It slays me to hear the pro-warsters saying that our troops are fighting for our "freedom." If that truly be the case, the soldiers should be squaring off against George W. Bush and company; they're the only ones I can see that have been a real threat to America's freedom, liberty, and justice since our involvement in WWII!
This war is being waged by a president who used his privileged family status to avoid service in Vietnam. He went AWOL as a member of the Air National Guard during that war and faced no consequences. Now this unconstitutionally installed chicken-hawk president has the audacity to send our armed forces overseas to die, not for freedom, but to create lucrative opportunities for corporate America in a post-Hussein Iraq.
This is not the America I was proud to be a part of.
I admit to not being the most informed person about this war, but let me make sure that I have one thing straight. We are killing people to teach people that killing people is wrong. Is this not the bottom line here?
The media keep saying that we are "at war" with Iraq. They are not attacking us. We are attacking them. I see it as "the invasion of Iraq."
Why do I hear so many Americans saying, "We must support the president"? Apparently, many of us feel it is our responsibility to fall in line behind our leadership during this difficult time of war and terrorism.
However, I believe it is our duty to question our leaders at all times, and especially during times of great challenge, like those we face today. Instead of giving in to the dogma of blind faith in a misguided and weak administration, let us practice true patriotism: Let us be faithful to the principles upon which this country was foundedequality, freedom, and dissent itself. America was created as a place for people to speak their minds, free of coercion to "toe the government line." We are still freefor the moment, at least, despite the efforts of John Ashcroft and the entire Bush administrationand it is our obligation to speak out if we believe that our country has fallen into the hands of those who would harm her people and weaken her principles.
The Bush administration has always seemed to encourage the idea that dissent against them is tantamount to treason. This position only underscores their weakness: If the leader of the free world is not strong enough to endure dissent, he hardly has what it takes to lead the people of the United States. Not only should we expect our leaders to endure and in fact welcome dissent, we must require them to consider different voices and answer these voices with compassion and intelligence. The Bush administration has done neither. Tell me, Mr. Bush, if many of your own people, and in fact most of the world, believe your position to be wrong, isn't it just possible that you are wrong? End this war now!
For months the Bush administration predictedalong with talking-head experts, the media, and other punditsthat a war with Iraq would be swift and quick. Now Bush says, "A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict." For the sake of the innocent people of Iraq, the troops, and the entire world, I hope for the former but fear the latter. Since Saddam is reportedly a master at hiding weapons, knowing that his life is at stake, I suspect he'll be even better at hiding himself. Who knows what kind of hidden bunkers, secret tunnels, and other methods of self-preservation he has set up?
If this is true, then the only way for the military to make sure that Saddam and his sons are removed from Iraq is to destroy every place he might be hiding, which could be anywhere, including vital utilities, hospitals, schools, and oil wells. Think this will be easy? For over a year we've been hunting amongst caves, mountains, and plains to get bin Laden. And apparently he's still at large.
WAR SONNET: AMERICA VS. IRAQ
My heart terrorizes me, burning my throat. I cry too much, . . . I do not want us to kill each other anymore. I have something to say that has waited nine months to come out. There is no other time but now to say it, . . . there is no other way than out . . . kindness is needed. Kindness is needed. War kills us all inside and out.
DE-EVOLUTION: A PARABLE
When man first began to walk upright, the need for social organization was simply solved: The strongest would take what they wanted. The frail could choose to supplicate . . . or perish.
In time, the cunning found a response. Enter mythology. Invoking the will of unseen forces to select a ruling caste, they called themselves kings and imams and prophets.
But for the supplicants, life did not change. Secretly they began to imagine daring new forms of rule, all sharing the forbidden goal of self-determination. The most brazen was called democracy.
Against all precedent, this outrage took root in a place called America, not only establishing the right of self-rule for its own people . . . but more importantly, offering its promise to all people remaining under the tyrannies of might and mythology.
In time, a second improbable dream bloomed from the very soil of the first: a new world body to extend the concept of self-determination between nations. This ber-democracy would oversee the adjudication of dispute, the application of force, and the distribution of aid.
Together, these two experiments became the twin towers of idealism. They soared so high that oppressed people anywhere on the globe could look up at them and see a different future.
But the forces of mythology did not surrender. They rattled the buttresses of the first tower with a revolt of the "chosen," invoking the divine right of their prep schools and boardrooms, the splendor of their judicial robes and born-again righteousness. As a new millennium was born, the fragile tower of American accord shuddered.
Then suddenly, from far away, another group of "chosen" attacked. In its struggle to respond, the second tower of world consent was impugned and ignored by the first, and it, too, began to tremble.
Indeed, the world teetered. But which way would it fall? Supplicants everywhere demanded their governments move forward, not retreat. But even in vast numbers, they were no match for the cunning fewthe mythologists had seized the moment.
In the false name of freedom, freedoms were erased. Perverting the quiet path to peace, war awoke.
And from the hoary cellar of history, a voice whispered, "The towers are fallen! Long live the kings!"
This letter isn't about the war. It's about a much smaller issue, but one we can't escape: protesters.
Let me start by saying that I'm not fond of war, that I'd rather there be peaceful alternatives. But since the leaders of this country, who are the most educated about the situation, determined that it is the best option, I support their call.
Now to the point: All of the anti-war paraphernalia makes the city look like the aftermath of a rock festival: It's filled with signs and buttons, souvenirs. The anti-war movement shouldn't be a trend filled with souvenirs of the movement. The signs, sadly, are losing their impact.
I don't want to see someone with a sign who can't tell me intellectually why we shouldn't have started a war, why we should stop it, or why war is terrorism. Hint: "I don't like it" isn't good enough. Have protesters come up with a viable alternative?
Beyond ignorance, I wonder why some people think it's their duty, or their right, to impede civilians from carrying out their lives. What good is blocking both directions of I-5 in Bellingham or building a pyramid on 520 going to do? They're affecting people who have no control over war.
Perhaps most important is that the protesting has discouraged the troops. They're out there representing and fighting for us, and so many people protest their action. They joined the military to serve the country. Their bravery deserves our respect and support.
I am writing this letter to ask people to think twice about the far-reaching consequences of their protests against the war. There are many arguments on either side of the conflict. And I applaud people for having strong convictions. But the time for arguing and discussion on whether or not to go to war has passed. Our leaders made a decision, and we have to deal with the consequences. If you don't like their decisions, you need to elect new leaders at the soonest opportunity.
Our young men and women in uniform are in harm's way fighting for us, for our freedoms, security, and rights to debate and protest. The rights they are fighting to defend come with responsibility. We need to think about how we exercise these rights and the consequences of our actions.
I ask you to consider what goal you wish to accomplish with your protests and whom you are trying to reach with your signs. Is it your goal to prolong the war and cause more destruction? Is it your aim to cause more loss of American and Iraqi life? Is it your intention to strengthen the resolve of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military? Is it your goal to weaken the morale of our brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters in uniform? Regardless of your intentions, these are the results of your protests.
Put down your peace signs. The time for protests has past. It is time to support our troops and our president so the conflict will end quickly with the least loss of life.
Daniel G. Mann
Seattle Weekly is co-sponsoring Community Soapbox evenings as part of "The World on the Edge" series at Town Hall. Soapboxes are where you can hear fellow citizens, activists, and artists express themselves on issues of war and peace. Upcoming: Thurs., March 27; scheduled Soapbox speakers/performers include actor Roger Downey, activist Bert Sacks, commentator Sandy Cioffi, and musical acts Orville Johnson and Rebel Voices. Bonus: a newly added Wed., April 2 Soapbox (open mike); Fri., April 11 Soapbox. All Soapboxes start at 6 p.m. and are followed by expert panels on various topics at 7:30 p.m.; admission is $5. See seattleweekly.com for full details.