or not as the case may be.
jeff goldstein and his dittoheads are thumping chests and slapping backs like the gang of drunken fratboys they are over a recent column by joel stein.
shorter joel stein: "i don't support the troops because i don't support the war but i still wan't to be cool so i'll say i like them."
shorter goldstein: "i like the sound my keyboard makes"
shorter dittoheads: "you are like a god sir"
to cleanse your palate i offer the words of mr. crispin sartwell
By Crispin Sartwell
Unanimity gives me the heebie-jeebies. And lately, I'm pretty nervous
out on the highway and in the parking lots, where every car seems to
have three yellow-ribbon magnets that say "Support Our Troops."
Even people who oppose the war "support our troops." I find this
puzzling. If you think the war is wrong, then you think what the
soldiers are doing is wrong.
One of the purposes of training soldiers to act under order is to
create a disciplined, unified implementation of tactics. Another is
to relieve as many people as possible of as much responsibility as
possible for what they're doing.
But even in a context in which someone is telling you what to do,
you're responsible for what you do. If this is not the case, then not
only are there no war crimes, there are no war heroes.
To join the military is a decision. To allow yourself to be deployed
to Iraq is a decision. No doubt it would be disconcerting to take
yourself to be serving your country in, let us say, Vietnam and then
come home to find yourself reviled. But if you yourself believed your
decision to fight was the right decision, you should expect that
others will disagree with you, and you should be able to weather the
I am not under an obligation to praise you for taking actions I think
are wrong. Now, if I believed that you acted in ignorance -- that,
for example, you thought that conquering and occupying Iraq was
"protecting our country," then I might regard that as something of an
excuse. Then again, I might think that you should know your belief is
false and that if you believe without question what Dick Cheney (or,
for that matter, anyone else) says, then you're liable to do bad things.
Writing in 1848 during the Mexican-American War -- a war prosecuted
on the flimsiest of pretexts with the most questionable of motives --
Henry David Thoreau wrote as follows: "A common and natural result of
undue respect for the law is, that you see a file of soldiers,
colonel, captain, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in
admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills,
ay, against their common sense and consciences, which make it very
steep marching indeed.
"The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as
machines. ... In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the
judgment or the moral sense; but they put themselves on the level
with wood and earth and stones: and wooden men can perhaps be
manufactured that will serve the purpose as well."
For us to oppose what our troops are doing and to support them for
doing it is to regard them as inanimate objects, as things with no
responsibility for their own actions. It is to excuse everything on
the ground that the persons doing it have no conscience,
understanding or will.
But we, too, need to accept our responsibility. Thoreau went to jail
because -- in protest of the war and as a refusal to participate in
it -- he declined to pay his taxes. I myself, though I oppose the
war, am no tax resistor. In other words, when the authorities order
me to cough up (or, rather, when they confiscate the war machine's
cut directly from my paycheck), I utter nary a peep.
The laws and mechanisms under which I do this are designed precisely
to exculpate me, to diminish my own sense of my responsibility. But
whether the law treats me as a child, an object, an idiot or a
victim, still I am responsible as I pay for what I hate.
Support our taxpayers.
SUBVERT OUR TROOPS
discuss among yourselves