I never thought I would be saying this, but I am going to test my freedom of speech and freedom of the press today. If I still have a column next week, it will have worked.
I am used to being alone politically in our newsroom. I don’t have any problem with it; I take it more as a challenge. That said, I usually don’t take the “Our View” section of our paper very seriously. A large portion of the time, this is written from a very liberal perspective. So I take it with a grain of salt and go along with my day.
On the last day of print last semester, the “Our View” piece voiced the Collegian editorial board’s support of Charlie Rangel’s attempt to reinstate the draft for our military. Although I thought it was a bit extreme, even for them, I didn’t care much until I came across one specific section.
It read, “A draft would put some uneasiness into the hearts of the affluent, who, generally don’t die in as great numbers for their country as the poor, who do so because the military is often the only hope they have for a better future.”
It’s been a long time since I was as angry as when I read that.
I guess facts are not a big issue when you don’t have to put your name or picture on a column you write, because if they were, perhaps the editorial board would have omitted that section. If they had done any research, they would have found the Heritage Foundation’s report just released on October 27, 2006, which found that the economic makeup of our military almost exactly mirrors the civilian population. It’s not just the poor who are sacrificing for our country – it is everyone. The data proved the mean household income of military personnel is well above the poverty line. In fact, the study showed the lower class is proportionally underrepresented in the military. At the same time, since the war in Iraq started in 2003, the representation of the highest-income quintile actually rose! Imagine that.
The reality is that our military is not full of lower-class recruits who turn to the armed services because they have no other options. They are just like us, except they have chosen to actively serve our country and defend the freedoms we take for granted, including the right to insult our military from behind the shield of an anonymous column.
An all-volunteer military like the one we have is the best way to maintain our defense. It ensures that everyone serving understands and accepts the realities of war. The last thing our military needs is an M-4 in the hands of someone who doesn’t care about our mission.
Maybe the Collegian editorial board would like to tell my brother-in-law who just got back from a 15-month tour in Iraq with the Army or my best friend who is in the Air Force they had no choice but to serve our country.
Let’s just say those would be some very educational conversations.
Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.