Scott Kesterson wrote a great blog providing us a snapshot of a few soldiers' and officers' reactions to President-Elect Obama's win on Election Day called "The Other Side of Paradise."
After reading some of the comments, I felt I had to highlight a few things and make a few points:
1. While President-Elect Obama is not the Commander in Chief of the military yet, speaking out against the President is in direct violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 88 which states that:
"any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, the secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the governor or legislature of any state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."
While it is certainly acceptable to use contemptuous words against the President in private among friends or fellow officers of the same rank, it is definitely taboo to do it in front of your soldiers and certainly while on duty. Since being activated to a war zone requires you to be on duty 24/7, these officers used bad judgment.
Not only were their contemptuous words heard by their soldiers, who, as of January 20th, will come under direct command of a President Obama, but now their words have leaked out to millions of civilians who read the Huffington Post and Scott's blog on KGW.com. They should have been aware of who was listening to their words before they spoke them aloud.
The entire reason for this law is to make sure military officers remain nonpartisan while on duty in uniform and in front of their troops. To undermine the President and other leaders in such a manner is to undermine their authority and obeying the lawful commands of those appointed over you is the entire foundation of the military.
These officers should be reprimanded as they didn't display the proper discipline and nonpartisanship in front of their troops and in uniform.
Readers must know that while in uniform and on duty, there are rules and laws that apply to behavior, appearance, and even how you speak. If this officer had written his views in an anonymous blog or on his Facebook page, they would be acceptable. However, the way in which they were presented is not.
2. I also had an issue with the blog having no disclaimer. The reader does not know whether these troops are in the Oregon or Alabama National Guard, part of an Army Reserve Unit from Florida, or part of the Active Duty Army. Scott doesn't tell the reader that by no means is this representative of Army-wide views.
This allows the reader to use a snapshot, that is not representative of the entire military, as a generalization that the reader can easily use to stereotype the entire military.
This is truly a problem when only 9% of the country has served or is serving in the military. This means that 91% of the country, if they don't know a veteran or someone serving, as having no frame of reference. No control group to compare results to. This is dangerous as the gap between those who serve and those they serve widens.
By having this type of disclaimer, the reader can make an assumption that only members of that unit, or state (if they are all from the same Guard unit), think like that.
These types of stories allow false rumors to be spread, very similarly to the rumors of President-Elect Obama being a Muslim and also not being Patriotic. Media outlets take a snapshot and present that particular snapshot as representative of the whole.
This is wrong. The author needs to provide disclaimers in order to combat false generalizations.
3. I want to reiterate what tons of other military veteran Huffington Post bloggers have said in the past: The Military is just a microcosm of our society.
You have people on both sides and representative of all subcultures in America, as evidenced by the plethora of milblogs and military organizations popping up all over the net. You have BlackFive.net. You have VetVoice.com. You have Vets for Freedom, Veterans For America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Veterans Against the Iraq War to name a select few.
All these veterans and active duty personnel have their own views and they are not representative of the entire Armed Forces, their branch of service, or even their squad.
The one thing that each of them have in common is their choice to wear the uniform and volunteer to serve the nation, regardless of who is in charge and regardless of if they agree with that person or not.
That, my brothers and sisters, is what truly makes the military great.