Put your ribbons away
By Erik Berg
Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 28, 2006, 01:00
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
�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
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
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
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�
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
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.
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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