‘L.A. Times’ Columnist: ‘I Don’t Support Our Troops’

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By: E&P Staff

In a piece sure to draw controversy or worse (he notes that he is listed in the phone book), Joel Stein today opens his latest Los Angeles Times column with: “I don’t support our troops.”

He says he has no problem with those in favor of the Iraq war expressing backing for soldiers by loading up on “those patriotic magnets and bracelets.” But he feels “being against the war and saying you support the troops” suggests that “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.”

Stein, the former Time magazine staff writer, adds: “I understand the guilt. We know we’re sending recruits to do our dirty work, and we want to seem grateful.”

Other points:

–“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.”

–“Besides, those little yellow ribbons aren’t really for the troops. They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of ‘Laguna Beach.’ The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day….”

–“After we’ve decided that we made a mistake, we don’t want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object to a war we barely understood.”

–“All I’m asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return.”

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