and Provance is now reportedly redlined for honors, awards and promotions, with his security clearance suspended. Massey is simply a guy who had problems, and still does, according to the official organs.

For those who understand how large governments tend to work, whether in the time of the Caesars and King Herod, or Stalin and Mao, or future/present times as envisioned by George Orwell, whom the state will love and whom it will hate is predictable and consistent.

The state will love the ones who do what they are told, quietly and without resistance or questions.

The state will adore the cravenly enthusiastic ones, who for a silvery piece of no-risk, no responsibility advantage over their neighbors, will do whatever the state asks, and even think up new tricks to please their master.

The state especially enjoys the morally minded ones who mistakenly put faith in the higher virtue of the state, and those who feel that somehow God guides the state in some special way unique from and above the way He guides the individual within the apparatus.

On the other hand, the state hates the noisy ones who think they are right, or have rights.

The state despises the backboned unimpressed ones, who quietly resist while doing the best work they can.

It becomes angry to the point of rage with those who suggest the state isn’t really all about all those virtues it keeps yacking about. Liberty, freedom, truth, justice and the American way, that kind of thing.

The state detests the independent ones, in part because it finds them so necessary to produce the wealth that fuels its coprophagic existence.

What is the secret of the Darbys, the Provances, and the Masseys? And if we knew those secrets, could we somehow grow more of these guys?

Darby was remembered by friends and family as someone who "has an independent streak and knew u2018right from wrong.’" His high school football coach said, “He wasn’t one that went along with his peers.”

Instead of telling our children to try to behave like everyone else, keep their head down, don’t ask too many questions, fit in, even prescribing prescription drugs to soothe their advent into the group, maybe we should just say, "Tell me about it."

We might want to consider promoting thinking for oneself at an early age. As television induces intellectual passivity, perhaps we ought not let our children be entertained by it too often. And independence doesn’t mean mannerless children. As Claes Ryn recently pointed out, children with manners are in fact non-conforming oddities.

The public school system is dominated by the kinds of people the state likes. In particular, ber-patriotic feminized robots for whom an articulate challenge to state authority is far more sinful and dangerous than breaking any of the six or eight or ten commandments. Perhaps we ought to send our children forth only as if to battle, and barring that, find an alternative to a state indoctrination in the tender years before they are capable of fighting back.

Where did we find such men? Waynesville, North Carolina. Jenners, Pennsylvania. Williamsburg, Virginia.

I grew up in North Carolina, not far from Waynesville. My hometown of Brevard seemed small to me when I signed up with the Air Force. I bet Joe and Jimmy and Sam felt the same way at one time. But they brought the best part of community, neighborliness, and love of country with them to the Army, the Marines, to Iraq.

The state may continue to vilify them, but this will be of no account. Power that matters has never been in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in the still small voice. We learned this as children, reading about it as if a fable. Thanks to these humble men of honor, we have confirmation.

Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.

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