For the past few weeks Michelle Malkin has been documenting the attacks–in both word and deed–on America’s military recruiters:
Ideas have consequences. Inaction has consequences. For the past several years, I’ve chronicled the Left’s escalating war on military recruiters-and the apathetic, weak-kneed response to it. In Unhinged, I devoted a sub-section of my chapter “They Don’t Support Our Troops” to the organized campaign of harassment against recruitment offices on college campuses nationwide. The anti-recruiter thugs have thrived thanks to a combination of public indifference, law enforcement fecklessness, and left-wing ideological apologism.
While it’s encouraging to see Malkin and others take up this cause, there is a greater concern that is largely ignored. The biggest challenge for military recruiters is not the heated battles with Code Pink protesters but the cool indifference of mainstream Americans.
If you want to see the contrast between what people say they believe and how they live, spend a day with your local military recruiter. You’ll be amazed by the number of people you’ll encounter who go out of their way to tell you how much they “support our troops” and how they appreciate our service. Then you casually inquire about their son or daughter and when they will be stopping by the recruiting station to learn more about serving their country. The reaction is palpable: their spines stiffen, they smile blankly, and a coldness comes over them. If they are quick-witted they will find a way to jokingly dismiss the question. More often, though, they will simply blurt out honestly that there is no way they’d let their own child enlist.
Since I spent my years as a Marine Corps recruiter in Aberdeen, WA — the hometown of Kurt Cobain — I had hoped my experience was an isolated case. But then I talked to others who told the same tales about being brushed off by school counselors and dismissed by parents. Often times, when I would call a student’s house and tell the parents I was with the Marines they would hang up on me. Imagine how different the reaction would be if I told them I was a recruiter for Harvard.
If Americans valued and respected the institution and the troops as much as they claim the military would be more difficult to get into than any Ivy-league school. We wouldn’t be able to take everyone who wanted to enlist. The “elite” would be lined up around the block, letters of recommendation in hand, hoping to serve in the greatest military in the history of the world. Rather than having to bribe “scholarship mercenaries” with a generous college fund, recruiters would be forced to turn away highly qualified applicants.
But for all the talk, most Americans are willing to support the troops only insofar as they are not expected to add to their ranks. We are more than willing to leave our country’s defense to the “military types” and lower classes who need the employment. We have other priorities: advanced degrees to pursue, careers to build, money to be made. Besides, we pay our taxes. What else should we be expected to do?
Yes, Americans support our troops and respect their service. We just don’t want our own sons and daughters to be the ones to serve. And if, like the citizens of Kyrgyzstan, we have to pay out of our pockets to keep our children out of the military we’ll have just one question — “Who do we make the check out to?”