No other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might – but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them. —Barack Obama
[Caveat: While I was not able to serve myself, both my fiancé, Kat, and my middle son, Ben, are US Marines. My Uncle Joe was US Air Force and saw active duty over Korea. We have great admiration and respect for the military and all those who volunteer to serve. Therefore, there is some chance that my opinion on the topic below is a bit biased. Maybe. I doubt it.]
Advertising can get really, really strange and quirky. One of the stranger events this week was when the city of South Bend, Indiana had to apologize for stealing, almost in whole, Salt Lake City’s tourism campaign. I can’t remember the last time we saw such blatant theft of an entire campaign. Of course, the agency responsible tried saying it was an homage to the Salt Lake campaign, but no one with a brain in their head is buying that excuse. When ad agencies get something wrong, the results can really be deplorable.
We tend to give advertisers a lot of leeway when it comes to what they say and do in their ads. Advertising is, to a great extent, a form of free expression. While there are limits on certain products that have been deemed potentially harmful to public health, such as tobacco and prescription medicines, most ads have more than sufficient space to creatively represent their product without falling into the trap of false advertising.
During election years, however, we see a form of advertising that is special and rather exempt from some of the restrictions we put on normal advertising. Political ads aren’t selling a product, but rather an idea or concept. Therefore, they can legally say just about anything they want and get away with it. We may not like what they say, but one of the strengths of our Constitution is that they are guaranteed the right to say what they please. Even if it is totally wrong and insulting.
Such is the case with the most recent ad for the National Rifle Association (NRA), fronted by country music legend Charlie Daniels. I’m not embedding the video on purpose. This is a political ad and, in tune with the tenor of this entire political season, the number of lies and misinformation is substantial. That, however, is not the ad’s worst crime. Those are simply opinions, and Mr. Daniels has the right to express them.
Where the ad errs is in the way it insults our United States Military and the patriotism of the men and women who serve. The copy, which is erroneously directed at “the Ayatollah’s of Iran,” wants to do two things: paint President Obama as weak, and make America sound tough. Daniel’s presentation almost sounds like a bully’s challenge: you come over here and we’re going to whip your ass. What’s insulting, though, is when he says, “… you haven’t met America.” He then goes on to tout the toughness of steel workers, “hard rock” miners, or “swamp folks” as though they are some vicious breed of monster capable of defeating all comers.
Excuse me? First of all, let’s talk to the correct people: Daesh, Al Queda, and the Taliban. Those are the people responsible for much of the terror you see on the evening news. And I’ve got news for you, Charlie, they’ve already met America.
Terrorists meet America every time an M16 bullet passes through their skull and leaves their brains splattered on the ground.
Terrorists meet America every time a squadron of planes launches from the deck of a US aircraft carrier.
Terrorists meet America every time a group of Marines sweep into a known terrorist compound and reduce the place to rubble.
Terrorists meet America every time a US drone strike takes out yet another one of their leaders, as we’ve done repeatedly over the past eight years.
Terrorists meet America every time a US Navy Seal time sneaks up from behind and slits their throats.
We’ve been at war with terror nearly 15 years now. Terrorists have had ample opportunities to meet America and the ground shakes beneath them every time they do.
You want to know why you don’t see acts of terror in the US on the scale we do in the Middle East and Europe? Because terrorists can’t get past the men and women of the United States Military. There’s a reason the rest of the world looks to us when bad things happen. Our Marines can move into a position and take total and complete control of an area faster, better, and with fewer casualties than anyone else in the world. Our military intelligence isn’t always perfect, but it’s better than what anyone else has to offer. The soldiers we have deployed on the ground around the world are better trained, better equipped, and badder, tougher, and meaner than anyone else out there.
Our United States military and National Security Administration are the reason you can go to a concert in the United States and not worry about terrorists getting through the gate. They are the reason you can attend a sporting event without thinking twice that someone might try to bomb the stadium. They are the reason over 300,000 people can attend a race in Indianapolis this weekend and know they are safe.
When the NRA ad implies that steel workers, miners, and “swamp folk” can somehow protect our country better, they’re not only insulting the men and women of our military, they’re demonstrating an unprecedented amount of ignorance. You think steel workers are tough? Put them through a military boot camp and see how many survive. You think “hard rock” miners are strong? Let’s see how many can handle the Navy’s basic training. And I’m not sure exactly who these “swamp folk” are, but let’s put them through the Crucible at MCRD Parris Island and see how many of them are crying for their Momma half-way through.
You want to see the strength of America? Just look at our United States Military. Every man and woman who takes the oath and puts on one of those uniforms represent our best. They are our best. They are trained tough, ready for the most impossible situations in the world under unimaginable conditions, and they’re good to go at a moment’s notice. There are no steel workers, hard rock miners or swamp folk or anyone else who can stand up to the United States Military. No one.
Being strong and being prepared is more than just having physical muscle; it’s having the training to know which weapon to use under which conditions and knowing how to use the weapon properly; it’s knowing how to engage an enemy with as few civilian casualties as possible; it’s knowing how to work as a team, everyone doing their job together, and no one ever being left behind; it’s having the mental strength to endure torture if captured and still find a way to survive and escape.
The NRA ad is nothing but hot air and tough talk from a bunch of old white men who are scared. Let’s see, who would I rather have protecting me, a 79-year-old fiddle player with a big mouth, or a US Marine who earned his/her Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in the mud and sand of Parris Island? I’ll take the Marine every damn time. And who’s the better American? The orange-skinned, draft-dodging politician who yells and blathers and incites hatred from behind a podium, or the soldier who right now is holding point on a terrorist cell, waiting for the order to move in? You know who the better American is.
Don’t tell me terrorists around the world haven’t met America yet. They know damn good and well who we are and they live in fear of what our military can do to them. Maybe it’s about time the folks at the NRA figured that out as well. Our US Military doesn’t wait for terrorists to come to us. We go to them and the terrorists die. Remember that this Memorial Day.