In the coming weeks and months there will be, as Rush Limbaugh graphically described it, a "gang rape" of our military by Democrats, the anti-war crowd, and the mainstream press, all predicated on the ongoing allegations that US Marines deliberately gunned down two dozen civilians in the town of Haditha in Iraq.
During that time, we will hear those bent on destroying the credibility of our military continually claim -- despite their insinuations and rhetoric -- that they still "support our troops."
That phrase has been used so often that it has been reduced to a cliche, an obligatory disclaimer uttered in self defense before a crushing blow is about to be delivered.
Why has this phrase been so stripped of the sincerity of its meaning? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the writers and thinkers and entertainers of our age have, for the last thirty years, worked tirelessly to purge our military of both its humanity and its mission.
The real US military is nothing less than real Americans: grandfathers and uncles and sons and nephews and mothers and nieces and sisters and brothers.
It's men and women who wholly serve their country, who gave up "normal" lives to sleep in cramped quarters, wear uncomfortable clothes, spend months and years away from family and loved ones, and live in some of the most God-forsaken places on Earth.
They do this, admittedly, because they want to make a better life for themselves, and the military provides both the discipline and the training to make that dream of a better life into a reality. But more profoundly, they enter the military instead of civilian schooling or training because they want to become part of the team that defends America. And they make this choice because they believe that America is worth defending.
They walk in the shadows of those who engaged the enemies of freedom in some of the most intense and bloody battles ever fought: Gettysburg, the Ardennes, Iwo Jima, Midway, The Battle of the Bulge, Chosin, Saigon.
They are brave but humble. They are team players who unhesitatingly risk their lives to save fallen comrades. On the battlefield, they knowingly put themselves in harm's way if such action means reducing the chances that civilians will be killed.
And they willfully risk their bodies -- and their lives -- in order to do the ugly jobs that must be done, but that only a few are willing to do. Deep down, most of us know that.
Yet they are not perfect, and most of us know that too.
But we respect those who believe in something strongly enough to risk their lives for it. And we believe that those people are worth supporting.
We don't want "cover-ups" or whitewash when our military makes mistakes. We understand that people sometimes do regrettable things, but that civilized societies can't allow those things to flourish unabated. If our troops commit war crimes, we expect that they will be tried and punished by the military.
We simply want those who sit at the head of the table in our society – the writers, thinkers, leaders, teachers, entertainers – to communicate to us that they too believe that some things are worth fighting for, and that they respect those who have decided to fight for those things, even though they may disagree about which things deserve a fight.
That's what it means to support our troops.
And so, to those who can't be bothered on an average day to simply tell a soldier whom they meet in the mall or at the gas station that their service is appreciated, but who wallow in reports of US misconduct with the giddy excitement of a four-year-old opening birthday presents, I say, "You don't support our troops."
To the newspapers who can't be bothered to print the names and photos of recruits who graduate basic training or specialized training, or who have been newly deployed, or who have left spouses and children behind in order to serve their country, but who rush a photo and a headline to the front pages whenever a member of the US military is killed, I say, "You don't support our troops."
To the pundits who trip over themselves to be the first to call any US military deployment a "quagmire," but who conveniently ignore the vast combat and humanitarian efforts of the US military, I say, "You don't support our troops."
To the politicians who fire off rhetoric that compares our men and women in uniform to terrorists and Nazis, simply in the hope that they can scare up enough support to win an election, I say, "You don't support our troops."
It is indeed curious that the same people who work so hard to demonize the military as a whole would consider it a thought crime to apply those same stereotypes and generalizations to the civilian population. Liberals would immediately denounce as "bigots" anyone with the gall to suggest that whole ethnic or social groups should be criminalized because of the misdeeds of a few.
Our military simply deserves to be treated as human beings, not as clueless robots who have been
programed to kill by inept or diabolical leaders. Those in uniform who do dishonorable and immoral things should be held responsible. But the other 99.9% who also wear the uniforms of our armed services should not be destroyed along with them.
(A few minor grammatical changes were made to this essay on 6-10-06, just before I linked it to WizBang's Carnival of the Trackbacks. Welcome WizBang readers!)