Oath of Enlistment

Jefferson Li, USCGR

Jefferson Li, USCGR

I've been very vocal lately about the recent race riots in Virginia. I am vehemently opposed to the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia, and a bit conflicted with my chain-of-command, mostly with the Commander-in-Chief. For those that have asked why, I recite here:

"I, (insert name), 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."

This is the Oath of Enlistment, a little something almost every service member will recite before their brothers and sisters, their maker, and themselves (officers have a similar, but different Oath). Notice how it clearly states "foreign and domestic” when referring to all enemies and adversaries of the Constitution of the United States? Defending our country from any and all foreign adversaries is a no-brainer: it’s us against them, after all. But what about the Confederacy? In the most blunt description: they were a domestic enemy of the United States of America, hence why we extinguished it, with “it” being its formal structure, from existence.

However, for some odd reason, people still fly the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia alongside Nazi paraphernalia (despite the context that they have been used by domestic terrorists) with the call to “Heritage!,” “Southern Pride!,” and “The South will rise again!” This has always perplexed me: individuals and groups that fly a flag representative of a civil rebellion (the Confederate Flag), and another flown by our enemies in the Second World War (the Swastika and similar flags from Nazi Germany) are the first to call themselves true patriots and Americans. All these flags that aren’t America’s national flag and colors, but they’re…true Americans and patriots? To no surprise, my resounding response to this as a service member is FUCK YOU AND YOUR BULLSHIT PATRIOTISM.

The flag often flown as the “Confederate Flag” is literally the BATTLE FLAG of Northern Virginia. Meaning an ARMY from the CONFEDERATE STATE of Virginia flew that flag as it marched into battle with, wait for it, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. So…what heritage? What pride? Heritage and pride of secession? Of treason to the country? Pride and heritage derived from fighting for the States’ rights to own slaves? In regards to Nazi paraphernalia, well, we had a world war about this. What more is there to say?

In regards to obeying the orders of the President of the United States, does this apply to the office or the individual? What happens when the individual in the Office of the President of the United States is in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States? At this point, who and what do I uphold and guard? Similar to how Heather Dunbar from House of Cards says as special prosecutor, “I cannot prosecute the office of the president of the United States, but I can prosecute the president of the United States,” how can I differentiate between the two when they are one and the same? When the president himself encourages the police force to use increasingly violent tactics to enforce the law. When he is openly advocating for torture and hints at missing the “good old days” in reference to how civil rights protestors were treated by the police and their opposition. When he has financial conflicts of interests, lacks transparency, his staff continues to dwindle due to mismanagement, and too much to list: at what point does a service member say enough is enough? That he no longer has faith in his Commander in Chief? The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is military law, but as history will show, what is lawful is not always right, nor moral.

So...where do we go from here?