If there is one issue that unites Left and Right in the United States today, it's respect for those who serve in the Armed Forces. Blackwater's mercenaries, on the other hand, pull down six-figure incomes and serve only their self-interest.
Our soldiers perform their duty with courage and discipline. But Blackwater's employees act like the Wild Bunch did when William Holden wasn't around. They endanger American troops with behavior that inflames local hostility toward the occupying forces. They claim exemption from military and civilian law, shoot Iraqi civilians, and run cars off the road without provocation.
Most importantly, Blackwater mercenaries aren't American soldiers. So what are they doing participating in Fleet Week Celebrations intended "to honor the men and women serving in the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps"?Lucas O'Connor reports on San Diego State's Fleet Week Football Classic in Calitics:
For at least the second year in a row (probably all three), the halftime show included an American flag being parachuted onto the field by members of a nation parachutist team...who happen to work for Blackwater and use parachutes emblazoned with the Blackwater logo.
Our citizen-based military is an essential part of who we are as a republic and a people. But this Administration uses mercenaries in unprecedented ways: to skirt military and civilian law, and to help its supporters and donors to get rich at public (and soldiers') expense. And while this Administration has cut corners on soldiers' health, safety, and pay, it has no problem letting Blackwater and other companies pocket fat profit margins from the same military budget.
Patriotism isn't like professional sports or pop music. It shouldn't have a "corporate sponsor" - especially one that profits from the same conflicts that take the lives of our citizen-soldiers. So what, exactly, is the Fleet Week organizing group trying to accomplish? Should football fans salute the Blackwater logo along with the American flag? If not, why is it there?
Blackwater's participation in a patriotic event like this one reflects badly on the event's organizers. They should send the mercenaries home from Fleet Week. Guns-for-hire have no part in a celebration of American heroism.
Follow Richard (RJ) Eskow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rjeskow