How many would argue against "supporting our troops"? Needless to say, it would take the most grandiose expression of stupidity to defend such a position in our current political climate. A stupidity comparable to disabusing the Vietnam debacle by spreading to Lao and Cambodia the campaign of carpet bombing "them back to the stone age," as General Curtis LeMay so eloquently put, or proposing tax-cuts in a time of war, or believing America could gain an ally by admitting China into the Security Counsel, or declaring that the environment should not be protected for the coming of Jesus is at hand (for further explanation, look to the Reagan years).
Why, therefore, is this wildly obnoxious, superfluously meaningless, inherently empty, yet sinisterly dangerous epithet being engendered as a public weapon to disenfranchise the expression of various political viewpoints? If apprised on its functionality in public discourse it becomes evident that the utterance of the phrase "support our troops" is a tactic of diverting conversation from concrete, measurable political actions that transpire in our physical world by governmental appointees and representatives, towards theoretical, abstract, warped, intangible, emotionally-charged mental constructions and hostile rhetoric that do not lead to any productive outcome. It is not necessarily a deliberate maneuver on the part of politicians to confuse the issue, although that possibility should not be ruled out. Its function in our society however, is exactly that, and it is dangerous.
The root of its danger derives from its unsubstantiated hollowness, as it has never been thoroughly, publicly defined or its meaning commonly accepted. "Support our troops" is often understood as showing positive affirmation of the current administration''s occupation policies abroad or protecting the lives of the troops by bringing them home. But the rationale of these two opinions are imbedded in innumerous possible scenarios, ignored histories, misunderstanding and manipulation that should demand a more detailed explanation of the epithet rather than blind adherence to it. Like a Japanese apologist delivering so-called "nonsensical" wisdom to a Zen enthusiast, this Koan of public sentiment embodies an empty ignorance with unexplored devotion that manipulates our sentiments to the extent of inspiring hate and terror of that which we do not understand.
Since its reintroduction into common speech, post 9-11, and the following years of dribbling this "support the troops" nonsense, the accusations have become more hateful and misguided to the point that even I am almost offended. So, what does it mean to "support the troops?" Do I support our troops? I don''t know, I don''t care and I would certainly not advocate to anyone else that they do so, as we should rather be examining our choices and actions not our devotion to a legislatively transient, circumstantially malleable slogan of political alliance.
To give some personal examples, I do not wave an American flag outside my window, although I have once used one as protection against evil from the depths of depravity in the Castro. To my own disgust, I still find Top Gun to be one of the sweetest films ever made, whose awesomeness, I believe, surpasses its underlying marketing interests. I pay taxes, some of which go to the armed forces. I do not have a nationalistic three-dollar magnet on my motorcycle that so powerfully encourages us to "support our troops." I call them "freedom fries" and "freedom toast." I do not send soldiers Hallmark cards telling them what a wonderful job they are doing. Perhaps I don''t support our troops.
I find it not only vile but also deceitful that the Bush administration has repeatedly pushed for cutting VA funding, reducing veteran''s healthcare benefits, raising costs of treatment, decreasing access to medical care, raising eligibility requirements for benefits, cutting "imminent danger" pay and family separation allowances, and charging veterans for rations at Fort Steward amongst other things. As one who values actions over words, given the disparity between his legislation and his rhetoric, it is extremely difficult for me to accept that our president truly supports our troops.
I might affirm an increase in military funding if I was assured it would go to equipping and caring for our personnel. However, I have great reservations believing this will happen after watching the Lockheed Martin Corporation''s net income increase from 500 million at the end of 2002 to 2.52 billion at the end of 2006; Northrop Grumman Corporation from 64 million to 1.52 billion; The Boeing Company from 492 million to 2.21 billion; Raytheon Company from -640 million to 1.28 billion; and of course everyone''s favorite Halliburton who''s net income was a stunning -998 million dollars in December of 2002 to 2.348 billion dollars in December of 2006. Now of course these are all numbers and figures, and markets change, and statistics don''t represent the realities on the ground, and one must take into consideration the inflation rate. So taking them into account, perhaps it''s best described as downright criminal, greedy, perverse, atrocious and hypocritical. If that were not enough, through all of this, our government is still unable to scrape together enough money to provide combat troops with body armor, armored Humvees, or mice-free veteran''s housing. Now, if this distribution of resources was altered, then I might support increased military funding, but as there seems to be no sign of this, it seems to be a waste of resources, even by government standards. So perhaps with this taken into account I do support our troops.
It is imperative that we acknowledge that this comical jester we have as president, as well as any governmental swine, regardless of their political leanings, who regurgitates this garbage, renders the slogan "support the troops" as a caveat to those who might disagree with his policies, that acts of dissent somehow do not "support the troops." And who would want to be seen as that? As a result, any worthwhile discourse is brutally hijacked and turned into a witch-hunt for anyone defiant enough to voice opposition.
If America is ever going to rid itself of this politics-by-amusement delirium that we have been injected with, we must demand the resignation of such ridiculously concocted, bogus epithets, true congealealities of fear and stupidity, and address, research and debate policies and their potential affects. If we want to discuss a proposed military funding increase, lets talk about exactly where that money goes to; why it is going there; the effects of previous similar actions while taking into account the inevitable social climate change and the ramification of such; evidence that an air-to-surface missile is more valuable than body armor; most especially the possibility that funding social service projects will have a much greater positive impact than military funding. Let''s focus on making good decisions, evaluating our actions and their affects and not imprison ourselves with the fear of not "supporting our troops."
As responsible citizens of the United States it is essential that we start exploring beyond the smog and filth that this epithet, and its siblings "cut n'' run," "slow bleed," "stay the course," and so on, have discharged on relevant and meaningful political dialog. As our politicians are incapable of inspiring constructive discourse, we hold the responsibility of emerging from the sanctuary of delusion inspired by this manipulative nationalism and exploring the issues that we are faced with, discussing them, exchanging ideas and information, discovering that which we are told not to. Is it still possible that this generation be remembered for the humanity of its actions rather than the worthlessness of its rhetoric?