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A Call to America: Dare to Make a Principled Stand

by : Monica Benderman
Friday January 20, 2006 - 13:24

by Monica Benderman

Terrorism is the use of fear tactics to coerce others to bend to your will or way of thinking. Terrorists employ threats as a means of controlling the actions of others.

The root of terrorist actions lies in simple aggressive behaviors, often referred to as disciplinary actions, designed to scare a person enough to make them “tow the line” and follow directions even when the directions lead to a violation of their own ethical principles.

The most severe acts of terror are far less prevalent than those with less harmful physical results, and yet their foundation lies in a society’s willingness to accept the simpler, less noticeably damaging acts as part of life, and turn a blind eye to the lasting effects.

People only want to recognize terrorists as those who commit the most heinous of threatening acts. Our society seems to not want to see the simple acts of terrorizing that can happen to all of us, that ARE happening to all of us right here in our own country. Eventually, we must realize that it is the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be apathetic toward these actions that the systems by which our country operates have now become corrupt.

Americans are deserting their duty to their country, and their Constitution, every time a member of government, a member of the military or a member of our community uses fear-based threats to cause them to run away rather than stand for what they believe.

Americans desert their country and the foundations upon which it was built every time they believe it is another’s responsibility to bring about the changes necessary to keep our country strong; every time they run and hide to keep from facing the challenge of standing against a corrupt policy or law.

Government institutions, community projects, and military policies will remain corrupt as long as Americans are willing to avoid their responsibilities. Those people who have been elected to serve the citizens of the United States will only act according to the manner in which those they serve demand that they act. If the people are apathetic, those in government are going to believe that we do not care. If the people do not care, there is no reason not to take advantage of what those in government have been given; an open checkbook with only one signature needed.

The American people, as a whole, are responsible for the threatening acts that have been used against us. The American people let their guard down. We were told that our country was secure, and so we lazily believed, not wanting to use the effort to see for ourselves. We learned the hard way that the security we were promised was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Now, we blame the government, but it was the American people who did not step up and hold the administration accountable to its words.

Fear-based speeches and fear-based actions become simple acts of terrorizing against the American people. Continued assertions of threats of violence against the security of our country are being used to coerce our citizens into believing that we must continue the destructive road on which we now travel.

Americans can stop the forward progress of this threatening direction. Americans MUST do this if we hope for America to remain the country our founding fathers envisioned. All Americans must take a stand to defend our Constitution - a defense that does not need to happen at the end of an M-16. To bring about these changes, Americans cannot desert when the orders given are questionable and the consequences of making them right are more difficult than we want to handle. Even the smallest action matters in correcting laws that violate our constitutional rights. Every person who takes a stand will add one more brick to the foundation of principle that needs to be rebuilt in order for our country to get back on track.

In December 2004, Sgt. Kevin Benderman filed his Conscientious Objection application

as a demonstration of his moral opposition to a military action with ramifications that violated our Constitution and the Law of Land our government is legally bound to follow. He made a legal demonstration of principle supported by the Army Regulation 600-43, which allows soldiers to have a change of conscience and be released from duty because of it.

Sgt. Benderman had seen war firsthand and became committed to taking a stand against any future participation in the use of violence to solve our differences with others.

Sgt. Benderman did not desert his unit; he did not run from his sworn duty. He stood his ground for what he believed, and expected nothing more than that the Army would follow its own regulations and afford him the rights allowed under the US Constitution which he had sworn to defend.

By the very act of taking a stand against war and the administration’s policies directing it, Sgt. Benderman continued to fulfill his duty as an American soldier in defending the Constitution and the right to Freedom of Choice it guarantees all citizens.

Sgt. Benderman volunteered to serve in the US Army, and did so without question for 10 years of honorable service. His service for those ten years, and his actions during his combat tour in Iraq demonstrate his commitment to duty and to the lawful orders given by commanders as they apply to the defense of our Constitution and our country.

When the orders given and the faulty leadership demonstrated by his command called into question his personal principles, Sgt. Benderman exercised his rights as a human being and citizen of this country. As someone who willingly took an oath to follow legal orders and to use his actions to correct any conditions deemed detrimental to the integrity of the service, Sgt. Benderman saw clearly the actions of this war to be detrimental to the honor of the soldiers who had volunteered to serve and filed his conscientious objection to it.

From the onset of his application the lack of integrity in the command of his unit showed itself. His commander refused to process his application violating an Army regulation. His chaplain chose to debate the issue with Sgt. Benderman rather than assist him, another ethical violation of Sgt. Benderman’s rights. Without benefit of an investigation into the trumped up charges threatening to be brought against Sgt. Benderman, the acting Commander of the installation where he was stationed pre-determined Sgt. Benderman’s guilt and used his influence to encourage the prosecution to see that all actions led to a stiff sentence against Sgt. Benderman, regardless of the final decision on which charge

to impose. This action was then openly publicized as an attempt to threaten any other soldiers who might consider making the same objection to war as Sgt. Benderman.

Throughout the trial process threats of further legal action and additional charges were made in an effort to cause Sgt. Benderman to plead guilty to a crime that he did not commit. He refused and the threatening acts continued. The command was angry for Sgt. Benderman’s committed stand on principle brought their own actions into question and caused them to fear what would happen if they did not bring this soldier back into their control.

Sgt. Benderman is now in prison convicted on the basis of misrepresentations and conflicting testimonies. His court martial process serves as testimony to the corrupt system of justice now presiding in our US military.

The easy course would have been to run away, to hide and pretend that life was simple and peaceful. The easy course would have been to change a name, to move to another country justifying it by declaring the Constitution of this country to be dead and the government too far corrupt for change to happen. The easy course would have been to desert.

But desertion would only mean giving up. It would mean the work of generations of American pioneers who came before would be tossed away as if it didn’t matter. It would mean forgetting history. It would be a disservice to all those who toughed out the difficult times of building the foundations for this country in which we now live. It would mean dishonoring the sacrifice of every person who ever gave a part of their life to make the home they believed in, America, something to be proud of.

Guns, missiles and pre-emptive wars against the peace are not going to make us secure and they are not going to stop terrorist acts.

Americans will stop terrorist acts when they finally dare to face their fears and take a stand against the threats being made against them and demand that the foundation on which this country was created be restored.

The easy course or the path to principle - which road will you choose?

Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, wrongfully imprisoned for being a Conscientious Objector to war. Please visit www.BendermanTimeline.com and www.BendermanDefense.org to learn more.

Monica and Kevin may be reached at mdawnb@coastalnow.net



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