Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

I’ve been following CNN.com’s “Killings At The Canal: The Army Tapes,” an investigation into the circumstances leading up to, and following, the premeditated murder of four Iraqis in 2007. I suppose I’ve been waiting for my lightbulb moment when I would understand how so many people believe these soldier’s actions were defensible — I have yet to have it.

Let me preface by saying that I do sympathize with the idea that our soldiers in combat are subject to the type of on-going trauma that I can’t even begin to understand, all in the name of duty, and in the name of protecting our country. However, I just can’t bring myself to agree with those that consider these men heroes, or believe that they should be excused from their part in this incident. To do so, in my opinion, is akin to saying anyone who witnessed a murder (or some other severe trauma) should receive a get-out-of-jail card if they too commit murder.

But this is a special case, you may say. These are the men and women fighting to protect our country. Yes, they are. But what exactly are they fighting to protect?
 


If we want to spout time-worn clichés, then I would say they are fighting to protect everything America stands for – and last I checked, America did not stand for a free-for-all, take the law into our own hands, shoot ’em before they shoot me society.

I can’t even begin to fathom how difficult it is for soldiers and policemen to handle the undeniable fact that far too often the ‘bad guy’ gets that get-out-of-jail card. And I certainly don’t deny that there are things within the system that should be changed.

So let’s change them, let’s spend our time demanding change, rather than wasting our breath asking for these soldiers to be released as “heroes” (as the wives of these soldiers are understandably doing). They are not heroes; they are men who were soldiers who disobeyed the rules of conduct they swore to follow.

The hard reality, which some cannot seem to recognize, is that enlisting in the armed forces, or in the police academy, or national guard, etc., does not automatically make one a noble person. To compare these men to all the other soldiers who would have followed orders and acted honorably, I say is the greatest insult to all those who are the heroes defending this country, and who are defending it in a manner that we as a nation can be proud of.

 

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