War, war, war…it’s in the air, it’s starting or started or will start here shortly.

My own opinion of the war is that Hussein is doubtless a bad dude, and should probably be removed, but that it would be nice, for once, to something with respect to the international community, not this half-assed cowboy diplomacy. I think Bush is a jackass, and that he’s burned through all our credit with the international community, and I think the uneducated “Hyuck, hyuck, we gotta po-lice the world! We gonna go in and raise some haell with tham thar ragheads!” attitude evinced by many makes me want to wander around wearing a placard saying “These People Do Not Represent Me.” Nevertheless, the Hee-Haw version of the Monroe Doctrine aside, I do think Saddam should be removed. I just wish we weren’t being such assholes to the UN about it, and I also wish that I could believe we will do a good job rebuilding afterwards. However, we won’t. I know this, in my heart of hearts, and I suspect that we will simply put another dictator in power, under a different name, and that in twenty years, we’ll be doing this all again. I also feel that it is incredibly shameful that our president won’t speak on the topic to any audience that hasn’t been coached to give him a standing ovation–even staunch Republicans must know that this is the behavior better suited to a spoiled child, not the leader of the free world.

Nevertheless, the die are cast, we’re at war, and that’s that. We are doing it the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, and yet it’s possible to do the right thing for the wrong reasons, so perhaps we’ll make some good out of this in the end. Removing Saddam is doubtless a good thing. I just hope we don’t make as big a hash of it as we’ve made of other circumstances in the past.

This really isn’t the point. However, I have noticed something that, quite apart from the reality of two groups of people shooting at each other halfway around the world, disturbs me.

It’s some of these sanctimonious “Support the troops” statements. Now, I am all for supporting the troops. I hope they come back safely, I’ve got a buddy who’s a Marine who’s out there right now, and deities willing, he won’t catch a bullet or gas, and I know he’s scared, and I feel for him. I don’t want him to die, because it would be a poorer world without him. You wanna say you support the troops? Fine. Good. I think they should be supported.

However. However, however, however. What is starting to gall me are all these sanctimonious “It’s because of the troops you get to protest!” sort’ve commentaries, with the underlying take-that-you-lousy-peaceniks attitude, as if people who happen to this this war is idiotic and say so are somehow also saying “Anyone who fights in this war is bad,” which I’ve yet to see anybody say.

Yes, it is in part because of armed resistance that peace is possible. However, let us not forget in our zeal to support troops, that A) troops have also been used to support Really Really Bad things, so supporting your troops no matter what is not a neccessarily an unmitigatedly positive thing. After all, I’m sure Mongolian civilians supported the Horde, and that still doesn’t mean it’s okay to sweep across Asia killing everything in your path, now, does it? (Not saying that supporting U.S. troops in this instance is bad, just that blindly supporting your troops no matter what is stupid. Learn to THINK, people!) And B, which is far more important to our purposes–this country was founded by protesters and dissidents. Yes, the troops are important, but far more fundamental to our participatory democracy is the fact that we CAN protest, that we CAN say “We think this is a bad idea.” Clam that up, either by government action, or by attempting to guilt trip people who speak their mind and say “I don’t think this is a good thing, and I’m by god gonna say so,” and you’re attempting–well, a very bad thing.

Yes, the troops are defending the right of protestors to protest. And for that I’m grateful, no question. But the protestors are part of what keeps us from becoming the kind of nation that the troops wouldn’t WANT to protect, and we ought to be grateful to them in turn. Both parts keep our country a free place. Even if we don’t like what people have to say, we should be damn glad they’ve got the guts to say it, because the day people stop having the courage to protest is the day we stop being a free nation, and that’s something that all the troop support in the world isn’t going to help.

So everybody bein’ sanctimonious with “I support the troops, and if you think this war is being run badly, you must be a worthless peacenik who’d just as soon the troops got dysentry and died!” attitude—well, you’ve got a right to say it, but I’ve got a right to think you’re a goober. It’s just silly. I hope the troops do okay and come home safe. I think Saddam should be removed. But I’m not going to roll over and pretend that I like the way our government has run this set up, merely in the name of “supporting the troops.” To squash speaking one’s mind in order to cater to the military would be about as un-American as I can possibly imagine.

As, amusingly enough, a Frenchman once said, “I may not like what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” To look down on people saying what they have to say would undermine everything the troops are fighting for, and I can’t imagine a worse support than that.

(Please note, I’ve got no interest in debating the war itself. It’s mostly a lost cause. We’re already at war, so warhawks, be happy, and doves, hey, I feel your pain, so if you’re preparing a ten page thesis on why war is good, that’s great, feel free to post it, see above quote by Voltaire, but I’m not gonna comment. The specific issues of troop-support-and-goobers, on t’other hand…)

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