I was once told that you could tell a lot about a political agenda by the people that supported it, that the types of people who support an agenda say almost as much about it as the issues themselves. Well, if that's the case, then what I've learned this past week is that the saber-rattlers and the people pushing forward the agenda for war are a bunch of immature children who can't let people disagree with them, especially other countries.
The first sign of this came on Wednesday, March 12, when two Republican lawmakers announced that they had successfully changed the name of "French Fries" and "French Toast" in the House cafeteria to "Freedom Fries" and "Freedom Toast" respectively. This change seems to indicate that these lawmakers and the people that helped them push their agenda were so fed up with France's anti-war stance that they couldn't stomach the idea of eating a food with the word "French" in the title.
But, needless to say, that's not where it stops. The very next day, on March 13, another Republican Representative proposed legislation that would have the state foot the bill for helping families of those who died in France during the two World Wars move their loved one's remains back to the United States. What's the reason for this? Well, the representative said that France does not "appreciate the sacrifices men and women in uniform have made to defend the freedom that the French enjoy today." However, this legislation faces a much more uncertain future than "Freedom Toast."
But don't get comfortable thinking that our government is the only one being immature, every day people have been doing it just as effectively. Also within the past week, Sofitel Hotels, a French company, had to pull the French flags off of their buildings citing threats that they'd received against the security of their employees and their guests. Other French products have been getting similar treatment, including French wines and cheeses.
Finally, don't think you have to be Frenchman or the French government to find yourself a victim of immature and brash treatment, all you have to be is against the war with Iraq. One San Diego Man, after flying home after a trip to Seattle found a handwritten note on the top of his "Notification of Baggage Inspection" card (it's a printed card they slide in if they open your checked baggage at an airport) that read "Don't appreciate your Anti-American attitude!" His crime, carrying two "No Iraq War" signs home with him in his suitcase.
Transportation Security Administration officials said they are looking into the matter.
Needless to say, all of these random acts of adolescence are uncalled for. They not only reflect very poorly on those that support the war, but on Americans in general. After all, we're supposed to be the nation where people are free to disagree on political issues. Republicans don't (usually) call Democrats "Anti-American" and Democrats haven't tried to rename "Banana Republic" t-shirts "Banana Freedom" because we realize on some fundamental level that even though we disagree on how to get things done, we're on the same side and none of the disagreements are to be taken personally.
But that's exactly what's happened to the war with Iraq, some people, mostly those in favor of going to war, have taken the issue personally and anyone or anything that doesn't agree is clearly anti-American and is a sign that they aren't patriotic, that they don't appreciate their freedoms and that they secretly want to see more people die and the Western societies crumble to pieces.
It's an attitude that's nothing more than a figment of their insecurities and sane people on both sides of the issue can see that plainly.
A lot of bright, intelligent and very appreciative people don't think that war is the best solution. Just because someone doesn't think that bombing a country halfway across the world will accomplish anything, doesn't mean they aren't grateful for their freedoms or that they're Anti-American. They just disagree with others about the best way to secure our nation and our way of life.
I really think everyone needs to take a deep breath and realize that this is just a political issue; we can disagree on it and still be on the same team. On an issue a serious as this there's a need for rational, intelligent discussion of the issues and there's no room for name-calling, threats or any other immature behavior. After all, that does more to cloud the issue than it does to bring it to a conclusion.
Because, at the end of the day, no one wants to see another September 11, no one wants to see another human tragedy, it's just that some people don't think war is the best way to avert another one and, if you think about it, it's not that outrageous of a position.
So, can we have some maturity please?