Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Iraq Vet Says Medals are Bogus

I just read this great story about how an Iraq veteran is returning some medals he got as a result of his service in Iraq because he doesn't believe he did what the medals credit him for. Interestingly, it's in the Army Times. I've been frequently surprised that these military sites sometimes have the most damning stuff about the Bush administration that I see; they won't let them blog and cherry-pick the dumb chest-beaters for the photo ops, but somehow the military community manages to keep themselves abreast of developments.

Josh Gaines, 27, plans to mail the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said he will do so during a protest scheduled for Wednesday in Madison.

“I’m going to give those back because I truly feel that I did not defend my nation and I did not help with the Global War on Terrorism,” said Gaines, who lives in Madison. “If anything, this conflict has bred more terrorism in the Middle East.”

I really admire someone who would make such a statement. While I agree with Mr. Gaines that he did not defend us, actually, or help with the so-called Global War on a Tactic. (Which I've always felt was a bit ironic--global war on terrorism, a canard created by an administration terrorizing American citizens nonstop since 9/11. The war is on a tactic that's the only trick in their bag--well, aside from voter fraud and those sorts of things.)

I've gone through a lot of personal growth since 9/11 with regard to servicemen. I grew up in an Air Force town, and never had much affinity for the military. I don't get into authoritarianism or chest-beating, uniforms, warfare--and I'm gay. My response to military personnel and their fans was always along the lines of "you're not doing anything for me, so I don't owe you anything. You chose to have a job that always had your kind better off than my hard-working family with the benefits and the housing and early retirement. You're not doing me any favors and you don't like my kind, so I could not care less about your "service"."

Since then, though, I've really come to respect and appreciate the members of the armed forces. I always draw a distinction between the soldiers and the people who've used them as pawns, sacrificing thousands (coming up on four thousand) of their lives in the process. The idea that they have not actually protected the "homeland" (which is, by the way, a very Nazi sounding way to describe our country), though, and that they are not actually keeping us or making us safer is a tough sell. I don't want to insult people who signed on to do that and were sent into hell for oil instead. I don't want to demean the intelligence of people who have to cling to something in order to survive the ordeal in Iraq.

Meanwhile, though, I was taught to believe that you don't repeat lies, that you speak truth to power. When I studied race in America during college, I came to believe that if you permit those around you to be racist, for example, you are perpetuating the system. So I don't want to remain silent, nor do I wish to insult folks.

My practice, when I encounter members of or supporters of the armed services, has been to thank them for making themselves available to risk their lives for all of us, but to qualify that by saying I don't believe they've actually done anything for us--but I don't hold them responsible for their having been sent to do something so contrary to their purposes; that's a vitriol I reserve for the lying chickenhawks in the current regime. (And, truth be told, I am working with that vitriol--I believe, as I heard Alice Walker say of the soulless bastards who run the country, that the best thing to do is to wish them loving kindness because there's no way they're at peace now, or will ever be. Just look at their photos: people like Giuliani, Rumsfeld, Chertoff (I know Giuliani is only in bed with them at this point, not a part of their "administration" per se.) look like their souls have been sucked from their bodies. They're all dollar signs in dead eyes.)

Meanwhile, though, if I did spend a year in hell under the impression that I was doing what I should be doing for my country, I don't know that I'd be man enough to make a statement so strong as this guy by returning my medals.

So, my hat's off to Josh Gaines. I'd like to see that thug George Tenet return his on the basis that it's not worth the materials of which it is composed. Similarly, because his payoff for biting his tongue about whatever really happened on 9/11 was that same worthless medal, Norm Mineta (former Secretary of Transportation) should follow Josh's lead. Ditto Alan Greenspan, who now seems to understand (in a lucrative book) that the fox is running the hen-house, though he pretended that fox was just a cocky rooster at the time. Ditto General Richard B. Myers. You too, Paul Bremer. (The estate of Ronald Reagan can keep his, though, as he's already burning in the fires of hell.)

And once again, thank you, Josh Gaines, for doing what you knew was right and then realizing that you had to do more to make right what you were duped into doing.

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