Just because yesterday was Thanksgiving, it didn’t mean all the turkeys were in the ovens and on the tables. Yesterday’s Potomac News columnists included two of my most favorite writers; Charles Reichley and the big turkey himself, James Simpson. Reichley’s column was incoherent to the point of being meaningless and I actually couldn’t read all the way through. Simpson’s column, however, pissed me off.
So for the second time this month, I’ve written a rebuttal to one of Simpson’s columns. To the many things I was thankful for yesterday, add that I’m thankful no trees were killed to support my latest LTE.
Mr Simpson’s column was titled “Give thanks to the troops.” By the end of the second paragraph he showed his deep understanding of what our nation stands for by calling everyone who uses our Constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech in protest of the Iraq war, traitors. Cute.
Then he compounded this by equating what we are doing in Iraq today with the actions of the late Saddam Hussein, our actions in World war II, and President Woodrow Wilson’s November 7th, 1917 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. In reading Simpson’s equating Abu Ghraib and Blackwater mercenaries with our military in WWII, all I could think of was Dad and how he would react to this crap writing. So in between checking on the turkey (the one in the oven) I wrote my rebuttal.
Thanksgiving morning I woke up, popped the turkey in the oven, opened the newspaper, and as a navy veteran was treated to being called a traitor by James Simpson, ironically enough under the header “Give thanks to the troops.”
Mr. Simpson wrote “Many Americans are so opposed to the war that they are willing to go to any length to sway opinion. […] However, the actions by many, including some in Congress, in my opinion have reached the point that assertions of “aiding and abetting the enemy” are not exaggerations.”
“Aiding and abetting the enemy” is the definition of treason. So in Mr. Simpson’s opinion, using our rights of Free Speech to oppose the Iraq war is treason. I happen to be one of “Many Americans” (63% and climbing) opposed to our war in Iraq. I also happen to be a Vietnam-Era veteran who volunteered for service shortly after many of today’s most ardent “Supporters of Our Troops” had done everything possible to avoid their military service.
The rest of Mr. Simpson’s column, equating the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Blackwater’s slaughter of unarmed Iraqis with our actions during WWII is repugnant. During WWII we at least tried to honor the Geneva Conventions. Recently the US Army’s Standard Operating Manual for Camp Delta (Guantanamo) was published at “wikileaks.org.” This manual, dated 27 March 2003, lays out detailed procedures for handling prisoners clearly defined as direct violations of Geneva Conventions.
Given that the US Army now has written procedures to violate Geneva Conventions; claiming that our gross violations of Geneva conventions in Iraq and elsewhere are “isolated incidents,” and calling opponents of this war “traitors” would be amusing if it was coming from a spokesperson for a third-world two-bit banana-republic dictator.
But it’s coming from Mr. Simpson.
I did in fact send along a copy of this rebuttal to Simpson, in the interests of fairness, of course. If I get a reply I’ll be sure to post it here as an update.
Update: This letter did get published in the November 27, 2007, edition of the Potomac News. Interestingly enough, there was a second LTE rebutting Simpson’s column as strongly worded as mine but with a slightly different focus. There was a third LTE rebutting, nay, almost mocking, Charles Reichley’s column also published Thanksgiving Day.
But what I really appreciated from The Potomac News, more so that just publishing my letter, was the title (The Editors select the titles of each LTE): “Exercising free speech isn’t an act of treason.“
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Taking On the Hacks : Where I decide to rebut local right-wing columnists, in the interests of free speech and fair play.
A Lifetime Of War : Writing on my observation that for my entire lifetime, America has been in a state of war.
Changing the Tone of Discussion : Is it possible that challenging right-wing hacks on their own tuff make them back off?