Column: A truly patriotic act

By Gus Bode

America is founded by conflict. The birth of our nation was followed by a bloody war against the greatest military power in the world. Civil rights and women’s suffrage were championed by exposing generations of exploitation and mistreatment. In the midst of what would seem like chaos, America has given birth to some of the most important social advances in the history of the world.

All of this is largely thanks to our first amendment rights. No man or woman, in theory, has the right to silence another simply because they disagree. Being an American is active citizenship. You must be willing to express your view at the top of your lungs while someone else does so at the top of theirs.

There hasn’t been a lot of this since President Bush took office. When a voice opposes the war, take Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” for example, they are accused of being anti-American. Dissenters are pigeonholed as not supporting our troops. They are unpatriotic because of their disagreement with the government’s preemptive war that prevented nothing.

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If one’s words aren’t dismissed, they are perverted. A few months ago, John Kerry made statements insinuating that if high school students don’t get good grades they will end up in Iraq. This was absolutely the wrong way to go about making his point, but Bush took the slip-up and ran with it. Kerry was trying to comment on a phenomenon that Michael Moore himself has described as poor Americans having to choose between a Marine uniform or a McDonald’s uniform. Bush received a bump in his approval rating because he convinced people that Kerry was calling the troops dense.

John Kerry should have just said what he meant, but that does not make him unpatriotic. He simply fell into a constitutional trap that has never been remedied.

It’s time to change all that, and I say let’s start with Carbondale.

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. As we enter the fifth year, more than 3.200 military men and women have been killed and more than 22,000 have been wounded. Meanwhile, Congress is debating over funds for the war, and Bush is sending more troops to supplement the previous surge.

Various cities across the country have passed resolutions in support of our troops, but none of them have expressed support for anti-war demonstrators. Never in our nation’s history, not even during the Vietnam War, has it officially been considered patriotic to promote peace.

I am calling on our mayoral and city council candidates to formally endorse a resolution in support of Americans fighting for peace at home and abroad.

That is a truly patriotic act.

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