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COLUMN

Stop Protesting, Start Waving Flags

Andrew T. Yue

I don’t seek to waste time debating whether or not we should be at war. I am writing, instead, to make a call for people to stand united behind their nation, their troops, and their president.

War has begun, and like it or not, protesting in the streets isn’t going to change our nation’s course. It makes no sense for us to draw out the war because of disagreement back home. Our reason for going to war was based upon the fact that Iraq failed to follow U.N. Resolution 1441, not because a Gallup poll showed it was a good idea. If we went into this war on a principle, then we won’t draw out of it because of dissent.

Imagine the consequences of pulling out. Do you think that by doing so, we will decrease the chance of terrorist attacks? No, of course not. If we retreat and our nation exhibits weakness, then we will have shown that in the face of stubborn evil we back down. It is beyond naÏve to assume that by pulling out of war, nations will then begin to believe the United States is a pacifist nation. One might argue that this war will cause terrorists to attack our country. That may be true for now, but if we don’t wage war, do you think that these terrorists will change their minds about America and not attack us in the future? Do you think that leaving Iraq alone now will decrease the funding of terrorists and therefore make America safer?

War is already here, and it is the responsibility of the citizens of this country to support our troops, nation, and leaders. Already our Senate has laid down its partisan politics and united to draft a resolution of support for our troops, our nation, and our president. The House is following suit. Why then are the citizens of this nation not following our leaders? Why are people protesting in the streets against war?

Let me point out that I have nothing against people who disagree with war. In fact, I respect many of those who educate themselves and protest upon becoming well-informed. But rather than protesting war, why not do something good for this nation? Why not volunteer time at the Red Cross, write letters supporting our troops, or help out at a local homeless shelter? If you are truly one who cares for people, is your time on the camera and in front of police more important than helping others?

By protesting against or even for the war we do nothing but belittle and disrespect our soldiers overseas. Our attention should not be war or no war. We are already at war. We should focus our attention on those who are putting their lives at stake to support our freedom and safety. It is because of their sacrifice and service that we are able to sleep safely at night.

Protesters who resort to violence and disrupt the lives of others violate the spirit of dissent and embody utter hypocrisy. Walking in the streets peacefully is one thing, but when people disturb peace by fighting or sitting in streets blocking traffic they do nothing but create arbitrary victims of their grievances, forcing the police (for whom their taxes pay) to arrest them. If one challenges the United States’ actions in influencing another nation’s business, what right does he have to violate public peace and interfere with others’ lives?

I want to conclude with this point: I am not a supporter of violence and killing. I am a Christian who believes in the values of love and peace. But I understand that sometimes the costs of alternatives to war are greater than those of waging one. I do not have the military intelligence, historical knowledge, and political insight that our President possesses, nor do I believe anyone else here at MIT does. So we should all concede that we just don’t have the clearest viewpoint and therefore may not be right in our opinions. We should agree that protesting does not support our troops. We should hear the opinion of our troops saying that they need the support of our nation. I ask that our entire nation, regardless of opinion, show support to our troops in whatever way we can by bearing flags, giving words of encouragement, writing letters, or praying. If I had to inform a mother who lost her son in this war for whom he died, it would trouble me to tell her that it was for those Americans standing in the streets yelling about oil, equating Bush with Saddam. Instead, I hope that I could say it was for all Americans, whose prayers, support, and hearts were with her and the rest of our troops.

Andrew T. Yue is a member of the class of 2003.