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June 28, 2005


Tonight: more non-information on Iraq

Latest poll on war opinion

To attempt to counteract the free-fall in national support for the war in Iraq, Bush will give a speech on TV tonight to try to make it look like we know what we're doing over there, and that progress is being made. Considering that a few U.S. troops are dying every day lately, and daily attacks by insurgents make the whole country look like a chaotic fireball of death (Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, recently told U.S. lawmakers, "I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago") the hopeful element of the speech will likely be full of total fantasy. Bush will probably point to the gritty determination of the free Iraqis as the solution to all the country's problems, or maybe it will be the unstoppable force of democracy, or maybe it will be magic, or unicorns!

Regardless of the fictions we may be told about how great things are going in Iraq, we'll definitely hear a lot about the tremendous sacrifice of our soldiers over there. And of their parents who "give up their children" to a greater cause of freedom, as though the parents themselves did something to preserve the American way. This kind of language about parents giving their children to the military, as though they were tires being donated as part of a USO rubber drive, has always bugged me. Christopher Hitchens wrote a great vitriolic piece for Slate about this very thing.

He starts off like this: "Oh, Jesus, another barrage of emotional tripe about sons. From every quarter, one hears that the willingness to donate a male child is the only test of integrity. It's as if some primitive Spartan or Roman ritual had been reconstituted, though this time without the patriotism or the physical bravery. Worse, it has a gruesome echo of the human sacrifice that underpins Christian fundamentalism."

And it just gets angrier from there. If we really do respect the work and sacrifice that our military is doing in Iraq, it's time to respect each soldier's decision to join the military of his or her own free will. Their parents didn't "send" them anywhere. Also, as Hitchens points out, the war would not be somehow legitimized if (God help us) one of the Bush twins were over there fighting. "Do I know a single anti-war person who would be more persuaded if one of the Bush girls joined up? Do you? Can you imagine what would be said about such a cheap emotional stunt?"

There will probably be a number of cheap emotional stunts on tonight's broadcast. Though these will probably not involve blowing Jenna's legs off.

categories: Media, Politics, War and Security
posted by amy at 12:16 PM | #

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