The Spectacle Blog

The Military Doesn’t Protect Our Freedoms? Really?

By on 11.12.13 | 2:46PM

Every few months, a radical leftist emerges from his faculty office or coffee shop to “bravely” pen an anti-military screed—almost always wrapped around condescension directed against those simple-minded Americans who “uncritically” (their word) support soldiers who have volunteered to defend our nation.

The latest edition of this faux “speak truth to power” nonsense comes from Salon and was published (of course) on Veteran’s Day.  Justin Doolittle, a “freelance writer from Long Island” believes our military does not, in fact, “protect our freedoms.” Using tributes to troops at major sporting events as a launching pad, he takes issue with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbard’s common-sense statement that our troops are “protecting our country, they’re protecting the world, and, you know, obviously we wouldn’t have freedom without them.”

Doolittle’s response:

This is just an extraordinary sentence. It contains three distinct, factual claims. While the first two are highly debatable, let us suspend consideration of them in order to focus on the third, which is actually an outright falsehood. Not only does Hibbert confidently assert that “we wouldn’t have freedom” were it not for the beneficence of the U.S. military, but that this is “obviously” so.

Freedom has become one of those politically charged terms that means whatever people need it to mean. There is no coherent conception of freedom, though, in which it only exists at the pleasure of the U.S. military. It’s simply a non sequitur. The “freedoms” most Americans think of when they hear the term are enshrined in constitutional and statutory law. They are in no way dependent on the size, scope or even the existence of the U.S. military. If John Lennon’s ghost assumed dictatorial control of the U.S. government tomorrow and, as his first order of business, disbanded the entire military, Americans’ “freedoms” would not suddenly vanish.

This is perhaps one of the most historically illiterate statements ever made in the pages of Salon (and that’s quite a distinction). 

Mr. Doolittle treats the Constitution and its statutes as if they sprang from nowhere, and are self-protecting and perpetual. Beginning with the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, our key freedoms may have been born in the minds of the Founders, but were first won on the battlefield. The Constitution would never exist but for the Continental Army, nor would the Civil War amendments have any meaning but for the resolve of the Union Army at Gettysburg and countless other Civil War battlefields.

Does Mr. Doolittle think our statutes and Constitution would have survived Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany? Or does he on the basis of blind faith believe that oceans alone would protect us from all foreign aggression—especially a land so rich in natural resources (historically a magnet for hostile interest)?

Moving to the present day, while Mr. Doolittle may have unshakeable faith that radical Islam will simply shrink into to irrelevance if we only stop our “wars of aggression” (his phrase), forgive me if I don’t share his confidence in our safety or our ability to maintain meaningful freedoms in the face of a prolonged terrorist assault. 

And, remind me, which “war of aggression” were we fighting on September 11, 2001?

Of course no one thinks our freedom would suddenly disappear if the military ceased to exist. Instead, it would slowly fade away as our acute vulnerability led to a parade of compromises and concessions to a hostile world that has long rejected our embrace of individual liberty and has no qualms about flexing its own military muscles.

Mr. Doolittle’s argument is so specious that it’s tempting not to respond at all, but if the modern history of the left teaches us anything, it’s that destructive ideas can start with small (and fringe) beginnings. 

We’ve come a long way since the bad old days during and after the Vietnam War, when angry activists took out their anti-war rage on young draftees. We must remain vigilant to ensure these days don’t return.

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