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Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, believes that social justice warriors should receive the same benefits that are awarded to Veterans of the US Armed Forces. This self-proclaimed “Veteran’ writes that the idea came to him at his local veterinarian’s office when he witnessed a Veteran receive 10% off of his bill due to his service in the Military. Dr. Blumenfeld prepared for battle and wrote that “true patriots and veterans are also those who speak out, stand up, and put their lives on the line by actively advocating for justice, freedom, and liberty through peaceful means” in an article published by LGBTQ Nation. Dr. Blumenfeld, the keyboard warrior, wants us all to “take a few moments to consider those fighting a cultural and figurative civil war to reduce the violence and injustice and place the United States in higher standing around the world.” Evidently, holding a picket sign for an hour or two is equivalent to storming the beaches of Normandy.
I’m sure the argument made by Dr. Blumenfeld comes from the “everyone gets a trophy” mantra of this millennium. He ignores, or is incapable of understanding, the sacrifices that our brave men and women make when they raise their right hand and take the oath of enlistment. Every person who joins our Military sacrifices time with their families, careers, education, and personal lives to serve the greater good. Their missions can take them to war and peacekeeping missions overseas or to provide humanitarian relief domestically or abroad at a moment’s notice for months or years on end. Missed are the holidays, births, deaths, graduations, sport championships, and everyday moments that civilians, like Dr. Blumenfled, take for granted every day. The training and missions accomplished with their fellow Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coasties create a brother and sisterhood seldom experienced by the public and earns them the honor of being called Veterans after being honorably discharged after four, six, ten, twenty, even thirty years in the Military. Holding a picket sign and yelling for an hour or two on a Saturday and going to your home equipped with first world luxuries such as indoor plumbing and electricity pales in comparison to the sacrifices made by Veterans and their families.
Beyond discounts from stores Veterans earn a plethora of federal, state, and local benefits that have been established by laws dating as far back as the Civil War. Benefits such as Veteran license plates, Veteran Cemeteries, the GI Bill, and the VA’s Home Loan Guarantee are a token of appreciation from the government and a way to honor those who truly fought to preserve our freedom. Other benefits, such as the VA Health Care System, Vocational Rehabilitation, Soldiers’ Homes, and disability payments are necessary to assist Veterans who have been affected by the physical and mental wounds caused by war and military service. Could Dr. Blumenfeld truly believe that getting a splinter from picket sign is equal to be shot, or blown up, in combat?
What Dr. Blumenfeld really wants here is what most social justice warriors want: a free ride from the government. They want the free tuition and healthcare that the VA provides Veterans; they just don’t want to earn it. And it’s the word “earned” that Dr. Blumenfeld probably doesn’t understand. Although I’m sure that if I decided to call myself Dr. Toto he would remind me that I didn’t earn that title.
The true irony is that social justice warriors want free benefits from a country whose symbols they don’t respect. Dr. Blumenfeld wrote “I have long refused to stand at attention, place my hand over my heart, take off head coverings, and recite the Pledge,” in an article for The Good Men Project. “I don’t since to do so amounts to nothing more than a hollow gesture of talking some sort of talk.” He continues and says that the American Flag is “a mere piece of cloth, and like the words of a pledge, represents merely a symbol, which can signify nothing beyond the threads, the dyes, and the stitches holding it together…” I would remind him that the American Flag is the same piece of cloth that drapes the coffins of those killed in action and as a three-corned Flag it has a deep meaning to the Gold Star Families who received one at the funeral of their loved one.
Kyle Toto is a Combat Veteran from the War in Afghanistan and host of WRKO's Sound Off which airs every Saturday from 5-6:00 PM. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and holds an MPA from Suffolk University.