Now that the pageantry of Veterans’ Day is passed (and thanks, by the way, for all those who emailed their well-wishes), I’d like to reflect on something I saw at the parade this morning in Denver. There was a group of anti-war folks marching, carrying signs we’ve all seen before, most notably, “I support the troops, not the war.” This got me to thinking: How in particular, does the person with this t-shirt or bumper-sticker “support” the troops?
Does minimizing and criticizing the effort for which they’re risking (and in so many cases, losing) their lives show “support”? Does infantilizing and patronizing them by pitying them for being there, when they’ve volunteered to serve show “support”?
Here’s an example: If your son came to you and said he was going to move to Hollywood and become a moviestar, would you say “Well, son, I support you. Of course, you know, that’s a completely foolish idea and it’ll never work. You would be putting yourself in danger, and I think you shouldn’t do it. I encourage you to give up your mission of becoming a moviestar, move back here, and live the life I think you should. Oh, but yes, I support you, of course.”
Now, I can understand wanting your loved ones (or even non-personified ideas of “troops” in general) to be safe, and therefore not in a war half-way around the world. And I can appreciate (although I don’t agree) that the people who have this perspective feel it’d better serve our troops if they weren’t in combat. No-brainer, sure. But how does advocacy for tucking tail and abandoning their mission show support for the troops? Moreover, how do you think they interpret the “Support Troops/Oppose Their Mission” crowd’s actions? Do they feel like they’re being supported?
Let’s have an open discussion here: For those of you who “Support the Troops, Not Their Mission”, I ask you: Give me a concrete example of what you’ve done, say, this month, to “support” them. And if you could, also please explain how this counterbalances your lack of concern for (or more properly, your disdain for) what’s most important to them: Their Mission.