I just read a great article on Salon.com by Steven Salaita called “No, thanks: Stop saying ‘support the troops’” that opened up an old wound.
If a majority of our tax dollars are already being pilfered to send troops to imperialise foreign lands and make a few men money then I can’t help but feel great offense to “Support Our Troops” rhetoric everywhere. I am already ‘supporting the troops’ whether I want to or not as an American citizen who occasionally works and pays taxes; why then is it also my responsibility to further financially support them when they return from war? If the government is too cheap to provide the rehabilitation and support services these people might need upon return then they obviously should not have wasted our money to send them there in the first place. I feel as if that is a simple enough concept. Yet, in my lifetime, since September 11th, American’s are fed this bullshit supermacho heroism rhetoric that then guilts them into handing cash over to corporations in the name of “the troops”. Don’t question anything, these corporations have “the troops” best intentions in their minds, despite the fact that they are in it to make a profit for their share holders.
From a young age it became quite apparent to me that America glorifies war heroes. You can see this in the history books at school. While wars might have led to misery and death they are portrayed as “a humane option” that was more or less unavoidable. Basically it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it, and who better than the Almighty America? The vast array of social movements that demanded most of the rights Americans have gets very little airtime in history class when compared to all the bloodbaths that created our heroes. I hated history: I hated it’s whitewashing, upper class male, imperialist celebrating bigotry. It wasn’t until I read Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” that this changed. I realized that there have always been dissenting voices to any war, they just get written out of history. War is profit.
I never understood why the go-to idea of a hero in American culture was a war veteran. I know people who have risked their lives for a social movement that would empower other human beings yet they never set foot on a battlefield. The problem with the default label to all military service personnel as “hero” is that we are taught to not question tactics of a hero. Just look at all the rapes currently being reported in the military. How dare we claim we are going to a country to free it’s “oppressed women” with that kind of a track record. Talk about hypocrisy? How dare our tax money get sent to purchase weapons for another country when 15% of Americans are in poverty and food insecure, are dying for the simple fact that they can’t afford health care, and are living with record debt because they wanted an education. How dare we vote for the same politicians but not the actual issues. How dare you tell me to support the troops.
Anyways, it was a great article, definitely worth the read: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/25/no_thanks_i_wont_support_the_troops/