Friday, August 26, 2005




by Rachel Steffes-MacKenzie

I assume you have already heard about the delusional band of abusive and neglectful parents who are slithering their way down to the Anti-Christ's lair in Crawford, Texas to harass Gold Star Mom, Cindy Sheehan? No, that is not a typographical error, no misprint. I wrote the words abusive and neglectful and I make no apologies. I stand by them because they were the words I had intended to use.

As far as I am concerned, those individuals who did not make an attempt to discourage their children from joining the military after this travesty of a "leader" was appointed as president were just plain neglectful. Those individuals who are either too stupid or too cruel to not want an end to the futile blood bath in Iraq are advocating a policy which puts their children and other parents' children in harm's way--and if that doesn't qualify as abusive then I don't know what does. (On a side note, you really don't want to know what I think of the proverbial psychopaths who would actively encourage their children to join the military now that the Bush War has turned sour the way we had said it would all along.)

Be honest. Wouldn't you like to make your own bumper sticker that reads: "We love the troops so much that we want to bring them home right now?" Wouldn't you like to vomit when you hear psychotic nonsense about how the troops knew what they were getting into because they volunteered? Wouldn't you just love to scream back that most Americans, including volunteer soldiers, trusted their President to actually avoid unnecessary wars as opposed to blundering into them? Aren't you getting just a little sick and tired of empty, irrelevant rhetoric about how we'll hurt the troops' moral if we don't support their Bush-given right to commit suicide? Don't you feel just a little nauseated when you hear right wing lunacy about our soldiers efforts being for nothing if we don't leave them in a dangerous war zone until the Bush reime's misbegotten policies finally erupt in an Iraqi Civil War?

Yeah. I'm getting sick and tired of their excuses too.

I'm sorry, but there's a lot more to parenting that providing food, clothing, and shelter. Parents are also required to provide a moral compass--something the administration in Washington has clearly been lacking despite all its shallow double talk about family values. Sometimes a parent needs to sit down with a child and actually warn that child about the forces in society which can do that child harm. Having done so, the parent then has a moral obligation to actively dissuade the child from engaging in harmful activities. And on those occasions when the child refuses to listen or obey, the parent has a moral obligation to intervene. And if the parents refuse to intervene then the Powers That Be have a duty to step in and either correct the family dysfunction or terminate the parental rights.

If six-year-old Johnny is found playing on a busy highway, Mommy and Daddy need to get off their asses and drag him--kicking and screaming if necessary--back into the yard or house. If thirteen-year-old Jimmy is doing drugs, Mommy and Daddy have an obligation to get Jimmy into a drug treatment program. And if 24-year-old Tommy doesn't understand the fact that his support of a self-destructive, republican war of choice is both, putting him in the way of harm and causing untold grief and anxiety to his loved ones at home, then Mom and Dad have a moral obligation to speak out against the policy which is putting their sons life in jeopardy; and it doesn't matter if Tommy approves or not. No child, regardless of age, wants to be disciplined but sometimes it is necessary for the general well being of the child. Whether he or she appreciates or approves is quite frankly, irrelevant. Better a resentful child who will eventually out grow his or her resentment than a dead child with whom you can never rebuild a relationship. Or to be succinct, sometimes love requires us to take actions which the child may or may not appreciate at the time that the actions are taken, but that should not stop us from taking them.

And if the lucky individuals who have been blessed with children do not understand this; if they don't even try to dissuade their children from joining this wretched crusade; if they don't make an effort to bring their children home right away with no questions asked, then they do not deserve the title of parent unless it is preceded by the aptly descriptive terms of neglectful and abusive.


Karen said...

I have three children myself. A step daughter named Tammy, age four, a little boy, Kyle Junior age 1, and our new daughter, Allison. If they were in high school and if ANYONE tried to talk them into signing up for this war I would PERSONALLY make the cost so high that the offending individual wouldn't even think about trying it again Under normal circumstances I am a very peaceful person, but if anyone were to even LOOK at one of my children in the wrong way I would make the offender's life a living hell.

Daniel Gallagher said...

Actually part of the problem rests with the recent behavior of renegade recruiters: showing up at schools once a week or more often; harassing and bullying potential enlistees; accepting enlistees with obvious psychological and/or drug problems; intruding into home situations etc....The Recruitment provision in No Child Left Behind is odd indeed, when you consider the fact that No Child Left Behind is supposed to be an education bill, not a military bill. Ideally, it should have been passed separately or as a part of a military bill, preferably the former, rather than burying it in legislation which is designed to create over-testing and unfunded mandates for states while depriving local school boards of the right to local control. (Just what Ted Kennedy was thinking when he signed on to this monster of a bill is beyond me, but I lost a lot of respect for him after suported this imbecility.)

In a perfect universe there would be no financial penalty--no threat of lost federal funding if schools refused to enforce this provision. And yet there is. Again, just why the government would resort to financial black mail in an effort top intrude into the private lives of parents and children is beyond me--maybe it's a strange form of family values from the far right--I don't know. But I do get a chuckle when I listen to anti-big government Republicans who support this fine example of big government intruding into the lives of parents and their abilities to parent. So much for getting government off our backs. Maybe it's an example of getting government off our backs and into our personal lives?

Personally, I believbe recruiters DO have a place in our schools, but that place should be on the same level as other career opportunities. No more nor less. There should be assigned times and places for recruitment efforts with strict penalties against both the recruiters and other business representatives who fail to obey the school's local standards. (The military being the financially secure institution that it is, I would suggest that individual fines be leveled against offending recruiters. The individual fines would range between $500 and $1000 per offense depending on the severity of the offense, but I would also zap the branch of the mlitary that the recruiter represents at the rate of $100,000 to $500,000 per offense. Possibly more, again depending on the severity of the offense or offenses.

Short of more openly revealing the fact that parents have a right to go to the schooland demand that their children's personal information NOT be shared by the school (as No Child Left Behind Stipulates) with the military, I would suggest a version of the DO NOT CALL LIST which is being used against tele-marketers in some states, be imposed at the federal level. Parents could put their children's name on the "DO NOT CONTACT" list and after that there wuld be stiuff fines the school, the recruiter, and the particular branch of the military in question. I see this as a viable position since it places responsibilities on everyone involved. My only concern is that it might be used as a CALL list, but again, that would include strict penalties. Perhaps the best way to counter this is by enacing the provision as we do DO NOT CALL provisions in Wisconsin--just a name and a phone number with no personal information. And if you move you have a right and an obligation to contact the government to inform them of your new phone number (assuming you're one of the few who still have a land based phone.)

Concerned parents would be responsible for placing their children's names on the DO NOT RECRUIT LIST; the military would have to obey, and after that it becomes a matter of each side playing by the rules and taking responsibility for its own actions.

I realize my above suggestions come at a time when we are in the middle of an unpopular war. And I love to hear Republicans raise the idea of a draft when they defend the kind of underhanded tactitcs that are currently being employed by renegage recruiters. But there is another way to look at this. I support neither the draft nor heavy-handed recruitment efforts. Merely honest, open recruiting techniques in proper places and proper times. It all comes down to a matter of addictive behavior on the part of the military industrial complex and this administration in particular. If you give them a weapon the time will come when the craving will simply be too strong. They will want to use it. Deprive them of the weapon (in this case potential targets in wars of choice) and they'll be a lot more selective in the kinds of wars they start in the future.