Monday, May 28, 2012

Reason #201: Choosing Your Targets

Look, some soldiers are dicks.

Just like some school teachers, some lawyers, some farmers, and, lord knows, some hippies.

But as someone who witnessed firsthand--well, via television--the launching of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm never been able to get my head around the extent to which young men returning from Vietnam--many of whom were drafted and fought against their will, no less--were blamed personally for the idiocy of that war, and even harassed and assaulted for it. Not only was it an absurd leap of logic, but it probably has a lot to do with how even today, the drone-bombing, Bin Laden-killing president could be losing to a venture-capitalist challenger by more than twenty points among veterans.

Maybe opposition to the Iraq War wasn't strong enough to stop it from happening, but the fact that the anti-war movement's anger was directed squarely at the Bush administration and not at soldiers is a very strong sign that people actually can learn from history, and if nothing else, refine their arguments.

So even though it's Memorial Day, and even though the president would have to give that speech today whether he believed it or not, here's to Obama's remarks at the Vietnam Memorial, in which he called the troops' rough homecoming "a national shame" that "should have never happened", and went on to vow just that for those currently returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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