“Theirs not to reason why; Theirs but to do and die…” —Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Charge of the Light Brigade
The motto of the U.S. Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful, and they have been since their establishment in 1775. Their enlistment oath is as follows, and contains no date of expiration:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
But what happens if the President of the United States is one of the domestic enemies you have sworn to defend the Constitution against? Well, Sgt. Gary Stein may soon find out:
A Marine sergeant who started a Facebook group that is openly critical of President Obama and posted comments saying he will not follow the unlawful orders of the commander in chief is facing possible dismissal from the Corps.
The Marines on Wednesday told Sgt. Gary Stein — a Camp Pendleton Marine who started the Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party — that he is in violation of Pentagon policy barring troops from political activities.
“I’m completely shocked that this is happening,” Stein said. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve only stated what our oath states that I will defend the constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that’s a crime, what is America coming to?” U.S. Marine faces boot for anti-Obama Facebook posts
But it seems that Sgt. Stein is only the point man for legions of disgruntled jarheads:
The Marine Corps Times previews its cover story about anti-Obama Marines at their ‘Battle Rattle’ blog.
According to the article, of the 792 active-duty troops and mobilized reservists who responded to this year’s Military Times Poll, 44 percent said that they disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job as commander in chief.
The article cites hot button issues such as repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” relaxing restrictions of women in combat, and steep budget cuts, behind the disapproval numbers. Paper: Marines down on Obama
The military is a serious organization, and the people who serve in it are serious folk. That 44% of respondents in the MT poll expressed disapproval of their commander-in-chief and his policies is remarkable, and an indicator of serious and justifiable discontent within the ranks. After all, when you follow the colors, you follow orders, no questions asked. As Tennyson wrote, yours is “not to reason why,” yours is “but to do or die.” And, for 137 years, that is exactly what the U.S. Marines have done.
But America is not Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich; Americans take the oath to protect our founding document, not as a measure of personal fealty to any leader, elected or otherwise. We follow orders because those who issue them have taken the same oath—to defend the Constitution of the United States. So what do we then do when that oath is violated by the leaders who have sworn to uphold it? “Befehl ist Befehl” (“an order is an order”) as a defense didn’t pass muster in 1945; why should it in 2012?