There’s a reason why they call our men and women in uniform unsung heroes. Chances are, if they’re not top brass and you know their name and rank, there are only three reasons.
First, you know them personally. Second, they did something especially good. Third, they did something especially bad.
For most of us, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Sarah J. Dudrey falls into the final category.
According to the Navy Times, the petty officer is now being investigated by military authorities after video allegedly shows her berating attendees at a small patriotic rally while in uniform, telling the attendees “f— Trump” and giving them middle fingers.
One of those present at the Ventura County Government Center in Ventura, California, on July 19 wrote in a Facebook post that “[a] large group of people were having a pro-America rally and had lined the sidewalks with happiness and American flags.
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“Dudrey pulled up in a BORROWED CAR, parked illegally on a busy main street, blocking an entire lane, got out” and began a tirade, according to the post.
“F— Trump! F— you!” the uniformed individual yells before deploying the double bird upon the small crowd.
If Trump supporters are supposed to be the minatory vulgarians, this video probably couldn’t have been entered as proof.
“Shame on you!” one protester yells.
Should this sailor face consequences for this?
“Take the flag off your shoulder!” says another.
“You should be ashamed!” a third says.
“Don’t touch anybody! Get back in your car!” says another
Another asks, repeatedly, who her commanding officer is.
There’s only one rally-goer who responds with the same, um, gusto: “Learn how to act in a f—ing uniform, you f—ing piece of s—!” he says.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
The issue isn’t just one of someone having a Trump Derangement Syndrome flareup while in traffic. This was an individual wearing her uniform and making a political statement, which is specifically verboten by the military. Thus, the Navy is investigating.
“The Navy is a proponent of free speech and active-duty members are free to participate in protests during their off-duty time,” Navy spokeswoman Melinda Larson said in an email.
“However, Navy members are not authorized to wear military uniforms while engaging in protests and voicing personal opinions.”
Just in case this somehow anyone’s attention during enlistment and training, Defense Secretary Mark Esper reminded service members in a memo earlier this year that they can’t make political statements under the auspices of the military.
“As citizens, we exercise our right to vote and participate in government,” Esper wrote in the February memo, according to the Military Times.
“However, as public servants who have taken an oath to defend these principles, we uphold DoD’s longstanding tradition of remaining apolitical as we carry out our official responsibilities.”
Ineffective and incoherent though Dudrey’s statement may have been, it was indeed a political statement made while a service member was in military uniform.
I’m not particularly here to heap obloquy on Dudrey, assuming this is the Navy Times’ identification of the woman is correct. However, there are impressions that remain from the video.
The first is a question I’d pose to Dudrey: Was it worth it?
Was letting open the release valve and blowing off some political pressure worth the military career repercussions? I mean, inasmuch as this was an action Dudrey had some control over, I would ask her what she hoped to accomplish by this.
Did she want to intimidate these people? There was one of her and roughly a dozen of them.
Did she want them to know that she disapproved of their support of Donald Trump? If these are Trump supporters, they’re Trump supporters in Southern California; I would assume, given those variables, they’re definitely not unused to this.
Did she hope to go viral, perhaps? Congratulations, she did — and that’s worked out swimmingly for her, no? Did she see herself as a moral giant, speaking her truth and advancing her cause? Because she looks small and petty, and if I were deciding merely on the basis of this video, I wouldn’t support any candidate or cause she did.
In short, I don’t know how she pictured the cost-benefit analysis of this confrontation working out in her head, but it didn’t play out that way.
Secondly, I’d point to what one of the people she was yelling at said back to her regarding Donald Trump: “He’s your commanding officer.”
I don’t expect everyone in the military to have unadulterated love for Donald Trump. In fact, I’d hate it: If that were the case, this wouldn’t be America, where one of our core values is diversity of opinion. Eventually, however, the president is the commander in chief, the man whom every person in the military reports to at some level. Yes, that level is far more distal than any service member’s relationship with an immediate commanding officer, but that doesn’t any sailor, soldier, airman or any other individual can stop a car in the middle of traffic and throw both middle fingers up in the air at either one.
You take the oath to defend our country because you love our country. You don’t violate the responsibility that oath carries with it because you think the Electoral College let you down.
This is obnoxious enough when it happens among the general populace, but it’s dangerous when it happens in the Navy, or any other branch of the service. We can’t have a military of summer soldiers who show open contempt for whoever’s at the top when elections don’t go their way.
We wouldn’t accept this from a Republican who acted like this in uniform out of dislike for President Barack Obama. We shouldn’t accept it during the Trump presidency, either.
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