John Kerry, writing in a fundraiser for the The Patriot Project:
"The Patriot Project has an incredibly important and concise mission. 'Freedom of speech and the right to dissent are cornerstones of our democracy. The Patriot Project will defend any man or woman, regardless of party or affiliation, who is attacked or defamed and whose patriotism is questioned simply because they exercise their rights as Americans. This is our mission.'There is nothing, nothing that infuriates me more viscerally than assaults on the honor and dignity of a combat veteran. Oh, I know there are a lot of vets on the "wrong" side of the political divide, and some of them are the most self-righteous, pompous asshats you well ever hear or read. Ordinarily I'd link to one to prove my point, but not in this context. Not ever in this context!
That's pretty damn fundamental in itself to who we are. But there's a human face behind it. The fight is intensely personal to me. Veterans are running for office all over our country. A lot of them got interested in politics as part of my campaign, and some got involved in Wes Clark's race. Some of us had disagreements for thirty five years -- like me and Jim Webb, we didn't see eye to eye over the war we fought in. But no matter where we came from, something much bigger now brings us together -- we're all a band of brothers now. When I got off the phone with Patrick Murphy after the chickenshit attacks on his military record, something felt awfully familiar and it got me pissed off. I care about these men and women. They've got guts and they've got brains and they've got heart and I'm telling you they will change the character of this pathetic Congress, and I'm boiling mad watching people who didn't serve attack those who did because they can't win a debate on the merits."
There is only one reason to insult the service of a veteran, and that is if they were found dishonorable and court-martialed. If their service was good enough for the men and women of his unit, you, civvy, have no damn right to question that judgement.
And while I do not take stupid shit from vets about how I don't have a right to my opinion because I haven't served, I will nonetheless put up with a lot more from a combat vet, because he damn well has earned an above-average right to be listened to, even if he IS full of crap.
No-one who has ever stood in Arlington National Cemetery, or upon the blood-soaked field of Appomattox and felt that amazing presence can seriously argue that point.
But my respect for the right to be loudly, patriotically and provably wrong stops at the point where it becomes an attack on the service of those who took equal or greater risks on behalf of my personal pink ass, and I'm starting to loudly question the values they teach recruits and cadets these days, because there are too damn many vets willing to do that.
The armed forces damn well need to clean house, and it needs to start at the Pentagon and work it's way down to the foxholes and humvees. But is not something to be done by civilians, unless we are forced to do so.
Soldiers should hold themselves to higher standards of behavior, because so often they are alone with nothing but a gun and their own integrity. You know what a warrior with a gun and no integrity is? He's a fucking terrorist!
Soldiers need to know that when they make the hardest judgement calls any human being will ever make; the ones involving life, death and personal sacrifice, that integrity will be honored, and those who hew to a lesser standard will be scorned. Not by civilians who have never been shot at, or by vengeful civilians who have been shot at and survived; but by their own; by men and women who know the difference between the handle and the sharp end and the situations a soldier faces.
Every veteran put their ass on the line for their country for those of you who did not, so even if their motives were less than pure, their understanding of the world less than complete, their ability to distinguish shades of gray, much less a rainbow of alternate possibilities is beside the point most days.
This regard is even more vital for those who served in combat; what is a potential risk for most members of the armed forces was daily reality for those who are decorated combat veterans.
So there is absolutely nothing slimier or more dishonorable, no greater stain to the emblems of the units with which they served than a combat veteran who takes money to slander their comrades in arms.
It speaks to their reasons for serving; a question we do not ordinarily ask, but there are people who join because they are patriots and people who join up for the opportunity to dick-size with a gun, with an eye out toward a bit of rape and pillage if the sergeant ain't lookin',
We do not wish to think of this, we do not wish to speak of it, but those who have served know the truth; not every soldier is a plaster saint, nor all motives pure.
But unless they prove otherwise, we honor the service they gave us even when it was for selfish reasons. Being an asshole doesn't make you bulletproof, and besides, more than a few such assholes have been changed by their service into honorable men and women.
But clearly, it does not always take, and "By their fruits ye shall know them." Some go on to become mercenaries, and some go on to put money above their honor in other ways.
These "Blackwater Boys" need to be dealt with as is the just tradition for dealing who choose to dishonor the soldier's trade and the laws of just warfare, on and off the battlefield.
Summarily, and with all due prejudice.
tag: Summary Justice, swiftboating, swift boat veterans for truth, Jack Murtha, John Kerry, Purple Heart, Combat Veterans, Blackwater, Haliburton, dishonorable conduct, Republicans