Friday, March 14, 2003

Split the baby

Iraq debate plays out in front yards Steven and Jennifer Proper's flag-decorated sign in bold red and blue letters says: "Liberate Iraq, Support Our Troops, Call Your Congress Person." Right next door sits their neighbors' maroon sign with white lettering: "Say No to War With Iraq; Call Your Congress People." Barbara Johnson and her husband, Richard Andre, put up their anti-war sign in November. The Propers countered with their sign last month. Johnson, an attorney, says the dueling signs signal a healthy, open debate. But Steven Proper disagrees, saying the anti-war signs are "demoralizing to our troops." "I really hate the sign," says Proper. "I respect their opinion, but I think it's getting into people's faces. And it's not a healthy debate — it's an annoyance."
The difference in attitude expressed by the two neighbors in the above story is quite illuminating. That they have a disagreement about the war is one thing. But what is even more telling is their feelings about the expression of opinion by the other side. The anti-war neighbor thinks that it is healthy for their to be a diversity of viewpoints while the pro-war neighbor, while grudgingly conceding the neighbors right to express their view, still wishes that the other sign weren't there since it would be "demoralizing to our troops". Why is the pro-war side so insecure that they feel it necessary to criticize the very expression of the other sides viewpoint? If they really felt confident that they were in the right then why are they bothered by dissent? Are they really so sure that American soldiers are of such weak minds that the presence of a "no war" sign in a neighbors yard might demoralize them? Why do they lack such confidence in them?


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