March 21, 2007

The Fifth Year

Over the weekend, there were a couple of protests in town marking the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. This is nothing new. Protests are a dime a dozen in these parts. This one bothered me more than most, though. Demonstrations on both sides of the issue - supporting or denouncing the war - took place throughout the day. Shouting matches ensued. Sound-bites were recorded and broadcast. War supporters even waged their very own battle, surrounding the Vietnam Memorial in an effort to avoid it being captured by the legions of anti-war advocates. Beth, Mia and I were in the car a good bit, listening to NPR reports from DC most of the time. I was offended by what I heard. The tipping point was when I heard this - "If you object to the war then you best buy a plane ticket and get on a plane because this country isn't for you."

To me, the debate over the war is structured a lot like arguments about abortion.

I'm a guy. To my knowledge, I don't have a uterus. I don't have a dog in that fight. But it's a debate that, even dogless, gets me fired up. See, I support a woman's right to choose. If I had a vagina, I'd do the same. I don't feel like it's my right - regardless of the genitalia I sport - to restrict anyone else's rights to govern what happens with their own bodies. How should I know what's best for someone else? I rarely know what's best for me. That argument is lost on a lot (but not all, I realize) of folks who oppose abortion.

I refer to them as pro-life. They refer to me as pro-abortion. But that's not really accurate is it? I can't recall the last time I tried to talk any of my pregnant friends into an abortion. I've never pontificated on the joy that is an abortion. Honestly, it sounds truly horrific and I would never, ever get one. But, you know, I don't like the idea of owning a gun either but that doesn't mean you can't have one. I'm the tolerant one, yet I'm the one labeled as a baby-killer.

The war is much the same thing.

I hate the very idea of war. I accept that war is sometimes necessary but not in this case. I won't go into my anti-war rant. You've heard it before. Long story short - we were lied to then saddled with a war we can't win. But, see, I say something like that out loud and I'm labeled unpatriotic. Anti-war, to some, is anti-America. If you speak out in favor of peace and honestly, you don't care about the country or our troops. The pro-war protests this weekend were filled with vitriolic sound-bites that angered me and, worse, scared me, as an American.

For the record, here's my response.

I will not blindly follow anyone. I refuse to cover my eyes and stumble in the dark because it is, according to some, the right thing to do. I will question authority and I will arrive at my own conclusions. I can imagine no alternative in which I was not born into the family of Americans. I am fortunate to have received this life, these fortunes, these opportunities and these freedoms. I am fortunate to live in a land, the ideals of which inspire people to lay down their lives to protect the freedoms granted to them. I am fortunate that I live in a land created out of whole cloth by forward thinking men who saw injustice, envisioned a better society and had the nerve and willingness to shed blood to create it. But to ask me to accept blind logic is to marginalize over 200 years of struggle not to mention my intelligence and that of the other 300 million people living within the borders of this country.

If you believe in the war because you weighed the facts, struggled with the dilemmas and understood the issues, fine. If you believe in the war only out of blind faith, patriotism or because someone in a position of power told you to, well, I feel very sorry for you.

Posted by Chris at March 21, 2007 7:15 AM
Comments

Very well stated. Having a right to your opinion is the very basis of America. Everyone is entitled to think what they like, and inviting someone to leave just because they don't share your viewpoint is very narrow-minded, and not at all patriotic.

Posted by: Alissa at March 21, 2007 7:56 AM

*applauds*
That was a really great post. You put into words a lot of what has been on my mind lately...especially after spending a week in New Orleans, and seeing what a few troops could accomplish in a much shorter time than a bunch of college volunteers. I know the kids I chaperoned came away with more questions than there are answers....and it's not just New Orleans, there are so many areas of our own country that need help, it makes me so angry that this war continues.

Posted by: Lisa at March 21, 2007 8:02 AM

Two of the girls and I were part of one of the "protests". Ours was a candlelit vigil at one of the main intersections.

Since we have one every Friday (I'm not always there these days), it wasn't unusual for the town to see us on a Monday as well. What's surprising is that over the more than a year I've been doing it the support from passersby has more than tripled. Waving, honking, peace signs, etc. This is a conservative city.

The local newspaper reporter/photographer stayed for almost the whole thing and spent a lot of time photographing the girls. It wasn't in yesterday's paper - I'll check again today. If it turns up I'll email it to you. You might get a kick out of it.

Posted by: ann adams at March 21, 2007 8:11 AM

Amen...and again...AMEN.

Posted by: wordgirl at March 21, 2007 8:11 AM

Very well written.
The problem with protests is that they usually accomplish nothing but sound bites and anger at the other side.

A true protest should be calling your senator and congressmen and tell them to do their f-ing job.

Posted by: William at March 21, 2007 8:38 AM

Imagine having those thoughts while living on a military base. I don't talk much about how I'm against the war, how I feel that really, we're invading a country not 'liberating' it from itself... I can't, not when our base has 500+ guys there. My best friend's husband is being deployed in May. They picked him because he's been in the military 17 years and never been deployed, which terrifies me. I now spend my days wondering if my husband with his un-deployable job will get deployed. (And with inside knowledge, I know that last year, our nucs were inspected almost 6 times. Normally they are inspected once a year. Thats scary.)

Did you take any pictures of the protests?

Posted by: Phoenix at March 21, 2007 8:40 AM

That was perfect!

Posted by: linda at March 21, 2007 8:53 AM

Rude Cactus for President!

Posted by: Liz at March 21, 2007 8:59 AM

As Vivian said during the polo match, well done!

Posted by: Traci at March 21, 2007 9:29 AM

Amen brother. It's shocking how some people's form of patriotism so closely mirrors fascism.

Posted by: Holmes at March 21, 2007 9:32 AM

amen!

Posted by: malia at March 21, 2007 9:55 AM

They interviewed this guy on the radio the other day who absolutely infuriated me by declaring that "Patriotic Americans are coming in to counter protest and defend the Vietnam Wall from the protesters." Because obviously anyone who doesn't support the war is not patriotic, and would deface a war memorial. Asshole. I say questioning my government is one of the most American things I can do. It's the same with people who say if you don't support the war, you're not supporting the troops. I support the troops. I support them so much I don't want them getting killed or maimed in a war I don't believe we should be fighting. How is wanting to bring them home not supporting them?

Sorry for the rant, but that has been bugging me for days.

Posted by: bad penguin at March 21, 2007 9:58 AM

Our library recently hosted a photo display about the experiences of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon last summer. I had strong feelings against this, but after reading the captions written soldiers' own words, I had a different view. I was so angry at the government (theirs and ours) that seems to abuse the faith and loyalty of the men and women in the service. My boss asked me to make a sign for the display. My sign was this:

This is a sign to say
that I am amazed how governments
convince their
soldiers
of the same old crap
over and over again.

He decided to get somebody else to make the sign.

Posted by: Sphincter at March 21, 2007 10:05 AM

Very well said, Chris. I heard a lot of that NPR coverage, too. It's terrifying -- there really are Americans who truly believe that because we disagree with them, we don't have the right to be Americans. They need a refresher high school civics course, at the very least.

Posted by: Kelly at March 21, 2007 10:06 AM

OMG. I wish I could articulate my thoughts as well as you do! All I can say is AMEN!

Posted by: gypsy at March 21, 2007 10:16 AM

I totally missed the NPR coverage, somehow. Usually I catch a little bit of it between jobs, but I seem to be hearing more on the scandal of the White House attorneys. Your rant is spot on. I honestly think we're at the point - and have been there for awhile - where most people understand that we're not criticizing the troops when we don't support the war. We just want them home, with their wives and families, with their buddies drinking beers on Friday night. Heck, if the majority of them were going to Afghanistan, we'd probably be okay with that.

What gets me is that there are soldiers who are taking third and fourth trips to Iraq - and that's ridiculous. How much can one person handle, I ask you?

Posted by: Sam at March 21, 2007 10:35 AM

Very well said. Couldn't agree more. It has taken me a long time to get where I am today though. In high school, I very well may have been one of those people telling you to get the hell out of the U.S. if you didn't like the war. But only because someone else told me to say it, not because I actually believed it. Thank god for growing older, eh? :)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at March 21, 2007 10:46 AM

Great post!

I don't have anything to add right now, but great post..

Posted by: Molly at March 21, 2007 10:48 AM

After everything that's happened in the last 4 (or really, 6) years, I find it hard to believe that there are still people who find it unpatriotic to question this government.

Still, in the debate over the war as in the debate over abortion, there's plenty of blame to go around. We've had enough angry rhetoric from both sides, and the voices of reason are getting drowned out. It's sad.

Posted by: Julie at March 21, 2007 10:49 AM

I read your site every day. You have a great site.
All I have to say is amen, when's the revolution?
There's got to be more of us like minded individuals than those "patriots"
How ironic the war supporters "defended" the memorial of another war that us "nonbelievers" didn't support.
I'm eagerly waiting for the impeachment and criminal trial of certain individuals at 1600 PA.
greenie

Posted by: greenie at March 21, 2007 11:01 AM

I'm for peace. War is necessary at times and I agree this isn't one of those times.

When I open my democratic sometimes liberal mouth and say things along those lines the republicans look like I just wrapped baby Jesus in the flag and set it afire.

No I'm not buying a plane ticket to another country because I think Bush is a pussy and that the war is wrong--that's just PURE ignorance speaking when people say assine things like that.

Great post.

Posted by: Michele at March 21, 2007 11:06 AM

De-lurking for the first time in months of reading you to say: Amen. I often share your sentiments, but for some reason, this post really struck a chord. Thanks for so eloquently articulating thoughts that are usually a big ol' jumbled mess in my brain.

Posted by: Karrin at March 21, 2007 11:35 AM

Amen, brother.

Posted by: Alison at March 21, 2007 11:37 AM

Bravo.

Posted by: suze at March 21, 2007 11:42 AM

AMEN!

Posted by: Heather at March 21, 2007 12:13 PM

You sound anti-stupid to me.

Posted by: whit at March 21, 2007 12:23 PM

Bravo! You say things that I think but could never express so eloquently...that's why I've been an avid reader since the beginning.

Posted by: Krush at March 21, 2007 12:31 PM

AMEN!!!!!There is nothing else to say.

Posted by: jodi at March 21, 2007 12:50 PM

Well said. One of the things that has been most frustrating to me during this whole mess is how people who choose to speak out against the war are labeled as un-American and how wrong they are to criticize our president. WTF ever heard of the First Amendment morons?

Posted by: Teenuh at March 21, 2007 2:07 PM

For the record, I think pro-life should be met with pro-choice. It's difficult to not be very emotional when you do believe that it is a baby involved and not a blob. But I also appreciate that you can't really legislate morality, (though murder is obviously illegal, and so it's also pretty sticky believing that an abortion is the deliberate taking of a human life!) and the decision is unlikely to ever be reversed anyway - so I think the best any of us can do is make sure that any woman in that situation has all of the options and is able to make a fully informed decision. Both having a baby and having an abortion can be life-altering decisions - I have known people who've been physically and emotionally hurt terribly by abortions. I don't think it should be presented as a "cure-all" with no consequences and it truly angers me beyond belief when abortion is used as birth control - there are many far less harmful options.
But your rant wasn't even on abortion, so I'm just going off here. Just remember that not all pro-lifers are rabid sign-toting accusatory crazy people ;-)
As to the war - you put it all so well. Particularly that last paragraph - if you TRULY believe you're in the right - if you KNOW what's going on, and base your beliefs on that, then good. But blind faith is reserved for deities and trustworthy men - while Bush may believe he is both, he is in fact neither.

Posted by: Heather at March 21, 2007 2:10 PM

I think the thing I find most interesting about this whole topic is that people define freedom differently. Can we not agree on that? Why can't that definition be established and explained to our children and our stupid adults?

Freedom is the right to choose, the right to speak freely without penalty. That... that is the root, the core of all of our issues.

Maybe it's too forward-thinking... but it wasn't for the authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Why is it now? Were they bleeding heart liberals? Ha! I think not.

I just wish Bill O'Reilley would have a big huge with Jon Stewart and agree to the fact that they have every right to disagree.

Posted by: Brad at March 21, 2007 2:39 PM

Word.

According the individual who said "If you object to the war then you best buy a plane ticket and get on a plane because this country isn't for you.", my son is unpatriotic. My son, Josh: a 21-year old Private First Class in the U.S. Army currently stationed in Baghdad.

He is opposed to this war and so are many of the men and women fighting and dying in it. But they do it because it is their job. I want the people who say crap like that to say it directly to my son's face.

Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are sacrificing much - their comfort, security, time with their family, their regular jobs, school, etc, etc. - as well as, risking and giving up their lives to preserve our freedoms. The freedom to be an idiot, the freedom to agree with the government, the freedom to disagree with the government, and most importantly the freedom to think and decide for ourselves what is right for us.

Posted by: trix at March 21, 2007 2:46 PM

right ON, my brother!

Posted by: jodi at March 21, 2007 3:07 PM

I'm with everyone one else when I say..

amen.

Posted by: Isabel at March 21, 2007 3:16 PM

*golf claps*

Nicely stated. I won't go into the politics of anything, but add me to the AMEN list.

(Also, who *isn't* pro-life? Even pro-choice folks are pro-life. It's a stupid, inflammatory statement that has, unfortunately, caught on. It's deceptive. I don't know anyone who is anti-life. I call them anti-choice. That's really what it's about - the choice. That's how I see it, not that it's worth much.)

Posted by: Jurgen Nation at March 21, 2007 4:06 PM

I'm sorry. I'm still trying to imagine you with a vagina. *Shakes head* Nope. Still there. I'll get back to you later...

Posted by: Tink at March 21, 2007 4:52 PM

Isabel: Well said! I'm still looking for a bumper sticker that says, "I'm pro-choice, not pro-death." My biggest qualm with pro-lifers is that they talk all high and mighty. But are they around to take care of this baby? Are they adopting? Are they ensuring the mother/father has the means to raise the child in a healthy environment? No. It's easy to point the finger and then walk away.

Posted by: Tink at March 21, 2007 4:55 PM

It's shocking how so many people can't see the shades of gray in life.

I believe that our ability to voice our opinions about our government is what makes this country worth living in. If I am being forced to believe in something (like that the war was a good idea) then I feel that THAT is unpatriotic. The amazing thing about a "free" country is that we can all believe different things! It does not make me the government's enemy if I disagree with its policies. Just because I think the war is stupid does not mean that I hate America. I express my dissent and doubt because I care about America and believe that we, as a nation, could do AMAZING things. To sound like an elementary school teacher, "We are not living up to our potential!"

Posted by: heels at March 21, 2007 5:07 PM

Bravo!

It always amazes me how two different people can look at the same facts and come up with vastly different conclusions.

That last paragraph--just brilliant. The latter reminds me of a show that is my guilty pleasure, (don't judge, heehee) The Real Housewives of Orange County. On one episode, one of the wives was going to a benefit for Mitt Romney and she said, "I'm a Republican, I don't know what that means really. I just know I'm a Republican." :O I wanted to jump into the television and strangle her. In a later episode, she was asked if she watches the news and/or reads the news--I'll bet you can guess the answer.

Posted by: Nanette at March 21, 2007 6:16 PM

This wins the "YOU GO BOY" award! I should totally make you one :D

Posted by: Peggy at March 21, 2007 6:23 PM

Thank You, Thank You, Thank you!
That is all........

Posted by: Sunshine at March 21, 2007 9:09 PM

Well said. I'm in complete agreement.

Posted by: Zandria at March 22, 2007 9:05 AM

This post is likely the best written thing that I've read on your blog. Being that your a dude without a uterus, I was quite impressed with your take on abortion.

Posted by: Diane at March 22, 2007 10:15 AM

Very well said!!

Posted by: Liz at March 22, 2007 10:59 AM

"I refuse to cover my eyes and stumble in the dark because it is, according to some, the right thing to do. I will question authority and I will arrive at my own conclusions."

Fucking well said.

Posted by: Melissa at March 22, 2007 10:02 PM

Thought provoking posts like these are what keeps me coming back. You tell them!

Posted by: nila at March 23, 2007 4:19 AM

I am so with you. Wait, does that mean we're with the terrorists? If I'm with you, are YOU a terrorist? Oh, this shit is confusing.

I'm just tired of self-righteous conservative types looking down on me because I don't think we should be in this bullshit war. I'm tired of getting told to go hug a tree or leave the country because I won't pretend I'm fine with being lied to. I'm tired of hearing the war lecture given to me like I'm some little kid. (I'm not a retard. I know war is necessary. THIS war was not necessary.) I'm tired of hearing how unpatriotic and irresponsible it is to be a tolerant human being. And I'm tired of the Americans who says these things to a world who thinks they speak for all of us.

I've been so numb the past few years, I didn't even vote last November. I'm just tired of everything and feel like nothing makes a difference anymore. Hopefully 2008 will prove me wrong.

Posted by: rsm at March 31, 2007 6:46 PM


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