Slaves?

In May of 2004, I noted a column by former Denver Broncos running back Reggie Rivers in the Denver Post. I didn’t have any luck finding a working link to the story in the Post, but luckily for us Common Dreams has it: Keep our Slaves Safe. Rivers wrote:

Our military is one of the last bastions of slavery in the United States. At the moment, our slaves are stuck in a combat zone, getting killed and maimed, and there’s nothing they can do about it except hunker down and pray.

Yes, our slaves signed up of their own free will, but most of them were as misled about their job as the rest of us were about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And I don’t think “slave” is too strong a word to describe someone who is not permitted to quit his job no matter how dangerous it becomes or how much he hates it. For most of us, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and guaranteed that we have the right to withhold our labor. It doesn’t protect soldiers.

The story ran on May 28th. Yep. Memorial Day weekend.

Anyway, I’ve been noticing a number of incoming Googles for Reggie Rivers lately. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but earlier today I received this:

I am a veteran of the first Gulf War. A soldier, sailor or airman cannot get out of service once he signs up. Yes, it is a contract but it seems that the military is the only group that cannot renegotiate a contract. In essence, you are a slave.

First, I would like to thank the commenter for his service to me and mine. Secondly, I wonder what actual slaves think of the silly equivalence game being played here.

Shortly after, this comment was posted:

Let us military men and women take a trip down memory lane.

We all signed up. That is, we all voluntarily signed up. Some did our homework when it came to understanding all facets of what was involved, others signed up rather than do something else like going to jail or getting a civilian job (which requires more effort than signing your name to a contract).

The statement made by Paul in that it “seems that the military is the only group that cannot re-negotiate a contract” begs the question, in what way would he re-negotiate? Because he makes the statement that “in essence, you are a slave” I have to assume by re-negotiation he would end it completely. True or not Paul? What would you re-negotiate if not to get out when you wanted to?

Honestly, the military is the easy way out. Only when the rubber meets the road do you actually realize what you got yourself into. As it becomes apparent the road is a hard one…boo friggin’ hoo, you want out. Renegotiate my ass. You knew what it was going to be like…if you didn’t, shame on you.

When I signed up, I wanted to go to school. The GI Bill was for me. Even as a reservist in the USMC I got money for school and was going to make a life for myself. And I did. I graduated back in December 2001 with a business degree.

In 2003 I was called up for active duty. Time for me to go to the dance in the desert. Did I balk and say not for me I got my education screw you? No, this whole time I was going to school I knew what my role was. I knew that being in the friggin’ Armed Forces of the United States of America may at some point might require me to go some place I didn’t really feel like going. What did I do? I went as was requested. And do you know what? I too was held under the stop-loss program. The program developed to ensure operational readiness. The program was implemented to ensure experience leads the way.

What is the purpose and function of the Armed Forces? To fight, plain and simple. Not to provide you with an education. Not to provide you the opportunity to see the world. Not to give you adequate job skills to make it in society when you get out. Those are excellent by-products but that’s all they are. If you’re ignorant enough to get lured in for those reasons then yes, I can see how you think not allowing you to get out rather than doing what you told my country you would do (remember your Oath of Enlistment) is slavery in nature. But you already know that this is your mind set and not the truth!

I can’t really think of anything to add.

UPDATE: But a reader thought of this. It was left in the comments but I think it’s too good to miss:

I am always amazed at people’s ability to bitch and moan when life doesn’t just give them sparkling french lemonade in glass long-neck bottles.

I was a slave to my parents for eighteen years.

I was a slave to liberal Democrats’ choice of President for eight years.

I am currently a slave to my employer, having freely signed a nine-year contract that lays out my responsibilities on a quarterly basis.

Fiona Apple is a slave to her cranky record label.

Lindsay Lohan is a slave to the public eye.

I am a slave to my landlords, having signed a lease.

I cannot re-negotiate my employment contract, my lease, or my life. I do not get everything I want. Sometimes things that people are supposed to do for me never happen, or they come late. Men I fall for do not always love me back. I was not genetically handed a perfect body.

But I will do what I am called to do when my time comes. Although my employment contract is with the US government (non-military), I do not pretend that they somehow OWE me a free education and I should be able to change my mind if they ask me to do something unpleasant later on. I committed to serve. And serve I will — happily and gratefully. As we all will serve one master or another — princes and paupers alike.

I like it when my readers write the posts for me…

Comments

  1. Maybe it’s a generation gap. When I signed on the dotted line in (pre-hippie) 1960 and took an oath administered by a Major in the United States Marine Corp I felt my service to the United States was a natural and honorable phase of my life as it had been with all the male relatives in my family. Never in a million years would I have conceived a Philadelphia lawyer’s sorry ass concoction that military service was merely legalized slavery. Fortunately, this idiotic notion only festers in the distorted minds of a minority. Thank God the majority of today’s youth still hold the same values as did their fathers and grandfathers.

  2. I just had Jury Duty service. Is that ‘slavery’ too? Come to think of it, there are deputizing rules on the books? I am having thoughts that it might be a good idea if ordianry citizens had to go and play policeman once a year or so.

  3. Apparently idiocy knows no bounds. Where I come from, adults research the details of contracts BEFORE they sign on. And that’s not just with the military……unhappy with your mortgage? Guess you shouldn’t have signed it; DUH! Anyone who hasn’t figured out the the primary mission of the military is to kill people the US seriously disagrees with probably isn’t intelligent enough to be category 1. The last I knew; the military is quite up front with recruits with their right of assignment (both type of work and LOCATION). Of course I suppose SOME over paid pampered sports prima donnas, who haven’t got the maturity, dedication, and integrity to live up to their multimillion dollar STRESSFUL contracts; could assume others have the same adolesent work ethic they do. Give me a break!

  4. I have no problem with renegotiation of their service contract as long as that renogotiation equals 2things only 1) they get out of service scott free no consiquence 2) they relinquish all US citizenship rights fully and sign waver that under no circumstances are they to be allowed to regain citizenship, visit, fly over, drive thru, or hell even visually see any such part of US soil or her protectorite indefinatley under any circumstance. People need to wake up to the fact that being a american citizen in its self is a priveladge. If you are not ready to sacrifice for that honor or at the minimum keep your freekin mouth shut get the f*ck out we dont need you and having you around just causes more problems and cost peoples lives who do love thier country and the opportunity it freely offers. It pisses me off to talk to immigrants from E. Europe Mexico ect… that love this nation more than the actual children of this nation. Sometimes tough love is needed for children and america is full of spoiled children that need to be kicked out of the house into the real world. Maybe then they would get a taste of real gov oppresion. It is rapant in most parts of the world in one form or another.

  5. When i signed up in ’73 i did so because I was taught, by one born and one naturalized citizen parents, that it was my honorable duty to do my share in support of the country that had given my family so much for so many generations. From Uncle ‘Mad Jack’ during the Spanish-American War, to my father in WW2, to my Uncle who joined the Corps so soon after arriving here from East Germany that he was still peeing German water, my brother and I followed the family tradition, proudly. Today, at 50, I have never held a job where I wasn’t, as a veteran, a distinct and inconsequential minority. Having grown up believing that it was simply every man’s duty, you can imagine how this opened my eyes. Do I regret serving? Not for a moment on my worst day. Additionally, it never occurred to me to attempt to wiggle out of a contract that I had signed as a man and to which I had given my word of honor, as a man. Related thought; I can’t recall where I heard it but I remember a remark something to the effect of ‘When you apply for a job that involves automatic weapons, you may want to take note’

  6. I am always amazed at people’s ability to bitch and moan when life doesn’t just give them sparkling french lemonade in glass long-neck bottles. I was a slave to my parents for eighteen years. I was a slave to liberal Democrats’ choice of President for eight years. I am currently a slave to my employer, having freely signed a nine-year contract that lays out my responsibilities on a quarterly basis. Fiona Apple is a slave to her cranky record label. Lindsay Lohan is a slave to the public eye. I am a slave to my landlords, having signed a lease. I cannot re-negotiate my employment contract, my lease, or my life. I do not get everything I want. Sometimes things that people are supposed to do for me never happen, or they come late. Men I fall for do not always love me back. I was not genetically handed a perfect body. But I will do what I am called to do when my time comes. Although my employment contract is with the US government (non-military), I do not pretend that they somehow OWE me a free education and I should be able to change my mind if they ask me to do something unpleasant later on. I committed to serve. And serve I will — happily and gratefully. As we all will serve one master or another — princes and paupers alike.

  7. Not slave. Indentured service. I noticed that when I signed up. Waived my civil rights too. I learned all this from reading the contract. I signed it, because I felt that it was the very least I could give back to my Nation. Exchange my freedom for a little while so that there would be freedom for others to enjoy. It sounds a bit corny, but I felt that way when I was 18. I felt then, as now, that contract re-negotiations are weasel things. If you weren’t willing to abide by the terms of the contract, why did you sign it? Oh, it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be? Tough, live and learn. I remember my first clear thought in basic being ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?’ I didn’t run to a lawyer screaming that I had made a mistake agreeing to this madness and I wanted to go home now. I gutted it out.

  8. Sounds to me like Mr. Rivers is a ‘slave’ to idiocy. Me thinks he’s taken one too many hits to the head during his career. He must be happy that he has been freed from the ‘slavery’ of the NFL.

  9. Can’t be a generational thing; I joined in 1987. Its just a dumbass thing. During the Gulf War, while I was training reserve doctors & nurses to fire their weapon and ROTC-cadets, the dumbasses at least had the nerve to cry on TV about how they ‘just joined for the college money’.

  10. Unless it’s changed since the early seventies, there actually is a ‘buyers remorse’ provision in military recruiting. You are not bound by the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) until you are informed of your rights under it. This usually occurs in the first day or two of boot camp. Before that you can technically walk away without penalty. Of course they don’t TELL YOU THAT until after you have recieved the informational briefing, and by then you do happen to be stuck in the middle of a military reservation surrounded by trained killers, but hey, TFB…

  11. Morons. Slavery? Even in 1980 we knew the deal: ‘It’s not just a job, it’s indentured servitude…’ Don’t they teach history in school anymore? Why doesn’t anybody know the difference between slavery and indentured servitude? Mack

  12. IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOLLOWS: Remember ‘Gulf War syndrome’ from the first Persian Gulf War? I found out what it is: depleted uranium poisoning. See, the Department of Defense still claims it’s harmless and uses it now more than ever, in Abrams tank armor, in tank gun rounds, in 30mm ammunition fired by A-10 ‘Warthogs’ and a myriad of other uses I’m not privy to. Is it used in the ammo for the 25mm Bushmaster chain gun? I don’t know; if I had to guess i’d say it probably is. The worst part is when it becomes depleted uranium dust which is floating around in the air all over Iraq; a single particle lodged in your respiratory system is cancer-causing. Think about that for a moment. So far the Dept. of Defense has used in this war over four times the amount of depleted uranium used in the first Gulf War, so imagine how much worse ‘Gulf War syndrome’ is going to be this time!! So far over 200,000 vets of Gulf War One have filed for disability because of being crippled from it and are in various stages of dying miserably. Several thousand have died already from it. It also afflicts their spouses and even causes their babies to be born with grotesque deformaties!! So how about that? The Department of Defense ‘supports the troops’ by first poisoning you all, then denying it knows what is causing the ‘mystery illness’!! Their callous disregard for the well-being of the troops is breathtakingly despicable. Every soldier, marine, airman and sailor should be thoroughly outraged. Please pass this information on to everyone you can.