I am fed up with these anti-anti-war protesters (self proclaimed "pro troops" people) labeling anyone who questions the current administration's policies as "un American" and by implication "anti-troops". For years we've heard this knee jerk, non-thinking crap from Bill O'Reilly and his ilk, but I don't really care what he says. He's an entertainer; he's not a serious commentator. By watching him on talk shows like Letterman and The Daily Show, you can see that Bill doesn't take himself seriously. He switches his "righteous indignation" on and off in the blink of an eye. He's just a comedian and his shtick happens to be screaming about things. I take him as seriously as I take Louis Black. It's just theater and they both know it.
However, I have recently heard comments from common folk that have really angered me. Both came from pro-war demonstrators when describing anti-war demonstrators. Both said something along the lines of "I support our troops and their mission in Iraq and I am tired of these un-American protesters questioning our government." How dare they imply that the anti-war demonstrators do not support our troops. How dare they label all anti-war demonstrators as un-American for openly questioning our government! How narrow minded can these pro-war people be?
The kind of blind "my leader right or wrong" mentality that these war mongers (since we're throwing around honorifics try that one on for size) spew out is reminiscent of the blindness that kept Stalin in power. Or that keeps Kim Jong Ill in power in North Korea. Or that keeps women enslaved in all parts of our world.
In point of fact, anti-anti-war protesters who talk this way are in reality the most un-American people in the house. Maybe those pro-war folks who want to stifle free speech, who want to stop thinking and march in lockstep to the edicts of their government, who advocate ripping up our Constitution, should all go to North Korea or China where you're not allowed to question the government! Fascists! Those pro-war folks are all Fascists! (OK, Bill O'Reilly could get out of here too just because I tire of him.)
The right to openly question government and engage in debate is the principle that underlies every American value. Citizens who bravely speak their mind, sharing their views on policy in the open, is exactly what our exceptional troops fight to protect. Those who participate in open debate are so-American. Let us not forget that there is a war being fought at home - a war to protect our way of life from the current administration. Those anti-war protesters who are speaking their minds are on the front lines of that war. We all have to step out to protect real American values. Even if you don't agree with them, if you are a real American, you will fight to defend their right to say it.
So, now that I've flamed the other side by painting them with the broad un-American brush, let me say that their point of view has a place at the table too. We need to be accepting of everyone's right to free speech. Let's settle down and talk about what we should do to help ourselves, help the world, help ourselves (why not mention that twice?), maintain peace, feed the people, and raise everyone's standard of living.
Jim Schrempp is a sometimes freelance writer (only Vanity Press will publish his work) living in Saratoga, California. His writings have appeared on numerous pages on his own web site. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else (although Jim wishes more people shared his opinions)