Steven Salaita, an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, argues in a column posted this morning at Salon.com that Americans should stop saying "support the troops," calling it "trite and tiresome." He argues that patriotism and voicing support for the troops is merely a cover for American "imperialism" and likens American soldiers to murderers and ignorant individuals who "act like an Adam Sandler character."
According to the blog "Social Foundations of Education," Salaita is an anti-Israel, pro-Jihadist advocate known for making outrageous statements. He's written a number of books supportive of Arab radicals, including Israel's Dead Soul (published by Temple University) and Anti-Arab Racism in the USA.
In the column, Salaita's condescending tone with anything and everything pro-military is evident immediately. His entire tirade is based on an incident at a convenience store in which he refused to put 18 cents in a donation jar to "support the troops." He criticized such donation requests, saying "In recent years I’ve grown fatigued of appeals on behalf of the troops, which intensify in proportion to the belligerence or potential unpopularity of the imperial adventure du jour."
Salaita, however, did not bother to inquire what the donation was for. In fact, there are a number of charities that rely on such donations and appeals, including The Wounded Warrior Project (which provides extensive assistance to soldiers and their families), The Independence Fund, The Fisher House Foundation, Troops Direct, and the Army Emergency Relief Fund.
Salaita, however, seems less concerned about defining symbolic or literal support for our troops. Instead, he is angered by what our military represents, and what he perceives as the inhuman conduct by the troops. "Who, for instance, are 'the troops'?" he writes. "Do they include those safely on bases in Hawaii and Germany? Those guarding and torturing prisoners at Bagram and Guantánamo? The ones who murder people by remote control? The legions of mercenaries in Iraq? The ones I’ve seen many times in the Arab world acting like an Adam Sandler character? 'The troops' traverse vast sociological, geographical, economic and ideological categories. It does neither military personnel nor their fans any good to romanticize them as a singular organism."
Salaita's disdain is not limited to soldiers; at the heart of his argument is a belief that America is an inherently evil entity that imposes its greed and violence on the less fortunate around the world. He disapproves of America's involvement in any way with matters outside of its own borders because of it. "To support the troops is to accept a particular idea of the American role in the world. It also forces us to pretend that it is a country legitimately interested in equality for all its citizens. Too much evidence to the contrary makes it impossible to accept such an assumption."
As a result of his condescending attitude and perception of himself as more enlightened and intelligent than our country's leaders and members of our military, Salaita spends his column insulting them at every turn. "One wonders if our troops are the ass-kicking force of P.R. lore or an agglomeration of oversensitive duds and beggars," he said. In addition, his quick dismissal of anyone who displays any respect for our nation and its troops fails to grasp that, for most, statements like "support our troops" have a much deeper, complicated meaning. It is one of the reasons many can voice support for "the troops" while also disagreeing with some American policies, the President, and even members of their own political party.
Ultimately, his argument, which relishes in the stereotypes and generalizations made of American democracy by the political left, fails to understand the basic realities of the world we live in. While he makes a comfortable living in his privileged college teaching job, the Arab countries he so readily defends burn down schools (especially those who educate girls) and kill students and teachers.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to receive a weekly email update from WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE link at the top of this page.