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Commentary Last Updated: Sep 28th, 2006 - 01:02:32

Put your ribbons away
By Erik Berg
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 28, 2006, 01:00

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There is a disturbing trend that is plaguing the United States in the early years of the 21st century. There are a growing number of Americans allowing faith and loyalty to prevail over logic and truth.

These people unconditionally accept and embrace everything that the Bush administration feeds to them, including the reasons for the United States� presence in Iraq. Despite the multitude of lies and distortions that have been exposed, their support for war remains steadfast. This climate of unquestioned acceptance is perpetuated, in part, by false phrases, meaningless slogans, and yellow ribbons.

The abundance of �Support Our Troops� ribbons on cars throughout the country is very disconcerting. Like all slogans, it allows people to take a safe stance without much thought as to whether that stance is justified, or even beneficial for those whose welfare they are supposedly concerned.       

�I think we can all agree on the fact that we need to support our troops.� That phrase has been uttered thousands of times by media personalities and politicians from both political parties, but support is the wrong emotion to express if one is genuinely concerned with our soldiers� well-being. The backing of American soldiers when they are legitimately defending the United States is a given, but blind loyalty, without discernment, allows corruption to fester.

It seems that the majority of those that decide to place a yellow ribbon on their cars are the blind loyalists who wholeheartedly supported the decision to invade Iraq, even though most would be hard-pressed to point out its location on a map. These individuals feel that the superficial symbol, with the tiny phrase, demonstrates their patriotism and concern for our soldiers� safety. In reality, though, all it demonstrates is their apathy and ignorance. The presence of the ribbon sheds light on the fact that they have obviously ignored the simple truth that each and every reason given for initiating this war has proven to be erroneous. They choose to ignore any information that interferes with their faux patriotism. The magnet illuminates that these people prescribe to the motto, �My country, right or wrong.�

Also present is the �Support Our Troops� faction that is somewhat skeptical about the validity of the war, but still feel compelled to convey support for American soldiers. They understand that troops simply report to an assigned destination, regardless of whether the action is justified. That is precisely why American soldiers deserve our sympathy, but not our support.

Although the people sent to carry out the mission may well be honorable, that does not mean the mission itself is also honorable. One cannot separate the perpetrators of the action from the action itself. Therefore, supporting those who carry out the unjustifiable war cannot be done without also engendering support for the actual war.

Societal pressures make it extremely difficult for American citizens to publicly express antiwar sentiments. It has now been woven into the social fabric of this country that unshakeable reverence must be displayed whenever one mentions the United States military and its soldiers. Any hint of criticism, or lack of undying idolatry, will likely bring scorn upon those who dare to speak in such a heretical manner. The fusion of war, military, and individual soldiers benefit a war driven government, and hinder thoughtful citizens. People are reluctant to divulge strong opposition towards war, because it often is mistakenly perceived by the general public as callousness towards the soldiers. This emotional conundrum assists in quelling dissent, and, therefore, helps to insulate government from any accountability.

This reverence for our soldiers has now reached a dangerous level because it gives carte blanche to government officials to initiate unjustifiable wars without fear of overwhelming public condemnation. Current administration officials realize that the �support our troops� mentality is always present, regardless of the immorality of the mission. Hence, it becomes virtually impossible for public sentiment to vigorously denounce the action itself.

The glorification of war and military idolatry is constantly being thrust in the face of the public. Whether it is slogans on bumper stickers, or fighter planes flying ceremoniously overhead at major sporting events, the public has been conditioned to pay great homage to our forces regardless of the dubious undertaking. Many public gatherings are structured in a way so that uniformity of war support, is extracted through patriotic rituals and rhetoric. Phrases such as �Freedom isn�t Free,� and �We want to thank those who are overseas fighting for our freedom,� sound good, and always receive reflexive applause. The problem is that these sentiments are absolute nonsense in the context of our current situation, yet the propaganda goes unchallenged by many brainwashed Americans. This passive acceptance of such patently false ideas allows the war machine to gain momentum and continue, with no effort or thought as to whether the sentiment has any legitimacy.

False propaganda is readily accepted throughout the country primarily because Americans want to believe that the United States is righteously undertaking a noble cause. Many citizens turn a deaf ear towards any kind of news that challenges the legitimacy of the war, because ignorance precludes them from having to reevaluate any preconceived notions. This reaction is much like a religious person who runs away from any kind of scientific fact that interferes with his personal faith, or parents who refuse to believe their child would do anything wrong. Many people fear certain truths that make them uncomfortable, so they institute a �don�t ask, don�t tell� relationship with the government.

A certain segment of society makes a conscious choice to remain willfully ignorant about foreign policy, as long as their comfortable, somewhat opulent lifestyle is not disturbed.

In George Orwell�s �1984,� this inner discipline was known as crimestop: �Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.� Unfortunately, many Americans continue to exercise their �protective stupidity.�

The idea that American freedom is being preserved by those who are fighting in Iraq is preposterous. Iraq never threatened our liberties, nor had the ability to, thus the unnecessary deaths of civilians 6,000 miles away does not make us any safer. Soldiers that are fighting overseas are protecting economic interests, not protecting the lives or liberties of American citizens. We, as a nation, should not be expressing gratitude to those who are �fighting for our freedom,� because it only perpetuates a lie. The only legitimate threat to our freedom comes from our own government, which continues to limit civil liberties under the guise of protecting its citizens from terrorists.

Supporting the troops in this sordid endeavor would be like supporting firemen who intentionally set fire to your neighbor�s house at the behest of a construction company looking for additional business. Then, after the house burns to the ground, and family members are dead, the firemen are lauded for saving the cat and keeping the fire from spreading farther. Firefighters, like U.S. soldiers, are courageous, honorable, and respected immensely, but people would not offer them congratulations for extinguishing fires that they needlessly started themselves. I doubt that the general public would be applauding them for �doing a great job.�

Unfortunately, that has been the task our courageous, honorable, and respected soldiers have been given. They have set an entire country on fire, and innocent civilians, with families like yours or mine, have been murdered, tortured, and left destitute. The Bush administration deviously linked Iraq with terrorism and 9/11, and in their minds, the self-fulfilling prophecy has come true. The chaotic atmosphere and lack of a uniformed enemy has emboldened administration officials to lump all of those who attack U.S. forces in Iraq as �terrorists.�

If people would extricate themselves from their red, white, and blue cocoons, they might be able to see the situation from a purely objective standpoint. Then they may be able to comprehend how the �terrorists� in Iraq could possibly be considered �freedom fighters� by others. It is a very fine line, depending on one�s perspective. Were the Minutemen of the American Revolution �patriots,� or �terrorists�? Furthermore, American soldiers currently fighting in Iraq are seen as terrorists by much of the world outside the United States.

�Our soldiers, terrorists?� Those that regularly exercise some form of crimestop have undoubtedly thrown this article in the trash by now.

Soldiers represent the United States, and what they do is in our name. Regrettably, our nation is being shamed because our soldiers have been sent to act as aggressors, occupying a foreign country. Citizens cannot run scared from this unpleasant fact, because it is far more patriotic to hold our government accountable for its deceptions, than to remain ignorantly loyal while allowing them to ruin the name of America.

The war in Iraq is simply the most recent example of a war that has been contrived and manipulated by the wealthy and powerful, who use wars to gain more wealth and power. These individuals feel no sense of loyalty towards the United States and its citizens, because their loyalties belong to the powerfully elite club of businessmen throughout the world. The elite, like the Bush Royal Family, use the "enemy" as pawns to be sacrificed in order to further their agenda. The men and women making decisions about the war in Iraq have zero regard for the lives of our soldiers or Iraqi civilians. When people offer support to the troops, they are, in reality, merely supporting the nefarious decisions made by those who have no concern for the soldiers� well-being.

Former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, infamously referred to U.S. soldiers fighting in Vietnam as, �dumb, stupid animals to be used.� There is no doubt that high-ranking officials in the Bush administration, along with politicians from both parties, echo the same sentiment. If they were the true patriots that they purport to be, soldiers would have never been sent to die for totally manufactured reasons.

Trumped up threats to our national security are always useful in arousing patriotic fervor, which then morphs into public support for sending people off to die. Misguided fears, and national patriotism are the tools used to shape public opinion in the manner that the rulers desire. Unfortunately, the public is easily duped into believing the misinformation, or false threats, more often than not.

I realize that most Americans have short memories, but can the public possibly be hoodwinked with the same ridiculous story twice within a three-year span?

The propaganda machine, also known as the mainstream media, has now gone to work selling the American public on the myth that Iran is an imminent threat. Americans are being told that they should fear a country that has no nuclear weapons, but may acquire them in the future. The grave danger is exacerbated because of the presence of an �evil� ruler who oppresses the citizens of Iran. This is a key element to the equation, because it gives major media outlets an excuse to portray the preemptive war as a humanitarian mission. Remember �Operation Iraqi Freedom�?

It now seems to be a very real possibility that some form of military action against Iran is imminent, and it will be interesting to see whether the American public has learned from recent history. Will Americans continue to demonstrate their consent for war by applauding the patriotic rhetoric, unfurling their flags, and placing more ribbons on their cars?

I hope that Americans are not fooled again, and that they put away all the symbols that express consent for another preemptive war. If not, the possibility of a war that endures through our lifetimes becomes more likely, and parents of young children should consider who may be fighting overseas 10 or 20 years hence.

The ribbon stuck to the bumper of your car does nothing to save one single soldier�s life, and it's irrelevance to their safety is overwhelming. However, it is not irrelevant in creating a climate of acceptance that will allow the continuance of needless wars far into the future. In fact, it states that you give your consent for our soldiers to continue to die for a lie. As long as there is a perceived support for war, war will be endless. So please, stop supporting our troops.

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