Thursday, October 15, 2009
Know your enemy. Then bite that enemy in the face.
Thoughts of Dan Choma of Junkyard Empire
So I’m sitting here at a college bookstore killing time at my temp job. (Random shout outs to the folks at Adecco, I’m eating fancy tonight thanks to a temp job!) The job has had a bit of down time, so it’s been fun getting to know the people I’m working with. I’ve also gotten a chance to catch up on the news via my new iPhone (I’m accepting name ideas, hit me up) and found out that due to the receding economy and rising unemployment (in spite of the increasingly pointless Dow Jones figures, top down economics fixes the top while leaving us all unemployed, go figure…) the military has officially reached quota for new recruits for the first time in quite a while. Army is at 103% capacity, and National Guard stands at a healthy 104%.
Alison, a woman I work with, is married to a National Guardsman. He’s been called to active duty recently, and soon will be shipped off overseas. Behind, he leaves his wife, twin girls, and a son. Alison, by the way, is liberal.
Alison complained my first day about a recent showdown she had with a gas station clerk. She said she was wearing one of her “I’m married to a National Guardsman” T-shirts, and the gas station clerk attacked her for being a “flag-waving war mongerer.” The man attacked her personally for being a supporter of war because her husband serves.
I know I’m gonna piss off a good amount of folks on this one, but what is this foolishness? I’ve seen it happen endlessly. I will be the first to say that I do not support war. I do not support our military action in Iraq, and I do not support our military action in Afghanistan. I do not support CIA training of terrorists in South America. But I support the troops, and I respect their families.
Alison herself would agree that she does not believe in the war in Iraq, and she does not agree with the war in Afghanistan. We both know many people in the service that do not agree with these wars.
But still, these men and women enlist and are required to go. These soldiers do not have a choice if they want to serve in a war they believe in, they serve in the war that their country sends them to fight. There is no military tribunal in charge of asking soldiers if they believe in the war. They are called, they go, end of story.
Individuals attacking military families that have no choice in the matter simply piss me off. Since Vietnam, the vast majority of our military serves voluntarily because they desire to get out of the economic class that they are in. The military offers a good paycheck in hard economic times, (see today’s New York Times) a way to pay for college, and a light at the end of the tunnel for families stuck in wage slavery. Although there are the folks that do it for the love of fighting, most sign up to give their families a way out of the poverty that has been inflicted by the very same system that made war their only option.
Attacking people that are serving their country voluntarily is wrong, and it’s the wrong way of attacking an amoral war. We live in a country where we have been provided with freedom of speech as well as venues with which we as individuals can participate in our government. We live in a place where we have access to our Republic, and we can organize in order to make a difference in what our government does.
To me, attacking an individual for the sins of a country is lazy. It denies citizen responsibility. It denies that there are proper venues for change. It denies that we have been given any rights by leaving them unused and forgotten. If we forget our rights and take our frustration out on individuals, we give up our right to check and balance our own system and replace it with silly name calling and fruitless bickering.
Plus, ostricizing the soliders makes for serious issues when these soldiers come home and become veterans. People who have served need our love and respect, not a hard shoulder from our collective moral compass. Looking down on soldiers who have served only guaruntees that we will relive the sins of our fathers by ignoring the wisdom that comes back from the trenches. And it leaves people who have given up a large portion of their lives for our freedoms left in the cold, alone when they need others the most.
Chris Hedges talks of the obsession that we have with war in his book “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.” He does an amazing job of expressing how in times of war, both sides of an ideological difference are negated by making violence out of ideology. The ideology is forgotten as war drags on, and all that remains is the propaganda from both sides making the other side of the war out to be the enemy. As both parties and news outlets move further away from each other on the political spectrum, this ideological battle is starting to rage on between people on the homefront.
And it’s dumb. Save the fight for your senators. Save the fight for your representatives. Save the fight for the protests. Save the fight for your blog. Save the fight and endite George Bush for war crimes. Save the fight to stop the next war and keep our troops at home with their families before there is even a need to send them away.
But don’t attack the soldiers soon to be veterans. And please don’t attack the families who will (God willing) accept their loved ones back into their homes soon. It just shows you have nothing better to do, and are too lazy to fight the real enemy. If we channel our collective rage into the inboxes of our senators, the streets of our cities, and the steps of our capitols, we might just get our troops to come home. And let’s do it soon, there are families waiting.