One of the most effective ways of restraining civil dissent and quelling criticism of government is to argue that any form of criticism of, or even open debate about, government policies is somehow unpatriotic or treason. This same strategy manifests itself in some religions where questioning or thinking critically about religious institutions is supposedly sinful. Both cases are absurd, and for symmetrical reasons: the government has confused itself with its nation, and the religious institution has confused itself with its deity. Today, I’ll limit myself to the government side.
Patriotism and Treason
Merriam-Webster Online defines patriotism as:
“love for or devotion to one’s country,”
and treason as
“the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family.”
Two things must be pointed out. First, devotion to one’s country has nothing to do with devotion to one’s government or one’s military. If you love your country, you are patriotic, regardless of whether you think the government is corrupt and military is incompetent. Second, criticizing the government is not treason. Disagreeing with your leader’s policies is not treason. Calling your leader a liar and a war criminal is not treason. Publicly attacking a four-star general for betraying the public by misleading them, is not treason.
Plotting to overthrow your government, or killing its leader is treason – nothing else.
Because “treason” and “patriotism” have these pesky definitions, US officials prefer the phrase, “not supporting the troops.” Here, “the troops” is an abstract concept that usually conjures up an image of brave, clean-shaven, athletic, innocent young men who love their country and want to defend it. The inaccuracy of this image aside, if politicians can make it sound like calling a war stupid is somehow hurting the poor, brave souls on the front line, it makes people hesitate to criticize. This is bullshit. At the same time, these hypocritical government assholes are proactively, idiotically screwing over their own military!
Top 7 Ways of Not Supporting the Troops
7. Lying to them – telling soldiers (and families of soldiers) that their comrades died defending their nation, when they actually died from friendly fire, in training, or in a pointless unwinnable war is not supporting them, it’s brainwashing them!
6. Not approving sufficient leave – In case you missed this, U.S. republicans, the people who most often pull this criticizing us is not supporting the troops bullshit, blocked a bill intended to give troops more time at home.
5. Giving veterans the shaft – Two words: Walter Reed.
4. Hiring mercenaries – Has it occured to anyone that the $445 000 / year the US military pays for each Blackwater merc might pay for better equipment for actual soldiers?
3. Bad equipment – Sending soldiers into battle without sufficient body armor, in unarmored vehicles, lacking even socks for chrissake, is completely unacceptable in a modern military.
2. Torturing enemy combatants – You know what just makes a soldier’s day? How about when the guys who’ve been shooting at you run low on supplies and surrender? That’s nice, huh? You know who doesn’t surrender? People who think they’re going to be tortured half to death in Guantanamo Bay, that’s who. If dying in battle sounds preferable to the treatment you’ll get as a P.O.W., you wouldn’t stand down, would you? And don’t give me any crap about ‘fanatics will never surrender.’ Muslim insurgents are people with children and dreams and fears just like everyone else, not Batman and Rambo. And don’t give me any crap about information obtained through torture helping the troops either. News flash: people who are tortured don’t give accurate information. They say whatever they think will make the guy with the testicle taser leave them alone.
And the number one way of not supporting the troops…
1. Sending them to unnecessary wars – if you really care about all those brave men and women in the armed forces, you wouldn’t get them shot, blown up, captured and beheaded, or shrapneled to death by sending them into unneeded battles, would you?