April 25, 2003

By Michael Strickland


In the political aftermath of the war on Iraq, there seems to be no shortage of whining by those who opposed the war and are now facing the consequences. Celebrities like Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen cry censorship because they feel they have been "punished" for expressing their antiwar sentiments. Countries like Canada and France express indignation that their tourism industries have suffered so much as a result of their opposition to the war. France, Russia and Germany—not to mention Kofi Annan and the U.N.—complain about being left out of the reconstruction efforts in Baghdad.

What these individuals and entities don't seem to grasp is the fundamental concept that taking a stand involves sacrifice. If one expresses an unpopular opinion, there may be repercussions. Stating an opinion without expecting to pay any consequences if it should prove unpopular is called lip service. Such consequences are not censorship or punishment. They're sacrifices to accept if one wishes to stand by one's opinion.

Our friends at WildHare.com eloquently opined on this issue with regard to celebrities like Maines and Springsteen (see "Madonna Doesn't Get It Either"). The Dixie Chicks achieved their fame and fortune thanks to a legion of fans who bought their CDs and sold out their concerts. Those same fans have the power to unmake them. If Maines wants to express an unpopular opinion about President Bush, she has every right to do so. If her fans burn her CDs and radio stations give the band the boot in response, that's just more freedom of expression. It's not censorship. And it's definitely not un-American, as Springsteen alleged. It's about as American as apple pie and lawsuits.

This logic applies equally to the falloff in tourism revenue in countries like France and Canada that opposed war. If their leaders take an unpopular stance that angers tourists enough to keep them away, then that's a consequence that the people of those countries have to live with. If they're unhappy about it, they should have the opportunity to do something about it in their next election. Again, it's not "punishment," it's an expression of freedom, a freedom of choice, a choice not to spend tourism dollars in countries that express anti-American sentiment.

Similarly, countries that opposed war—despite agreeing in principle to the use of force in Resolution 1441—now have to eat crow. They had the freedom to decline to participate in the war (though it could be argued that U.N. Security Council member nations had the responsibility to participate), but they now have to accept whatever role (or lack thereof) that is given to them in a postwar reconstruction effort. Specialists in international law can argue over whether the U.N. is legally entitled to have a role, but the organization—and its members who opposed the war—effectively washed their hands of Iraq by refusing to enforce Resolution 1441. Disallowing their participation in reconstruction efforts does not invalidate their antiwar stances or punish their lack of cooperation. Rather, it allows the 50+ countries whose men and women fought, bled in and supported the war against Saddam to be the ones to contribute to the reconstruction effort.

The have-their-cake-and-eat-it-too mentality pervading the postwar political arena reveals a hypocrisy common in the antiwar movement. Opponents of the war take a moral stand, but don't want to put their money where their mouth is. Even worse, most refuse to even admit they were wrong. Outspoken celebrity Janeane Garofalo promised commentator Bill O'Reilly that she would "go to the White House on [her] knees on cut glass and say, 'Hey, you were right, I shouldn't have doubted you'" if Iraqis celebrated their liberation and hugged American soldiers. That's exactly what happened, but Garofalo has yet to pay a visit to the White House. The U.N. has lost much of its legitimacy; activist celebrities have lost what little credibility they ever had; countries that opposed the war have become marginalized. They've been proven wrong, but they still cling to whatever shreds of dignity they can muster. Perhaps one day they will admit we did the right thing.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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4/24: Lemon Curry?
4/23: My Father Midas
4/22: Earth Day
4/21: Joshua Tree, Part III
4/20: Joshua Tree, Part II
4/19: Joshua Tree, Part I
4/18: Royal Flush
4/17: A Long Strange Trip
4/16: A New Line to Back
4/15: Still Writing
4/14: Conspiracy Theory
4/13: Los Coronados
4/12: Y2K in Y2K3
4/11: Slow Glass
4/10: Freedom of Speech
4/9: Why We're Fighting
4/8: Eucalyptus Memories
4/7: Sleep
4/6: Writing, Just Not Here
4/5: Sci-Files Trivia
4/4: Sobering Up
4/3: Great White Hope
4/2: Entropy
4/1: Peace on Earth
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