3/01/2005

Lessons from the Bonus Army

Sean Gonsalves has an excellent article on AlterNet about right wingers and "supporting the troops." Some great quotations:

This week's word according to Orwell is the phrase "support our troops." In popular political language it has become the rallying cry for those who supported the preventive war launched on a defenseless Iraq – a country that posed no threat to America and has since been turned into a greenhouse for the cultivation of "terrorists." From a marketing standpoint, the phrase is an ingenious antidote to the so-called "Vietnam War syndrome" – a pseudo-psychological condition caused by Uncle Sam exiting the Vietnam War, tail between legs, because "girlie-men" Americans couldn't stomach the needless death of thousands of its young.
...So yes, "support our troops" – but it doesn't logically follow that such a sentiment means supporting the policies that unnecessarily put troops in harm's way. Unfortunately, Bush-backers, many of whom claim to have a personal relationship with the "Truth" (Jesus), have somehow been convinced by the absurdity that public criticism of the policies dreamed up by privileged people in secure, plush offices is tantamount to not supporting troops.

He goes on to describe the lessons we can learn from the 1932 Bonus Army episode, which helped FDR get elected and paved the way for the GI Bill of Rights. He concludes:

Amazing how neocons completely ignore such things when chastising "liberals" about free-market panaceas and how government programs only make things worse...In other words, supporting troops means more than writing letters to soldiers abroad, flying the flag and putting a yellow ribbon around the old Oak tree. As you read these words, there are veterans in VA hospitals paying for their meals while the president's budget, among other things, would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs, and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year to use government health care. Why? To pay war bills while giving disproportionate tax cuts to those who least need it.

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