Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The Great Ambivalence

I've been pondering for a while about the phrase "Support Our Troops," which I think is currently the most ambivelent phrase in the English language. It has several strong meanings, but no distinct single one. Here are a few things it might be saying:

This last one seems particularly asinine to me, I must admit. They're fighting for our freedom? In what possible way? But never mind that.

I really do sympathize with the human factor, though. Real people are over there fighting every day, and enduring constant risk. Why? Simply because our leaders asked them to. To not appreciate that is not only rude, it's cruel.

Soldiers can't question their orders. That's unpatriotic. And illegal.

It's not illegal for a citizen to question policy, however. In fact, it's an obligation.

The bottom line for me is what you might call "roots American." It's a matter of plain decency. When a democracy asks its citizens to die for it, we ought to have a good reason for asking--and we ought to give them a good (and clear!) reason for dying.

The Quotidian Meander

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