In the video, the sailor, who is dressed in civilian workout clothing near a Pensacola barracks building, expresses anxiety that other Marines or sailors will notice her filmed protest and confront her about it.
Given my real life experience in military service, I can understand the sailor’s anxieties. In the armed forces, specifically the United States Navy, all service members are taught by their chain of command to be unconditionally obedient to military law (also known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice). When a fellow shipmate takes one step in the wrong, we must confront them to correct themselves. This manufactures societal pressures that clearly promote oppressive and hostile control over a fellow human being, a black and white and simplified perception of military law with no room to challenge a unique situation, like reality, with complexity. Tolerance, open-mindedness, and understanding is an important trait for humanity that also respects Constitutional values.
Having said that, the U.S. Navy has a Sailor’s Creed (a tradition like the Pledge of Allegiance for civilian Elementary schools), commonly empty words in most of the ignorant service members’ limited perception towards reality and educational background where they continuously swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” The problem is that there’s plenty of problems found in both civilian and military life that disrespect such a document. The scariest part? Our working environment in the military sometimes promote oppressive and hyper-masculine leaders in the ranks with such disgusting examples set to their enslaved, inferior, and overworked group of low-ranking enlisted that are pressured to be leaders of that corrupt system in order to continue the tradition of promoting Capitalistic America contradictory to Constitutional values.
So, when the protesting sailor starts having an unnecessary anxiety and fear for breaking the law, I argue situations like this have a negative effect on a fellow human being’s ability to live a healthy and happy life free from negative stressors. Others confronting her is inspired by the idea that their leaders set this example as well as this motivation of fear. To expand on this, this fear comes from further questioning of witnesses in a situation where they saw the wrongdoer, and then the high-ranking officer would ask why those witnesses have not stopped the person by saying something about it? That is the origin of doing the so-called right thing: fear.
However, reality complicates situations. Sometimes, the right thing to do is not always black and white like a service member’s unconditional allegiance towards military law. It does not always work out this way. I am not saying that calling someone out for doing something wrong by saying something about it is always a bad thing. It is a good thing…sometimes. The point being is reality complicates the right and wrong thing to do. Is it right to charge this protestor of wrongdoing? We need to ask why she did it, and see if it has some merit. This will be discussed further with the idea that being a true Patriot towards respecting Constitutional values may require one to break the law when the source of the problem really is the law. A perfect example is the Patriotic act of Edward Snowden, which will be discussed further.
Military regulations require troops to stop in place, stand and salute during the brief ceremony.
Before I continue, I would like to comment on this quote from the article above. Troops, by dictionary definition, is still legitimate to describe more than just the U.S. Navy organization. I completely understand a sailor’s dislike of the term by mainstream media to describe Navy personnel, which is a common mistake by journalists that come from time to time. Obviously, sailor is a better term to use on labelling the U.S. Navy. However, this quote is referring to a broader organization of military service members. So, the quote is using the term appropriately in this context. Moving on.
While the anthem is played, the sailor sits on a picnic bench with a raised fist, a symbol of solidarity in the Black Power movement. When the anthem concludes, she expresses relief and pride in her protest.
“Today I actually did something, and it was small but significant for me,” she said. “Until this country shows they’ve got my back as a black woman … I can’t, and I won’t and I won’t be forced to [stand].”
While Kaepernick’s flag protest was provocative, the sailor’s is also against military regulations.
Navy rules state that troops must stand and face the flag when the National Anthem is played. Troops in uniform must salute, while troops not in uniform must stand at attention and place the right hand over the heart. These rules mean that her behavior could fall afoul of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation.
The protesting sailor has done something that made her feel wonderful, liberating, and it cleared her conscience. Sometimes, people have a calling of doing the right thing that prove to liberate them even if it turns out to be a violation against oppressive and immoral laws that conflict with our Constitutional rights. She fought for something very meaningful. It was inspired by the inspirational, brave, and patriotic act from Colin Kaepernick.
Now, this is my arguement and critique of the armed forces: why is it necessary for our military service members to volunteer to sacrifice their given Constitutional rights and values from civilian life to a military organization that continuously promotes respecting the same values yet not transfer them over to them? Why must it be necessary to dehumanize service members through the indoctrination program of boot camp through control, oppression, irrational behavior, hate, and the suppression of intellectual ideas or rational questions?
We are human beings. Is it our natural right as humans to be treated as such from the Constitution? Why must the military strip all this from the same fellow human being? This is equivalent to slavery. It really is. A sophisticated one at that. We are also stripped from humanitarian ideas and programs desperately needed in civilian life, so I am not just criticizing the military. All fronts are not fair on common modern problems like income inequality, long working hours, the right to free and quality healthcare, and the right to a free and quality education.
I argue that the sailor’s protest should be a positive scenario that challenges military law to approach a more humanitarian and progressive reform that come closer to the United States Constitution. Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest in civilian life is left with no charges against him, so why can’t the military be free to do what they want? The case of Edward Snowden, an excellent example scenario of a government employee, may have broken the oppressive and controlling law, but he challenged the unfair black and white law that he did what he did, because it respects a higher and more respectful law that legitimately is built upon this country’s values far more. Snowden feels the public needs to know of any illegal acts of government activity that violate the United States Constitution. That is a far more legitimate violation that must be taken to the court over his own.
This conservative journalist does not seem to understand the vital point of Ervin’s position. She was right in asking what wrongdoing is leading her to be punished? The UCMJ? A law that proves to incarcerate and scar military service members for life? It is wrong of the Navy, or any hyper-masculine organization that supports the totalitarian culture of the military-industrial complex (like the NYPD incarcerating protestors in Occupy Wall Street for practicing their right to protest), to punish someone for following a higher standard than the UCMJ known as the Constitution. I could have sworn that the Navy has a Sailor’s Creed to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Where is that reference, conservative journalist? Ervin has a reason behind her right to protest inspired by Kaepernick. The Navy’s call to sticking with a capital punishment culture inspired by revenge clearly demonstrates that organizations like the USN and the NSA violate our Constitution through conflicting laws and illegal surveillance. Edward Snowden heroically exposed this violation of the Constitution. The Navy and the NSA response to such democratic actions also prove that they hate democracy. This is obvious given our military’s or Obama’s (aka continuation of Bush and those before them) excuse of spreading freedom and democracy around the world whether it is bombing innocent civilians in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Panama or the CIA planting dictators to replace a democratically-elected leader in places like Iran and Iraq or the continuous arming of military weapons to assist Saudi Arabia to expand their terrorist organizations, and help the Israeli government continue oppressing and killing Palestinians. All these issues I brought up are connected, because they violate our Constitution, International law and human rights. We must speak out for this, and call for social justice.