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If You Didn’t Serve, Maybe You Should Just Shut Up

While I do like Instagram – although my wife says I post far too many pictures of my dog – I don’t look at Facebook very often.  The other day I did look at it and I was reminded of why I don’t like looking at it.  The political rants are just ridiculous.  My pool of Facebook “friends” is not huge, but it runs from one end of the political spectrum to the other.  What I see from both sides is generally non-productive and inaccurate at best – and the quality goes down steeply from there.

There is a trend I find very bothersome.  It has been around for some time and I think it is getting worse.  Attacking someone for their lack of military service or the quality of someone’s military service is problematic, especially if the accuser has not served.  In the 60’s and early 70’s avoidance of military service was both commonplace and quite socially acceptable, particularly among the elites of our country.  Those people are now of a certain age.  Some of them are conservative and others are liberal.  All of them should be very wary of attacking anyone, including political figures, because they got a draft deferment, served in the National Guard, or were otherwise deficient with regard to military service.  Remember that proverb about those living in glass houses not throwing stones.

On the flip side, I see those who talk blithely about using military force to “kick ass” or teach some country a lesson. They criticize political leaders for cowardice or some similar lack of character.  Often these come from those who have not served and I have to wonder how much appreciation they have for the risks to our service members they so casually suggest.

I certainly do not believe that lack of military service disqualifies someone from political leadership.  We have had some good leaders who did not serve.  Likewise, there have been political leaders who were veterans who were not good at all.  We can and should be willing to disagree with each other about the political direction of our country.  We need to be more careful, however, when it comes to attacks on people’s character.  After all, everyone has their failings and none of us is without sin.  I question the standing of anyone who has not served to make a moral judgment about someone else’s military service, or lack thereof.

So, let me propose two simple rules:  First, if you are a male who turned 18 between the mid-60’s and early 70’s and you didn’t serve in the military, think twice – no, think three or four times – before you post some snide remark on social media calling someone else a coward or cheat because of his lack of military service in that period. Frankly, I would extend that rule to those who came of age in all eras.  Second, if you never served think twice – or more – before talking tough on social media about taking military action. 


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