Monday, November 14, 2005

The absolute wrong message

A recent outrage about Bill O'Reilly's idotic comments over San Francisco brings up an interesting problem for progressives and Democrats. How do progressives/Democrats encourage every single one of our idealistic and energetic young people to commit to national service?

A little background. San Franciscians overwhelmingly approved a measure encouraging schools to keep military recruiters off campus. This is a largely symbolic gesture since any school district that takes federal money has to open their schools to military recruiters. It is clearly a strong anti-war statement and that should surprise no one who watches American politics.

However, it makes progressives and Democrats look like jerks. Like they don't appreciate the military service or veterans. It appears that, while we like the freedoms we have, we don't have the courage to stand up and fight. I've never even considered joining the military. My father served in the Nebraska National Guard and has told me since I was young that I wouldn't make good military material because I ask "why" too much. I'd like to think that is true, but it is probably because deep down I'm a coward. I have two friends, Stu and Jck! who are serving full-time for the Air Force. They are better men than me.

So what to do? Rather than sticking our middle finger up at the men and women serving in the military, progressives and Democrats should be championing national service, either in the military or in some enlarged AmeriCorps. We should be holding up national service as a badge of honor. Our leaders should be calling young people to choose military or community service after high school rather than running Sgt. Thompson out of Springfield High.