Last year, an acquaintance named Dave, a television writer who had fallen on hard times, decided to make an economy move to South Carolina. An indicator of his sour mood is that he now includes "The Swamp" in his e-mail address. I have every reason to believe that this Hollywood transplant isn't referring to the physical landscape, but to the folks who live there. Over the past several months, he has made it perfectly clear that he feels as if he has awakened to find himself dwelling in Dogpatch.
As we all know, a certain amount of trauma takes place anytime we pack up. But that's especially the case when we set down 3,000 miles away. No longer do we know where the barbershop is or the dry cleaner or the coffee shop where they remember to drain the tuna before making your sandwich. If you add to the mix the fact that the man is middle-aged and, thus, regarded as over-the-hill in a business that confuses youth with ability, one can readily understand a certain amount of bitterness.
Even though I thought he was over-reacting to neighbors whom he felt were too devout in their religion and too conservative in their politics, I continued to feel he was more to be pitied than censured. But that all ended as of last week. In response to something I had written in favor of the war in Iraq, he took me and most of his fellow Carolinians to task.
He e-mailed me a very curt note to let me know he was totally opposed to my position. He simply couldn't imagine how I could possibly be in favor of a war that had already seen a few thousand American soldiers killed.
Of course, people opposed to the war - any war - always presume to have dibs on the moral high ground. Only they, they would insist, care about the youngsters who do the actual fighting. Only they are truly compassionate. Anything you say in opposition merely makes their case, proving that you are a blood-thirsty ogre who enjoys nothing better than the death and maiming of young Americans.
When you remind him, as I did, that he was one of those people who had prophesized that we would lose upwards of a hundred thousand troops during the invasion, he insists that the total number of casualties is inconsequential. So it's a waste of time pointing out what a tiny number of losses America has actually suffered in ending Hussein's evil regime, particularly when compared to the lives lost in single battles at places like Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal, Belleau Wood and the Battle of the Bulge.
So, instead, I argued that while I, too, hate the idea of young Americans dying, the fact remains that we have an all-volunteer military these days. One has to assume that when one voluntarily signs up to serve, one does so knowing the risk involved.
To which he replied, in that smug way that so many liberals adopt when being holier-than-thou: "Maybe because I live near Parris Island and see so many young Marines walking around, I believe I know better than you that these kids have no idea what they're letting themselves in for."
That did it. At that moment, my pity supply ran dry. It's one thing to disagree about American foreign policy, but to be that insufferably condescending about all the young men and women who have enlisted in the military is simply beyond the pale.
The scary thing is that I know any number of people who share his insufferable attitude.
Oddly enough, it is only when young people opt to devote some portion of their adult lives to serving their country that left-wing hypocrites suddenly decide that they're too callow to make such important decisions. How is it if an 18-year-old decides to join the military, it's a sure sign of immaturity, but if he decides to become an insurance salesman, a stock broker or a priest, we're supposed to assume he's all grown up and knows what he's doing? Why do these people frown on the 18-year-olds who believe in defending America's freedom and liberty, but give a pat on the back to teenagers who go off to expensive universities in order to major in Gay Studies, Comic Books or 19th century Portuguese poetry?
One of the lame answers liberals will offer is that, in performing their military duty, the youngsters might get killed. Well, the fact of the matter is that not only does everybody die, but, war or no war, only the very elderly die at a faster clip than the young.
American teenagers commit suicide as if there's no tomorrow, thus ensuring that, for them, there won't be. Many more die as a result of drugs, either through using them or selling them on someone else's turf. Others die because they get drunk on a regular basis, and end up driving their cars into telephone poles. So, why is it that people such as Dave only seem to view their premature demises as tragic when they happen to die wearing a military uniform?
What I find truly offensive about the liberals' point of view is that while they abhor the idea that their sons and daughters might even consider serving in the military, if their offspring decided to take up criminal law and spend the next fifty years springing serial killers and child molesters, these same parents would be popping their buttons and throwing a party.
I ended up by writing one final e-mail to Dave. I let him know I thought his attitude towards those Marines in his neighborhood was patronizing and presumptuous, and that he had better keep his opinion to himself if he didn't want to get a well-deserved punch in the snoot. What's more, judging by the fact that in his mid-50s he felt he had no option but to move clear across the country to a place he obviously detested, he had a lot of chutzpah criticizing other people's career decisions.