Military protection of rights is a myth
Congratulations to the ROTC cadets who participated in the Presidential Pass ceremonies and graduate to officer class in the U.S. armed forces. Like Connie Quinlan in her April 23 letter, I applaud their dedication, hard work and service to our country. I do not applaud, however, the institution for which they are going to work.
In particular, I reject the powerful myth that the armed forces are in the business of protecting our right to free speech and protest. In reality, those rights come under assault during every large-scale military operation. Today many academics are under attack for their public opposition to the war in Afghanistan. Dr. Lynne Cheney, the wife of the man who is second in line to command of the armed forces, is leading the campaign to compile a blacklist of intellectuals who have exercised their free speech in protest of the war. So far, no one in the military has articulated a plan to protect us from Cheney.
But I do appreciate and respect what war memorials, such as the cemetery at West Point where I have visited, really stand for. There I felt the powerful presence of so many souls given for others. Most of all I felt sadness for the immense loss of life represented there, nearly all of which since 1945 has been unnecessary. This is bound to continue after the Presidential Pass, and I will not applaud its perpetuation.
April 24, 2002
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002