I am an ostrich about war. In South Africa, there was a war against apartheid and even though I wasn’t actively liberating my country myself, I opposed the despicable regime. The toll it took emotionally to live inside something you loathe was so great that since our liberation, other wars have become almost meaningless to me. I deplore them, especially ones like the war in Iraq, which so patently comes out of greed, or the suicidal war that Robert Mugabe is waging on his own citizens out of his own insane lust for power and money, but often I ignore them. It’s just easier.
So it’s strange for me to come to you with a post about war. It was inspired by one of my blog-friends, the BikeProf, who has written so movingly about his position on Iraq and what it really means to support the troops. His own father is a veteran and is now in hospital with cancer that has probably grown out of his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war. BikeProf is vehemently against America’s current war, but is wholeheartedly in support of the troops. His particular concern – apart from unpacking the political rhetoric around the bumper stickers “Support our Troops” which he shows really means “Support Bush” – is how troops are treated on their return home from war, if they are lucky enough to do so. Do they get the support they really need as they try to make their way in society? And years later, how does society ensure that they get the medical treatment they require?
Here is what BikeProf has to say:
So, here is my plea. I want to start people talking more and more and more about supporting the troops. I want people to think more about how we treat the people who have made the sacrifices for our country. I want people to think about how cynically politicians exploit the troops for their own ends. I want people to think about how a drunken frat boy draft dodger can be seen as a hero and biggest supporter of our troops, and I want people to think about just what this absolute and complete collapse of meaning says about our country. Please, write something about this. Spread the word. Talk about how we need to support our troops in real, tangible, material ways–starting with bringing them home from this evil, stupid, stupid war. Reference me or not, link to me or not, but talk about it. Ask everyone who reads your blog to write about it–just one post–until everyone in the blogosphere is talking about it. Create a chain blog, an enormous pyramid of entries. It may mean nothing–probably will mean nothing–but things only start to happen when people talk and agitate.
Read both his posts. Spread the word. And while you’re doing it, read Courtney’s post about growing up with a war veteran in the house, and Emily’s post on language and how it is used to political effect.