Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where I draw the line

Despite my long dry spell in posting here, I actually have several entries in the works. I'll get them into adequate shape for posting bit by bit.

But first priority is to get out of the way something I really kind of don't want to say, but feel I have to.

It's difficult to argue with this man, after what he's given for this country. Nobody has earned the right to his opinion of the Iraq war more than this guy has, both by the sacrifice he's made and just by being there in person, which I certainly can't claim. Some of the people I admire most differ with me about it, and I do admire this young veteran. History will pronounce the final verdict on this war.

I support his, or anyone's right to think it's a necessary war.

But when he says that if you call the war a mistake, THEN you disrespect the soldiers, it crosses the line into something not even he has the right to say. Why? Because he's not disagreeing with me, he's telling me what I think -- and disagreeing with it -- and nobody gets to do that.

I will not Make Nice about this. I have high tolerance for being disagreed with, but a very low tolerance for being told what I think. I have an even lower tolerance for the venerable tactic of false correlation: If you believe X, then you are required to believe Y.

I think I can see where it comes from. There's this completely bogus idea floating around, that to oppose the war means that one holds the soldiers to be stupid. Or -- and this is outwardly "nicer" but more condescending -- that they're valiant and admirable, but naïve.

No. Nobody close to a veteran sees it that way, and that's a lot of us. You can't really be close to a combat veteran without coming to some level of understanding about the sacred trust they keep. Those soldiers, sailors and Marines are holding up their end of a trust on which the defense of a nation depends.

I happen to believe that the leaders, whose own sacred duty, as the other end of that trust, is to send people to war only in a just and necessary cause, have violated it. I happen to think that intentionally costing people their lives for dishonorable motives is despicable beyond words.

Again, history will tell whether this is such a case, but even those who think the war may be a mistake can have tremendous respect for these soldiers, for their sacrificial support of that sacred trust, a self-sacrifice that transcends the particulars of this or any war.

I think the young veteran in the video is a hero and that he personifies the best things about this country.

I believe that keeping a sacred trust is never a mistake. I believe the war is a mistake. He has every right to disagree with me, but not to tell me that I can't hold those beliefs simultaneously.

Larry (in the foxhole) in training before shipping out to Vietnam. 1968.

Used by permission.


Sherwood Harrington said...


Dann said...

Hi Ruth,

Well done. Well said.

However.....and there is always one of those isn't there [grin]....I think the source has more to do with a response to the lack of media coverage of Iraq as well as some of the political rhetoric that is floating around during the silly season.

I note that news coverage of Iraq has fallen off of the front pages of most newspapers. Unless someone dies. Stories about our reconstruction efforts get buried. Stories about how the Iraqi army and police have taken control over almost all of their country get buried. Stories about progress in the Iraqi government get buried....while our own government accomplishes far less.

And there is the rhetoric that calls the Iraqi campaign "pointless" along with a few other disparaging adjectives.

I believe that this young man's point of view...however inartfully in was expressed...was also a response to the lack of recognition that positive objectives have been achieved in Iraq.

Thanks for taking the time to watch and respond to that video.


Mike said...

I've often told the story of the time my son's fire company responded to a townhouse fire. Told there were small children inside, he and a partner went in and crawled through the smoke searching for them, long after their AirPak buzzers went off telling them to get out. When they finally gave up, they emerged to find that the kids had gone to a neighbors as soon as the fire alarm went off. Had they found the kids, they'd have been hailed as heroes. Had they died in the fire, it would have been called a mistake. As it was, the news report only said that there was a fire and it was put out and there was such-and-such damage to the townhouse.

But their actions, and their intentions, were the same regardless of where the children actually turned out to be.

Madge said...

Good post.