Monday, June 25, 2007

To 'Support' or 'Not Support' the Troops? That is (/is not) the question

The 11th turn-around by Toronto's Mayor and Council to continue putting yellow "Support the Troops" ribbons on emergency vehicles has released a torrent of media commentary on the question.

As noted in an earlier post, this furor has spilled over into several cities across Canada: Fredericton, Ottawa, Edmonton, London, and Vancouver have all seen the issue come to the fore.

During a ceremony in Edmonton last Thursday Conservative MP Laurie Hawn handed over 30 'support the troops' decals to a couple of City Councilors who are seeking to pass a motion that will "adorn the city's emergency vehicles" with them. Hawn, who sits on the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE), made a revealing comment about the yellow ribbons/'support the troops' 'movement':

"This is something we need to do and we need to spread it across the country."
And, the Journal reported:
"Hawn said he has sent letters to all members of Parliament asking that they do the same in their own cities and said he expects a positive response."
If the yellow ribbons/'support the troops' frenzy is part of the latest Conservative political ploy, Harper's recent assertions that "he wants a consensus among Canadians, not just parliamentarians, about the country's future role in Afghanistan" should be taken with a tablespoon or so of salt.

- The mainstream discourse has given little space to the viewpoint that rejects the 'support the troops' mantra altogether. With that in mind, here are a couple of essays in this vein by Liddell and Hoenig. And, in their Sunday edition, the Ottawa Citizen did publish one letter to the editor, 'Support our troops' message is a way to suppress dissent,"a portion of which states:

"No matter what anyone says, these "support our troops" stickers and banners are a jingoistic meaningless way to suppress dissent against this unnecessary aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq. (Canada is in Iraq too, with soldiers on exchange with U.S. units, but who could blame you for not knowing it?) "Support our troops" echoes the propaganda of totalitarian, militaristic regimes."

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