Saturday, August 25, 2007

Who Doesn't "Support Our Troops?"

Saying you support our troops is really a given, isn't it? Whether or not you support the mission is irrelevant to the well being of the troops. As a matter of fact, I've yet to hear anyone opposed to the war direct their anger or apprehension towards the military itself. The debate in Canada has now reached the absurd, ala America, wherein a nationalist peer pressure has emerged, equating ribbons and highways with loyalty. Anyone who dissents is somehow against the troops, or so goes the inference. The situation in Calgary, is a microcosm of manufactured battlelines, divisive politics, misplaced outrage, and overall marginal melodrama:
There have been protesters at City Hall and letter-writing campaigns. Talk-show lines regularly light up with callers cursing his name. But the uglier the political storm gets, the more determined Calgary's mayor seems in his refusal to let a few measly yellow ribbon decals adorn municipal vehicles, expressing support for the troops in Afghanistan.

But for five weeks and counting, the head of the biggest city in Canada's least-politically correct province has steadfastly battered through a war of his own making, fighting against putting the same stickers on Calgary vehicles, leaving citizens mystified at Dave Bronconnier's readiness to dig in deep on the unpopular side of a deeply populist issue.

Kudos to the mayor, for standing firm in the face of what amounts to national hysteria. It is funny that people have devoted so much energy and venom, on an issue that is really trivial in the scheme of things. Who cares if a few vehicles have a sticker, is it really a testament to national pride and loyalty? The problem, these stickers and other forms of expression have become politicized, and their presence blurs the lines between support for the troops and support for the war. Do you support the troops in their current mission? According to the polls, the answer suggests Canadians aren't exactly a monolith:
Conducted by Ipsos-Reid, the poll found 51 per cent of respondents across the country said they support the mission, while 45 per cent oppose it. The numbers remained virtually unchanged from a month ago.

"There's 24.5 million adult Canadians in this country and we have found that about 12.25 million have supported the mission and 12.25 million have been against it from the beginning. There has not been any drastic swings in support and opposition against the effort," said Wright.

Half of Canadians don't support the troops? Bullocks. I think the mission is flawed, desperately needs a re-think, places too much emphasis on military objectives, but that feeling doesn't translate to a lack of empathy or support for the people engaged. One's personal feelings about the war are irrelevant when you hear of death and I find it quite emotional to watch the images of caskets and fellow soldiers grieving for their friends.

Do were ever hear the "anti-war" crowd argue against spending on new armored vehicles, that provide better protection for the troops? No, because people are sophisticated enough to seperate the mission with the well being of the men/women. As a matter of fact, concern for wellbeing is a driving force in many people's resistence to this mission. If you conclude that we are engaged in a "whack a mole" scenario in Afghanistan, you see people dying needlessly and want it to stop. You don't want another mother to lose her son, in what you see as a flawed process. The soldier in question sees the value, you disagree, but that doesn't draw the co-relation the uber-nationalists like to argue. I'm sure they are a few relatives of the "fallen" who are against the mission, or question, does that mean they don't support their family member? If the mayor of Calgary doesn't support stickers, how is it that this translates to snubbing the troops, or lacking sensitivity?

This mission has reached a different phase, wherein we see the "with us or against us", "love it or leave it" mentality developing, with a vocal, grassroots lobby group trying to inflict their sensibilities on the rest of us. Put the sticker on your own car, that is your right. However, it is my right to dissent against using publicly funded vehicles, or highways, as a political statement. The argument is a illusion, no one is supressing anything if they don't support a statement, there are a myriad of avenues available that don't involve the herd approach. In many ways, I support the troops, I just don't support the troops supporters.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't support our troops.
The wing nuts on the right do not distinguish between support for the war and support for the troops - so I just don't support the troops - maybe they will get the message.

Scotian said...

It is jingoism pure and simple, something Canadians used to pride themselves about not being subject to. Jingoism has always evoked a very strong negative response in me and always will. I show my support for the troops in a combat environment by simply wearing a poppy year round, as the poppy is our traditional symbol for those that fall while in our uniform and unlike the yellow ribbons and red shirts is not part of a political campaign. Like the highway of heroes this idiocy is turning one of the most serious issues any nation and its citizenry can face, war, and turns it into a matter of sloganeering. If that isn't dehumanizing the troops and disrespecting them I do not know what does.

I come from a family that has served in uniform, I was a cadet throughout my teens and only blowing apart the ligaments in my knee when I turned 19 kept me out of uniform so I tend to get more than a little annoyed when I am told I hate the military, against the troops etc because I have problems with the jingoism and the way certain political types within a certain party try to equate support for the troops with support for their mission and idea of what our military should be used for. I am also a born and bred Haligonian, a military city with a long and very rich history where both world wars are concerned as well as the ongoing naval presence since before it was incorporated as a city over a quarter millennium now.

This is sickening for me to be watching, and I worry that this jingoism may become a new norm for us, and if that happens I think it actually pisses on our military history and honour and those that fell in our uniforms in the prior conflicts. We were able to fight in the past without glorifying war and making a fetish out of "supporting the troops" in the abstract political manner we see today. Back then supporting the troops meant not eating meat on certain days, sacrificing fuel for the war effort and so on, we see none of that sacrifice for the troops in this conflict and to claim that this sort of support of today is anything like the support of the past dishonours the sacrifices and support of the past IMHO.

Anonymous said...

me neither, no support from me, to me its them sidding with the americans, they have bombed to many civilians, women and children to be exact, and if canadian troops still side with evil and war crimes, it makes them as guilty as the americans.... nuremberg trials. I was just following orders is not a defense.

Anonymous said...

Scotian, well said.


Bill Longstaff said...

We all support our troops whether we want to or not. We have no choice. At least not if we pay our taxes we don't. We pay their salaries and we pay for their weaponry. As far as I'm concerned, as long as they're spending my money, I don't owe them anything else.

Skinny Dipper said...

I think you're all anti-Canadian if you don't support having the Support Our Troops ribbon stickers on city emergency vehicles. And if you didn't wear red, you are also against the troops and an enemy of Canada. If you didn't support the Charlottetown Accord, you're an enemy of Canada. Where's you red AIDS ribbon? You're pink breast cancer ribbon? Your white men against violence against women ribbon? You're red-white-and-blue 9-11 ribbon? Don't forget all those rubber braclets supporting every cause under the moon. Get that poppy for Remembrance Day. Don't insist on being a Kramer byrunning in an AIDS marathon without a ribbon! You must wear the ribbon! I'm going to wear my rainbow ribbon in the classroom to show my solidarity with gays and lesbians. I'll wear a green-white-red-and-black ribbon as a teacher at school to show my solidarity with the Palestinians. If the police can have ribbons on their vehicles, I should be able to wear a ribbon of my choice in the classroom.

Steve V said...


I like the reference to jingoism, it applies more and more. And, I think you are right to point to previous civilian sacrifices, to out what are really superficial and trival means of expression. Well said.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

Thanks for the kind words. This is a real sore spot with me as you may have gathered, and something I consider to be very dangerous to us as a nation given our traditions and history. This fetish worshipping of the military is something one sees in nations which define themselves as much by the military prowess/force they use in their foreign policies as anything else, which is *NOT* our history. Respect and admire the sacrifices made sure, but turning it into the secular version of graven idols/idolatry is quite another. The sloganeering is also particularly offensive to me, especially where support the troops is concerned since unlike those making the claims they support the troops with a ribbon or wearing a red shirt on a given day I know from both familial and research histories what real support and sacrificing for the troops has meant.

You likely have noticed I get a bit snippy with those that want to claim that I am anti-military or that anyone not supporting the CPC is somehow against the military, or that I am a typical liberal because I hate the military. I get that way because not only do I respect military service (especially voluntary) but I also understand the sacrifices those in uniform make and not simply in the physical sense either. Serving in combat is inherently soul damaging/destroying, and this is one of the main reasons those that want to glorify such make me absolutely sick, especially those that have never actually served at all let alone in combat. When they have to pull a trigger and watch their actions splattering the brains of someone all over the place and know they have ended a human life and think it is fun or glorious all they show is how little they understand warfare.

Sorry Steve V, this is a very touchy topic for me, which is one of the reasons I tend to not get too involved in such discussions outside the political aspects because if I do I start to get enraged. As you may recall I was more than a little upset with how the government played games with the detainee issue earlier this year and the dishonour they were bringing not just to those currently serving but all those that have served and especially those that died in the uniform.

Indeed, I have been taking a lower profile commenting online since then because of how angered I was then figuring I needed something of a break or at least a reduction for a time until I had a chance to recover. I suspect Saundrie will start becoming active again in the near future, as I am finally starting to feel up to doing the work it requires to pass my sense of quality writing, and I suspect this sort of issue/topic will be one of the ones I start going into again. Although I also think I am going to do at least a little on the questions surrounding the undercover cops at the protest and the way the police and politicians have reacted since, as I think that is also a major issue and demonstrates a level of threat to how our political democracy works in the country on a par with the Grewal fraud, which as you know I consider to be an extremely serious matter even to this day.


You are most welcome, and thanks to you as well for the kind words.

Steve V said...


Look forward to some posts :)

Dame said...

My Support is ZERO Regarding THIS WAR,,, We have no Business to wage war in Afghanistan . I want our Boys to get Home and I want our Collective Money to spend wiser .
NO THUMBS UP Mr harper...