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The ramblings of an annoyed naval officer

January 17, 2013

I don’t even know where to begin.
Since I have a background in mental health, among other things, I guess I’ll start there. Put simply, mental health professionals (MHPs) are in most cases neither trained nor qualified to determine, except in overt, black and white cases, if someone should be reported as dangerous. It’s a bad idea to put them in that position. It sets them up for failure and unnecessary liability. Not to mention the fact that mental health patients are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
Moving on. When I first joined the military, I was enlisted. When I took my oath of enlistment I was serious about it, but I was also very young. Here’s the text of the oath every enlisted person takes upon entry into service and reenlistment:
I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God
When my enlistment ended I returned to college and eventually wound up taking a Navy scholarship which required me to enlist again and take the oath again. I was older then and maybe a little smarter and wiser, so I paid more attention to the enlistment oath that time. Wow, there’s a lot in there when you’re mature enough to really look at it. It was kind of sobering. It’s interesting that the first part deals with an enlisted person’s duty to the Constitution. Some have suggested it offers an “out” in the event of receiving orders that violate that part of the oath, though it’s worth pointing out that although it was in the context of war crimes (and in Nuremberg vs the US) the plea of “I was just following orders” did not work for Eichmann. Most service people I knew then, and those I know now, say the primary obligation is to the Constitution.
The day I graduated I was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy. Part of that required that I take the Oath of Office:
I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
It was a little more sobering. Now, since I was commissioned into a staff corps, I was commissioned but still sent off to learn how to be an officer. It was there I met the LT who was our class officer. He went over the oath in painstaking detail, making the same point over and over. As commissioned officers our obligation was to the Constitution of the United States. Not to the Navy. Not to the DOD. Not to the President. Not to the chain of command. To the Constitution. Even the defense of our nation, he pointed out, was to be executed as part of our obligation to the Constitution. Everything else, he said, was to be subordinate to that. Further, he went on to explain in great detail, any order, any command given us that violated the Constitution we were obligated to disobey, regardless of the consequences. If we weren’t okay with that, now that it had been explained, we were to let him know privately and he would recommend that we be returned immediately to civilian status without prejudice. I didn’t sleep well for days. I stayed in the Navy.
My point to all this is that the oath I took is the same as the one taken by all members of both houses of Congress, the Vice-President and the President. The obligation is the same. To serve the country by supporting and defending the Constitution. I have no way of knowing what was in the minds and hearts of anyone else upon taking the oath. I’m not a mind reader. I do, however, know this. If you aren’t able to fulfill your duty to the Constitution, you should step-down, forthwith. Why on earth would you continue in a job, an office, that requires of you that which you are unable or unwilling to do? I can think of no legitimate reason. If you have been seduced away from allegiance to your oath and the Constitution, if the lure of power has led you to effectively deny that which you swore an oath to do, and yet you choose to remain in your office, I offer the following. You have no idea of the contempt in which you are held by those who were true to their oath and by the great majority of Americans. You are a disgrace to the office you hold. You have truly become the worst sort of quisling. Samuel Adams would have had you for dinner.
To those in positions of great influence among the gun rights groups I say the following: Many groups claim to be the only group that will not compromise my second amendment rights. Really? Because, if there is only one, it can’t be true for all of you. We don’t have the luxury of petty bickering and infighting right now. If you’re going to do that, if you’re willing to sacrifice my rights and those of millions of other gun owners for the sake of influence and power, see my comments about quislings, above.
To the gun control advocates who have so patiently, so condescendingly and so paternalistically assured me that “no one is trying to take your guns” I humbly submit that one of two things is true. Either you were misled by those in positions of influence in the gun control movement or you, like they, lied to me.
I am amazed and saddened that my fellow citizens can see their freedoms being slowly eroded away and not become alarmed. It’s not just second amendment rights that are endangered. The loss of any of our civil liberties endangers the others. Yes, I am concerned about the ongoing attack on the right to keep and bear arms. I’m equally concerned about ever increasing limits on freedom of speech (limiting free speech on campus to “free speech zones”? Really?), freedom of religion (freedom of worship is notthe same thing), the right to due process, habeas corpus…the list goes on and on. At what point do we, as Americans, say “enough”? When do we get beyond the idea that short term comfort is more valuable than the freedom to live our lives the way we want, limited only by restrictions on harming others or preventing them from living their lives the way they want? Do we not see that each loss of freedom makes the next even easier to lose? Like a child we fail to discipline, when we fail to hold accountable those who are supposed to answer to us, we make it easier for them to destroy the next little bit of freedom.
To those who insist “we need to be more like Europe” I must ask this question. Are you serious? Their real tax rate is unreal, their economies are failing faster and to a greater degree than ours and their personal freedoms are far more limited than ours. Over the years I’ve worked and talked with a number of people who moved to the US from different parts of Europe. They were, to the very last person, incredibly polite and highly skilled in their fields. And unapologetic about why they moved here…to be free to live how they want and achieve as much as they could. Every time I’ve broached the subject of the US becoming like them I’ve been looked at like I was an idiot. It took a while to get it through my head that in spite of our difficulties, issues and problems we are, overall, freer and better off than anyone else in the world.

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One Comment
  1. After reading this post, thought you might be interested in this video; video is down the page. Hope you enjoy it and please leave a comment.Mike G.

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