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.