Hell No, Hell ...
The anti-war slogan "hell no, we won't go" had its origins in opposition to the Draft. The Berkeley Beacon recalls, "In the 1960s and '70s, at the height of the antiwar movement, protesters ... would chant for peace in Vietnam and an end to involuntary service. ... Few are unfamiliar with the grainy footage of demonstrators crying, "Hell no, we won't go!" as they swell in great numbers against police lines." But perhaps, the Beacon argues, involuntary service wasn't such a bad thing because it spread the sacrifices of fighting America's Wars through the population. But would the existence of the Draft have stopped the Daily Kos from snapping its fingers at the All Volunteer Army Who Did Go the way some celebrities crook their fingers at their household help? Here's what poster n00161 says in the Daily Kos:
Arkin Was Right - We Do Have a Mercenary Army and They Do Owe Us! ... You, the military, are the servants of the people. That is what you signed up for. We send you to war and we bring you home. We tell you when to wake up and when to go to bed. If you do not like that, GET OUT.
The "Arkin" the Kos poster was referring to was, of course, William M. Arkin of the Washington Post, who snapped his fingers at the help with somewhat more literary finesse.
I've been mulling over an NBC Nightly News report from Iraq last Friday in which a number of soldiers expressed frustration with opposition to war in the United States. I'm sure the soldiers were expressing a majority opinion common amongst the ranks - that's why it is news - and I'm also sure no one in the military leadership or the administration put the soldiers up to expressing their views, nor steered NBC reporter Richard Engel to the story. I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people.
It's very white of Mr. Arkin to concede everyone a right to their opinion, "even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army". Too bad though about the Marines, the Sailors and the Air Force; but it isn't the livery that makes it occasionally worth listening to the hired help. It's what they may know from direct experience. What eyes see; ears hear; skins feel -- even without the benefit of a subscription to the Washington Post. After all, since the facts on the ground in Iraq are central to arguments over American policy there, it seems slightly odd to dismiss the opinion of those who are actually there. Occasionally the help do know something and their views should not be discarded out of hand. For example, if the maid says to Mr. Arkin, "sir, I think there's a fire in the basement. I'm going to call the fire deparment," it would hardly be advisable for him to say, "Nonsense. It's all very well for you maids to have an opinion, but see here, there is no fire. I KNOW BETTER. As for you, keep your ignorant opinions to yourself and take out the trash. That is what you signed up for. I send you to the grocery and order you home. I tell you when to wake up and when to go to bed. If you do not like that, GET OUT." Foolish but probably decisive; because in one sense both the Kos poster and Arkin are probably right. The celebrity will prevail. Which is why one day the house will burn down. And later the neighbors will gather round the smoking ruin to inspect the blackened corpse, its mouth still drawn back in the rictus of command, saying to themselves, "he looked much better when he was alive." It will take a tragedy far greater than September 11 to wake Arkin and n00161 up. Until then, sleep tight Senor.