Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Think you know how "the troops" really feel? Think again.

Before I begin this little rant, I have to thank The Gun Toting Liberal for giving me the idea to check up on it. While this particular blog has several contributors, the "Liberal" behind the blog is an Alabama native and a military veteran. What I'm about to tell you has been mentioned on more than one occasion on his blog, yet mainstream media ignores it, and your average civilian is unaware of the truth. So I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

Soldiers do not have complete freedom of speech.

What?

Soldiers do not have complete freedom of speech.

Not sure I got that.

Soldiers do not have complete freedom of speech.

Now that I've said it three times, I hope it has sunk in. Active duty soldiers do not have the freedom to dissent. For those of you short on a dictionary, that means that they can't disagree. Sure, they can say and feel whatever they want-- off-base, off-duty, and out of uniform. The thought never occurred to me to ask my brother (A.K.A. "Corporal Bonehead" of the U.S.M.C., as he is affectionately known) whether or not this was true. I finally did, and he confirmed it. Not that I don't trust Gunny, but Gunny is someone I've never met. I know my brother. After all, I'm the one who whipped him into shape, so to speak, over the course of many years in order to prepare him for basic training. He has even stated that basic training was a breeze after living with me for 18 years. Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly accept your gratitude for offering pre-training to our nation's finest.

There are legitimate reasons for this, such as the fact that you want to discourage insubordination among troops, but most people aren't aware of this little detail when they see smiling men and women in uniform happily parroting to the press whatever the talking point of the day happens to be. (It's like their lips are moving, but Tony Snow's voice is coming out.)

The truth is, the sentiment among troops is about the same as the rest of the population. There's about a 30:70 ratio of supporters to non-supporters. If you want to see what troops in Afghanistan and Iraq really think, try visiting a site like The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Better yet, ask one yourself-- off-duty, off-base, and out of uniform. By the way, a real letter home usually sounds like, "We're good. Send socks and condoms. Tell Julie I love her." Nineteen-year-olds in the middle of a war zone don't usually write extended political commentary. If you do happen to see political commentary so beautifully written that it looks like it came from a Yale graduate, it just might have come from a Yale graduate.

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