Orin Kerr Doesn\'t Get It Either

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr takes issue with this from Crooked Timber's Kieran Healy:

For those of us in the U.S., today is Memorial Day. America has a fine tradition of military service and sacrifice. The best way to respect and honor it is to reflect on what it means to serve and perhaps die for your country, and to think about the value of the cause, the power of the reasons, and the strength of the evidence you would need before asking someone—someone like your brother, or friend, or neighbor—to take on that burden. That so many are willing to serve is a testament to the character of ordinary people in the United States. That these people have, in recent years, shouldered the burden of service for the sake of a badly planned war begun in the name of an ill-defined cause, on the thinnest of pretexts, and with the most flimsy sort of evidence, is an indictment of the country’s political class.

To which, Kerr replies:

It seems to me that this exactly what Memorial Day doesn't mean. Memorial Day is about honoring the sacrifice of those who gave up their lives fighting in the name of the United States. It is about the living honoring the dead, recognizing their passing and reaffirming our memory and appreciation for what they did. It is about the troops, the grunts, the front-line soliders who left home and did not return. Memorial Day is not a time to separate out which of the dead served and died for good reasons or bad; to second-guess which decisions to declare war, launch a campaign or charge a hill were justified or not; or to test your ability to invent a populist voice to make cheap shots against an Administration you despise. I'm sure there are good times for that, but Memorial Day isn't one of them.

I disagree with the general premise that Memorial Day is a day for everyone to just quit debating. This month, we here at Catallarchy hosted an anthology, May Day, dedicated to illustrating the evils brought upon by communist governments in the 20th Century. While we focused the event to remember the dead, we clearly want our readers to also remember these people died in vain, and I find it perfectly justified that we should remember the two in tandem. In fact, it woud be pointless to remember these lives if we can't remember why they ended, and what lessons that teaches us for the future.

Likewise, from Healy's point of view (and those who share it) as someone who feels the soldiers have died in vain, it is wholly legitimate for him to a) remember the dead soldiers, b) remember they died in vain (in his opinion), and c) pass it on. I should make it clear that I may not share Healy's perspective (or, for that matter, Kerr's) on the soldiers' deaths; but, if I disagree, my disagreement arises from that perspective itself, not how he feels he should express it and share it on the day to remember those dead.

It would be like a Maoist or Communist claiming that our May Day Rememberance was illegitimate because not only did we honor those who died under socialist regimes, but we used that to attack the regimes themselves. Such objections would be without merit, just as they are in this instance.

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Orin Kerr's no friend of

Orin Kerr's no friend of libertarians. I've read Volokh pretty consistently, and Kerr blogs quite a bit over there, and I've never read one thing from him that indicates he values liberty at all. He's just another Republicommie.

- Josh