Memorial Day is a time when we can all come together for a few moments to honor the men and women who died to protect the country we all love so dearly. It is a time when politics should come second to patriotism. A day when we can set aside our knives and pitchforks for a little while and just reflect on how fortunate we are to have it as good as we do.
Well, not everyone sees it that way. Some Americans see this holiday as a chance to get their jabs in about the military. Take the Council on American-Islamic Relations, for instance. Zahra Billoo, the head of CAIR’s San Francisco chapter, used Memorial Day to tweet her deep thoughts about military troops. “If one dies in an unjust war in which we illegally invaded and occupied a sovereign nation, should that person be honored?”
Of course. Next question?
“How does one balance being pretty staunchly anti-war while honoring those who died in the military?” she asks.
Well, it’s actually not that hard at all if you put your mind to it. If what you’re really doing is trying to score political points at the expense of Americans braver than you will ever be, though, it’s probably going to be a challenge.
One doubts that Billoo’s primary concern is the blurry line between pacifism and patriotism. Plenty of peace-minded Americans have set aside their grounded concerns about armed conflict to pay tribute to those who fought honorably for a cause they believed in. For liberals and Muslims determined to see America as an evil, Zionist wing of Israel, though, it’s going to be a little bit harder to do that. Billoo probably finds it a lot easier to mourn the terrorists who were “tortured” by the CIA. Her struggles to align her anti-war beliefs with her allegiances probably vanish when convenient.
There may exist Americans who are absolute in their opposition to war, but they are probably a lot rarer than you would think. There are those who think we should have let Hitler run roughshod over Europe, slaughtering as many Jews along the way as necessary. There are those who probably think even the Civil War and the Revolution should not have been fought. But most people, when cornered, will admit that some things are worth fighting for. That might not extend to the war in Iraq, but you can oppose a particular war or two without wringing your hands on Memorial Day.
Few countries have citizens as beholden to the troops as the United States. We do it up right when it comes to honoring their sacrifice, even if it doesn’t always show in the way we treat them economically. That’s why it would be a shame if Billoo’s view of the military started to catch on beyond the usual radicals. This world has been shaped, in large part, by the strength of the U.S. military. And if you greet this truth with a sneer and a “yeah, that’s the problem,” then you are beyond hope.