Only the apologetic are willing to attempt one-line dismissals of a 28-year-old military patriot demonstrating the highest valor a soldier can offer his country. Lt. Ehren Watada is proving America is more than a symbol of immoral politics.

The media has already found veterans who will deliver their one-liners - people who think a short dismissal defines the issue sufficiently.

Some will say, "He signed the bottom line. He needs to go to Iraq or go to jail." Those are the macho military apologists refusing to think about the implication of blind obedience in the face of common sense and a powerful ethic.

These are the macho military apologists who aren't so brave that they are willing to discuss the ethics of America's aggression against and nation and people innocent of the 9/11 attacks.

What Lt. Watada is doing is an outward expression of what many others in the military would do but can not or dare not and he's a voice for many more people than himself. He is doing what many of us would do if we were in that situation. His protest is not just individually his alone. We don't need to be limited to applauding his courage about having the guts to speak his mind just for himself.

Whether we like it or not the civic implication is that the American soldier who fights and kills in Iraq is fighting and killing on our behalf and in our name. If Iraq had it coming, then we as American jingos can take pride in the moment.

"Good on that soldier for acting in my name" is what we can ideally declare during wartime. Presumably the soldier does for us what we can't do for ourselves - defend the nation by physical presence and action.

But we as citizens and the electorate are making our feelings known. The Bush aggression is an act that now a majority of citizens polled in this country have repudiated. If one considers the Iraq aggression as immoral, untenable, unwinnable and a needless drain of America's most precious blood then we can be constant in our love and loyalty to our soldiers and still lament and object to what they are forced to do there.

If the courageous Lt. is doing what I would want to do if in a like circumstance, then he is acting for me and on my behalf. I support and appreciate him doing this for us. That's what acting morally in our roles as citizens should reflect. These wonderful military men and women are instruments of our own patriotism. If we dare not own up to what is being done in our name, then simple dismissals of Lt. Watada are hypocrisy.

When things like this are done, those who do it initiate action that may or may not be agreed with by others. But if agreed with by others - a significantly large number of others - a shift begins. It's a shift sustained by a growing voice of dissent that can only be healthy for a democratic republic.

This Spartacus moment is important.

Arthur Ruger

Bay Center

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