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|03-29-2003, 08:06 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 09, 2002
No Ribbons, No Flags, No Fireworks
An Open Letter to Pro-War Americans
March 20, 2003
Please spare me the lecture. Likewise, don't bother asking me why
refuse to tie a yellow ribbon around the tree in my front yard, or
put out a flag, or slather my Honda Civic with "Support the
bumper stickers. I don't feel like explaining it every time
wants answers to these questions, and anyway, you probably
like my reasons to begin with.
You claim that we must now put aside our different opinions about
propriety of war with Iraq, and rally round the President, the
country, and our men and women in uniform. But you are wrong, and I
imagine that at some level you know this to be true.
After all, do we really have an obligation to support the troops no
matter what they do as they prosecute this slaughter against a minor
league opponent? Would you indeed support the troops if their
involved nuclear incineration of Iraqi cities and villages? One,
many My Lai massacres?
Beyond hypotheticals, should we support the troops even as they
out the announced plan to launch nearly a thousand cruise missiles
into Iraq's major population centers within forty-eight hours of
With the UN estimating that upwards of a half-million Iraqis might
die as a result of this war, can you really say without any sense of
misgiving that we should "support the troops" come what may,
failure to do so should be branded un-American?
Don't misunderstand. I guess one could say that I too support the
troops, but surely not in the way that you and other flag-wavers
I support them being able to make a living and get an education
without having first to subordinate their consciences to a military
establishment that vitiates critical thought, reflection and free
will, so as to create more efficient killing machines. How about you?
I support them not being lied to about the chemicals and depleted
uranium to which they will likely be exposed. How about you?
I support them refusing to fly their planes, refusing to bomb
civilian infrastructure, like water treatment facilities, the
destruction of which will create mass epidemics and cause the deaths of thousands of children. How about you?
I support them refusing to move their tanks against civilians. How
I support them deserting, going AWOL, and disobeying the unlawful
orders that are the hallmark of modern warfare--unlawful because
almost always violate international law, such as Article 54 of the
Geneva Conventions, which makes it a certifiable war crime to target
any facility the integrity of which is necessary to the functioning
of civilian life.
I support the troops as fathers and mothers; as children; as
and sisters; as human beings and free moral agents, all of which
were long before they became the foot soldiers of a swaggering
empire, led by a functionally-illiterate cowboy with no knowledge of
history, who couldn't find Iraq on a map if it wasn't labeled
and whose drive to mass murder seems motivated as much by a desire
win the love of his daddy as anything more substantive.
I support the troops arresting any American solider who they see
killing an Iraqi civilian, or ordering the same. They should turn
their guns on their own in such a situation, in the name of
the innocent and in regard to a higher law to which they are bound.
But I do not support the troops following orders that will kill
scores of innocent people. I will not cheer the light show over
Baghdad, the bulldozing of Iraqi soldiers beneath desert sand,
burying them alive as was done in the first Gulf War; nor will I
support the strafing of Iraqi soldiers as they retreat or seek to
surrender, as was also done in the first Gulf War, in what was
described at the time as a "turkey shoot."
Any soldier that engages in those kinds of actions deserves not
support but rather prosecution under accepted standards of
international law for the commission of war crimes. Following orders
was no excuse at Nuremberg and it will be no excuse in Basra either.
Indeed, military personnel are sworn to obey orders only when those
orders are lawful, according to the Uniform Code of Military
What's more, in their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution,
members of the military are bound by Article VI of that document
which makes international treaties and agreements the highest law of
the land. As such, following orders to prosecute this war violates
the oath taken by the troops, since Article 51 of the UN Charter
allows war only in immediate self-defense or when the Security
Council has directed or authorized use of force to maintain or
restore international peace and security, neither of which condition
And since Article 2 of the Charter makes clear that war is not
legitimate for the purpose of regime change, the attack underway is by definition a criminal act, in violation of international law and
thus the Constitution. It is an impeachable offense, far more
than getting a blow job and lying about it.
And saying this is not giving aid and comfort to the enemy, as you
suggest. What gives aid and comfort to the enemies of the United
States is the prosecution of an unjust war itself. It is this war
that will aid our enemies, by giving them yet another issue around
which to rally terrorists, suicide bombers, hijackers and other
Bombing a nation like Iraq, especially after eviscerating it for
a decade with sanctions, can serve no purpose but to enhance the
likelihood of terrorism, and even the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction, since only being in clear possession of such
materials (as with North Korea) seems capable of deterring attack by
And no, it is not my job to fall in line, just so the morale of
soldiers can receive a boost. I want the morale of soldiers to
plummet. I want them to question the propriety of their assignments,
and I want them to be so conflicted about that mission that they
simply refuse to do their jobs. If criticism of this war harms troop
morale and can create internal dissent and divisions among the U.S.
military, then we need more of it, not less. Lives are worth more
than morale; worth more than self-image; worth more than
And since it is with my money and in my name that any killing of
Iraqis will proceed, I have not just a right but an obligation to
speak out against the war if I consider it unjust. When my nation
kills, I kill, and I don't take the thought of collaboration
Collaboration puts my soul in jeopardy. So while the troops may use
my money to do their dirty work, don't expect me to say amen. My
is more important than their morale. So is yours.
As a father, I believe that this war will endanger the life of my
daughter (and my daughter to be) down the line. That by creating
more embittered Muslims--embittered towards my nation because they
can, after all, read the markings on the bomb casings that say,
in the USA" this war will lay the groundwork for a form of
that will make 9/11 look like a global fender-bender. Survivors have
long memories, and the truth be told, we simply can't kill them
It is those long memories that will haunt my children and their
children, for as James Baldwin reminded us, "There is no creation
any society more dangerous than the man who has nothing to lose."
So no, I can't support the troops in the traditional sense,
if they do their jobs, they contribute to the menacing of my family in years to come, and my family's safety is more important than
morale. So is yours.
But I do support the troops in the ways that truly matter. Do you?
I support those troops of color in their continuing quest to be
treated as equals at all times, and not merely when they are picking
up a gun to kill for America: that means that I support the struggle
against the racism that those same troops too often face in their
homeland. How about you?
I support those troops who are women in their continuing struggle
against sexual assault and harassment, in general and specifically
places like the Air Force Academy, where some of their male
counterparts apparently think it their duty to abuse them as sex
objects. How about you?
I support those troops who are gay or lesbian in their quest for
equitable treatment and the right to be true to themselves and not
have to hide their sexual orientations so as to pander to another
soldier's bigotry. How about you?
I support those troops who are poor; specifically I support their
right to health care, and a college education and a job and shelter,
and a living wage. And I support these things for them whether in or
out of uniform. And I support these same things for the families of
the troops back home. How about you?
It is not the anti-war movement whose concern for the troops should
be questioned, but rather that of the men who send them to battle,
face weapons that those same men (or their fathers) sold to the
side in the first place.
Those men who never faced war themselves--and in the case of the
President went AWOL to avoid even a stateside National Guard
assignment during Vietnam--but who are quick to use others as the
fighting, bombing appendages to their own shriveled manhoods.
Those men who think that respect for international law can be
instilled by disregarding international law, international opinion
and the primary international decision making body on the planet.
Those men who think it appropriate to build up monsters around the
globe and then criticize those monsters for doing exactly what we
knew they would do all along.
Those men who believe they are entitled to say which nations can
certain types of weapons and which cannot; which nations can ignore
UN resolutions and which must follow them; which nations are allowed
to oppress their own people and which must be held to a higher
Those men who believe that "our vital national interests"
free flow of oil at market prices outweigh the right of Iraqi children to walk, laugh, play, or simply breathe.
For it is these men who view the troops as expendable, and who see
them as one-dimensional tools for destruction, rather than as human
beings. It is these men who are putting the troops in harm's way
as to satisfy their own ambitions.
And it is we who oppose this war who seek to bring them back in one
piece--physically and emotionally.
So please, spare me the lecture.
Tim Wise is a writer, antiracist activist and father.
i agree with what Tim wrote.
|03-29-2003, 08:43 PM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 03, 2001
I wish this Tim Wise had spared me the lecture.
|03-29-2003, 08:55 PM||#3|
Join Date: Sep 28, 2002
Location: The Steel City
|03-29-2003, 10:56 PM||#5|
Join Date: Aug 03, 2001
|03-30-2003, 03:05 AM||#7|
Join Date: Feb 25, 2003
I don't support the troops killing innocent people, either. If Bush is against abortion since he did not fund stem cell research, how come he thinks it's okay to kill Iraqi civilians? Many of them being, yes, children! Could it be that it's because they're not important to him because they're not American? It's actually no wonder that the U.S. seems so prone to terrorism. When they do all this, it doesn't surprise me that Iraqi people get mad. I would be mad if someone was invading my country, too. When American people ask why they were attacked on Septemeber 11th by Afghanistan, they must look in the mirror and realize that it's part of their doing, too.
There is no such thing as revenge
You will not give as good as you got
There is no such thing as an eye for an eye
If you think you're the giver, you're not
There is no such thing as regret
There is no point in placing the blame
Hate destroys the one who hates
And everyone suffers the same
There is only love and respect
To thine own self be true
When you point the finger
There are three fingers pointing back at you
|03-30-2003, 09:23 AM||#8|
Join Date: Jan 10, 2002
How can you say that 9/11 is the American peoples' fault. To me that is a really offensive comment. I wasn't wishing for people to die in Afghanistan or Iraq. I wasn't thinking at that time let's invade Iraq because we're better than them. I really don't understand how you could say something like that. Please stop making it like all American people think they are better than everyone else.
|03-30-2003, 10:07 AM||#9|
Hats for Bats
Join Date: Jan 23, 2001
Location: northeast Ohio.
I don't think she's saying it was the American Peoples fault, rather the policy of the American government.
|03-30-2003, 10:09 AM||#10|
Hats for Bats
Join Date: Jan 23, 2001
Location: northeast Ohio.
Funny you should say that because if someone did invade your country, who would be the first people you would call on to save you... Oh yeah it would be the USA.
|03-30-2003, 12:15 PM||#11|
Join Date: Jan 10, 2002
I see that now, thanks for pointing out my mistake.
|03-30-2003, 02:01 PM||#12|
Join Date: Feb 25, 2003
Yes, that's what I meant. I would never blame any of it on the citizens of the USA. The only reason for all the mess in the world is just the fault of the government, no-one else. Sorry if I sounded like I was directing it towards the citizens. I didn't mean to.
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