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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

To Protest Too Much

I'll be the first to admit - I'm not a "take it to the streets" kind of guy. I'm just not really into the whole "group think" kind of atmosphere - which is why I don't go to sporting events but prefer to sit and home and laugh at the idiots in the crowd on TV.

Some friends of mine - fellow DFA members - are organizing a group to go to Washington to participate in a anti-war rally. I support their decision to go as being what's best for them and am 100% behind the idea of them having a public voice for their concerns. I'm not going, though.

One reason is that it just becomes so much political theatre. Just look at what Cindy Sheehan has started. Yes, she's getting good press for wanting to stop the war - but she's also mobilizing people just as avidly against her as she is for her cause. In other words, it's just become a divisive tool for spin-meisters to whirl away. Meanwhile, the TV cameras scoop up every ounce of manure on both sides and the rhetoric gets more and more hysterical.

To be perfectly honest, I thought the invasion of Iraq was unjustified and needlessly hurried. However, I saw what Saddam did to Kuwait City and I'll never regret that he doesn't have the power to do that again. There were reasons for toppling Saddam, but they weren't what we heard a couple of years ago.

I am also a veteran who carries a great deal of empathy for my comrades-in-arms deployed in Iraq as well as their families back home. I'd really like to not have another flag-draped coffin land in Delaware. Walter Reed simply does not need more practice in rehabbing young men and women with shattered bones, missing limbs, empty eyes, and even emptier futures. When I hear all the arguments about the moral of our troops, it is the forgotten ones within our borders that comes to my mind. (So I've talked myself out of the last excuse I had for not signing the VFW letter asking me to visit wounded veterans.)

I want the war ended. But I won't march for the same reason that, while I fully support our troops (and get quite literally fighting mad when it is suggested that I don't), I won't put a ribbon magnet on the back of my car. In the end, it's all just for show. Yes, it's a show of what you believe in, but it's still just a show.

It sickens me to hear someone say, "Casey Sheehan volunteered, so protesting his death is spitting on his grave." No, it isn't. At least, it doesn't have to be. I'm not convinced that mass demonstrations and candlelight vigils are the way to do it, though.

This is just one more issue where Americans are simply talking right past the other side. No one cares what the other side says because no one believes that the other side has any moral ground on which to stand. Though both sides are partially right, they are equally wrong.

I understand why George W. Bush won't meet with Cindy Sheehan - and though his words come off as insulting he is right in saying that nothing would change if they met. He isn't going to budge and neither is she. Both right, both wrong, both viewing the other as wrong.

I've mentioned my idea on what should happen in Iraq - and I think it's a good one. If I could get half as many people looking for such a solution as are involved in protesting and counter-protesting; then I truly believe that within a few weeks things could be drastically different on the ground in Iraq.

That's the problem. That's why people get so pissed-off at politics. As soon as we mention collective action, we forget that we are first and foremost Americans - and then Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives. That's why so many Americans stay home on election day, I think. They realize that no one is really going to reach across the aisle and unite the country. No one is going to scold their base and say, "You're wrong. Stop acting like a child!" No, those words are reserved only for those with whom we disagree.

Meanwhile, people die. Some will live and carry scars upon their flesh for their entire life. Many more will carry the scars upon their souls.

That, my friends, is what we have to stop.

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