The Use Of Civil Freedoms Also Protects Our Nation And Values

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Alan Keyes Former Assistant Secretary of State
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According to an article I saw recently, “Marine veteran and deputy editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation called out a CNN opinion piece on ‘Fox and Friends’ Wednesday for comparing journalists to military soldiers: ‘Let’s start with the obvious point. The vast majority of journalists didn’t sign up to protect our nation and values.'”

I certainly understand the point Mr. Brooks seems to be making. As the son of a career Army NCO, I have always had respect and affection for active military personnel and veterans who serve and have served our nation faithfully. My sense of the importance of public service came from the example of one of them.

But it also led me to study and do my best to understand the purpose and necessity that so often sent and kept my father far from home.

Destructive turmoil has often beset “democratic countries” in which military establishments have the habit of disrespecting constitutional bounds. We Americans ought always to appreciate the fact that, even among our professional armed forces, the ethos of citizen soldiers leads military personnel to respect the oaths that bind them to obey duly established chains of command.  

Americans have usually not withheld this sense of respect. At the highest levels, the vital contributions our warriors make has time and again led Americans to reward outstanding military leaders with political office.

But, thank God, they have never pretended to shove constitutionalism aside using some specious plea of “patriotism.”  Loyal respect for the Constitution has been the guiding star of American military discipline. That in itself is an incomparable contribution to the preservation of our liberty.

In this respect, the ingratitude returning military personnel faced during and after the Vietnam war is one of the reasons I adamantly oppose Leftist ideologues who embrace the evil paradigm of unrelenting class division and warfare. It is fundamentally at odds with the whole purpose of America’s Constitutional arrangements.

The Constitution serves a vision of union, predicated on standards of right and justice that ought to guide and govern our conduct as citizens, even when we differ profoundly about important questions. Especially when dealing with issues of war and peace, we should imposed discipline ourselves in light of these standards, protesting if and when justice demands our courage, but always in a way that bears witness to the goals of union, justice, peace and decently liberty our Constitution is supposed to serve.

We should demand that civilian representatives prove that all their decisions take account of these goals. We should demand that these goals be upheld above all narrower considerations of partisan advantage and victory.

Since we expect our military personnel to do the same, we should respect their disciplined service when they meet that expectation, never blaming or disparaging them because they faithfully execute decisions taken by the people Constitutionally empowered to make them. We may passionately disagree with their decisions, but we should not despise our military forces for refusing to break constitutional discipline in order to serve our passions instead of the oath they swear to uphold our nation’s Constitution.

People who do so not only seek to undermine the discipline of our armed forces; they also actively declare their intention to replace our civil institutions — duly established in accordance with the Constitution — with covert Civil War, directed by the imperatives of war which ultimately respect no bonds or boundaries that do not conduce to decisive victory.

As members of the body politic of the United States, American citizens depend on strict observance of the Constitution’s provisions to sustain our participation in our nation’s self-government. We have never sent our soldiers into battle on any pretext that simply disregards this overriding purpose of all our constitutions and governments at every level.

Since our military exists to serve this — our political common good — it makes no sense to pretend that we can honor military service by words or actions that undercut what that service aims to defend, even unto death.

Whether we always remember it or not, this includes our unalienable rights; continued Constitution respect for our civil liberties; and the preservation of the institutions of faith, education and information that are supposed to edify our character and intelligence. Our military personnel go through hellish battles so that we can peacefully make good these opportunities of liberty.

In light of this fact, I hope passion never leads me to say anything that implies that “journalists didn’t sign up to protect our nation and values.”  Journalists who are also citizens of the United States have certainly “signed-up” to do so.

No matter their political loyalties, journalists with any common sense and conscience know that the constitutional safeguards the Constitution provides for their profession don’t exist as some personal favor to them or their profession. They don’t even exist so they can enjoy the freedom to write or report what they please, or what they passionately believe needs to be heard.

Like all the individual rights enumerated in the Constitution, they exist to serve the union, justice, tranquillity, defense and welfare of the people of the United States, and to secure the blessings of liberty to us, and our posterity.

We cannot hope to exercise fulfill our sovereign duties as members of the sovereign body of the people (voters) unless without information from all sides, even those with whom we adamantly disagreeing, and who express themselves in ways that test the civil bonds that sustain our union.  

The true betrayal of our soldier’s disciplined and often sacrificial service to our country is the increasing drift toward totalitarian, dictatorial political censorship and repression.

It has been gaining momentum for decades among the ideologues and vanguard totalitarians of the progressive/socialist/communist ilk. They appear to predominate among the Democrats. They include those who press for the criminalization of religious views that offend the disciplinarians of dissipation who abuse the name of “right” in order to force others into complicity with their offenses’  they are now as much opposed to empirical scientific reason as to “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”

In either case, they target the moral and intellectual foundations of our Democratic, Republican Constitution, rejecting its ultimate authority (which is of God), as well as the moral character required to uphold it.

Now is it beginning to show its ugly face among self-styled conservatives as well. If so, they are forgetting the very things they are supposed to conserve. I hope never to join in that oblivion. It will be fatal to the hope of decent human liberty America is supposed to represent.    

Dr. Alan Keyes is a political activist, prolific writer, former diplomat, and the founder of LoyaltoLiberty.com

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.