Why I don’t “support the troops”


June 13, 2011 by Robert Poort

Read this strong opinion by a radical catholic in a blog – click here – with the remarkable name: “True Restoration”!

We often hear fellow church members say things like: “While I don’t agree with the wars, I support the troops.” What you would call an oxymor(m)on.

A quote from the blog: “If you join the military today, you are not signing up for honorable military service.”

Another remarkable thing I read on this blog is the connection that was made between “keeping a government in power that murders civilians in other countries, babies in our own.” Unlike Catholics, Mormons do not think abortion is murder, but do see it as a tragic evil in society. Of course the question of legalization of abortion is a discussion by itself. Nevertheless, I very much like the connection that is made here between two forms of great disrespect for life. In a polarized political world people are either for supporting the troops and against abortion, or the other way around. A logical and radical approach supports neither.

13 thoughts on “Why I don’t “support the troops”

  1. Brooks W. Wilson says:

    You are right on, Robert, as is the Catholic ex-marine. I see volunteers in the military now as part of the problem. By eschewing the draft, the war mongers like the Neocons and profiteers, reduce public awareness. I can give some leeway to the poorer members on the community who fall for slick Madison Avenue TV ads like people buying gas guzzling cars but certainly not ROTC volunteers, They know, or should know, exactly what they are joining. None of them are fighting for me. Here is an excerpt from a book that I am trying to get published:

    The war profiteers have done it. With the help of two administrations, including Obama’s, they have converted an act of mass murder into an endless war attracting very little public concern. The rich folks’ kids are not involved, there is no draft, the voters were distracted with an extension of a deficit bulging tax cuts and we are borrowing from a communist nation to pay for it. What’s not to like, at least until some future group of voters are forced to pay for it….somehow. And the profits just keep rolling in.

    As Milo Minderbinder, the war profiteer extraordinaire of Heller’s Catch 22, said,
    “In a democracy, the government is the people, Milo explained. “We’re the people, aren’t we? So we might as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.”

    Halliburton Chevron, ExxonMobil, Blackwater and many others, with the swinging door between the Bush White House and the corporate world, has made this a fait accompli! America has become, or maybe I should say has been for some time, the most war-like country in history, only now the corporations are in charge. How has this happened?

    Personally, after serving reluctantly during the Korean War, I was through with war, or hoped and thought I was. I believe most Americans felt the same way. Then along came Viet Nam, a totally political and needless war. I think that, for the most part, our government was honorable in its intention…at first. It became more and more political, more and more deadly and more and more needless. It ended tragically and we lost. We were no longer undefeated.

    Again, many of us were through with war and hoped that the USA was too. Wrong again. There are just too many people of power who benefit or think they would benefit by war. I won’t go into those people and their reason now but they learned a lot from Viet Nam; to the extent possible, isolate the public from the war. The Neocons made sure the military was all volunteer…avoid the war awareness that democratic participation produces! Avoid public awareness of the true cost in human life and fiscal cost by privatization. Who cares that a private contractor, a mercenary, is killed? Avoid contemporary awareness of the fiscal cost by borrowing. Who cares about the war if we are not taxed and are not required to make ANY sacrifice?

    9/11 provided a fortuitous opportunity for making war. Of course, we made war with the wrong country and with tragic consequences but a profitable war all the same; and that’s the important thing to Milo Minderbinder and the Dick Cheneys of the world.

    • Robert Poort says:

      Amen, Brooks !
      D&C 98:16 says “Renounce war and proclaim peace.”
      As a mormon faith tradition we’ve succeeded into turning this crystal clear scripture text in an oxymor(m)on as well, by trying to proclaim peace without renouncing war.

      I’m very much interested in your book, perhaps you can publish it on the Internet, which seems to be relatively easy these days.

      • Brooks W. Wilson says:

        It will be on Kindle. It will be cheap. The title is “A Mormon’s view of the 20th Century: The Rise and Fall of The American Middle Class. My political observations will go against the beliefs of most contemporary western USA Mormons but are consistent with the NT and BofM, asit appears from reading your posts, are yours.

      • Robert Poort says:

        Can’t wait to read your work on Kindle, and let’s do a book report on The Mormon Worker !

  2. Kate says:

    The “tragic evil in society” is that women are impregnated against their will or are stuck with an unplanned pregnancy to face the unabated consequences of the sex act while men often face no consequences whatsover, and are free to walk away. Abortion is only a very tangential consequence of this true “evil.”

    Dr. Christiane Northrup said it best in her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, “If we lived in a culture that valued women’s autonomy and in which men and women practiced cooperative birth control, the abortion issue would be moot.”

    Until then, abortion is a necessary remidial action for the aformentioned evil, in no way comparable to murder or military action.

    • Brooks W. Wilson says:

      You are totally right, Kate. But unless rape is involved, the woman is 50% to blame. Since she has the bulk of the burden, she should have control of whether or not she carries the fetus to birth. The state should have absolutely no say in the matter nor, in my opinion, should the father. That makes me pro choice. In my view, the Church is also pro choice in that they accept abortion in certain situations; but they are quite restrictive in when abortion is acceptable. I am close to where the Church is in restriction….Never-the-less, the decision should be the mother’s.

      When abortion is selected outside the parameters set forth by the Church, it is considered a sin not a crime and subject to spiritual sanctions as opposed to criminal. We learn where life begins In Moses 3: verse 7 – And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word. Abortion should not be a pollitical or legal issue, it is between the mother, her conscience and God.

      • Robert Poort says:

        I sense that you’re in deep trouble Brooks by stating that the woman is to blame half of the time …. just a matter of time before Kate will be straightening you out . 🙂

        Abortion has mainly to do with irresponsible male behavior and a male dominated society. Blessed be the day when feminism will be taught in priesthood classes.

    • Robert Poort says:

      Can only fully agree with you Kate.
      Of course the tragic evil of abortion as a whole is found in its causes rather than in the eventual remedial action, just as the tragic evil of divorce is the result of a host of previous events leading up to it. And since abortion first and foremost affects women, it should of course be a “pro-choice” decision for women, which is a hard case to sell in a patriarchal faith tradition.

      I came accross the comparison between war and abortion in a catholic blog where of course fierce opposition against abortion is a given. The connection I made was that in both cases all along the line there is a great lack of respect for life leading up to tragic consequences. Brooks mentioned ROTC and you mentioned birth-control, both areas in which conservative christians refuse to engage in dialogue. Renouncing war or renouncing abortion is meaningless if not accompanied by proclaiming peace or by proclaiming equality for women. And proclaiming peace or proclaiming equality for women is meaningless if not actively pursued in a political sense.

      I must agree with you that war and abortion do not compare in the final analysis – it’s just that I can’t help noticing that people in opposite parties are usually passionately pointing out the causes of one of the two, instead of both. But then again, there are plenty of progressive activists who do. Thanks for educating me.

  3. Kate says:

    To me, consent is an active process and an ongoing *responsibility* shared by both partners in any relationship. If both people approach the relationship as equal partners, openly communicating in an atmosphere of mutual respect and shared decision-making, no one is “to blame.” In such a situation of mutual respect, both partners choose not only the action, but to accept the consequences of that action with equal responsibility. To me, if one partner chooses not to accept the consequences (as I have seen in countless cases, including my own mother who gave up a baby for adoption at 15, my sister who was adopted out who had an abortion at age 15, and my best friend who recently gave up a baby for adoption after being abandoned by the impregnator) there has been no consent.

    Therein lies the problem: when the power is so unbalanced that one person (out of biological necessity) must take the full brunt of the consequences of an action, that person must also be free to choose from an array of options, including walking away consequence free (like men can).

    Abortion is the only way to do that for women.

    Of course, the strict Catholic perspective is also one that forbids birth control… so by that logic women must choose lifelong celibacy or all the children she is evolutionarily capable of bearing.

    I must insist that in the case of unplanned pregnancy the lives that must be “respected” are those of grown women.

    Blessed day when priesthood class will be taught by women!

  4. Journey says:

    All of the reasons it depends from which side we see it

  5. Iamdavid says:

    Within mankind, today, there are always the “two sides to everything”…thing. Putting all our wordplay and selfindulged commenting aside for a moment, once in a while, may bring on some third string of thought. Perhaps one might even say, for instance, what if Mary had the decision to make? What would have happened to religion, and the churches? There are really only three avenues to take. Which is of the right choice is only a matter of that. Choice.

  6. nat kelly says:

    I think the comparison between war and abortion is an interesting one. I have long held the opinion that it is deeply hypocritical for someone to be militantly anti-choice and simultaneously militantly pro-war. I think we have to admit, however, that on the surface it also appears hypocritical to be against war on the grounds that it needlessly destroys life, but to not oppose abortion.

    I’m unequivocally pro-choice. One way I negotiate being against war because I’m “pro-life” but not being anti-choice is that I cannot compare the life of a full human being, walking around, with the potential life of a fetus in a woman’s womb. I don’t think we should privilege potential live over actual life. Also, the life of a fetus depends directly on very physical concrete sacrifices from the woman carrying it. As Robert said, I don’t think anyone else can make that decision for that woman.

    • Brooks W. Wilson says:

      The common error, to me anyway, is that being pro choice is being pro abortion. No LDS will admit it but the Church is pro choice in that they acknowledge certain situations warrant abortion: From the Church website:

      “Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.”

      Members may differ with what could be considered “personal or social convenience” for which the Church prohibits it.

      From Moses 3 verse 7: And I, the Lord God, formed man from the adust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

      So, the scriptures tell us that abortion might be a sin but never murder.

      I accept that 100% but my interpretation of social convenience may differ from some members of the Church. And whatever the consequences, whether or not the decision violates the Church prohibition, the Church also believes in free agency, the right to choose between right and wrong with full knowledge that we must accept the consequences of our choice.

      Put it all together and it comes the right to choose. The decision should not be made by government!

      Personally, I have no inconsistency in advocating a woman’s right to choose, even if her choice is a sin, and being against war. First of all, while I am against war, I acknowledge that sometimes we have no choice, but war kills many humans who have had the breath of life breathed into their nostrils by God and have become living souls while a fetus has not become a living soul.

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