As I’ve mentioned just a few times, I just read, and was very moved by, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. A liberal I know flipped through the book’s first few pages and had a very different reaction. The following passages bugged the liberal:
My name is Marcus. Marcus Luttrell. I’m a United States Navy SEAL, Team Leader, SDV Team 1, Alfa Platoon. Like every other SEAL, I’m trained in weapons, demolition, and unarmed combat. I’m a sniper, and I’m the platoon medic. But most of all, I’m an American. And when the bell sounds, I will come out fighting for my country and for my teammates. If necessary, to the death.
And that’s not just because the SEALs trained me to do so; it’s because I’m willing to do so. I’m a patriot, and I fight with the Lone Star of Texas on my right arm and another Texas flag over my heart. For me, defeat is unthinkable. (pp. 6-7)
[As they’re taking off from Bahrain to Afghanistan:] There were no other passengers on board, just the flight crew and, in the rear, us, headed out to do God’s work on behalf of the U.S. government and our commander in chief, President George W. Bush. (p. 12.)
[Of the Taliban/Al Qaeda enemy in Afghanistan:] This was where bin Laden’s fighters found a home training base. Let’s face it, al Qaeda means “the base,” and in return for the Saudi fanatic bin Laden’s money, the Taliban made it all possible. right now these very same guys, the remnants of the Taliban and the last few tribal warriors of al Qaeda, were preparing to start over, trying to fight their way through the mountain passes, intent on setting up new training camps and military headquarters and, eventually, their own government in place of the democratically elected one.
They may not have been the precise same guys who planned 9/11. But they were most certainly their descendants, their heirs, their followers. They were part of the same crowd who knocked down the North and South Towers in the Big Apple on the infamous Tuesday morning in 2001. And our coming task was to stop them, right there in those mountains, by whatever means necessary. (pp. 13-14)
The liberal felt that the above passages showed that the writer was simplistic and primitive in his thinking. The whole notion of simple patriotism offended the liberal, who also thought it was just plain stupid to seek revenge against guys who weren’t actually the ones who plotted 9/11. My less than clever riposte was, “so I guess you would only kill Nazis who actually worked in the gas chambers?” Frankly, given the differences in our world views, I’m not sure there is a clever comeback or, which would be more helpful, a comeback that actually causes the liberal to reexamine those liberal principles.
UPDATE: Here’s an apt quotation, written by John Stuart Mill, in 1862, as a comment upon the American Civil War:
A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.