I just noticed that one of my friends from high school has joined a Facebook group called "Petition to remove 'Soldiers are not heroes' from facebook." It turns out there is a group called "Soldiers are not heroes," whose description contains statements like this:
This group is intended to point out the absurdity of the many groups on Facebook that portray all soldiers to be heroes and shower the armed forces with unconditional praise.
Putting on a soldiers uniform does not make you a hero.
Supporters of the group generally agree that the wars that our armed forces are participating in at the present time and in recent years are unnecessary and unjust. Therefore we don't feel that we should be pressured into offering "support" to people fighting and killing innocent people for causes that we don't believe in.
I agree, at least as far as that goes (there is also some sentiment that soldiers are always positive villains, which I don't necessarily endorse). Not everyone who is in the military deserves to be called a hero, and there's a straight path between loving soldiery and loving war, a path that too many Americans have rushed down without a glance to either side.
Now, some pro-military people have decided this is "hate speech" and they want Facebook to ban the group. You can probably guess the argument: you shouldn't be allowed to criticize soldiers because they're defending your right to speak freely. Or, as one punctuationally-challenged caps-locker put it:
WHY WOULD SOMEONE SAY SOLDIERS ARE NOT HEROES. RESPECT THEM OR YOU FORGOT THAT IF IT WASN'T FOR SOLDIERS RIGHT NOW WE WOULD BE UNDER NAZI OR JAPANESE OR COMUNIST RULE?
I call bullshit. No soldier since the American Revolution has fought to keep this country from being occupied by a foreign power (technically, not even then). No soldier has fought against anyone who had the power to curtail my civil liberties. Not now, not ever in the last 200 years.
Even Nazi Germany, certainly the worst enemy we've ever fought, was no threat to occupy the US and establish a dictatorship here. It would have hurt us to have Europe so enslaved, but the Germans could not have imposed their system on us. Only Americans have or had the power to do it.
Keeping a large nuclear arsenal and a powerful army in Europe did much to deter Communist expansion, but Communism wasn't defeated by warfare. Korea was a draw and we lost in Vietnam. If remaining free depended on our soldiers winning wars - well, let's thank God it didn't.
Saddam Hussein posed no threat to American liberties. Neither does Osama bin Laden. The latter had the ability to very occasionally kill some of us, but his most spectacular success killed fewer Americans than our own actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have. If defending freedom is the goal, we needn't do anything; if saving lives is the goal, we'd have done better just hunkering down.
Do we need soldiers? Sure, we need a few. But we don't need as many as we have, all over the world, killing tens of thousands in foreign countries that pose only modest threats to ourselves. We would be just as free today, without a huge omnipresent military, as Switzerland. If we keep censoring unpopular opinion, we'll be as free as Iran.
PS. Favorite quote from the
A true soldier is one that seeks to serve their country, not to destroy others.