Of course not. …If there's anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. … If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq. … those who have the least opportunities at this age find themselves in the military, as I did when I was 18 years old.What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a revealing (and, frankly, revolting) look into the liberal soul when it comes to the military. Note the quick, imperial dismissal of the idea that anyone would want to fight to defend the freedoms the rest of us hold dear. I find it difficult to believe that Congressman Rangel actually means what he said -- he is a decorated war veteran himself, for which I am grateful. But the message he keeps sending our troops through his rude, thoughtless and even ignorant comments is that everyone in the armed forces must be poor, dumb or both. After all, nobody wants to serve his country, right?
Wrong. Plenty of “young, bright individuals” fill the ranks of our highly unselfish, highly professional military. We’re talking about men and women who actually want to be there -- well-educated people who could have pursued lucrative careers in the civilian world but decided to join the military. Their courage makes it possible for all of us to live our lives as we see fit, to worship as our consciences dictate, to follow our dreams and to speak our minds freely -- even if it means that some of us insult the people who guard our freedoms.
There’s another aspect of Rangel’s response that should concern all Americans, even those who might agree with him: his tendency to disregard information he doesn’t like. Rangel will soon take the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee -- a position that makes him one of the most powerful men in Washington. But with great power comes great responsibility. A powerful leader cannot lead wisely if he simply denies “inconvenient” facts that don’t suit his preconceptions, fit his political purposes or mesh with his prejudices.
If Rangel has facts that support his contention that our troops are poor, ill-educated dead-enders with no prospects for success in civilian life, he ought to present those facts. Otherwise, he should stop abusing our brave men and women in uniform, learn to face the truth and start acting like a responsible leader.