For the past few months there has been an ongoing battle between officers and protestors in North Dakota at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation because of the possible construct of a 1,170 mile oil pipeline that would be passing through the Reservation, which many fear would pollute the Missouri River and harm sacred cultural lands and tribal burial grounds.
In order to further protect the protestors, 2,000 veterans will be serving as ‘human shields’ in a movement they have titled ‘Veterans Stand with Standing Rock’. This came after an announcement by law enforcement officials who stated they would begin imposing fines to block supplies from coming in after a mandatory evacuation order was given.
The big question now being: are these veterans going to be treated the same way the protestors have been treated? Essentially as non-human when there has been use of rubber bullets, pepper spray and water cannons. Or will there be a sense of respect of our veterans?
There are many aspects of this situation that can be deemed worthy of an ethical analysis. For one, we often proclaim as Americans of the amount of freedom we have to stand with our opinion, but not when it goes against the masses (such in this situation) which begins to call in the integrity of individuals because hypocrisy is created. Police brutality and excessive force begins to enter the picture. The mistreatment of Native Americans for one too many years beings to enter the picture and the ethical implications grow. The policies behind natural energy. But what I am most interested in with this particular news story is the integrity behind the veterans.
2,000 veterans of varying ages and backgrounds are once again willing to stand up and protect individuals they do not know. Calhoun stated to have integrity some of our beliefs must be core commitments, which are established in our moral identities by conditions that are continuing to develop who we are as individuals (i.e. moral subscriptions).
If this isn’t a better example of individuals who have integrity, I don’t know what would be. The veterans are exhibiting core commitments (protection) when they are not being called upon (i.e. they are not on active duty) which was further conditioned when they joined the military.
Calhoun goes on to further state the integrity is thought of as a social virtue because it’s how we think anybody in our community should act, not just on a personal level, but I think this is where the argument becomes debatable. I think this because if everybody needed to act with integrity in this instance (the protestors, the police, the government, etc.) then wouldn’t there be cohesion within their actions rather than opposition?
Overall, I believe the whole situation is an ethical evaluation that will be interesting to see how it further develops with hopefully less violence and a mutual agreement in the end that is beneficial to both parties (but I know that is not usually how it goes).