What is an American?

The United States requires little of its citizens. Rights have replaced responsibilities to such an extent that many people now consider making demands on their fellow citizens prerequisites of civic virtue. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, is a phrase that is revered rhetorically but realistically rejected. Sort of like the black & white version of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, we see it on the far horizon of our landscape of memory, but are only vaguely aware that anyone ever lived there.

The contemporary version of John Kennedy's famous admonition would be "You have no duties to your county, except make sure you don’t fall off the government gravy train".

Our fellow Americans in San Francisco provide a good example. They passed by a 60% margin something called Measure I, dubbed "College Not Combat". It opposes the presence of military recruiters at public high schools and colleges. However, it would not ban the armed forces from seeking enlistees at city campuses, since THAT would put schools at risk of losing federal funding. Take the money; avoid the responsibility. It takes the pusillanimous approach of encouraging school authorities and outside weirdoes - eager to participate - to harass, insult and generally make life difficult for the people who make it possible for San Francisco to be such a pleasant place where bizarre people can congregate with impunity.

There is a place for dissent in America. But we have to dissent from the dissenters. What kind of mind set produces a measure like that? I am sure these guys hate the president. They oppose the war in Iraq. They probably dislike military culture and almost certainly got a hard time in gym class back in high school from guys with short haircuts.

But a big part of being part of something is . . . well being part of it. America is a joint enterprise of its citizens. Is America not worth defending? Is there nothing to defend? Keep in mind that we are not asking these individuals to make a personal contribution. All we want is for them not to make trouble for those who might want to do their duties or take advantage of interesting career opportunities.

The people in San Francisco have a right to dissent, but other Americans have a right to question their sense of priorities. At least they could show some courage. Go all the way. Why not ban the recruiters? That's what they really want to do. Just do it. Ban them and maybe lose some of the Federal funding. Take a real stand. We respect those who take a stand and suffer the consequences. This play-acting, dime-store cowboy, radicalism displayed by the SF electorate is just craven.

"We now have the moral weight of the city behind us," said one activist. Wrong about that, son. Morality implies taking a tough stand. All you did was take a cost free chance to insult your fellow citizens. You took no risk. This will help your fund raising. A lot of rich and comfortable lefties will assuage their misplaced guilt about being rich by throwing money at the bourgeoisie revolution you represent and radical activists will be able get fat off the working American left for a while longer. You know nothing bad will happen to you and you will take great umbrage when anyone criticizes what you did. And you love umbrage. Umbrage is to the dime-store activists what responsibility is to regular folks.

My apologies to the 40% who did the right thing and my condolences for having to live with the lower 60%.

Posted by Jack at November 25, 2005 12:06 PM