President Bush is in Salt Lake City today. He's here to speak to the American Legion Conference. I do not like President Bush...as a politician. I do not know the man personally, so I can't say anything about what kind of person he is. I simply do not like him as a President. I think the War is a bad thing. I do not believe we should be there, not at all.
These are all fairly simple statements, I've made them before, but today, after reading something posted on another blog, I felt the need to post about it again in a little more detail.
First, I have relatives that have served in all branches of the military. The last time a Bush went to war, three of my cousins were sent to serve. This time my brother was sent to Iraq. I know people who serve in the military and I have seen the pain on their faces when people direct unkind statements toward them because they fought in this war, or another. I know firsthand the lasting trauma men and women who serve our nation and end up in a War go through.
The comment that was made was basically this. If you don't support the President, you don't support the troops. Nothing could be farther from the truth and in fact I feel insulted by the sentiment behind it. The men and women in our Armed Forces make a choice to be there, and in making that choice they deserve our highest respect. This does not mean, however, that I or anyone else has to smile and nod and agree with everything our President does. To suggest that is an insult to the foundation of our country, the very thing these men and women are fighting for. We have Freedoms in this country. We may not like what a person has to say, but because of the First Ammendment, they have the right to say it. When you start telling people that they don't have the right to say what they want because it might upset someone else, you tread on dangerous ground.
A second sentiment in the comment was something to the effect that all men and women in the Armed Forces support the war. Having first hand knowledge to the contrary, I will say this: The men and women who choose to serve our country don't have a choice to support of not support decisions made by the President. They can be thrown in jail for LIFE for speaking out against the President while in uniform. They are trained to say things that support him. Why? Because they need to be able to present a united front in times of crisis. The exact words my cousin spoke to me when I asked him about this after coming home from Desert Strom were this, " It's not a matter of supporting or not supporting, you go where you're told and you don what you're told and you don't complain. That's what we signed on for."
I have spoken with many veterns, some related to me, others not and one thing is common, there is not one of them that thinks war is a good idea. They all carry lasting scars inside from the things they saw and the things they had to do to survive, and not a single one of them has ever said, "Yeah, the war? I supported that 100%" They always give very non-commital answers because they don't want to speak ill of the nation they served. But think about this, who, in their right mind WOULD think a war was a good idea? Who honestly believes that the deaths of innocent men, women and children is a good thing? Who can seriously support the ongoing slaughter and destruction of a people and a nation?
If we hide behind the argument that we are "bringing them freedom" the question must then be asked, Who's freedom? And we must also answer this question, "Do the people we are "freeing" even want us there?
It is egotistical and even worse, sometimes ignorant to hide behind, "I'm supporting my President." It allows people to not think about what might really be happening, and it allows us to divest ourselves of personal responsibility when our soldiers end up on trial for torture, rape, murder and other crimes. It allows us to bury our heads in the sand. There are no bombs dropping in our streets, our children are not being killed wholesale in the name of "freedom", and when I say children I am reffering to two year olds blown apart by mortar fire and elementary schools being ripped apart by car bombs. War is ugly. If people started dying in our own streets we would see support for the President drop off immediatley, but these are strangers dying, pictures on a television screen, so we tell ourselves it's okay as long as it's for a good cause. What cause could be that good?
Don't tell me I don't support our troops. Don't tell me I should feel shame for standing up for my beliefs. Don't tell me that the things I see in the news and read in the paper should be overlooked.
I know that this post is going to make someone I care about angry. I'm sorry about that. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, but this is how I feel and how I will always feel, and more importantly, as long as this is the United States of America and we have the freedom of speech, it's my right to say it outloud as often as I want.