Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Open Letter to Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times Columnist: "I don't support our troops."

Joel Stein is a 30-something columnist for the Los Angeles Times, for which he writes weekly.

His column this week titled, "Warriors and Wusses" provoked a huge outpouring of e-mail to me from a lot of friends of mine. I hadn't even read the piece yet because I do not subscribe to the Times and don't read it that much. In fact the only time I read the LA Times is the same time I read the New York Times, when someone tips me to an article.

Upon reading it, I could understand why everyone once a response from me. So here we go.

I will not post the whole column here. I will post key points of the column in italics and respond to them in normal print.

Dear Joel,

In your recent column entitled "Warriors and Wusses" you wrote some of the following:

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.


But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

I understand you would rather not support any of us in the Armed Forces right now. Fine. That is your right as an American and I will continue to fight for your right to not support me. No need to thank me and I do not expect any thing for my service including your support.

I am, however, glad that you have made the comment: being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. I have been trying to tell people that you can not say your against the war but support the troops for over a year now and you are making that case in your column. So we do agree on something.

I feel the rest of your article is highly flawed, and will make my points as we go along.

You also wrote:

....those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops. They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of "Laguna Beach."

The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day. Though there should be a ribbon for that.


But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.

I wonder if you have ever known anyone or ever had a family member serve in the armed forces. My guess is you probably haven't. This is one thing the left will just never understand. The Army doesn't need more body armor, or shorter stays, or a USO show. What we really need is for people like you to get behind our efforts, show a united front at home. Quit giving the enemy propaganda by writing things like that blaming our soldiers for pulling the trigger or trying to imply that we have no morals. Of course that comes naturally to a liberal like you who always blames America first. After all it was all America's fault that we were attacked any way.

...and you go on to write.

I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.

I don't need or want anyones sympathy. I volunteered to fight this war. I enlisted right after 9-11 and was intelligent enough to know then I was probably going to be going to Iraq. So, I was hardly tricked. Oh and buy the way I don't seem to have that pop up problem. I got a pop up blocker maybe you should try it out.

you also write.

But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.

Here we go again with that blame America first mentality again. American Imperialism??? Please explain. If we where so imperialistic why didn't we just take over the whole middle east and take their oil??? Wouldn't that be the imperialistic thing to do??? You know we have fought many wars on other people's soil and have never asked for anything except for a place to burry are dead. Hardly imperialistic.

I guess you haven't heard about the mass graves found in Iraq. Maybe you missed the video tape of the torture imposed from Saddam. The war in Iraq is a humanitarian effort against genocide acted out by Saddam. Now we are re-building the infrastructure and helping the Iraqis regain their country. When the mission is complete we will come home. Hardly imperialistic.

Then you wrote

I know this is all easy to say for a guy who grew up with money, did well in school and hasn't so much as served on jury duty for his country.

Your implication here is that those of us serving in the armed forces grew up poor, didn't do well in school and serve constantly. I'll take the last point as a compliment. I grew up in a middle class house hold. We were not poor but we were not rich either. We could have had a lot more but my parents felt that the sacrafice of sending their kids to a private school was worth going without a few things and I thank them for that. I didn't enlist right after high school instead I went to work. After 9-11 I enlisted and took almost a 10,000 dollar pay cut to go fight the war on terror. Because I believed and still do believe in the mission.

you go on with

But it's really not that easy to say because anyone remotely affiliated with the military could easily beat me up, and I'm listed in the phone book.

Listed in the phone book you say... Well I guess you will be joining all the other Op-Ed columnist that have had there butts kicked by military personnel since the war started. Gimme a break Joel. Are you really that self centered to think that one of us would care enough to do anymore than click away from the screen after reading this garbage.

We have a world to save from the greatest threat of our time. Our country and the world is fighting for its survival. We are hardly worried about you. So sleep well tonight knowing that better men than yourself are willing to do rough, tough and brave things on your behalf to protect your wuss butt from the evil of terrorists all over the world.

Then to close your article:

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.

Well, It is pretty clear to me that your "we" lives in it's own little corner of the world and if you all do not want to have a parade for returning soldiers that is fine by me. However WE just might throw the biggest parade and Party since the end of WWII.

I leave you with an appropriate quote from John Stuart Mill:"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse."

"A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

"A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their own free choice - is often the means of their regeneration." ~~ John Stuart Mill


Billy G. said...

In Saddam's Iraq, Mr. Stein's opinion would have lead to his tongue being nailed to a palm tree with him still attatched to it...or just cut off.

Sam said...

or his toungue cut completely off.

Charlie4 said...

"Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history. Better for him, individually, to advocate 'war, pestilence, and famine' than to act as obstructionist to a war already begun.... The most favorable posthumous history the stay-at-home traitor can hope for is -- oblivion."
~~ Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
~~ Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House [now called Independence Hall], August 1, 1776

Jill said...

Thanks for your selfless service to our country. God Bless and stay safe.

JD said...

I read this Stein guy’s bio and he says he went to Stanford. I’m just a old hick from North Kakalaki but he sure sounds ignorant to me.