Skip to content

Supporting the troops means supporting their mission

Not too long ago I created a bumper sticker:

Support the troops

The point I was trying to make is now back in the news. It turns out that NPR’s Bob Sommer isn’t the only lefty who’s feeling prickly about yellow ribbons and “Support The Troops” stickers. UMass student Thomas Naughton’s self-described guilt spurs him to tear yellow “Support The Troops” ribbons from other people’s cars, as he explains in his The Daily Collegian column:

Guilt can only weigh on a person’s mind for so long before they crave the act of purgation; to get the weighty feelings of shame and responsibility out of the mind — or at least the guilty parties attempt to find some kind of peace if they cannot rid themselves of a screaming conscience that implicates and indicts its possessor.
That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon “support the troops” magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.
I will never say, “support the troops.” I don’t believe in the validity of that statement. People say, “I don’t support the war, I support the troops” as though you can actually separate the two. You cannot; the troops are a part of the war, they have become the war and there is no valid dissection of the two. Other people shout with glaring eyes that we should give up our politics, give up our political affiliations in favor of “just supporting the troops.” I wish everything were that easy.

We say, “support the troops” so that we won’t feel guilty about saying “no” to war. We reason that if we say that we support the troops, somehow we aren’t monsters for not saying a word when the death tolls of U.S. soldiers climbed above 1,000. Those ribbons are yellow for a reason, they are not the mark of armed forces support, they are the mark of cowards.
Pundits on the radio advise their cowardly listeners to approach men and women in army uniforms and say “thank you.” I cannot do that. Every time I pass a person in uniform I look long and hard at them and all I can think inside to say is “I’m so sorry.” I want to apologize to them, to their families and to their friends. I feel sorry that we, the people, couldn’t control our own government at the outset of this conflict when most of us knew deep inside that it was a mistake.
Where are we now? Are we in a better place? Is the world safer for democracy? No, it is not safer and we are not in a better place. In this war that we are fighting to somehow avenge the deaths of the Sept. 11 tragedy, we have amassed a field of body bags, the number of which almost matches the number killed in the terrorist attacks four years ago.

Naughton’s column caught Michael Medved‘s attention today, and his invitation to Naughton to come on the air has so far gone unanswered. No big surprise there.
When I created my bumper sticker I pointed out the same brand of self-serving lefty illogic that Naughton chews on. Though he and I come down on opposite sides in the debate over the war (not to mention respect for property rights), we both understand that in this war it’s not possible to meaningfully support the troops while also believing that the troops are engaged in a criminal military adventure.
My recommendation? Get two stickers and give one to a liberal relative or friend.
More blogging:
Marine Corps Moms
Angry in the Great White North
Mark Nicodemo
This Untamed Fire Of Freedom
Precinct 333
Grim’s Hall
Clear and Present
Joobo the King of Wisdom
A Word From The Right
The Eyrie
A Logical Voice (agrees with Naughton)