I was never able to serve in the United States Marine Corps. That was my ambition when I was a kid which is why I went to the Devil Pups training camp for ten days with the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton. We trained alongside Marine recruits, ate the same chow, endured the same gas chamber filled with noxious gas and screaming Drill Instructors, but when the day came for me to join the Corps for real, a medical issue washed me out. One thing I remember clearly is that there was a moment our Drill Instructors held out in front of us like a carrot on a stick - it was the promise that if we had the grit there might be a golden, future moment when another DI would whisper in our ear “Congratulations, Marine” while handing us the EGA (Eagle, Globe and Anchor).
I was unable to hear those words whispered in my ear, but I cannot forget the understanding of what it would have meant to be transformed from civilian into Marine. Part of that understanding was that we would someday swear to defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Our oath would also be to obey the orders of the officers above us in the chain of command…
But there was a caveat…
If those orders were immoral or illegal, we would also have the right to say, “no sir.” As Marines we would be the tip of the free American spear, but we would not be the personal legionnaires of an Emperor in Washington. We would still be free men, not slaves. In fact, we were told that the difference between us, and the Empire of Japan or the Nazi’s or the Soviets, centered on this understanding. We were told about the great battles the Marine’s had fought – Tarawa, Okinawa, Belleau Wood, Chosin Reservoir – but those men and women died for freedom, not the President.
This caveat has been tested time and again in courts too. There are immoral and illegal orders given by officers that Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines should not obey. At the Nuremburg war crimes trials after World War II in 1945, the defense argument that Nazi soldiers “were just following orders” was found to be morally inadequate. The courts found that while soldiers are expected to do their duty to their country and keep their oaths to obey orders, there is a higher law of human dignity. There is such a thing as "crimes against humanity." If the higher law of human dignity contradicts the orders of a legitimate chain of military command, the individual is expected to disregard said orders. From that day to this, a majority of military and civilian courts worldwide have maintained this rationale and with good reason. Despots, tyrants, and would-be emperors have consistently ordered troops to murder non-combatants. Officers without honor have ordered troops to round up and shoot certain ethnic or religious groups. Soldiers have raped and pillaged, tortured, and stolen – all under the guise of “just following orders.” These actions have been condemned by the civilized world; yet still, tyrants continue to thrive and charismatic despots spewing evil philosophies have convinced otherwise honorable soldiers to continue the atrocities.
How have they succeeded?
It is too simple to conclude that all military men and women are somehow secretly immoral at heart and only need the sting of battle bring their true colors to the surface because there are too many examples of honorable men and women in uniform, people willing to give their lives to save civilians rather than exploit them. There are too many examples of officers unwilling to throw away the lives of the soldiers under their command. Not every person who puts on a uniform is morally repugnant.
It is also too simple to say that war brings out the savagery in human beings. People can be just as savage on the streets of Chicago without one Army arrayed against another. There are too many stories of soldiers saving the lives of their wounded enemies to make that case.
But there is a certain kind of person who can and will ignore what is morally right. This person has been conditioned, usually by fear, not to question the narrative that is given. These folks simply do what they are told. They do not contemplate moral or philosophical questions and the tyrants, of course, want to find those people. If they can convince enough of them to obey orders without question, they can conquer by terror. If they can erase any sense of moral individuality, they will be able to control a force of lethality against anyone who questions them.
This is the danger in erasing moral free will in a society. It is a danger we face today – in America.
When free speech is suppressed, ideas that could challenge the moral foundations of government actions are silenced. When people are conditioned to obey through division and fear, a gathering of unthinking minions can be built into a controlling force.
This is exactly what happened in communist China. Mao and his henchmen used fear and division to keep people from thinking morally. Obedience without question was the goal and anyone who resisted was silenced, first by intimidation, then by fear of losing jobs etc, later by force. Eventually, millions of people were killed simply for having a difference of opinion from the government narrative.
In the same way, the Covid-19 vaccine mandate is a step in this process. As I’ve said in other essays, I am not anti-vaccination. I do NOT think vaccines as a medical concept are false, but my concern is the erasure of freedom regarding the use of vaccines. As I’ve argued elsewhere, individual freewill and freedom is sacred, and it is from this freedom that people can act morally. Without this freedom, the tyrants will rise to power as they have done so many times in history.
For example, as of this writing, thousands of police precincts across the country face monumental staff shortages because anyone refusing on moral or religious grounds to get the mandated vaccine are getting fired. What will happen when the police can no longer enforce the law or keep order in the streets?
As of this writing, thousands of active-duty military men and women are facing discharge from the military if they question the narrative on vaccines. What will happen when only those who do not think about the moral issues surrounding vaccine mandates are left in the military?
Right now, thousands of hospitals are short staffed, fire departments do not have enough firefighters, and other critical components of our supply chain are crippled because of mass firings of the unvaccinated. Once this crisis reaches unsustainable levels, what is to stop the federal government from nationalizing all police departments to solve the crisis? And what sort of people will the Federal government send? Only those who demonstrate unquestioning obedience to the narrative. What is to stop the military from getting rid of everyone who asks moral questions only to replace them with the unquestioning? What sort of military will be left? Will there be any willing to say “no sir” to an immoral order when they were not willing to stand up for the morality of freedom of medical choice?
This is not an irrational conspiracy theory. This is history repeating itself. Just look at how Stalin maintained control over the Soviet army and the secret police. He systematically used fear and division to weed out anyone who might question the morality of any decision coming down from the chain of command. Hitler did the same.
In very short order, the supply chain problem will result in critical shortages so people will experience increasing fear and division. A shortage in the ranks of police, fire departments and hospitals, because of vaccine firings and efforts to defund those critical responders, will require an emergency influx of workers just to maintain order – but if it becomes illegal for anyone who questions the narrative (anti-vax folks) to fulfill those needs, who will be left to save the day? Well, obviously the government will be obligated to respond by providing federal troops.
Well, only those who never question the morality of orders from on high! If the American military has weeded out anyone willing to ask moral questions about orders, the result will be a force of soldiers willing to round up any dissenters. They will believe they are “just following orders” and they will have been conditioned by fear not to ask questions.
Think I’m a conspiracy nut? I’ve been to the cemeteries in Europe and seen what happens when people “just follow orders.” I’ve been to East Berlin at the height of the Cold War, seen the slavery of a population controlled by fear with my own eyes.
If you haven’t – just wait a while.