Friday, March 9, 2007

How pitiful are the war cheerleaders?

Pro-war demonstrator with SUPPORT R TROOPS sign (Photo: San Francisco Chronicle/AP/Noah Berger)

There's a hillside in the East Bay area across the bay from San Francisco where the owner put up a bunch of crosses, one to commemorate each American soldier lost in the Iraq War. The person who set it up is against the war. But so far as I've ever noticed driving by or in photos, there are no political slogans or signs there. Just the crosses commemorating those who gave their lives.

War fans, some of them anyway, claim to think it's just terrible to have crosses reminding drivers on the freeway about the soldiers who have died. The site has been vandalized and there have been efforts to get the city council to force them to take it down. This report is about a counter-demonstration:
Pro-Bush demonstrators call crosses a slight to soldiers San Francisco Chronicle 03/09/07.

This just seems completely brainless to me. There have been wars that I've supported, like the Gulf War and the Afghanistan War until the latter became a muddled mess, though on a smaller scale than in Iraq. But it never seemed to me that war critics calling attention to the number of deaths on either side were doing something reprehensible. People die in wars. If you don't want anyone to have to think about those who die in wars, don't cheer for having them.

Marigolds posted the other day about her concern that there haven't been more antiwar protests. It's also worth considering why there haven't been more prowar demonstrations. The war supporters are now a distinct minority of the people. You might think they would want to do everything they could to remind people of the importance and urgency of their cause. Then again, why try to grab snatches of media coverage for a demonstration when you've got FOX News churning out the Party line of the prowar Republicans 24/7?

The prowar demonstration in Lafayette was part of a series being organized by the
Move America Forward group. This article gives more details on the protest, Supporters of the Iraq War descend on Lafayette memorial by Katherine Tam Contra Costa Times 03/08/2007. That article quotes Jeff Heaton, who set up the display of crosses, saying, "It seems they have a macho idea that once you get into war, you have to keep fighting till the end, even if the reasons you went to war were dishonest and a lie."

Here's another article from this week about the crosses:
Grim update to war tally:
Number of crosses on grassy hillside represents number of fallen soldiers
by Jason Johnson San Francisco Chronicle 03/05/07.

This flyer from that is apparently from Heaton,
The Crosses of Lafayette (undated), gives his own stated view of the memorial, which according to him is not strictly a statement of opposition to the Iraq War:

The Crosses of Lafayette represent a public demonstration of the number of United States Soldiers who have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war. The crosses signify a memorial to those soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. The crosses are not intended to representation a religious affiliation. The authors of this project and website support exploring the causes of war, finding a way to swiftly end the present conflict, and prevent future wars from ever happening.

We realize that many people who see the crosses on the hillside directly north of the Lafayette California Bart/Metro Station will possibly feel the stirring of many different emotions. I can assure you that is our primary goal and intent.

Whether you support the war in Iraq or are against the war, it is clear that a majority of the citizens of the United States of America lack awareness of the devastating effects to the families that have lost love ones due to the war. It is our goal to create an available memorial where the grief that naturally comes when a loved one is lost in battle can be experienced. I recently constructed the first few concrete crosses that are to be placed on the hillside, and the sorrow I have felt as a result of my endeavor has been profoundly moving. (my emphasis)
In reference to the bolded part, since the war cheerleaders claim that the only people who "support the troops" those who support the Iraq War - and only those who support it in ways of which they approve, it's worth thinking about the revelations on the poor medical care so many veterans of the Iraq War have been experiencing. Were any prowar activists or even prowar veterans organizations working to make the problems a higher priority? The Republican Party who supposedly adores "the troops" so much was in control of both Houses of Congress from 2003-2007. Why weren't they demanding action, holding hearings, going on FOX News and demanding better veterans' care?

Tom Engelhardt provides some good background and analysis of the use of the "support our troops" slogan in
Hostages to Policy 03/06/07. He talks about how framing "support the troops" as necessarily including "support the war policies" involves a framing of the situation of soldiers in the war zone as hostages. It's a good analysis of a subject that's touchy to write about.


No comments: