So there's been a big kerfuffle down at Toronto City Hall because that broom waving Mayor of ours put the idea of removing the "support our troops" stickers from emergency service vehicles to a vote. Showing their backbone -- and by backbone i mean lack thereof-- Toronto city council voted against removing the stickers. There are two issues here: one negligible and one substantial. The negligible is that Miller and his crew who originally supported the idea backed down due to public outcry. Sure they are politicians and they have to listen to the public, but if they believe in something, show some character.
The real issue, however, is these stickers. I, for one, don't like the idea of these stickers on these emergency vehicles. Warren Kinsella -- whose blog I've read almost everyday for the last three years -- is strongly in favour of keeping the stickers. I admire the punk rocker's ideas very much, but this time i have to disagree. First, anyone who says it's not a political statement needs to think it over. These stickers became prevalent in the US during the post 9/11 terrorism era, and now they're in Canada during the Afghanistan era. Canada's been in many conflicts before, but just conveniently this time we need to support our troops. These troops have been in grave danger before, but not until the current state of world affairs did it become the mode to flaunt one's support. This is a signal of support for a war many Canadians do not agree with. Let's be honest as well, we can support them as much as we want, but that won't protect from the unfortunate danger they face. What would be more sensical is to support our troops being in a well planned mission that doesn't prove their efforts futile.
Second, why do I need to support the troops. Why not support women who play a huge role in social reproduction but go unnoticed. Why not support teachers who don't have permanent contracts and struggle to meet ends with a summer of Employment Insurance. Hell, why not support EMS workers? They do brave work everyday. There are a lot of poeple out there who do great work that should be mentioned, why should public support be reserved for the military. Why not support the police who raided all the gangs in Toronto recently? Don't get me wrong, it's admirable to want to serve your country, but in the end, it's a personal choice just as all other admirable career options are. Not because they chose danger, do they deserve my support. Sure people can say it's for my freedom and protection etc, but if I had the choice, they wouldn't be providing this current service.
I'm not a big supporter of military action. Of course it's necessary sometimes, but it's certainly my personal feeling that we should have as little of it as possible. With that outlook, I'm not very enthusiastic about someone who chooses to enter the military life that has a strong possibility of deployment. Kudos to them on being what everyone calls brave, but I don't support it. In the same vein, as a Toronto tax payer, I don't want my tax dollars making what I see as a political statement for an ill conceived mission. It's bad enough that my federal tax dollars are going there. Give the money to homeless people or something, at least that would make a difference because I have to be honest, a yellow sticker won't change the body count. Very sad.
Let's be clear as well, I'm not completely insensitive about the issue. If the stickers said support the spouses, children, and family members of our troops, I'd be a bit more open because those people likely didn't choose to have their loved ones in the line of fire. Additionally, if the stickers said support our veterans, I'd be much more open. For instance, in the great wars many people had no choice but to serve, so they should be commended for putting their lives at risk without the option of refusing to do so. Still, with all we've learned about war, and all the "lest we forget" stickers that pop up around Remembrance Day, I can't help but wonder if some of our military personnel and our leaders who send these people on these missions have forgotten the horrors of war detailed by our honourable war veterans.
Another thing I want to clarify is that supporting our troops isn't a bad thing. It's simply not my preference. It's the preference of many people, and it's also not the preference of an equally sizable faction. Each side has the right to their position, but in a Liberal democratic society, one side shouldn't force their view on the other... especially not supported by our public institutions.