A couple of my recent articles have directly challenged the concept of unconditional support for our (sic) troops. It should come as no surprise that this sentiment is typically greeted with unrestrained hostility. The most predictable knee-jerk reaction involves the accusation that I might hurt the "movement" by alienating soldiers and their families. Some go even further and declare that returning soldiers are doing more for the "movement" than anyone else (especially obscure writers like your truly). These critiques are flawed for many reasons:
1. They are not only assuming the existence of a perplexed mass of fence sitters just waiting for the right moment to pick a side, they also believe these fence sitters actually care (or even read) what someone like me writes.
2. They ignore the "alienation" being created when Americans voluntarily sign up for military.
3. Just because someone says returning soldiers are doing more for the "movement" than anyone else doesn't mean it's true.
Still, the most fundamental flaw in play here is the use of the word "movement." This isn't semantics, mind you. Rather, it gets to the heart of the issue. The state of global affairs has long passed the proverbial tipping point (and is more likely flirting with the dreaded point of no return). Allowing ourselves the luxury of believing there's a genuine movement in place to challenge the dominant suicidal/homicidal culture-when no such movement exists-is disastrously counterproductive.
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Most folks, it seems, have confused the occasional weekend parade, I mean, protest with a full-blown movement. Anti-Bush bumper stickers, yearly checks to Greenpeace, and a commitment to recycled toilet paper don't constitute a movement either. Candlelight vigils? Nope. Vegan diets? I wish. Petitions, voting drives, letters to Congress? Surely you jest. Posting lots of comments at Daily Kos? Yeah, right. Yellow ribbons, red ribbons, pink ribbons? Doubt it. Becoming the change you wish to see in the world? Nice try.
Reality check #1: There's a huge difference between a minority of sincere Americans making well-intentioned gestures and a tangible, functional, effective movement capable of inciting/inspiring/demanding social change.
Arundhati Roy says:
"People from poorer places and poorer countries have to call upon their compassion not to be angry with ordinary people in America." Ward Churchill takes it further...warning us that those same folks "from poorer places and poorer countries" have "no obligation-moral, ethical, legal or otherwise-to sit on their thumbs while the opposition (in America) dithers about doing anything to change the system."
Reality check #2: Americans wield more influence and power than any people on the planet but, while the vast majority of humans in this world live in abject poverty, we live our lives in such a manner as to threaten every living being on the planet.
Reality check #3: There are no innocent bystanders.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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