In the two-plus years since President Bush launched his war of choice on Iraq, I've seen countless "yellow ribbon" car magnets, quite a few bumper stickers and, more rarely but nevertheless regularly, yard signs, T-shirts and storefront banners/window placards imploring me (and, to a lesser extent, I suppose, others) to "Support Our Troops."
But as someone who is emphatically antiwar — and even more emphatically anti-this-nitwit's-war — I have a problem with this dogmatic, didactic exhortation: It does not elaborate. I mean, what exactly am I supposed to do?
Does one, I wonder, sufficiently support the troops simply through silence, by not expressing in word or deed one's total condemnation of and moral outrage at the war? Put another way, if I do absolutely nothing am I technically doing something? Do I, by virtue of not tearing down, actually build up? Or is the troop support I'm being urged toward more participatory in nature, like, say, petitioning God with prayer or buying Halliburton stock or beneficently relieving the pent-up sexual yearnings of a serviceman's forsaken, lonely stateside wife?
Uncharacteristically, I have a cogent, lucid answer for my hectoring self. I feel certain, I tell me, that no one is asking me to be silent, to muzzle my antiwar views, because no American could possibly be cynical enough to believe the suppression of dissent is what makes this country worth fighting for.
Ergo, I (and, to a lesser extent, others) am definitely being asked to act. But — damn! — being an atheist with no investment capital and a spouse who's not into threesomes, I again inquire what exactly am I supposed to do?
Thank God (figuratively), I found imahero.com. This Web site is a collection of more than 121,500 inspiring stories about people who are really doing something for our service personnel fighting overseas. And even after filtering out the 121,489 people whose posts reveal the full energy of their effort has been the purchase, placement and display of a "Support Our Troops" magnet on their vehicle, nearly a dozen truly patriotic citizens remain. Here are some of those supportive supporters whose method of support I'm considering supporting:
Lexicographer Mortimer Throckton has developed a new, faster, stealthier, more powerful profanity to replace the clunky, less-than-shocking, outdated swearing American soldiers have been using since World War I. "At this point in time, even the gold standard of foul language — i.e., the word 'motherfucker' — has lost its punch, its potency. You might as well call someone a 'cuddly puppy.' " His new expletives are made for a generation desensitized to verbal vulgarity by exposure to Rap music and R-rated movies. "Get hit by one of my new words," Throckton proudly states, "and something inside you dies."
Psychologist/hypnotist Dr. Ben Schmur has taken a leave of absence from his practice to visit all military installations in Iraq. His mission? "Since Congress and the Administration don't seem in any particular hurry to get our guys the body armor they need to be safe, I'm hypnotizing soldiers into thinking they're already wearing it." He adds, "When I'm done, they feel invincible, confident, almost cocky." Reminded by reporters that soldiers thinking they're wearing armor does not make them safer, Dr. Schmur soon had the press corps clucking and strutting like chickens.
An estimated 40,000 Iraqis might have been killed since the war began, but businesswoman Lee Chirm wants to make sure besieged citizens don't paint our fighting men and women unfairly with the blame brush. She's manufactured and distributed 100,000 shoulder patches to troops (approved by the Pentagon for on-duty wear) that both explain and exonerate. They read, in Arabic and Kurdish, "American soldiers don't kill people. People trying to kill American soldiers kill people."
Billionaire financier Carl Klamph, a longstanding war critic, is putting his money where his mouth is. For months, he's been quietly, steadily buying property all over Baghdad's Green Zone, where most U.S. troops are bivouacked. His purpose? To ultimately own the whole sector, then, in full and legal possession, evict all military personnel from his property, sending them on their way home. "What could be more thoroughly American, and therefore more instructive to Iraq's budding democracy, than a scheming land grab by the rich?" asks Klamph. To date, the Bush administration has been at a loss to answer that question.
Movie executive Chase DeVogue has provided thousands of DVDs of Apocalypse Now; The Deer Hunter; Platoon; Full Metal Jacket; Good Morning, Vietnam; Coming Home; and many other award-winning Vietnam-themed films to various barracks, mess halls and hospitals. By doing so, he hopes to make clear to soldiers that illegal, immoral wars might not seem so great while they're being waged but sure can make for great art down the road.
Vice President and war mastermind/criminal Dick Cheney says he's going to do a little something extra for our troops: "I've decided to start taking those antipsychotics my doctor prescribed for me back during the Reagan administra-tion," he vows. "Any day now."
If only we could all do that much good.
CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: bwoodiwiss(at)citybeat.com. His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.