An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Children do matters


When the topic of diversity in the workplace comes up, I often mention that I do not think my own profession has the best record. That prize goes to truck drivers. I worked (very briefly) in a number of different low-skilled jobs when I was younger. One of them had me on a loading dock for the summer of 1979. I met numerous truck drivers then. I have met others now and then since. I have never encountered a more diverse profession. Anyone, all colors, all religions, from a Ph.D. to a 3rd grade drop-out, can be found behind the wheel of a big-rig. The Queen of England was once a truck driver. I'm not kidding.

During World War II the royal family considered it their duty to set an example. The war posed a threat to all of Great Britain. All of Great Britain would serve, somehow, someway. Any member of the royal family who came of age during the war joined the military. At that time the English Army had a female branch called the WTA -- The Women's Transport Auxiliary. Then Princess Elizabeth joined in 1944. She learned how to drive and repair trucks and drove a truck carrying military supplies throughout southern England. The male royals served in combat roles. Looking at this example, one wonders about the ethos of those in power who advocate most strongly for war.

In particular, consider John McCain and Hilary Clinton. I understand and accept that one can not order one's grown children into the service. During World War II King George VI had no authority to compel his daughter Elizabeth to join the WTA, nor any male family members to serve in combat. He did manage to instill in them the sense of duty and the sense that they could not hold themselves "above" serving Great Britain. I would put to you that any candidate for President, or any member of Congress, who has voted to authorize or has supported the Iraq War but who can not convince his or her own grown children of the importance of the war, fails to show the leadership needed to remain in elective office. If you can not even convince your own kids of the importance of the continued U.S. presence in Iraq, what do you expect the rest of us to think? If your own military age offspring do not see the war as a crisis requiring sacrifice for a greater good, why should anyone else?

Just as a side note, I omit Barack Obama because he has not supported the war. Although he did not come to the Senate until after the War began, he repudiated the rush to war at the time (and the people of Illinois elected him anyway - think about it) and has opposed the war since.

Also, I realize this is a side-note to the election campaign. I would not change my position on the war (against) even if all the sons and daughters of all the candidates and all the members of Congress who voted for this mess joined up. I am only pointing out an elitism, an arrogance of privilege, to which even the British royal family did not sink. (And do not even mention President Bush's daughters, nieces and nephews. Arrogance and privilege along with a sense of entitlement sum up all they have to offer. And one or more of them will run for office some day). Does no one else notice this?