I was reading MiFi earlier and saw a post about a fun exchange (story/email) between an Army recruiter and a gay black man. Among all the humor, name calling, and general ignorance, the recruiter says:
YOU SHOULD SAY THANK YOU MILITARY PEOPLE FOR WHAT YOU DO SO THAT YOU CAN LIVE A FREE LIFE IN THE COUNTRY. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. THE US MILITARY GIVE YOU THAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH SO THAT YOU CAN SEND EMAILS LIKE THIS ONE TO US.
to which user Rumple said:
Surely the freedom is given by the US Constitution. But, getting this backwards does explain an awful lot about the US MILITARY.
and user kafziel responded:
Actually, it’s given by Providence and inherent to humanity. The Constitution protects it from infringement.
Which was a pretty good was of stating what had always been my vague options but I had always found hard to put into any sort of meaningful explanation. Curious, I did some searches to see what was documented on source of freedom, rights, and liberty as defined in the Constitution. After a couple dead ends, I found my way onto this Wikipedia page on Natural Rights as well as this one on Inalienable rights.
Among other things, my reading lead me to the conclusions that:
1) I give Government and it’s agencies (including the Army) their rights, not the other way around.
2) Unjust Governments and unjust laws have no rights, and if anything – the social contract requires their destruction.
3) The claim by our president that non-US citizens have no rights is in direct contradiction with the premise behind the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.
It’s interesting how the terms “democracy” (which is a decision-making process) and “freedom” (having no restrictions on one’s decision making process) have become interchangeable in our thought processes.
The only totally free political system is anarchy. I say this not to promote anarchy, but from an academic standpoint, as it imposes no laws or restrictions against anyone. In that system your freedom is unlegislated and your ability to avoid subjugation by stronger forces decides your status.
From its origins, since not everyone is equal in ability to avoid subjugation (or free from the desire to subjugate others) anarchy spawned subsystems of might = right, which evolved into feudalism, monarchy, theocracy, etc, and the various subforms of government.
Democracy as a political decision making system began in ancient Greece and “freedom” (see the movie 300) was defined by them as protection of that system and the people it served.
The backward (I agree) military logic stems from the concept that the constitution = democracy = freedom and the armed forces are supposed to prevent the constitution from being undermined by force of arms, and often spoken as a catch phrase (like “freedom isn’t free” etc) without consideration to the finer legal points of constitutional democracy.
The other wrinkle to that is the military oath which, peeling back the layers, swears to defend the U.S. constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic to it (the constitution) and to obey the constitutionally granted authority of the president as its commander in chief (so, for the army to be legally used to depose a tyrannical president, that president would have to be legally removed by the constitutional impeachment process first — and I’d expect an egregious dictator would be deposed very quickly, but a weak, indolent, or complicitous congress could slow that process up or simply neglect it).
I could blather for hours about this topic, but I’ll just say that freedom is a subjective term and the Constitution, while one of the most effective basis of law in modern political systems, still doesn’t explicity grant rights to everyone (the 14th amendment that’s supposed to force states to comply with federally granted rights, isn’t explicitly extended to women, hence the equal rights amendment feminist movement in the 60’s-80’s), although the 14th Amendment extends equal legal protection and due process to everyone under a State’s jurisdiction, irrespective of citizenship, it says nothing about the Federal government’s responsibility toward equal protection for non-U.S. citizens.
There’s also the mostly conservative viewpoint that the Constitution serves to grant mostly states’ rights due to the 10th amendment’s wording — hence some of the more obtuse justifications by some historians for the Civil War.