I write for the English language newspaper Copenhagen Post sometimes. Not that that is a secret.
A few months back, I took a recommendation to write about what it is like to be the partner of a soldier who has been deployed to a war zone.
I was as honest as I could be. I am not just a partner of a soldier but also a pacifist. I mean, ok, there are some occasions where I could be persuaded that violence is part of a reasonable response to a situation but conflicts like Afghanistan just do not make the cut.
Afghanistan is a mismanaged, imperialistic clusterfuck of a conflict. Having my boyfriend deployed there did not make me change my mind. It made me do as much background reading as possible which strengthened my opinion and gave it justifications grounded in fact and testimony.
That’s not to say that I think my boyfriend is a bad person for being involved. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. I don’t think he is. I think he was trying in his clumsy, misguided way to make the country a better place for those living there. We all do our best. Sometimes we do the wrong thing. I’m not mad at him, or any individual soldier. I am mad at the war machine, crisis capitalism, 24 hour news cycle, corrupt political systems and powerful men who avoided ever fighting in a conflict but send young people to fight them on their behalves.
Anyway. I wrote about that in different words. I got attacked by people who think ‘support the troops’ means ‘support the war’ and the corollary ‘if you don’t support the war, then you hate the troops’.
The world is black and white. You are either with us or against us.
One of those guys got under my skin. I don’t know why. I should have expected pushback. I thought I had worded it so that even the very patriotic would understand the bind I was in. Maybe not empathise with it or even sympathise. But just to recognise it. Just to recognise that I had gone through some shit and that the usual consolations of the partner of a deployed soldier were not available to me.
He did not recognise me as a human being. He did not recognise my suffering. He did not respect me or show me any kindness. He just assumed that he could be rough and unkind with me because I was just some bitch who did not support the war without question.
The comments he has left on the site since then have done nothing to rehabilitate his image in my eyes. He is mean spirited and unkind. He also appears to be not all that smart. (He might be book smart but his critical thinking facilities leave much to be desired)
So, why would I engage with him? Why would I bother to talk to him ever again? He’s a prick and we would probably never get on.
Though, actually, if we met in real life, he would probably like me. It’s not like I tell soldiers and relatives that I am against the war when I first meet them. It’s often a consolation and a comfort, this idea that the war is just.
But the point was: where is my consolation and comfort? Do all relatives of deployed soldiers have to brainwash themselves into believing in the war, if they were not already on that side? Are we only worthy of respect and support if we toe the party line?