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Refuge of the Scoundrel 

Or, I can't spell "cojones"

"This," a large, angry acquaintance of mine insisted loudly, "is not what my father fought for in Vietnam! This is not what my brother is fighting for in the Persian Gulf!" She waved a sheaf of papers in my face and generally presented the appearance of an extraordinarily irate person. And I'll be honest. At the time, I cowered. Yes, yes, I nodded in complete agreement with Her Royal Bitchiness. As soon as the opportunity afforded itself, I ducked beneath her papers and sprinted away at my top non-running speed. When it comes to a large, angry person shouting in my vicinity, I'm no better than the average person who scoots out of eye contact range as quickly as possible and with little or no confrontation.

But if I had had another foot going for me (in either direction) or bigger cojones (or any cojones at all, for that matter), I would have informed her that yes, "this" is that for which her father and her brother have fought. "This" is the freedom to express an unpopular, and even unpatriotic, viewpoint. She was, of course, angry about the anti-war sentiments she's been hearing about and receiving in email form from certain rabble-rousers.

I'm not impressed with most of these "rebels," by the way. I don't care for people who rebel for the sake of rebellion, or for people who just shoot their mouths off to make folks angry (ironic, no?). I find that many anti-war people haven't really thought their rebellion through completely. They often have little justification for their beliefs, beyond "war is bad."

Well, yeah, war is bad. But even General Schwarzkopf would agree with that point. Just because "war is bad" doesn't make war unjustifiable. Though I'm not in favor of the military action we've taken in Iraq, my point here isn't to make a reasonable argument for the anti-war movement.

But the truth is that even the most unreasonable anti-war protestors are as American as you warmongers. It makes me angry to hear these protestors referred to as "un-American" and "unpatriotic."

What's the point of this country after all? Freedom. Freedom to do, think, speak and act as we please, as long as we're not hurting someone else. Sadly, when one supports freedom, one is also necessarily supporting stupidity. For 99 percent of people, freedom is stupidity.

I've admitted to the stupidity of the anti-war side. Let's go ahead and admit that most war advocates are equally dumb. They're the ones who say things like, "They bombed us, and now we're bombing them" regardless of whether what they're saying is rooted in reality.

So the fact is that when someone supports an unpopular opinion, they are as American as French fries. As hamburgers. I mean, they're as American as breakfast burritos. Well, they're very, very American. From the American perspective, a big part of the problem with Iraq is that Iraqi people aren't allowed to disagree with the government or publicly hold any kind of unpopular viewpoint. In Iraq, either you agree with Saddam Hussein or you leave Iraq (in your body or out of it). That's why there are Iraqi citizens who welcome the US military and the potential for democracy that comes with it.

One of the best ways of being patriotic is to express your opinion, even when nobody is going to like what you have to say. Though it may be a hopeless battle, the battle against ignorance must be waged. And the only way any headway will be made is through freedom of speech and open communication. If we could be more open-minded and willing to listen to opposing positions, it wouldn't result in the US being a weak country. We would not be "divided," as the pro-war people keep repeating accusingly. We would be united in the belief that we all have the right to our own opinions, however stupid, controversial or infuriating they might be.

And don't give me any of this talk about respect for the country or the president, either. Saying that people ought to respect the president or the country is just another way to say, "Shut up! You have an unpopular opinion." We live in a place where respect is not required but is given freely. If respect were required of United States citizens then, frankly, the United States would no longer be worthy of such respect. If you need any further proof of that, just look at Iraq.

All of this went through my mind moments after I passed by my angry acquaintance, ranting about the ignorance of all anti-war individuals. I thought about turning around and telling her about my perspective, but I decided that it might be detrimental to my health, in sort of the same way that a Smart Bomb is. So, instead, I hope she's reading this.

Actually, on second thought, I hope she isn't.

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