First off, I’d like to explain why this article (and responses to readers’ comments) are coming late -- I’ve been busy celebrating Pesach (Passover). The first two and last two days of Pesach are separate from the days in between: On these days Jews are not supposed to work, write, make fire, drive, use electronics etc. Now that it is after nightfall on the second day my blog is fair game again.
I had planned to write an article about taxes. On discovering, however, that all that remained of a hefty paper I wrote on the topic last year is the bibliography, I realized that it’s going to take me several weeks to do all the necessary researching and writing so I can come out with a finished product.
In the meantime, I am in the process of being kicked off of my high school newspaper, ostensibly to make room for a conservative columnist to get practice for next year. The decision was made by the very Chief Editor who tried (unsuccessfully) to prevent me from conducting a rudimentary evaluation of the quality of our education (see my article “The Culture Quiz” in the January archives with the results listed in a March posting). He has decided to kick me off, despite that no columnist asked to replace me (one had to be recruited), that there is no shortage of space, that there are still people interested in reading my column, and that if one’s first column is actually published, like my successor’s will be, it is not practice or preparation -- it’s the real deal. In addition, the move to replace me was conducted behind my back, so that I only found out about it accidentally. The Chief said he kept his actions a secret from me because he knew that I “would act like this.” In other words, he knew that I would object to being removed, so he decided it would be safer (at least from his point of view) just not to tell me.
Now, to this chief’s credit, he has agreed to print a farewell column in the newspaper (I suppose he may change his mind in retaliation to this post though naturally I‘d rather be published). I thought I’d write a column on the most important topic I could think of -- namely support for the troops. I know that my post last week, on the Medal of Honor, is closely connected to this, and despite the fact the some people find this topic “boring,” I believe that we can never say enough about it.
So here it is:
The men who defend this country are paid very little money, they live in quarters that a civilian wouldn’t tolerate, they are split away from their families so they can fight in a desert half-way around the world, and by the very nature of their job they may be killed in the line of duty. So the question we have to ask is, why do these men volunteer? What compensation could they possibly get to make it worth it?
The answer depends in large part on you.
Soldiers fight for honor, and love of their country; they want to help spread democracy throughout the world. Most of all, perhaps, they want to know that the people they are fighting for appreciate their sacrifice -- that we guys sitting here reading the newspaper in both freedom and security understand that our military allows us to enjoy that privilege.
It is impossible to support the troops without supporting the war.
I divide the anti-warrites into two groups, the honest, and the dishonest -- those who make no qualms about their dislike of the military and those who ‘claim’ to like it (or at least to like the soldiers themselves). The honest sort is the type who drives around with a “No Blood for Oil” bumper sticker and flashes his middle finger at the SUV with the Marine Corps emblem on the back. They are the type of people who, during the Vietnam War, supported the now infamous “F--k the Army” tour -- a series of shows organized by Jane Fonda and preformed right outside military bases (as USAF Col. Patterson wrote, “a perverse USO tour in reverse”).
The dishonest anti-warrites are pathetically bad in a different sense. They pity the soldiers -- they feel sorry for them. ‘Here these men are, thinking that they’re defending freedom or whatever and what really happened is they got duped into fighting in this needless war -- they’re nice guys but they’ve been victimized. So of course we support them, we don’t want them to die, etc.’ This type of “support” of course does nothing for our troops’ morale. If you tell them that you support them, but not the war, you put yourself in a position of snobbish condescension. You’re still saying “f--k the army,” just in a different way.
Alright, now you say, ‘well I really do support the troops; I just can’t bring myself to support this war.’ What is it you can’t support -- ridding the world of a brutal dictator? Bringing freedom to millions of people for the very first time? Making the world safer for ourselves and the world’s other free nations? Maybe, of course, you question that that is what we’re really doing -- you still think that the military mission was launched and is being conducted over a big pack of lies (“f--k the army”).
The patriotic American does not look first to uncover the dastardly things that his own country is doing. He looks proudly at our history of defending freedom with young men who volunteer to be shot at. He knows that these men are fighting for him, so he does what he can to make that fight worthwhile. Without pretensions, reservations, qualifiers, or condescension, he says, “thanks.”