Monday, November 18, 2013

Defying the militarism in this society is difficult but it forces people to think

Allow me to respond to several criticisms (not including the swear words and simple insults offered by those apparently incapable of thought) to my jeremiad against Veterans' Day and the supposedly hallowed and heroic status of people in uniform or discharged from the military.

I will concede to one heckler that the federal government defines as “veteran” anyone who “any person, who served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States.” However, there is no reason to have a day that honors drivers, clerks and cooks in military uniform — rather than people who saw bullets fly — if there is no honoring their civilian peers.

The next set of complaints — actually whining — was about money.

One cranky note was sounded about the fact that military men and women pay for their uniforms. That’s actually true. However, the alleged heroism of the deed vanishes once one learns that these payments are reimbursed: the military clothing allowance tables below are effective as of October 1, 2012 through September 30th, 2013 for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps was between $2,031.69 for females in the Navy to $1,464.04 for Air Force men.

Plus, there‘s a civilian clothing allowance. No civilian job has these benefits. Just like almost no civilian job includes
  • housing; 
  • a basement-price shopping mall (aka the PX); 
  • a education system for the employee’s kids;
  • moving expenses and opportunities to see the world free and meet interesting people (in the Vietnam War era the  joke added: then kill them); and
  •  lavish, life-long free health care.
The other cash complaint was retirement pay. The whiner cited a friend’s $1,018 military retirement check. Setting aside the ex-uniformed retirement double- and triple-dipping (military, plus post-military civilian civil service, plus social security), let’s recall that the military retirement sum is about twice what is paid to the average poor mother with two children, none of whom ever killed anyone and also more than some people’s social security in old age.

Finally, there’s the excuse deemed inadmissible at the Nuremberg trials: we were following orders.

The modern American version that we should really complain to politicians whom the veterans obeyed. Hiding behind the skirts of the politicians might have worked during the draft and only for those unprincipled enough not to declare conscientious objector status, damn the consequences.

Today, every individual in the military is a volunteer. Don’t want to kill people? Don’t join the military. It’s a choice. Quit whining.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Let's stop glorifying the killing of people all over the world by supposed "heroes"

Only one more shopping day until the deluge of maudlin bathos about "heroes" who went all over the world killing other people. I prefer Canada's Remembrance Day to the U.S. Veterans' Day and the post-9/11 abuse of the word "hero."

Let's take this in parts. Veterans of war are, generally speaking, people who trained to, and were prepared for, killing other human beings on command. That's institutionalized murder.

War is simply wrong by any standard. Without soldiers willing to shoot there would be no wars.
 To glorify veterans has a myriad of problems.
  • First, you don't get to be a "veteran" just by wearing a uniform. You have to go to actual war. People who were posted in Germany or Korea during the Vietnam War are not veterans.
  • Second, people in uniform volunteer for it and are paid handsomely, so it's a job; if they deserve a special day, let's have a Garbage Collector Day since they protect our health risking their own by exposure to noxious materials. People in uniform get 
    • discounted food and housing (plus clothing, remember the uniform?);
    • health care unrivalled by anything available to civilians; and
    • a pension and lifelong benefits.
  • Third, veterans are not automatically heroes. That's why even the military has medals for heroism and not every GI Joe or Jane gets one. Heroism involves valor, prowess, gallantry, bravery, courage, daring and fortitude. Just sitting on your but in a uniform doesn't cut it.
Veterans are few and far between and they are no more deserving than other citizens who do as much or more for the national community without killing anyone.

In sum, for these and other reasons, November 11 should be reserved for remembering the horrors of war, which is brought on by those willing to kill on command. We recall the tragedy of war in hopes it will never happen again.