The people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. -- St. Matthew 15:8
The American phrase “lip service” is derived from this Biblical quotation. It connotes insincerity, or “expressed with the lips, but not acted upon or believed.” Although the current democrat presidential campaign has been rife with lip service on countless subjects, among the most objectionable—often reverentially uttered, mantra-like, not just by democrats, but by reporters, TV talking heads, and, regrettably, even prominent Republicans—is that John Kerry is a “patriot.”
Even the slightest doubt expressed about Kerry’s patriotism will evoke vigorous denial that runs the gamut from raised eyebrows to utter disdain to uncontrollable wrath. As we saw when Kerry appeared at a late-night Ohio rally following the close of the Republican Convention, he is stung even by a non-attack: “They have attacked my patriotism!” Kerry bellowed.
Alas, they had not.
It is one thing for President Bush and Vice President Cheney to remain above the fray on this issue. But former prisoner of war John McCain knows better, the savvy former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, should know better, and democrat Senator Zell Miller, in a fiery oration denouncing Kerry’s senatorial voting record, at least implied that he knew better.
Before independent-minded members of either party, let alone the sought-after bloc of “undecideds,” make up their minds about John Kerry’s alleged patriotism, let them first ponder this definition: A “patriot” is “a person who loves and loyally or zealously supports his own country.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language).
Then let them test that definition, as we have, against some damning facts:
A patriot does not flee when comrades are in danger, no matter what the perceived threat.
A patriot does not fake or exaggerate minor wounds in order to garner medals.
A patriot does not “somehow” obtain three different citations for a single medal, the latter two sanitizing the first.
A patriot does not bail out from a one-year combat assignment after only four months, by taking advantage of a loophole in an obscure regulation, leaving his “brothers” to face the enemy.
A patriot does not appear before a committee of the United States Senate looking like a cartoon version of a Vietnam veteran, wearing ribbons on unkept fatigues.
A patriot does not give ghost-written testimony to that senate committee, attacking his country.
A patriot does not take an oath before that senate committee, and then proceed to lie through his teeth.
A patriot does not use his televised testimony before that senate committee to accuse American troops—including those still in the field.
A patriot does not hand our communist enemies such anti-American propaganda, which can be—and was—then used as a tool in the torture of American prisoners of war.
A patriot does not falsely accuse himself of committing war crimes in order to make a political-theater statement against the Vietnam War.
A patriot does not associate with potential murderers, conspiring to assassinate American political leaders.
A patriot does not make common cause with traitors like Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden and Ramsey Clark, and other America-haters who give aid and comfort to our nation’s enemies.
A patriot does not march around the Capitol of the United States of America carrying an upside down American flag.
A patriot does not, during wartime, organize and participate in a sham investigation of American “war crimes” (Winter Soldier Investigation)— paid for by Jane Fonda and designed to spout communist propaganda and undermine and embarrass our military.
A patriot does not organize and participate in antiwar protests, nor march under the communist Vietnamese flag, and defile military medals by throwing them away—especially while Americans are in combat.
A patriot does not act as spokesman for an organization that is a front for the very enemy that the United States of America is fighting.
A patriot does not associate with an organization (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) admittedly in bed with the Communist Party USA.
A patriot does not write a book with a cover that desecrates the American flag, and contents that disparage his country.
A patriot does not, while still a member of the United States Navy, fraternize in Paris with communist enemies whose troops, at that very moment, are killing Americans and torturing American prisoners of war.
A patriot does not urge acceptance of the Vietnamese communists’ proposal to end the war—on their terms, not ours.
A patriot does not vote against virtually every piece of national security and related legislation—laws that would make our country stronger and safer.
A patriot does not refuse to appropriate funds to support American forces, fighting for their country in Iraq.
A patriot does not attempt to suppress a book critical of his military service by putting pressure on its publisher and on booksellers.
A patriot does not unleash his lawyers on TV station managers, threatening them with legal and administrative action should they air advertisements critical of his military service.
A patriot does not allow colleagues and supporters to call the President of the United States a liar, and much worse—particularly in time of war.
A patriot does not denigrate legitimate draft deferments once granted the Vice President of the United States, who later served in Congress, then as Chief-of-Staff to a President, and later as Secretary of Defense during wartime.
A patriot does not silently accept his photograph being displayed in the Vietnam communists’ “War Crimes Museum,” along with others who helped the Vietnamese communists win the war.
A patriot is not willing to surrender American sovereignty to the United Nations under the guise of “multilateralism.”
A patriot does not refuse to make all of his military records public, especially in the face of a loud public clamor.
A patriot does not allow his Silver Star medal to be falsely embellished with a Combat “V” that is unauthorized and possibly illegal.
A patriot does not denigrate America’s National Guard and Reserve forces, who throughout this nation’s history have performed with distinction in our defense.
A patriot does not promise a more “sensitive” War on Terrorism, no matter how “politically correct” that notion may be.
A patriot does not wrap himself in the American flag for political advantage, after spending a mere three months in a combat zone.
When one adds up these facts, one has every right to conclude, as we have, that John Kerry has never been, and is not now, a patriot—and more: that to say otherwise, is merely to pay lip service.
Henry Mark Holzer, Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn Law School, specializes in federal appeals. Erika Holzer, a lawyer and novelist, is co-author, with Professor Holzer, of Fake Warriors: Identifying, Exposing and Punishing Those Who Falsify Their Military Service. A second edition is forthcoming with a new preface entitled “John Kerry: The Ultimate Fake Warrior.”