We were called traitors and “un-American” and I won’t do the same to those who have gathered for the “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial (except for those who are there to express racist or other such hateful and intolerant sentiments). Rather, I welcome citizen action and activism, I urge more Americans to get involved in the political process, no matter how different their views from mine.
Seeing the relentless focus on the military and watching someone like Glenn Beck wrap himself in the glory of others, I wanted to post an excerpt of something I wrote five years ago:
The Ethics of Iraq: Moral Strength vs. Material Strength
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” – Mark 8:36
The unbridgeable divide between the left and right’s approach to Iraq and the WoT is, among other things, a disagreement over the value of moral and material strength, with the left placing a premium on the former and the right on the latter. The right (broadly speaking) can’t fathom why the left is driven into fits of rage over every Abu Ghraib, every Gitmo, every secret rendition, every breach of civil liberties, every shifting rationale for war, every soldier and civilian killed in that war, every Bush platitude in support of it, every attempt to squelch dissent. They see the left’s protestations as appeasement of a ruthless enemy. For the left (broadly speaking), America’s moral strength is of paramount importance; without it, all the brute force in the world won’t keep us safe, defeat our enemies, and preserve our role as the world’s moral leader.
War hawks squeal about America-haters and traitors, heaping scorn on the ” blame America first ” crowd, but they fail to comprehend that the left reserves the deepest disdain for those who squander our moral authority. The scars of a terrorist attack heal and we are sadder but stronger for having lived through it. When our moral leadership is compromised by people draped in the American flag, America is weakened. The loss of our moral compass leaves us rudderless, open to attacks on our character and our basic decency. And nothing makes our enemies prouder. They can’t kill us all, but if they permanently stain our dignity, they’ve done irreparable harm to America.
That’s the lens through which I see today’s event. We may gain the world through military might, but what good does it do if we lose our soul? We may pay tribute to those who risk life for country — and they deserve our respect — but Dr. King’s moral authority was born of tolerance, compassion, dignity, honor, integrity, discipline, courage and those are not things we speak about, those are things we do. There’s a lot of talk, a lot of co-opting of Dr. King’s message at this rally, but it would be nice to see his example followed by the people attending.