You hear it all the time – “Even if you don’t support the war, you must support the troops.” Taking it further, it is often thought impossible for you to show support for our fighting men and women without backing every word and deed of the Bush administration. With troops in the field, it is suggested, criticism or dissent erodes morale and leaves our forces vulnerable to attack. “Let’s present a unified front,” they say, as if marching in lock-step is the best possible course to ensure survival of the American Way. Well I’m here to express dissent, and not in any predictable fashion. It’s too easy to blast our foreign policy while getting teary-eyed at the thought of our armed forces facing the wrath of the evildoers. That’s the chickenshit way to debate the Bush crowd and all those who think he walks with Jesus. I’m here to shout from the rooftops that I not only oppose our profit-driven assault on a sovereign nation, but also those who carry out that misguided policy. In other words, fuck the troops. I shed no tears, wave no flags, and remain Buster Keaton-like upon hearing casualty reports or flashes of another tragedy. I oppose them as a good contrarian would, but I also object to who they are as individuals.
These are not the best we have to offer, although they may indeed be the most typical. I am speaking of the distinct, undeniably creeping stench of trash – po’ white trash above all, but all those who, under the guise of sacrifice and duty, sign away their lives because not even the local community college will accept someone so deficient in the intellectual arts. I simply refuse to salute anyone who has chosen a career path out of sheer desperation and the self-serving drive to fund that which is impossible to achieve by merit or scholarship. It isn’t Uncle Sam and the ghosts of our war dead that push our Jethros, our Jim Bobs, and our Crystals onto distant shores, it is the acquisition of job skills and a piece of parchment that will allow them to leave the double-wide behind forevermore.
Because America relies on an all-volunteer army, it must accept literally anyone who has the drive to come into a local recruiting office. And who could resist those “Army of One” commercials, where hillbillies and rural slobs are sold on the idea that even in a regimented, soul-stripping hellhole, one can assert one’s identity. It’s not true of course, but given the increasingly conservative nature of our white trash, it is not enough to sacrifice life and limb for an abstraction, especially when that abstraction is seen as evil incarnate for taking away grandpappy’s hog farm. Do we really believe that only the poor and the directionless possess a patriotic love of country? If the enlisted element of the military were a true cross-section of America rather than what’s left over after scraping the trash bin, then my opposition would cease and I would begin to embrace the idea that we were being protected by a living, breathing force of arms rather than the mechanized, technological giant we have become. Other, more talented folks with degrees, ambitions, and functioning brains designed each and every tool used by today’s army, and they are the true heroes in all this, if we need to select of a group of people for sanctification. To use such tools, which amounts to nothing more than exploiting the labor of another, is to merely follow orders and learn rudimentary tasks rather than exhibiting gallantry. Or better yet, thank the taxpayers who year after year watch their dollars sail into the bottomless pit of the Pentagon, which in turn grease the wheels of military contractors, the true masters of us all.
For all the talk of bravery and fearlessness, I can present an equal amount of selfishness and blatant stupidity. How many stories have I heard regarding a feathered-hair princess in Mom Jeans and her five children waiting with bated breath for daddy to come home from combat? Or what about the tale of the military couple who had to contend with possible court-martial because the mother insisted that no one would be home to take care of their seven brats? Does Lee Greenwood really drip from your lips when you hear that faux hero Jessica Lynch met her beau at Taco Bell and is planning to have a wedding similar to the bimbo from Reno 911? If these military wives aren’t perpetually pregnant (and we pay for that, dear readers), then they are parading around the base with their buzzed-cut brood and faded NFL jerseys. With such mediocrities as our last line of defense, it should come as no surprise that we get bogged down whenever the enemy sees fit to put up a fight. It isn’t possible nuclear annihilation that keeps us from invading North Korea, it is the prospect of facing a crack unit of over a million men who are likely to leave tens of thousands of Americans bleeding to death in the snow.
So while you attend your parades and place hand over heart, I will be immersed in my shame. Tho’ the uniforms be crisp and the boots be shiny, the skin beneath them houses the opportunist, the breeder, or the dropout. And if all you have to say to me is that I speak out of ignorance or the arrogance of a man too afraid to fight, I say that is no argument indeed. Of course I do not wish to be shot, and yes, I would be pissing my pants on the flight over, but I am honest enough to admit that I have no desire to defend the interests of those who do not represent the principles I hold dear. And neither do they, the soldiers, only they cannot speak openly about their naked self-interest. They cling to love of country, but it is nothing of the sort. The only alternative to selfish goals is a genuine ignorance; a willingness to accept the party line from the top brass. If that is the case, my point regarding their simple natures is proven. For no one with even a shred of decency or intellectual honesty would believe that our current engagements are in defense of liberty and justice for all. If it turns into Red Dawn, I’ll polish my rifle and meet you at the front. But until then, I won’t die for the soccer mom and her perceived right to drive a Hummer.