There's lots of outrage in the conservative blogosphere over this column by Joel Stein, and we're not really sure why. Here are some of his more provocative passages:
I don't support our troops.... I've got no problem with other people - the ones who were for the Iraq war - supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away.
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.
Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there - and who might one day want to send them somewhere else.
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'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.
Frankly, we don't know what all the fuss is about. Stein is simply saying honestly and without rancor what almost every liberal Democrat thinks but doesn't have the courage to admit because it would be political and social suicide to do so. Stein's right. It makes no sense to say the war is an immoral unsupportable undertaking but that you nevertheless "support" the troops. Exactly how does one support the troops if they're perpetuating what one believes to be a great wrong?
Fault Stein for being wrong about the war. Fault him for thinking Kosovo was worth fighting for but Afghanistan and Iraq are not, but don't fault him on the one point about which he's correct. Rather fault his fellow liberals for lacking the integrity to admit that they agree with him.