The Rhetoric Is Flying

20 Mar 2003

Paul R. Potts

The missiles are flying. This is, of course, anti-climactic; no one has seriously doubted that our administration was going to get its war on. Frustrated by our inability to exact concrete revenge on the person of Osama bin Laden, we’ve apparently completed an amazing act of psychological transference that would make Freud blush: who was it that was national enemy number one again? Saddam bin Laden? Osama Hussein?

And what is our motive again, exactly? In Bush’s statements, in Rumsfeld’s statements, in Fleischer’s conferences, I keep hearing differing statements of just what we are doing: are we there to enact “regime change?” Are we there to “disarm Iraq?” Are we there for “the liberation of the Iraqui people?” Or are we there to “bring democracy to the Middle East?” Perhaps I’m just dense, but it seems to me that these objectives, if not just muddled, may actually be contradictory.

Our cowardly elected representatives have now felt which way the hot air is blowing and are dropping any pretense of dissatsifaction with the administration’s actions. We’re told that “now is not the time to protest,” that “we need to come together and support our troops.” In case it is not blindingly obvious, let me state it clearly:

Those opposing the war on moral, religious, political, humanitarian, or other grounds all have the greatest sympathy and concern for those in harm’s way.

Now, here is the part that those who mistake metahpor for reality will probably great have difficulty understanding:

We believe that the people of Iraq are people just as we are: we do not place the value American lives above the lives of Iraquis. (I guess this is what really exercises the hawks and gets those opposed to war blamed for treason, providing aid and comfort to the enemy, and all kinds of other atrocities).

As my wife likes to point out, God is never on the side of the bully. God always sides with the meek, the inconsequential, the victim, collaterally damaged. He never takes the sides of those commiting atrocities because they were “just following orders.” To say otherwise is to wilfully misunderstand the fundamental messages of Biblical history.

Insisting that “supporting U.S. troops” means turning our back on the fate of the rest of the human beings caught up in this madness is a rhetorical act of dehumanization that no principled person could support. It seems to obvious to need stating, but let me state it anyway:

The way to reduce the danger to the lives of both American troops and soldiers of other nationalities, as well as Iraquis and other persons of other nationalities within Iraq, is to lay down weapons and end hostilities as quickly as possible.

As I write this, I can hear the loudest protest march yet outside my office window. This gives me hope. I will be joining them later today. This is not the time for those who oppose this war to drop their principles, bend over, and accept the inevitable. If this war was a misguided, opportunistic, divisive, and immoral act before the hostilities got fully underway, and I believe it was, how could it not be now?

As the weapons go on-line, and the rhetoric ramps up, keep your vision clear, remember to carefully separate metaphor from the reality, and get out there and be heard, both now and at election time.

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