Catherine Enos – Opinions editor
Military men and women volunteer knowing that, at the very least, serving our country will take its toll on them physically, emotionally, and financially. What they give us– their life– is not proportionate to what we, as a society, give to them.
Whether you agree with military intervention or you don’t, it is important that we support veterans. We do a particularly bad job at this– in many ways. Arguably one of the most important dimensions of how we treat veterans is respect. Respect determines everything else– if we don’t have respect for them, will we give them the care they need?
A clear example of how we treat veterans is through the way public figures treat veterans. Earlier this month Pete Davidson, during the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, mocked GOP-candidate Dan Crenshaw (now representative-elect) for wearing an eye patch. Pete Davidson is obviously a comedian who jokes about controversial things, but this crossed a line. In addition, this joke was not only said by Davidson, but it presumably passed through some script-writing process, implying that others also thought it was okay to say.
Pete Davidson is not the only person to say something controversial about veterans. A man with much more power, Donald Trump, famously said that the late senator John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured and that he “like[s] people that weren’t captured.”
The common thread between Davidson and Trump is that they’re criticizing men that have served based off of the veteran’s personal political ideals. In polarized times, we criticize the “other side”. But there’s no reason as to why either of them had to mock something that happened as a direct result of combat.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be able to criticize people that happen to be war vets but there’s a civil way to disagree with someone. The 2008 presidential election is a good example of civility. Though Barack Obama and John McCain clearly disagreed on many things, Obama never resorted to petty comments about McCain’s service to the country.
As we become more polarized as a country, it is important that we try not to politicize the military or veterans. And it’s important that we keep in mind the fact that veterans volunteered to keep all Americans safe– even those that disagree with them.