Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Draft 'em all and let the Neo-Cons sort 'em out

Yikes kites! Don't read the comments section under today's WSJ article about people speaking out against military ads at public high schools if you're not prepared to be nauseated. Just to get you up-to-date, the issue at hand is whether or not it's right (and indeed, whether it goes against school policy) to have US Army ads posted next to the scoreboards in public high school gyms and stadiums.

I already explained how I feel about the matter, but I think it bears further study and thought.

I'll start with the more inflammatory side of the pro-ad party. Here are a few gems from the comments section:

"Wow - how progressive of these people to protest the very organization that gives them the freedom to protest." (isn't that one of the essential ingredients of a healthy democracy?)

"If the protesters truly belived[sic] in doing right by children, they would focus their efforts on raising awareness for adoption and reducing abortion in the US instead of protesting to thwart the efforts of people braver then they are who fight to give them the right to spew idiotic rhetoric."

"If it weren't for the military, we would corresponding in German or Japanese right now, if we had the right to express our opinion at all. I really wonder how 'Peace Activists' hope to achieve peace, without strength."

"As a military-member, it scares me to think that one of those bleeding-heart liberals might end up in the foxhole next to me...
we don't need any cowards or pansies to be drafted into our ranks."

All that vitriol loaded with fallacy makes my brain and my heart hurt. Is it even worth it to dignify these sorts of empty rhetoric-filled arguments with a response? Heck, I guess I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'll give it a go.

First off, stop comparing the current war with World War II. They are in no way analogous, and to bring up the whole "we'd be speaking German or Japanese right now" argument is pure ridiculousness. WWII was what it was--a necessary horror (because the best a war can ever be is a necessary horror) to rid the world of some of the greatest evil it had ever known. How on Earth are you going to compare it to the Iraq War? We knew Hitler and the Emperor were up to no good and we had solid proof: millions killed or displaced, invasions of sovereign countries, genocidal policies, etc. etc. We worked hand-in-hand with a serious and dedicated bunch of countries and the Allies were, in fact, greeted as liberators pretty much everywhere they went.

Iraq? We had a vague notion that Saddam might be in possession of WMDs (completely debunked by an official government report, no less), a notion based on extremely faulty intelligence that experts in the intelligence community even knew was bogus, and we had a president with some cowboy grudge against the man who tried to kill his daddy. We had a population that was grateful for the initial ouster of a terrible dictator, but that we then thoroughly screwed over by handing the rebuilding process over to corrupt contractors and greedy politicians. And yes, by underestimating the military size and strength that would be needed to properly contain the threat. It was a poorly planned, poorly executed debacle that has cost us the lives of thousands of good American men and women, not to mention countless numbers of Iraqi civilians.

THEY JUST DON'T COMPARE. So cut it out, already, because your argument does nothing to further your point and only serves to muddy the already murky waters surrounding the issue. The same goes for throwing abortion into the debate. What the hell does abortion have to do with military ads at public high schools? Cripes almighty people, stay focused!

And then we have the final comment, the "Liberals are all cowards and pansies and I don't want one of 'em next to me in a foxhole, damnit" thing. There's so much wrong with that statement that I'm not even sure where to begin. There's the blatant homophobia implicit in the use of the word "pansies," and the idea that anyone who identifies as a liberal is automatically a coward and anti-military. Someone skipped out on the their Logic 101 classes back in school.

Look, school district guidelines state that "
all military information be posted in school guidance offices." A gym or stadium scoreboard is not a guidance office. Of course, the argument goes that these ads are not recruitment materials, but what do you call a slogan and a phone number for the local recruiting office? Let me spell that out again: r-e-c-r-u-i-t-i-n-g office.

Again, I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea to place advertisements of any kind in our public schools, let alone ones for the military. Keep recruitment materials in the guidance office, where students can learn all the details about a potential military career with the help of a qualified counselor. Keep all of the insidious advertisements, military or otherwise, off school grounds.

Our public schools need better funding, and this is just one (very clear) example of why we need to do better by them. They shouldn't be tempted to accept advertising dollars so they can meet their budgetary needs, the state should be covering them. The right to a good, public education is one of the things that makes our country great, and we're failing ourselves and our fellow citizens by allowing things to deteriorate as they have. And judging by the comments from the WSJ article, I'd say we're in desperate need of better education all around.

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