When one takes a strong stand for or against something which is overwhelmingly controversial he must not let his passion outweigh his underlying message. I seem to fall victim to this offence quite often, especially when engaging in discussion with someone whom I disagree with on fundamental issues. The humanity behind my adversary must be ever-present in my discussion or argument, regardless of issue at hand. This is not to say that it is wrong to passionately engage in a heated debate, but that the topic being discussed should attract the attacks and not the person him/herself. Under the presented pretext I wish to continue on with a topic that has recently become very personal.
A teammate of mine on a Tucson City league baseball team will soon be shipped to war in Iraq. This is not his first tour of duty, Matt recently returned from a 6 month tour in Afghanistan. I met Matt when I joined the city league baseball team last fall and many times he and I have engaged in conversation over the policies of the Bush administration or the state of the union after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. (Keep in mind this is all prior to his first deployment to Afghanistan.) Needless to say, we disagreed fundamentally, though both respectfully. That may be partially due to the fact that we play on the same baseball team and were only trying to win baseball games.
Matt was gung-ho about going to war and ‘defending our freedoms’, he praised George W. Bush for his stance on terrorism and wanted to ‘avenge the lives lost.’ He sprouted typical rhetoric which I expected, nothing that hadn’t been said through the airwaves of Fox News. He was everything I hated about the American Soldier; he was the blood thirsty animal I feared would overwhelm popular opinion.
It was about 7 months since I had seen Matt and he was literally just off the plane when he rejoined our ball club this summer. There was something extremely different about his demeanor. After talking with him about his time in Afghanistan I learned that Matt had seen a few battles and was wounded, though not severely, no purple heart or anything. He openly questioned the reality of the threat they were facing, for the fights were against young kids 16 or 17 in age, without adequate equipment or training. I don’t know if he killed anybody, nor did I ask, but when he told me he was headed for Iraq I noticed a different attitude than I did 7 months before. He never came out and said he didn’t want to go to Iraq, his eyes said it all. The tone of his voice relayed a fear of war and he solemnly said, “all I ever wanted to do was become a pilot.”
I attend a university with a very strong military presence and a large ROTC program on campus. I have met many ROTC students and have had heated arguments with them over the ‘War on Terrorism’ and the Iraq invasion. I see the same level of ignorance and naivety in them that I saw in Matt 7 months ago. One student I came in counter with went as far as to draw a map of Iraq and its cities burning on his English binder. To them war is no more real than a video game which has an objective to kill as many people as possible and to destroy an ‘evil’ enemy.
Ultimately it is not these ROTC students who will go to war and give their lives, it is the foot soldiers on the ground who are daunted such a task. They cannot afford the luxury of attending university and studying to become an officer, they are the hands of the machines who are systematically oppressed by their commanding officers in the military. No, but these gung-ho, blood thirsty ROTC drunks will never see the true battle lines, that’s left to the poor and disenfranchised.
This ‘war’ is being fought on many fronts and the question has been asked, “Is this class war?” You bet your fucking ass this is class war. Its time for the policy makers to take responsibility for their actions and to stop throwing it upon the poor to do the dirty work and mop up for past mistakes. Thank You.
One last thing, to all my friends in Chicago; Barack Obama kicks ass please vote for him in the senate race because I can’t.