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I find it very frustrating that Rob's argument and the ensuing discussion largely define patriotism only in terms of military service or civilian service for military ends. While I agree that we should recognise the sacrifices made by our troops and their families, and that it is important to honour them for their courageous service, I believe that we can all demonstrate our patriotism every day in non-militaristic ways by being honest, law-abiding, conscientious and civic-minded members of our community.
In the post-9/11 era, peace activists in this country have been vilified and their patriotism questioned, yet how is it unpatriotic to want to prevent or end war and to bring the troops home?
Is it not patriotic to be a volunteer in one's community? Is it not patriotic to be a teacher who educates future leaders, or a health professional who cares for the sick, or a research scientist who is seeking a cure for disease? What about farmers or factory workers or truck drivers who contribute to the country's economy and prosperity? or a member of the clergy who ministers to their congregation and tends to their spiritual needs? or an aid worker who represents their country by sharing their knowledge from the developed world with a needy community in a developing country? Are all of these professions/occupations/vocations not also a form of service to this country? These are only a few examples. I think it's time to broaden the conversation about what constitutes patriotism and to find more peaceful, positive and compassionate solutions to America's problems.
Jerry, if you want to use that line of argument, what would you say to the relatives of Iraqi and Afghani civilians who have died as "collateral damage" at the hands of the US military? And what would you say to the families of innocent Palestinians who have died as a result of Israeli military action, or as a result of Israel's apartheid-style policies - and don't tell me there are no innocent Palestinians!
Do they not matter too? Are they sub-human?
Do we really want to be caught in an endless cycle of hatred, vengeance and violence? And are you saying that the US can still claim moral superiority over its enemies even when it defies international law and its own principles of so-called justice?
Larry, thank you for your excellent letter drawing attention to the important issues of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. I can't understand why it is still operating and what is so difficult about closing it. How can a country that claims it is a "beacon" of freedom and good for the world allow the continued and indefinite detention of prisoners without charge or trial, some of whom were captured in highly questionable circumstances? How is it noble for a people to think only their own citizens deserve a process of justice? GITMO is a microcosm of this country's foreign policy failures, hypocrisy and ignorance about the rest of the world.
Brian, I didn't think there was anyone on the planet who would echo Rush Limbaugh's outrageous statements, so I was shocked to read your posts on this subject. Melanie, thank you for challenging Brian's demeaning comments.
Brian, there are so many arguments that can be made in response to the recent birth control issues and to Rush Limbaugh's sickening statements, but I would just like to make one simple point: do you have a wife or a daughter? If so, how would you feel if a male stranger (particularly an overbearing bully like Rush Limbaugh) made such comments and assumptions about them, or about any other female relative of yours? In fact, how would you feel if somebody called them "a sniveling idiot", like you called Sandra Fluke? Think about that!
Scott Wedel - You write "The bigger issue was the paper failed to have any sort of understandable or consistent policy regarding what are acceptable comments from named or anonymous posters."
I would like to think that those who post on this website are adults who have at least a basic level of education and social training. It ought not to be necessary for the editors of this newspaper to spell out what is courteous and appropriate conversation, but having been on the receiving end of some insulting and patronising comments, I am disappointed that some people (both anonymous and named) seem to believe that good manners are a thing of the past and that bullying and demeaning others is the new normal.
Nevertheless, I do support the new policy of removing the anonymity provision and hope it will go some way towards improving the tone of these exchanges.
Fred, you talk about empathy as if it were a bad word. Empathy is at the heart of Christianity (at least the form of Christianity I know), the very religion that your friends on the right, including Ann Coulter, wear on their sleeve. That is where the hypocrisy lies!
Brent - In asking "How many contributors to these online forums are lost because of their distaste for anonymity and the sometimes vitriolic nature of online comments?" you have raised a key question. If the anonymity provision were removed and many anonymous contributors bowed out, I believe they would be replaced by many more contributors who are not afraid to reveal their identity and take ownership of their comments, and I feel certain this would elevate the tone of the conversations.
Yes, thank you, Ken for an excellent letter!
Mr Tai Chi and Sledneck - I am outraged by your demeaning comments about women in politics. Your characterisations of women on the left are offensive, and your focus on the women of the right as being "hot" is superficial and merely objectifies them, something that the feminist movement fought hard to change. There is still a serious under-representation of women in the political process in this so-called "advanced" country, and those who participate on either side of the political spectrum should be granted the courtesy of being evaluated on the basis of their ideas and the intellectual contribution they make, not for the "eye candy" they may or may not provide to a clearly troglodyte section of the population. What century is this? And aren't you the very people who would condemn Islam for its treatment of women? What hyprocrisy! It's easy to throw around these outrageous comments under the cover of anonymity, isn't it!
Thank you for your letter, Gary, and for bringing the Occupy Wall Street movement to Steamboat. All the best.
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