I am tired – tired of the rhetoric of fear and “Us vs. Them” being sloppily employed in the debate over Iraq, and tired of people charging dissenters with “emboldening the enemy” – so this is my response.
Last Sunday, the Wisconsin State Journal ran a guest column by Mark Rehorst, a former Wisconsin resident and self-proclaimed “vocal critic” of the Bush administration – but he’s none too fond of protesters:
We already know that a certain faction dislikes anything that President Bush does regardless of its value, but when you form protests like these, you really don’t do him any harm and do nothing to quicken the end of hostilities.
The only good you do is for those who seek our destruction and you gain nothing but media exposure. You are so convinced of your political position that you are willing to throw national defense aside by showing our stated enemies a fragmented, weak culture and a people who can’t band together to defend themselves.
Two more questions: Whose position have you strengthened, America’s or the terrorists’?
Mr. Rehorst, this is our country, these are our lives. Do you suggest that we sit by in silence, following blindly and uncritically a man who has repeatedly misled – no, outright lied to – the American public? His campaigns have entailed none of his own sacrifice, and the notion that he has made our nation more safe is a myth. You say yourself that you are a “vocal critic” of Bush’s policies, yet you discount the value of raising your voice.
The people who protested two weeks ago – and in all the protests of late – have carried a message: “Bring the troops home.” How dare you charge them with costing American lives and accuse them of portraying our country as weak? The booming voices of dissenters fighting for what is just in the face of our government’s fearmongering is not weakness, it is strength.
If for any reason at all, our “enemy” hates us for our cultural imperialism, for our arrogant foreign policy that indulges a fantasy of “spreading democracy,” and for our anti-Islamic sentiment – not for our freedom. If these protests send any message to such “enemies,” it is one of our nation’s humanity, showing them that we are not simply followers of an iron fist. Rather than embolden them, it may cause them to question the motive for their violence.
That may sound idealist – and true, there are many in the insurgency who are dogmatic and warped beyond the point of any reason; these are the suicide bombers who blow up markets and crowds of unemployed workers. No amount of escalated violence will stop these people, it will only fuel them. We must not sacrifice the rights that make our democracy valuable in an effort to pacify blind hatred.