Protesters lack empathy

By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist

The City Council in Berkeley, Calif., often home to anti-war protests and activities, has recently decided that it no longer welcomes Marine recruiters. As reported by a CNN on Feb. 8, the city council approved a measure that urged recruiters to leave town, stressing that they were not welcome and offering its full support to citizens and groups protesting the Marine recruiters.

CNN reported that protesters were seen singing anti-war songs outside a recruiting station in Berkeley and holding up anti-military signs. One of them read “Join the Marines, travel to exotic lands, meet exciting unusual people, and kill them.”

Hum. I had to take a good look at this article several times to really figure out what I thought about it. On a personal level and as a military wife, I obviously completely disagree with these protesters and think that these people are wasting their time and energy and wish they could find other things to focus on.

At the same time, I am aware that simply because I don’t agree with the message, it doesn’t mean that I should wish to silence them. I remind myself that freedom of speech and expression are what makes this country great and that I respect the protesters’ right to peacefully express their views, even if I have to bite my tongue in the process.

But something else bothered me about these protesters, beyond the fact that we disagree on the role of the military. The lack of understanding about military and military life and the misdirected anger toward those who execute orders rather than those who give them is frustrating. Which is not to say that if one supports the military, one supports the war; Many people out there support the troops and not the war. But it is to say that before accusing the Marines or any other branch of the military of brainwashing or entrapping young people with false promises, protesters should talk to military folks and find out what this life is all about.

I am not sure how someone who is so far from the military world could understand what it means to be a part of it. Except to say that, I didn’t know anything about it and was taken aback by all that it can teach someone about sacrifice, hard work and above all, the love of freedom.

If these protesters took the time to talk to young Marines, to their wives and families, they would see what it means to them and understand that their pride, commitment and honor are unparalleled.

I am sure some of these protesters are committed to worthy causes and endeavors, but I think if they had more understanding, they could not as easily stand on a street corner with a sign that reads, “No military predators in our town.” Instead, they would thank the troops and focus on letting elected officials know their views, and maybe even be tempted to join.

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. Contact her at: