Saturday, January 28, 2006

Joel Stein doesn't support the troops?

The LA Times' Joel Stein stirred up quite a nasty anthill with this column, which starts off with this lede:

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.
Well, Stein did not win too many friends in the flag-waving community with that line. Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive's place had this to say:
Hugh Hewitt had the little Stein twit on his show and he assassinated the ghost that lived where Stein's character should be. He did so without bombast, or vitriol, or belittlement. He did so like a wise elder showing a smart ass punk just how much of a smart ass punk he actually is.
Stroll through the trackbacks in that entry and you'll find gems like this:

My Newz 'n Ideas: Let him hide behind the protection of the US Military that is keeping him alive while he spreads this dribble. On the other hand, I'm tired of giving these traitors a pass. I think he ought to be shot for treason.

Or check out a Technorati search for Joel Stein, and find this sentiment:

A Sailor in the Desert: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Stein, you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about.

I can't even accuse these folks of not reading the entire article -- many quote it at length. But I'm going to go out on a limb here -- perhaps far enough to get my MilBlogger membership yanked and shredded -- and say that Stein has a couple very valid points:
If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.
He goes on:
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. Though there should be a ribbon for that.
I've often felt the same way. I see yellow ribbon magnets on cars everywhere around here -- sometimes a dozen or so on a single pickup truck. And guess what? They don't mean a damn thing. Stein's right -- troops don't need yellow ribbon magnets (which are even less of a commitment than actual bumper stickers), they need pensions and body armor and better vehicles and hospitals and shorter tours and old-fashioned Bob Hope USO shows.

But question someone's thoughtless "display of patriotism," and as Joel Stein knows very well by now, you're liable to get sniped at by some folks who are very attached to those meaningless symbols.