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Thursday, March 27, 2003

I have no problem with people telling me I'm wrong (even when I'm not). I don't like it when people tell me to shut up, or suggest that speaking out would be dangerous or disloyal. I haven't been writing about the war, other than how it's become a fact of life like the weather. It's not that I'm afraid. It's more that I don't want to keep repeating myself. I've already said most of what I have to say, and I haven't changed my mind.

This isn't about the war being fought in Iraq. It's about some of the same principles we say we're trying to bring to the Iraqis, though.

Guess what? I'm an American. I'm proud to be an American, and I'm proud of the people in our armed forces. They did a great job in Afghanistan, and they're doing their work in Iraq with skill, dedication and courage. I hope they all come home, and that when they do they are hailed as heroes. They're fighting for a cause that's worthy of their sacrifice, and the world should thank them for it.


I'm an American, and part of being an American is the freedom to think for myself, listen to all sides of a question, and speak out against my government if I feel the need. This country hasn't lasted more than two hundred years by stifling independent thought and forcing all its citizens to toe the party line. That's exactly what we're supposed to be fighting against.

Anyone who believes the policy that puts people in harm's way is misguided (or worse) has the right to say so. Not an obligation — nobody has to speak up if they don't want to. But nobody has a right to condemn someone for speaking up, either. We've fought the battle for that right, and we're in a position where we might have to fight for it again.

An indictment of the policy isn't a criticism of those who carry it out in good faith. They don't get to decide where they go and what they do, and they're not responsible for any bad results after they've done their job. It's not our soldiers' fault the politicians failed to follow through on establishing stability in Afghanistan. Perhaps they'll do better in Iraq, eventually. That's not the troops' concern, though.

Many good Americans oppose this war, on moral grounds and on practical grounds. Saying so doesn't make them bad Americans, any more than voicing support for the policy does. We get to the truth by sorting through facts and opinions and beliefs and biases. And oh my, do we have plenty of all of those, even facts. I think we can get to that truth without destroying what we stand for.


Looking southeast from the back yard on a cloudy day.

The with-us-or-against-us attitude that served us so well after Sept. 11 has lost most of its value. It's still being used as a rallying cry in some quarters, but this is an inclusive nation, and it's a big, crowded planet we're trying to help shape. If we turn on each other, we're not likely to find the rest of the world admiring us, much less emulating us. In my America, everybody gets a turn to speak.

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In defense of Michael Moore, I'd like to say: Hooray for Michael Moore! Not as much for what he said as for being true to himself and saying what he thought needed to be said. What, they were expecting him to turn suddenly into a lapdog? Or a Republican? He's a left-leaning political activist with passionate beliefs. He had every right to say whatever was on his mind in his acceptance speech.

If Charlton Heston had won an Oscar this year, what do you suppose he would have said?

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Mind Management
"If I can try to make my own half-acre a better, happier place, and if I can give comfort instead of grief, then I think I'll be living the way I should. After I've succeeded at that, I can take on the bigger issues."

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