May 30, 2011
The left long has loathed our military. During the 1960s, students on campuses supported by blue collar taxpayers vilified the sons of these steelworkers and truck drivers who were fighting and dying in Vietnam. An entire television series, M*A*S*H, was constructed around the venality of career soldiers and the nobility of conscripted doctors who thought that fighting the father of Kim Jong-Il was somehow morally wrong. Most of us have known brave American servicemen who were spat upon and mocked when they came home on leave from Vietnam. This was, some Americans once thought, the residue of an unhappy war in Southeast Asia which ended four decades ago.
The politicians that spoke most contemptuously of American troops in Vietnam were leftist Democrats. Bill Clinton, the draft dodger president, famously wrote of loathing the military. Listen to John Kerry despicably defame the conduct of American troops in Vietnam. After Desert Storm, after Enduring Freedom, has anything changed? No. Watch the Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin describe our men and women in uniform in Iraq behaving like Nazis or Gulag guards. See Congressman John Murtha, who was almost the Democrat Floor Leader, condemn United States Marines at Haditha without so much as a hearing. Hear what Barack Obama said in 2007 about American forces razing villages and killing civilians. These are not the wild comments of rogue politicians. This is the face of the Democrat Party.
As Jeanne Kirkpatrick put in more than thirty years ago, describing the left's pathological hatred of America: "They always blame America first." The reasons are not hard to understand. American exceptionalism, that virtue which Prime Minister Netanyahu so recently described as a companion to Israeli exceptionalism, means that the two forces which proceeded from opposite direction into the foul heart of the Reich in 1944 were just as opposite in their moral purpose. American and British troops came to liberate people and Soviet troops came to re-enslave people. When American troops go to Iraq and to Afghanistan, it is also as liberators and not oppressors. Only someone so blinded with hatred of America could think otherwise.
Those who hate America and who hate Israel take their casualties in the war between decency and malice. Just as Netanyahu's own brother, Yonatan, a decorated hero of the Yom Kippur War, was the only Israeli soldier to die in the raid on Entebbe, an operation he commanded. The day Yonatan died was the very day of our nation's bicentennial, July 4, 1976. It is certain that the Prime Minister of Israel, on our Memorial Day, fully grasps what the left in America does not: The best, the very best of America, paid the final price for our liberties and our safety just as the best, the very best of Israel, pays that price so that politicians are free to squabble in the Knesset.
The left does not grasp that the men and women who volunteer to place their bodies between us and those who hate us are held in special respect by all the rest of us. That is why when Gallup asked Americans which institution of our nation it respects most, military was at the very top of the list and when Gallup asks Americans which profession we trust most, out of twenty-two professions, military officers are second on the list (right after nurses). My wife's father, who knew the domains of Hell and its demons well, as a skeleton waiting for hope in Bergen-Belsen, grasped at once after Liberation that the British and American soldiers were the heroes in a world of pain and fear. He never forgot it and for the next fifty years, Paul told everyone who would listen that his life -- his life as a proud American citizen -- was a debt he owed to the boys at Omaha Beach and Bastogne who never made it back home.
The American military, of all the forces on our troubled planet, offers hope. It is a meritocracy in a land too often addicted to affirmative action or cronyism. Some of the first big steps in racial equality were through the military, and it is no accident that men like Congressman West in Florida are as courageously conservative as any member of Congress, and that he is wholly untroubled by the ninnies of black groupthink in Congress. Every other minority -- Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, and others -- serves proudly within our Armed Forces. The very composition of our Armed Forces ought to make leftists beam, especially since no one has been conscripted to serve for almost forty years. But the left still hates this ultimate symbol of America, this first significant organization of our nation in 1776, this group of people who are more inclined to seriously trust God than, say, a community organizer who has never faced real danger.
Memorial Day is our holiday. That does not mean it is the holiday of conservatives -- every brave Democrat and every courageous leftist who serves and risks his life for this nation deserves the same respect as a soldier, sailor, or airman whose politics we love more. But it does mean that Memorial Day is our holiday by default. The left wants no part of it, really. An Obama who could not find time for an Easter address, but who sees every obscure Muslim holiday or whimsical invention like Kwanzaa, wants no part of Memorial Day except to scratch up a few style points in the afterglow of bin Ladin's death. Leftists who see nothing of worth in life cannot grasp the sacrifice of young men who saw a lifetime compressed into quiet, lonely moments of mortal sacrifice for freedom. The left, indeed, eschews the very idea of "sacrifice" in an adolescent world of entitlement. While we, the rest of America, the normal and respectful part, see on Memorial Day a time of remembrance for those who can remember no longer: and we do remember.
Bruce Walker is the author of Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.