Democracy is the Darwinism of ideas. Certain people in certain circumstances, most notably soldiers on active duty, must in the interests of mutual survival take and carry out orders that represent ideas they consider stupid or counterproductive. Even then they are not required to surrender their conscience. In every other circumstance, it is not just the right but the duty of every citizen – including and sometimes especially military personnel – to lend the benefit of their knowledge and intelligence to the betterment of our society. If that means offering up dissent or criticism or even condemnation of policies we regard as wrong, so be it. Suppressing ideas is the surest route to stagnation and eventual extinction.

What brought this on? Well, I’m tired of people calling me anti-American when they themselves don’t have the slightest clue about what it means to be American – and I don’t mean the BS they try to stuff into your heads (I received most of my schooling elsewhere) in school. The founders of the US were a very fractious bunch. The diversity of their views makes the distinctions between “liberal” and “conservative” today look laughably small. Nonetheless, they agreed on certain principles, among which was the principle that they could hold these disparate views without being enemies either of each other or of the nation they were forming. E Pluribus Unum = From Many, One. Think about it. That’s one of the cornerstones of our society, and it’s a principle that has served us well. The people who try to champion America by branding opinions they don’t like as unpatriotic are engaged in a self-defeating exercise – trying to save something by the very actions that destroy it. They’re the true anti-Americans, even though they don’t know it.

If I seem very critical of the current administration’s policies, it’s because I think those policies will lead to more American dead, and those still alive tainted by association with actions that are inhumane and immoral. I think many of those policies are not only morally wrong, but stupid and counterproductive even if you agree with the moral stance. If this were just a game, with no lives or moral issues at stake, I would still look at what Bush is doing and say, “You’re an idiot. You’re causing your team to lose.” Any military strategist from Sun Tzu onward could tell you that you don’t prepare for war by showing one’s intentions before one is ready (especially with regard to intelligence), stiffening the enemy’s resolve by leaving them no choice more palatable than fighting to the bitter end, and alienating allies with your hard-line rhetoric that tars them as well as your enemy. You cannot win a war by adopting the enemy’s terms and giving them what they want, or by destroying the sources of your strength.

But apparently the “patriotic” thing to do is ignore all we know and support plans we realize are stupid. It infuriates me to think that people won’t learn until we’re treated yet again to the sight of American servicemen, caught in a Somalia-style ambush, being dragged dead and mutilated through the streets by terrorist scum. I guess it’s “anti-American” to want to avoid that. I want to see Osama bin Laden and every other terrorist dead as much as anyone. I support legal, financial, and diplomatic means, military action and even “assassination” (a misnomer in this situation) to that end. I just happen to think that we can achieve that goal without killing more of our own or sinking to the terrorists’ moral level. That’s about as pro-American as one can be, and anyone who thinks otherwise will just have to grow a brain.