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My wife and I along with other members of Military Families Speak Out and other activsts participated in a group discussion last night at a film festival (films about the military, the War in Iraq and the Iraqi people) at Tacoma Community College.

Afterwards we crossed the street to a pub and sat around a table with the father of Lt. Ben Colgan about whose unit the film Gunner Palace was made (Lt. Colgan was killed before the film was completed). Also at the table were two returned Iraq Veterans.

And - perish the thought - all but me drank liberally. (I can't drink alcohol - causes gout attacks)

Earlier, during the group discussion at TCC, one of those veterans, Josh Farris, spoke to an actual supervisor (invited by the festival sponsors) of seven TNT reporters at the News Tribune.

Josh voiced to that news person an excellent spontaneous rant about apathy in this country, the excess of citizen self-focus, "me, me, me" greed, and the obvious impact of the unequal distribution of the burden of risk and sacrifice by citizens of a country presumably united and invested in sharing the burden of a nation's engagement in war.

If I had recorded it, I could quote here on Washblog an unimpeachable indictment of citizen passivity directly from the mouth of a 20-something veteran who has been there and done that ... who has returned and re-entered what we ignorantly believe ourselves to be: a society in pursuit of the American Dream and all the goodness, the benevolent core values and civic involvment that make up that dream.

Words from a veteran who knows ... really knows and understands ... the importance of that which he speaks ... as opposed to the 20-something semi-skilled political key-boardists with their disinterested and distracted voices whining about "boring and depressing" topics for discussion ... because their version of the American Dream does not include taking immediate responsibility for their government's life-taking and life-costing actions and demanding that it stop ... right ... now.

I'm curious tonight as to what Joe Colgan and those two veterans will have to say about Mr. Pelz and his courageous party conventioneers?

Personally, although infuriated by the use of police tactics (rubber bullets, batons and verbal threats and intimidation) to suppress the port demonstrations, I have not nor do I now endorse any anti-equipment and anti-troop demonstrations involving deployment of equipment or troops to floatingIraq.

Such activities fail to differentiate between the military, military leadership, our troops and the genuine authors of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

For the most part I deplore the tactics the military has had to use to shore up it's numbers via deceptive recruiting, stop-loss and narrow interpretations of a soldier's right and duty to refuse illegal orders. But I do not hold the military responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Radical activism sometimes appears to be getting wild-eyed and feeling partiotically dissentful while at the same time forgetting the humanity and circumstance of our military family neighbors and their loved ones caught in a contractual bear trap.

Although not widely known, there was controversy over the final wording of the report from the recent Citizen's Tribunal held in Tacoma.

This because incredibly powerful and legitimate testimony about the illegality of the war seemed for the most part to take a back seat to a deteriorated focus on troop behavior, reported atrocities and anectdotal accounts pounced upon despite very little second and third-source verification or confirmation.

The illegality of the war was and is not established by individual acts of soldiers. War crimes can be established that way, and the intent of a tribunal supposedly by definition is to reach a valid conclusion as to the original premise.

The Port of Grays Harbor is less than 40 miles from my home in Bay Center, but my time is better spent lobbying and agitating for fixed time frames for troop withdrawal and for presidential CIC accountability rather than whining about the loading and shipping of war equipment that includes in its design and intent protection of our troops.

Removing the troops seems the best way to get the troops to stop using equipment for killing while risking their own maiming or death in an invasion and occupation whose blood is on the hands of a leadership gone over to the dark side of force.

Lietta's excellent article comes on the heels of events in our lives in which we perceive many of the political activists with whom we previously partnered as now acting at cross purposes.

And of course when activists disagree at that level, one of us must not be on the right side ... eh?

On the national level we can see in some organizations a tired rehashing of age old arguments that have even included a fall-back on time-tested revolutionary truths first espoused by an assortment of Trotskys, Lenins and Mao's.

But at the local level, such philosophical sophistication is not so evident - except perhaps on the part of educators who ought to pay more attention to what political mentoring really is.

We are seeing some folks with one foot in the 60's and one foot in the 21st Century. They seem to want to drive forward while staring out the rear view mirror. The historical view in that mirror unfortunately is not a mirror image of the world and circumstance in which we live today.

It amazes me still that so many who want to do something believe that whatever they do should be dramatically hostile.

If it is not dramatically hostile - offensive and like the sudden siren at a firehouse - a slumbering populace will not awaken.

But what if most of we citizens are already awake and much more aware than some assume?

"Slumbering" is hardly the word I would use.

Whether the general public is distracted and indifferent to the war or not, the general public is not ambivalent in its attitude about the troops. Ask any Democratic Senator or Representative whether or not they think the public is ambivalent about what supporting the troops looks like.

At this stage in the progression of America's tribulation and flirtation with fascism, neoconism, imperialism, corporatism or whatever "ism" is represented by what has gone on, a prevalance of a greater proportion of "aware" Americans is a good thing.

Public celebrities may need to thrive on controversy and rhetoric in order to survive, succeed or get rich, but the sooner we can quickly stop assuming stupidity and disloyalty about each other in our neighborhoods, the sooner we're on the path to soul repair in this country.

Arthur Ruger 2006,2007

Arthur & Lietta Ruger 2002-2008. The American Choice is a  political internet journal based in Bay Center, Washington. The views expressed not authored by Arthur or Lietta Ruger are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of The American Choice or SwanDeer Productions. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered.