Per Curiam
-- A man has to do something for a livin' these days

-- Bloggin' ain't much of a living, boy
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Infuriating: It's become a mantra for peaceniks ever since the first Gulf War. "We support the troops. We're just against the war." Thousands of pages of ink have been spilled regarding whether this position contradicts itself, or not. For the record, given Sen. Kerry's oft-quoted testimony about Vietnam ("Who wants to be the last man to die for a mistake?"), and the desire of our enemies abroad to kill our servicemen solely to change American public opinion, I come down on the contradictory side. But writers to today's Boston Globe make clear that for many Massachusetts liberals, the "support our troops" mantra is a lie:
I use Route 3 from 128 to 495 every day; then 495 north to Lawrence," Robert wrote. "The overpasses are turning into a serious distraction. I am as patriotic as anyone else, but this has gotten out of control. Flags, sheets with all types of messages hand-painted on them are all beginning to really look cheesy. Save it for your front lawn."

Peter of Ipswich wrote about the same issue in June.

"On Route 128 in Woburn the overpass at Mishawum is covered end to end with flags. This is state property. I find it distracting and am perplexed. The State Police removed a couple of signs at an overpass on [I-95] in the Byfield-Newburyport area some time ago and explained that it was a distraction to drivers. Also state property. What's the difference? Do the State Police make decisions based on politics?"

"I thought posting signs/banners on highway overpasses created a driving hazard and is illegal, and yet the number of overpasses decorated with American flags, memorials, and military flags seem to multiply each day," wrote Susan of Groton last month. "Can I post my peace flags on the overpass of my choice?"

First, I drive a lot. In the last month, I've covered much of the Massachusetts length of I-90, I-93, I-95, I-495, I-290, Route 2, and Route 3. Most of the signs and messages to which these writers are referring are not just "patriotic displays" of the flag, but specific messages to soldiers, Marines, or airmen (relatively few sailors, based on my observation), usually welcoming them home from Iraq, Afghanistan, or other overseas postings. If these people aren't interested in welcoming home the men and women who have volunteered to put their lives on the line, in what way, exactly, are they "as patriotic as anyone" or willing to "support our troops?"

Apparently, these navel-gazers think that the flags and "welcome home" messages are aimed at persuading them to change their opinions on the war. They couldn't possibly be directed towards the people that they are, usually, explicitly addressed to. If "Susan of Groton" is worried about the "driving hazard," and not her offended political sensibilities, she sure as heck wouldn't be talking about adding to the visual clutter with peace flags.

I do want to make one positive observation -- at least the letter-writers have chosen to express themselves by speaking out and writing. One hopes that they won't contemplate vandalism as an alternative.