Monday, December 12, 2005

No Opinion Left Behind

Often overlooked in the political arena are the opinions of young adults. Sure, a lot of older people might argue that what teenagers have to say isn't important, or it's ignorant or what--EVER! Like it or not, however, today's teenagers are tomorrow's leaders and taxpayers. The beliefs that will guide American society in the coming decades are currently being shaped by the events of today in young brains all over the nation. For that reason, popular attitudes must be prodded and explored. As a very enlightening compilation in the Janesville (Wisconsin) Gazette Xtra shows, today's youth are already reflecting popular lines throughout the political spectrum. What they believe says a lot about the state of political debate (and divison) today.

For the article, Janesville-area teens were given this to consider: Our nation's leaders in Washington seem to be at a crossroads in the debate over keeping U.S. troops in Iraq. Explain why you think we should pull out or continue the fight.

As the old saying (or at least as MY old saying goes), high schoolers often ape their parents' or friends' views on issues. In many cases, this leads to rhetoric like the following. Or at least, I hope that's why some of the respondents took these audacious stances:

Our troops should stay in Iraq. My father has been in the military since age 18 and has dealt with Iraq for 15 years. Saddam Hussein created peace through fear. Now that he's gone, we're keeping the peace. If U.S. troops withdraw, there is bound to be a civil war.

Saddam Hussein = "Peace through fear;" George W. Bush = "War through fear." Sounds like a bargain to me.

Now that we're in Iraq and started the job, we have to finish. We can't pull troops out in the middle and say "We're leaving halfway through; good luck." Now we have to stay, regardless of whether or not we should have gone in the first place.

"Well, I'm already addicted to crack. Might as well keep using!"

Leaving now could lead to a civil war in Iraq and a country far more dangerous than with Saddam Hussein.

Civil war? Unrest in Iraq? More dangerous than Saddam Hussein? Isn't that precisely what we have now?

We should stay in the war with Iraq. There are many people whose freedom we are fighting for, against terrorists and people who want to return to power or even tyranny. We are helping many people, and we should stay.

Edited from the end of the comment: "This is Fox News. We report, you decide." Apparently, she doesn't know when to stop aping what she hears on TV.

I think we almost have to continue to fight this war because if we were to pull out now, all of it would start over again.

True. No point in giving Bush any ideas.

If we pull the troops out now, all the money that we spent on the war would go to waste.

Because it's such a great investment now, right?

I feel that we shouldn't be in Iraq to begin with, but we cannot leave until the war we started is finished. Our reasons for being there may be cloudy, but our reasons to stay are clear: Stay the course until we are done.

Like you didn't see that one coming.

Some of those who supported continued action in Iraq largely did so, not out of the desire to meet ass with boot, but because they feel that we owed it to the Iraqis to fix the damage we have wrought. Granted, that doesn't make a lot of sense, but at least it's a start:

Our president went into Iraq under the false pretense that we were liberating the country; what he really wanted was oil. I think that now that we have already done so much damage, we have to stay.

Our reason for invading this country was based upon false information. Because of all the destruction we have caused in Iraq, I think that we need to stay and fix what we have done.

"Maybe if we shoot your leg an eighth time, the flesh'll pop back in the hole!"

If we were to pull out our troops, that means everything we've worked for would have been a waste of time and money. We would have lost everyone for no reason because we haven't won anything yet. We need to finish what we've started.

Because everyone deserves a sixth or seventh chance to get things right, especially if they keep doing the same thing!

If we pull the troops out now, then everything that we have accomplished so far would be for nothing. Also, all the soldiers who gave their lives for this war would have been dying in vain.

But what have we accomplished in Iraq? And when does the dying in vain stop?

Pulling out of the war will show the world that the United States made a mistake, like how people think about Vietnam.

Newsflash: the whole world already thinks we made a mistake! As do most Americans.

If we left Iraq now, then the Iraqis would be mad and come back at us; that wouldn't be good because that just means more people will die.

Well, you might have a point with that one, now that Iraq is a haven for terrorists because of our presence there.

In my opinion, we have not completed our task and we must rebuild before withdrawing. I also believe that we should use the resources such as oil of Iraq as long as we are present.

Hey, we're there and the oil's there! Love the one you're with, right?

We should stay in Iraq after causing them more pain than we have intended to...Because we have already caused enough destruction, we should stay and help them rebuild their country.

And if that works, let's release Mark Chapman and let him counsel Yoko Ono!

Like with any political debate, we have the well-intentioned but ill-defined remarks. Granted, they aren't that any more misguided than those of many adults:

I think we need to pull out of Iraq. All we are doing over there is creating more problems with insurgents attacking us and the Iraqi people getting angry at us. True, we would look weak, but think of how many lives we would be saving.

We wouldn't look weak; we'd look smart. There's a difference.

I think it is necessary to give Iraq the necessary support until it is able to function independently with its own militia.

Question: If even the U.S. military can't control Iraq, how the hell is a militia going to do it?

The war happened in result of the terrorism attacks in 2001...

No, that's just what they tried to tell us.

If we pulled out now, everything up to this point would pretty much be a lost cause and America would be frowned upon by other nations.

Because we're looking so high and mighty in other nations' eyes as it is!

I think we should pull out our troops in Iraq. George spent all his time trying to find Bin Laden and capture him. Thousands of our troops have been killed because of that. I don't agree with a lot of George Bush's ways.

Yeah, Bush has some strange ways, to be sure. Like looking for bin Laden in Iraq, a country he detested (and just happens to have oil and a leader with a history of agonizing the Bush family).

We should pull out of Iraq. George Bush went into Iraq because he thought they had weapons of mass destruction.

He didn't exactly think it, though I suppose his wishing they were there counts for something.

We should stay there because we've already lost more than 2,000 troops and wasted a lot of money. So why pull out now? If we were to pull out now, the Iraqis would take it over again and we would have wasted that money and lost those troops for nothing.

If that isn't the journalistic equivalent of a money shot, I don't know what is!

On the other hand, some of the students were impressively lucid about the effects of the war on our troops, Iraq and conditions at home:

I think innocent lives shouldn't be taken to change a country that is afraid of change. They teach us history so we don't repeat mistakes that are being repeated now.


In school we have a thing called "Christmas in Iraq," and we are supposed to donate things such as toothpaste and food for the soldiers, but some people in the United States need that kind of stuff.


Our president cannot give us a decent explanation as to why these soldiers have made this sacrifice. We had no business being in Iraq in the first place.

It was an arrogant move to attempt to reform the citizens of Iraq and turn it into a Middle-Eastern version of the United States.

I think that we should not keep the troops in Iraq because we already caught, in my opinion, the biggest threat, Saddam Hussein.

The government should really worry about things in our own country, such as the GM plant in Janesville. They should worry more about crime and homeless people in the United States.

If President Bush wants to keep trying to look good, he should go over to Iraq and fight himself. Every day we stay there, more people die. We should negotiate, and if that fails, we should try negotiating again and again.

In the past couple years, Iraq hasn't shown any sign of nuclear weaponry; so what is the point of being halfway across the world, killing innocent people, if there is no danger over there?

Even if we stay longer, after we do finally pull out of Iraq, the government would still probably be taken over by a dictator like after we left Vietnam.

Continuing the war would be a waste of innocent lives and a mockery of all that democracy tries to represent.

The weapons of mass destruction were just a cover-up for more oil control. I wouldn't want my loved ones being killed for WMDs that haven't even been found.

I believe that we should pull out of Iraq and the Middle East because the money we are spending on the war is ridiculous and our $477 billion deficit might already be too large to overcome.

The United States has too many problems of its own that need taken care of before we help a country that doesn't even want our help. But I support our troops out there and hope they come home safely for the holidays.

Adults often dismiss teenagers offhand due to some implied notion of ignorance, and I've certainly talked to enough teenagers who prove that theory. But these students, by and large, seem to have paid at least some attention. So I ask the teenager-haters this: is anything said above any worse than this?

"KA-BLAOW! This is America, and We the People kick other people's asses when they cross the line. If you didn't already know this then you have either been living in Osama bin Laden's cave and are obstructing a worldwide search or you have been living in a different country. If you knew this and don't like it, move!"

"Y does Generation Y seem to be against war? Y does Generation Y seem to be less patriotic than previous generations? Y does Generation Y seem to be uneducated in matters of public concern and national security?"

"We would not go to so many other countries, for war or just for peacekeeping, if it wasn't for the bleeding hearts of America who cannot stand to see people in other countries oppressed.... Before you voice your opinion, please look at all the facts and also understand that we, as American citizens, are not getting all of the information because it is a matter of national security."

"Perhaps it is correct that there is no DIRECT link between Saddam and al-Qaeda [sic], but then where is the direct link between Israeli-Palestinian conflict and blanket anti-Americanism?"

"I am sorry to say, but there will be some innocent lives lost in this war....there will be rejoicing in the streets of Baghdad."

"You are only allowed to protest as long as the government will tolerate it...You also don't need to be the wrench in the gears for things you don't agree with."

These quotes all appeared in the University of Louisiana Vermilion between February and April 2003, during the early days of the Iraq War. The first four were written by editors (no joke!), and our pal Nick is responsible for the next-to-last line. The last one was written by someone who never wrote to the paper again, supposedly because he was later hit in the head with a giant wrench.

The war in Iraq was a hot topic on our campus for a long time. A Sounding Off! from the Sept. 25, 2002 issue shows the diversity of thought (and lack thereof) long before the war commenced (I especially like the fourth response).

I'll round off this look at Iraq by displaying what has to be one of my favorite responses concerning regime change in Iraq. From April 9, 2003:


If nothing else, the next generation of Americans look to be as diverse in their views and as entertaining as the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers currently at the forefront. Whether or not that's a good thing is left to be seen.

17 comments:

Neil Shakespeare said...

Absolutely. As long as you're already addicted to crack you might as well smoke it. And also remember that's it's not a problem to be addicted as long as you can afford it! And 'Stay The Course'. Absolutely. Hell is straight ahead. If we don't go straight to Hell now all we've fought for will be lost, and all those young people will have died in vain.

Flamingo Jones said...

That's bizarre....I just saw a hard copy of this this weekend. At work, we get a lot of kids from the Janesville/Delavan area...anyway, thanks for posting it.

I think it's interesting to note that Janesville is in an area of the state that is pretty evenly mixed between conservative and liberal. It's not the liberal haven that Madison is to the North, but it's also not the Conservative hotbed that we have on the Eastern shore of the state.

Also interesting to me (and probably no one else) is that it's a lot nicer than Beloit, WI just South of there. Whenever my mom drove with me home from LA, she'd say "We are NOT stopping in Beloit! Keep driving til you get to Janesville."

oyster said...

I dig it!

Nick said...

"We should pull out of Iraq. George Bush went into Iraq because he thought they had weapons of mass destruction."

"He didn't exactly think it, though I suppose his wishing they were there counts for something."

Icon:

Why do you insist on this out right lie that comes from the left. Either it's a lie or it's hypocracy b/c you don't accuse the previous administration of lying when they said Saddam had a WMD program and was a threat to the whole world. You can't have it both ways. Be fair, don't be a liar and/or hypocrite, something you claim every conservative to be.

Also, how do you know Bush didn't think Iraq had WMDs? Can you prove that?

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, Nick, the WMD lie would have been absurd no matter who said it. Clinton's allegations were based on the evidence he had at the time, while Bush's were based on nothing, since by then the UN inspectors had declared the WMDs gone. He knew that. How do I know? Because he and Rumsfeld were bragging before the war that they knew exactly where they were and would get them immediately. Nearly three years later, nothing. Not a good sign, my man. Not that it matters, because as soon as it was clear that WMDs wouldn't fly, the cause of the war changed. It's all crap, Nick, can't you see that?

Nick said...

I'm not saying that the Repub. machine didn't start spinning the war AFTER they realized there were not WMDs. Of course they have, and still are.

But you can't say that Bush knew there were no WMDs. That's just stupid. Even Clinton's own head CIA appointee, George Tenent, told Bush that the case for Iraq having WMDs was "a slam dunk case." That's probably the same reason why Clinton's administration thought there were WMDs.

And, I know the lie would be absurd, no matter what. That's why I keep bringing it up. If you're gonna say Bush lied, and he and Clinton had the same intelligence and head CIA agent, then yall should regard Clinton as a liar too and not support anyone whom he campaigns for.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick...let me politely restate what I said above: Bush went to war in 2003. Clinton's information, at best, would be from 2001. I would find it very hard to believe that Bush would blindly trust Clinton's information for any reason, unless of course it happened to fit his agenda. In any event, Bush clearly ignored the Clinton administration when it told him that terrorism was going to be the number-one threat to national security. Why wasn't he listening then? I'll tell you why: because it had nothing to do with Iraq.

Nick said...

Yes, 2 years of extra intelligence. 2 years, 2001-2003 where we KNOW now that our CIA was incompetent.

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

There you go. People who served in the Clinton administration (since you'd just claim that Kerry was only a senator and wouldn't have the same info. as the President, which senators don't) and said after 2001 that Saddam had a developing program.

Face it, to say Bush lied is stupid hypocracy.

Ian McGibboney said...

So everyone was misled/lying, Nick. Your mistake is in assuming that I will approve of the action just because the Democrats like it. Never mind that they all backed off it later. That isn't the point. The point is that I've always opposed the war on Iraq, and ultimately Bush failed on not getting his info right if the Democrats had it wrong. That's not H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y, that's common sense.

Nick said...

Ok, great then. You believe that people on both sides were lying. Therefore, you need to be careful when you vote for Dems. If there's a Dem in the run-off who also claimed that Saddam had a WMD program and voted for the war, especially Hillary, then you need to vote 3rd party for president.

Also, I hate to say this because I really do wish the best for you and your career. However, you seem to like to constantly correct my spelling, as if you're trying to use it to show superior intelligence. So tell me, what has all that "superior" education done for you so far?

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nick said...

Also, since I made that comment about your job search, I've been meaning to ask you, what has kept you from getting a job at a local resturaunt so that you can save money and afford to move elsewhere to find a job in media/journalism? I can even tell you of a great place, La Pizzaria. They pay employees well. I worked there some in college. You live at home right now, therefore no rent I assume. By working there 30 hrs./week you could actually collect quite a bit in a short time.

Cherie's best friend, who's been handling my disability insurance even before Cherie and I dated, majored in some kind of advertisement or fashion advertisement. Well, obviously, that's, not unlike your media pursuit, is very hard to break into and start off with a reasonable salary. Therefore, she went to work for Northwest Mutual in Lafayette. Financial companies like them don't pay squat to start off, it's all commission. So she worked nights at Posidons, the truely best Greek resturaunt in Lafayette. She did that for about a year, and now is netting about 3k/month after expenses and doesn't have to work at Posidons. She is now has money to move out to Dallas, Houston, or Atlanta if she wants to pursue her dream profession. However, she's caught here because she loves some moron and claims he's "the one", which is a completely different discussion.

thehim said...

Actually, Nick, many Democrats were kept in the dark about certain very important developments and facts in the lead-up to the war. For example, the recently divulged news that French intelligence was warning our CIA that our claims about Niger were false was never revealed to any lawmakers of either party. As far as they knew, Bush's claims about Iraq's WMDs were based upon sound CIA analysis and a concurrence with the French and English. They believed those things because they were being misled by the Bush administration.

Flamingo Jones said...

Nick, you're wrong...we don't need to vote 3rd party...we just need to vote for Russ Feingold.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, the comment about my education was frankly very rude. I'm offended. Far be it for me to assume that would want to know if you were spelling something wrong. I didn't know that looking intelligent was that abhorrent to you.

I suppose your comment about the restaurant was a joke. Either that, or you and other conservatives' caterwauling about the American Dream and working hard is all bullshit.

Let me tell you why you are successful: because you work in the oil industry in Louisiana. You love where you live and you have the resources and connections to work in your area of expertise, which just happens to be in the same place. You lucked out, man. No need to be smug about it.

As for the Democrats, I am not equally outraged about their voting for the Iraq War and the PATRIOT Act. Don't get me wrong; I think it's horrible. But in the end, those were Bush administration initatives, introduced in times of fear, and not supporting people who voted for them is going to lead to a dry election time indeed. Not to mention that every politician in the world has done things I didn't support. But will I vote for third-party candidates? Not if it mean more neocon rule. No. If that makes me partisan, than so be it. You act like you'd ever vote anything but Republican or Dixiecrat. Right.

Nick said...

Icon:

My comment about working in a resturaunt was not a joke. I did it my self, as I stated above. You chose an industry that is hard to break into. How is that anybody's fault? And it is not bullshit. Face it, some people have worked 2 jobs per day rather than blame Bush. It happens. Why would I make up that story? Even if you really think it's made up, I'll introduce you to Cindy. She'll tell you about it.

Also, I take offense to you saying I had the connections for my industry. I had ZERO connections. I landed my intership and my first job on my own. To say I did otherwhise would be a LIE.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, I too have worked hard. And even I am not innocent of knowing the right people. I'm not knocking you for that. Nor do I not believe you.

Additionally, the fault doesn't lie with my chosen profession; it lies with what skills I happen to have. I couldn't fake a nursing degree or a roustabout's build, so that makes it hard for me here. Big-city gigs require experience, and there isn't any of that here. Again, you're where you need to be with the right qualifications.

I sent you a letter in greater detail. Read it and we can continue this discussion offline.