Monday, March 07, 2005

Operation Enduring Reality

Last week a student brought to me a brochure that was in our school's counseling office. It was titled Operation Enduring Reality, and was provided by the Sacramento Veterans for Peace and the Sacramento Peace Action. The tri-fold brochure essentially trashed the military as a career path or even a socially responsible profession. Lies, half-truths, distortions, and a few facts later, one would have to wonder how anyone could ever be in the military. Darn those babykillers.

So, what course of action should I take?

"Procure" all the brochures myself? That wouldn't be ethical. I wouldn't accept someone's taking all the Army brochures so it wouldn't be appropriate for me to take these.

Appeal to the school administration to have them removed from the counseling office because they aren't providing any academic/vocational information, but rather are trashing a vocation? While there's merit to that argument, I wouldn't make such an argument if I agreed with the content of the brochures.

Put army recruiter stickers on the brochures? "Defacing" isn't something I'd accept if it were done to army brochures, so I won't condone it just because I disagree with the content.

There are some contacts listed on the brochures if you'd like to have some of these peaceniks come out to the school and speak. I considered inviting them and ambushing them with pro-military students. That doesn't seem professional or courteous.

So I appealed to an email list of fellow West Point graduates for their ideas. One suggested taking the issue to "friendly" press, and have them expose the fact that such anti-military propaganda is allowed in the schools. Another suggested taking a few of the brochures to the next school board meeting and alerting the board members to a few of the more choice comments from the brochures--and asking them if they think it's appropriate, especially in wartime, to display such brochures in our schools. Actually, I like Option B.

Do I want that viewpoint suppressed? As much as I hate to say it, yes. Deep inside, no one is as accepting of opposing viewpoints as they'd like to think they are, and I'd like it if everyone were politically conservative, socially moderate, and darn logical--in other words, I'd like it if everyone agreed with my views! But the confirmed American in me just believes in the 1st Amendment too much to stifle someone else's viewpoint on my own, which is why I left the brochures unmolested.

If the school board decided to do it, though, that wouldn't really be my problem :-)

No, I'm not going to the school board with them. The Law of Unintended Consequences dictates that doing so would probably make a big issue out of what is right now nothing more than a few (ignored) brochures in a counseling office, lost among Stanford and University of California and Harvard brochures. Heck, last year there was a West Point poster hanging in the counseling office, and I had nothing to do with it!

At this rather late point in the post, let me state that I'm not some "nuke 'em till they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark" militarist who thinks every international problem should be solved at the point of a rifle. Actually, I don't know anyone like that. It's a convenient stereotype used by people who probably know better. Let's hear from that greatest babykiller of them all, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, in an address to West Point's Corps of Cadets in 1962: "This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Read the entire speech here and see if it jibes with the views of those who doubt the honor of the profession of arms.

I'll let those brochures gather dust on a table, and eventually be thrown away to make room for more valuable (and more honest) documents.

Update, 3/9/05 8:20pm: Go here and read. It's short and entertaining. If you're reading this blog and specifically this post, you'll probably like this article.


Austin (the student) said...

I have taken these brochures to a handful of seniors whom I know are planning on enlisting in our country's military. What saddened me was the look on these 17 and 18 year old faces. These contemporaries of mine who are making the choice to defend our country and the freedoms we all love. It was a look of perplexment, usually followed by something along the lines of "This is complete Bull$*&^". No matter the tough persona I could see they didn't understand why someone could write about the military in such a fashion.

My father went to USAFA, and was in the Air Force for 20 years. During Vietnam he was a FAC, and was awarded the DFC. When John Kerry called him a babykiller, he was hurt by the anti-americanism of the comments.

With any luck I too will have a career in the Air Force, and though I have heard the military isn't for everyone, I know it is the place for me. This piece of paper I picked up in the guidance counselor's office hurt me.

I believe it is these people's right to distribute what they want, and though I may abhor it, I will defend their right to it until the day I die. I just wish they tried to use more information and less bias to prove their point.

It was a comfort to know I had somewhere to turn with this on campus, thanks.

Darren said...

Perhaps we need to create a new logo, a small sticker to put on the window of my classroom door. It would mean "Conservative safe zone."

Anonymous said...

I am saddened that there are organizations that lack the courage to address their concerns head on. They attack the messenger (the military) instead of the message (the opposition to war). On top of that, the choice of their audience is the young, innocent, student instead of facing their opposition head on (the politician they elected in the first place). In my world that is called cowardice.

These propagandists offer no positive alternative. The brochure is anti-military; however, it is not pro-anything. They would rather see a student flip burgers before seeing that high school graduate in uniform. The message they are putting out is, “do what you want, as long as we agree with it…otherwise we will hate you.” Yes, they have the right to free speech, but they don’t have the right to be heard

Coach Brown said...

Hi there,

I feel you my friend. I'm about 2 hours away from you in Ukiah, CA. There is an almost fervent passion from some teachers to deny the presence of any military on campus. However, even though our principal graduated from Bezerkley, he is very big on what is best for the kids. So teachers that don't want military in the classroom don't have to have them go in. But anti-military brochures are not allowed in the Administration building (where guidence is). It sounds like a rare case when a man is pro-free all instances.

I like you blog. I'm going to link you up.

Anonymous said...

You said "Lies, half-truths, distortions, and a few facts later"...

In the brochure of OER, could you be more specific as to these? And, where does it say you should be "flipping burgers"???