Former Marine Lance Corporal Scott Olsen doesn’t buy the premise that opposing our wars is betraying our troops.
Olsen was wounded in action a while ago. That action was participating in an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Oakland, Ca. He suffered a fractured skull after being struck by a beanbag evidently fired by an Oakland police officer.
So Olsen wore a bike helmet to protect himself from another head wound last week as he joined 39 other veterans in throwing away their medals in protest during the NATO summit in Chicago.
One medal thrower said his enemies were not the Iraqi and Afghan people but the American CEOs and billionaires who oppress him and other Americans.
None of the medal throwers said they believed what the government told them, that they were defending the freedom of the American, Iraqi and Afghan people.
I suppose some readers might call the 40 vets criminals for littering a Chicago street with their medals. Maybe one or two readers will call the 40 vets traitors the way Americans turned against the Vietnam Veterans against the War some 40 years ago.
But such readers will be a minority. The vast majority of Americans no longer believe Iraq’s leaders had weapons of mass destruction in March, 2003; had obtained yellowcake uranium from Niger; and were close allies with Osama bin Laden. And, last I looked, some 60% to 70% of Americans polled want the end the occupation in Afghanistan.
I support Olsen’s and his colleagues’ right to oppose our wars. They earned that right along with the moms, dads, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters of those who died from combat, from PTSD, from guilt, and from suicide as a result of the hell our government put them through.
I feel confident that whatever insults, accusations and demonization some readers will throw at me for opposing the wars that killed and maimed so many innocent Americans, I know at least 40 vets who will not agree.
They remind us that America is not just our politicians, not just our corporate CEOs, not just our billionaires, not just our government bureaucrats, but America is the hundreds of millions of people who believe in treating folks fairly—even if they’re not white, even if they’re not male and even if they’re not US citizens. Standing for and with those hundreds of millions of decent Americans is my idea of patriotism.
A reporter asked an American mom mourning her veteran son who called himself a murderer and killed himself what message she has for the NATO summit she stood outside of. Her answer is the title of this essay.