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December 09, 2004

Supporting The Troops

I stumbled across this post from Left2Right, a liberal blog formed to foster debate between the Left and Right. From their inaugural post:

In the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election, many of us have come to believe that the Left must learn how to speak more effectively to ears attuned to the Right. How can we better express our values? Can we learn from conservative critiques of those values? Are there conservative values that we should be more forthright about sharing? "Left2Right" will be a discussion of these and related questions.

In any such venture, awkward moments are inevitable and several of L2R's posts seem permeated by snarky digs and a sometimes condescending tone that (rightly or wrongly) annoys some readers. This observation from Chris Lawrence made me smile:

If the new Left2Right blog’s contributors want to understand “Red America” (gag), it occurs to me an excellent place to start might be by asking their conservative colleagues how to better understand, and communicate with, the unwashed masses, rather than by starting a weblog. Readers are cordially invited to point out any flaws in my thinking.

Although Chris makes a good point, actually I do disagree: I'm a person, not a demographic. Presupposing honest intent to exchange ideas, I prefer debate to being studied as though I were some ossified specimen exhumed from the substrate: neandrathalus neoconensis intractibilitis. So when L2R's Support the Troops post caused my still-drowsy head to explode all over my living room at zero dark thirty today, I resolved to resist the almost overwhelming desire to fisk the living daylights out of it and respond in good faith, knowing my own strong opinions would almost certainly offend anyone on the other side of the political aisle.

It seems the first task in engaging the Left will be to firmly set aside the tendency to respond emotionally to the deliberate and, I suspect, often inadvertent provocations that can arise from insularity and ignorance of how the other side thinks. L2R's first post gives hope they realize the barriers to be overcome on both sides. On to the substance of their post, which leads off with Mr. McMahan's observation that "Support the Troops" decals are often seen on the East Coast, less so in the Midwest, and become downright sparse once you get out to LA. The snark monster rears its ugly head early on (assumption check: let's give the benefit of the doubt and call it ignorance/failure to think):

...They are also disproportionately displayed on SUVs and vans, which isn’t surprising given that the owners are disproportionately reliant on the oil supplies that our soldiers are in Iraq to protect (among their other purposes).

Good heavens...only a few sentences and the "No Blood for Oil" meme has already shown up! At the risk of precipitating a second cranial explosion, I'll forcibly restrain the snark and simply suggest another explanation for the large vehicle/"Support the Troops" correlation.

What is it exactly that these decals exhort us to do? How can I, or anyone, support the troops themselves? What can we possibly do for them? It seems that the message is really an exhortation to support the war. Why then don’t we ever see bumper stickers urging us more straightforwardly to support the war? It seems dishonest, manipulative, and coercive to assert an equivalence between support for a war and support for the participants in the war. The aim of such an effort is to make it seem that to criticize the war is to criticize our young soldiers and perhaps to increase their peril by weakening the war effort.

Good God. I could have written an entire treatise on this para alone.

Try a literal interpretation: stop reading sinister motives into everything the opposition says and does. It means precisely what it says: Support...the...Troops. What can we possibly do for them? This is almost stunning in its insularity, but I'll assume it's an honest question. I've made a list to help you, Mr. McMahan:

1. Start by separating the troops from the war. As CBS loves to remind us, there are some over there who don't support the war either. Therefore, supporting the troops hardly constitutes blanket endorsement of the war.

2. Admit that we live in America and the troops have a fundamental right to their opinions as well as a duty to fight, whether or not you agree with the reasons we're over there. Try respecting that. It's not hard: they are willing to die to defend your right to disagree with them. Reciprocity and tolerance are supposed to be values revered by the Left.

3. If you really, really want to try to understand how military people feel, go here. Or here. Or even here, if you are open to another point of view. Just for one day, set aside your politics and imagine you were a Vietnam draftee. If it makes it any easier, pretend you didn't even support the war, but had to go because you were drafted. Imagine how you'd feel if you came home from a year or more in that hellhole, only to be spit upon and reviled by your countrymen. Called war criminal, murderer, rapist, torturer by one of your own: a Naval Officer and future US Senator. Because no matter how you try to evade the truth, he did say those things.

Then imagine our troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Hopefully you will see another way you can support them. By not spitting on them. Maybe by being generous enough to recognize the enormous sacrifice they've made for us, even if you disagree with the war effort.

You might even thank them for their service.

4.How can I, or anyone, support the troops themselves? Are you living on Mars? It stuns me that a group of college professors can't imagine what they can do to support the troops. So much for critical thinking skills - yes, I freely admit that was snarky but this really made me angry - it is not only totally irresponsible, but stunningly callous. On the off chance that someone is actually interested in helping, start here. Or here.

Unless you think that to help innocent families of injured troops is somehow supporting the BushReich. As I said, I fully realize that my response here is less than generous, but having gone to one too many funerals over the past year, it blows me away that you could ask such a question.

5. Attack the rationale for the war, not the troops. And confront the undeniable fact that, as in Vietnam, antiwar protest gives aid and comfort to the enemy and has enormous propaganda value. It stiffens resistence and encourages continued fighting by the terrorists to see the American public divided. If you don't believe that, ask a Marine about the correlation between Kerry's criticisms of the war and terrorist attacks in Iraq.

You may not like this truth, but your subjective discomfort doesn't change the facts. Does this mean you can't protest? Of course not. It does mean you ought to do so responsibly, with some thought given as to whether your statements are damaging or endanger our troops. If you want an example, skip down to the graphic below.

6. Educate yourself. Read Milblogs or some of the better Iraqi blogs (Iraq the Model and Mesopotamian are two) and open your mind to other viewpoints about this war. Get your head out of the NY Times and find out what the Iraqis think. Learn about good news from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I recall that in the late stages of the presidential campaign Bush tried – successfully, it seems – to score points by claiming that to say the war in Iraq was wrong was tantamount to saying that those of our troops who had died there had died in vain. And of course no one wanted to be accused of saying that.

So here, you assert (with underwhelming logic) that if the war is wrong, the deaths of the troops were still "worth it"? Interesting. Methinks you simply don't like having Mr. Bush call you on what you really said. Perhaps that is why his statement was "successful". The truth often is - most people recognize it when they hear it.

But of course if the war is unjust they have died largely in vain and Bush is the person primarily responsible for that. If they have been sent to die for a misconceived political agenda, that should be a source of remorse, not something to be exploited for further advantage in political debate.

Ah... so you do admit they died in vain, thereby proving his point. Strangely, you don't appear to mind your side exploiting their deaths for political advantage. In your book then, your side may exploit the troops' deaths, but the Right is barred from responding? Convenient, but hardly persuasive.

If the war is unjust, as I believe it is, Bush’s remarks exploit the sacrifices of the dead while the ribbon decals further exploit those young soldiers still stationed in Iraq by invoking their peril to stifle opposition to a war in which they will remain embroiled. The decals don’t support our troops but unnecessarily endanger them by seeking to prolong an unjust war.

Here Mr. McMahon twists himself into a rhetorical pretzel. As previously stated, there are plenty of ways to support the troops without endorsing the war effort. His transparent attempts to read all sorts of sinister motives into a simple exhortation to "Support the Troops" is exactly the kind of divisive tactic that cuts off all reasonable debate between the Right and Left.

If you're genuinely worried about tactics that "unnecessarily endanger" our troops, you might try policing your own ranks and condemning tactics like this, via CDR Salamander


Come to think of it, that's another way you can "Support The Troops".

Posted by Cassandra at December 9, 2004 06:24 AM

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This is when you are at your best. Mostly calm, point by point, with searing logic and wit. Nice job.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2004 10:17 AM

Why counselor... flattery will get you everywhere.

Mostly calm??? NTWM...

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2004 12:12 PM

Isn't it precious--"We're doing this for you, you babykiller!"
I don't see how you can support the troops by disparaging the cause they are fighting for.
Good way to demoralize them, though.

Posted by: MrsPurpleRaider at December 9, 2004 09:01 PM

Sheesh you're wordy! No time to read your post - just cut to the chase at the end:

As previously stated, there are plenty of ways to support the troops without endorsing the war effort. His transparent attempts to read all sorts of sinister motives into a simple exhortation to "Support the Troops" is exactly the kind of divisive tactic that cuts off all reasonable debate between the Right and Left.

I couldn't disagree more. The phony patriots with the yellow ribbons and Bush/Cheney stickers on their SUVs are oxymoronic morons. The only way to support our troops is to pressure the axis of evil (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) to stop this war for oil. It's that ephing simple.

Posted by: Deb Frisch at December 13, 2004 08:12 PM

War for oil? Is that the best you've got?

Perhaps the reason there is no "reasonable debate between the left and the right" is because what passes for reasonable debate on the left is barely suitable for a bumper sticker.

Posted by: Pile On® at December 13, 2004 08:45 PM

It's always so impressive to read a "refutation" from someone who has the attention span of a gnat and can't even concentrate long enough to read the argument before their itchy finger starts typing a dogmatic response :)

Kudos... I stand corrected.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 13, 2004 09:17 PM

"The phony patriots with the yellow ribbons and Bush/Cheney stickers on their SUVs are oxymoronic morons."

Hmmmm! We drive SUVs and have red, white, and blue stickers on our vehicles. I guess that qualifies us as "phony patriots"! Wow! Good to know!

You might think that someone who would like to begin a "reasonable debate" would learn a bit about what board she's posting on and just who it is she is calling a "phony patriot"! Y'all think it would surprise her any to learn that these are the very "phony patriots" and families that are allowing her sorry excuse for breathing good air the peace and tranquility to condemn us as she does? Interesting! Maybe we should pass on Chely Wright's song "Bumper Sticker on My SUV" so she might understand. Naw, wouldn't matter a bit!

The least she could do is read who is running this site. I mean after all, Cass's bio is right at the top of the page. Maybe she would get a clue. She'll have to guess about the rest of us armchair patriots though! ;-)

"Reasonable debate" to a bedwetter means calling the very people that give them their freedom stuff like "phony patriots". Their true definition of any form of reasonable debate is; it's only reasonable or a debate if you agree with their side! ;-)

Man! Ms. Frisch? You really need to get that hate thing looked at. I hear they have medication for folks in your condition! :-o

And you'd best be hoping that all the "phony patriots" don't lay down their arms and quit fighting for your freedom or you'll be wearing a burka in short order. But thanks anyway, we truly appreciate your support!

Alright Cass, a question for you. Is a HMMV considered a SUV? I believe it qualifies yes? Hmmmm! That gives me an idea about sending out a bunch of yellow ribbon magnets. We could have them on every SUV ijn the M.E. I mean we could start a movement! We'll call it the "Alice & Deb's Restaurant and Yellow Ribbons For Phony Patriots Movement"!!! We could get real marchers and everything. I mean, we could simply get our troops to shoot their officers and lay down their weapons and all kinds of mean and nasty things! I'm so excited I'm shaking. This could become something of Biblical Proportions! OH, I'M GOING TO BREAK OUT IN SONG!!!!! :~o

Uh, no! Not really but I will go have a real movement in Ms. Frisch's honor. What a letdown. I really thought she was on to something there! ;-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at December 13, 2004 11:39 PM

JHD, I tried to post the Bumper of my SUV file, but it wouldn't play when I uploaded it - I'm not sure why. Maybe later I'll try again and see if it will play for anyone else - maybe it's just me, but I don't think so.

I think it's the server here. When I tried to do a "Save As", it saved as an htm file, which is worthless. That's why I never used it.

I loved the song.

Then I tried to find it on the web, hoping there was another page with it already working that I could point to, but ran out of time before finding one. If anyone knows of one, however, I'd gladly link to it. I didn't check MCM yet - it was too early for Deb to have linked to it.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2004 06:23 AM

Ya know, I actually hate bumper stickers. Why would I want to gunk up a nice car semi-permanently with fadish slogans?

But this almost makes we want to go out and buy one and slap it on my SUV just to piss people like Frisch off.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at December 14, 2004 12:35 PM

Sorry for flaming and running - I'd forgotten about this post until I googled myself and landed back here.

Thanks to all y'all for playing - I didn't realize I'd landed at a site with SUV drivers with oxymoronic support our troops stickers.

Every soldier who has died in Iraq died for a lie. Every soldier who died in Iraq died because George Bush and his cronies are greedy oil boys.

Your tax dollars are being spent to maim Iraqis, kill Marines and mangle Humvees. Oh yeah, and to destroy the Iraqi infrastructure.

And y'all are proud to be Americans. Yikes.

Posted by: Deb Frisch at January 3, 2005 11:10 AM

Actually Deb hon, I've never had needed (or had) an SUV or a support the troops sticker. I'm just married to a Marine, so I know a hell of a lot more about what's going on in Iraq than you ever will.

And you couldn't even be spare 3 minutes to read the post before shooting off your mouth - that's how much you 'cared' about the subject. You just wanted to spout your mindless slogans.


Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2005 11:33 AM

What kind of loser googles herself?

Posted by: spd rdr at January 3, 2005 11:40 AM

Your posts are way too long with no apparent content to be worth reading. Sorry. If there's ever a reader's digest version, I might check you out.

I guess your game is that since you're married to a Marine, you're an expert on the war? Or some bullshit like that?

Give me a break. Your husband's a victim, not a hero. You are in denial, not an expert on the war.

Posted by: googlingloser at January 3, 2005 01:28 PM

Ms. Frisch, anyone who can't summon the needed attention span to read less than one page of text needs more help than I can possibly offer here.

There are comic books now, with lots of pictures for people who have trouble keeping their minds on serious topics.

Try starting there - maybe after a few years you'll be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2005 01:39 PM

Very funny maskedmenace - you guys must have very strong barriers in your brains to really believe that "supporting our troops" means pretending that Bush War II is anything other than evil, stupid and unwinnable.

Why are you so hellbent on throwing good Marines after bad?

Posted by: maskedmenace at January 3, 2005 01:39 PM

No one is going to argue your idiotic points with you, Ms. Fritsch, because you offer no facts to back up anything you say. That's because if you did, someone could counterargue, and you know you'd never stand a chance. Of course if you only offer opinion, no one can argue with that, because one man's (or woman's) opinion is as good as any other - it's all unverifiable bullshit.

You simply assert opinion and stupid anti-war slogans as fact and we're supposed to throw up our hands and say "Oh my! We give up! We're overcome by the force of your searing rhetoric!".

The Marines think they're winning, the Iraqis think they're winning, even the insurgents think the Marines are winning.

It's only idiots like you that think we're losing the war.

Grow up and go find some blog that's on a 3rd grade reading level that has few enough words so you can pay attention long enough to slog your way through one of the posts - then maybe you can participate intelligently in a discussion.

There's little point in wasting anyone's time here - you offer no facts and we're not interested in trading bumper sticker slogans. If I want that, I can go out for a drive in my Japanese high-MPG car.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2005 01:56 PM

Dear Cassandra,

I agree with you that it is not worth either of our time to continue this conversation.

I appreciate your being civil to me, even though I represent everything you hate and despise.

I will refrain from flaming (or posting again) on your blog.

I wish you and your family the best.


Posted by: DF at January 3, 2005 02:01 PM

Deb, I wasn't really very civil to you, and I apologize for that.

I regret being insulting, and I don't hate or despise you. I do disagree with you, vehemently.

And like most people, I get testy when people put down the things I (and my husband) believe in.

At least we live in a country where we're just aiming words at each other - that's a good thing.

Peace :)

Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2005 02:29 PM

You know, It's always great to come back from a vacation and find a troll has been insulting you.

I had a (hopefully not too long) response that might have remained within this particularly small timeframe of short term memory. But Cassandra's response reminded me of the futility of such an exercize.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at January 3, 2005 02:34 PM

Naw Deb, in order to hate and despise something you have to care one way or the other about that thing. Since we know you don't have the courage to stand up for your Country then you are simply irrelevent and therefore we don't care one way or the other about you. Hence we don't hate and despise you. See how that works? Whatever blows sunshine up your skirt is just fine with us. We'll make sure that you always have the freedom to live in your world. Whatever planet that may be on! :-)

But I did buy a brand new magnet in your honor this weekend. It's a great big ol' 18" United States Marine Corps magnet. Actually I bought two. One for each side of my huge fossil burning nasty smelling BIG SUV. You'd love this SUV. It's 31 feet long, weighs 26k pounds, and runs right over little bitty hybrid cars on the highway! Oh the humanity!

Frankly I was hoping you'd at least try facts and logic to argue your side of the issue but we all know how much that would hurt. Your head might even explode and that would be a mess! Oh well, I guess we can continue to hope that there is a bedwetter out there somewhere that operates on something other than a hate-Bush mentality. Still lookin'! ;-)

Happy New Year. May people of stronger intestinal fortitude continue to stand between you and evil so you can forever live in peace, tranquility, and another dimension! :-o

Posted by: JarheadDad at January 3, 2005 03:27 PM

DebFrisch - You couldn't be bothered ot read the whole post, yet you had time to criticize it, read the comments on your criticism, and post again?

Yep, that's the kind of reasoned debate tactic I've come to know and love from the lefties who can't be bothered to climb out of their carefully-built Fortresses of Ego and actually examine the arguments given to them.

You can't be bothered to read the initial post. We can't be bothered to take you seriously. Buh Bye.

Posted by: Jimmie at January 24, 2005 03:30 PM

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