Letter to Brockton Enterprise 

On February 2, 2003, the Brockton Enterprise printed a letter to the editor from a citizen writing in opposition to peace demonstrators. This was one of a long series of letters that were long on venom for the war's opponents, but short on specific arguments. I wrote a letter that very day, which the Enterprise kindly published a short time later.

I am reproducing the letter here, because it includes the key reasons that I continue to oppose the war. A friend recently informed me that while I was out of the country (and thus not reading the Enterprise) a reasonable rebuttal to this letter appeared. If I can find it, I will include it on this page.

To the Editor of the Enterprise:

On February 2, you published a letter from Joseph Calitri that contained a kernel of a legitimate argument in support of war on Iraq. He indicated, correctly, that U.N. inspectors have found Saddam Hussein to be in violation of conditions imposed by the international community.

Unfortunately, Mr. Calitri's core argument was obscured and undermined by two dubious rhetorical techniques that occupied the bulk of his letter. First, he claimed that the media have ignored supporters of the war in favor of detractors. I have seen and heard no shortage of administration leaders, politicians of both parties, pundits, and ordinary citizens presenting arguments in support of the war. The fact that opponents have also had a voice does not diminish the voices of supporters.

Second, and more disturbing, Mr. Calitri's argument is tarnished by ad hominem attacks, more commonly known as name-calling. How do such epithets as "left-wing," "human debris," and "presidential wannabe" advance his argument? Dissent has long been a patriotic duty of Americans; we are not a nation of lemmings. Citizens exercising their First-Amendment right peaceably to assemble should not be referred to in such hateful terms.

Though I continue to read and listen to all sides of the debate, I am currently opposed to the war for three main reasons. First, the distinction between Saddam Hussein and Al-Quaeda has been unnecessarily blurred. Second, we have not slated for annihilation several regimes as dangerous and/or repressive as Saddam's. Third, even if Saddam deserves our wrath, it is not clear that thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and American troops deserve to die in pursuit of his destruction. Opposition to the war, incidentally, has nothing to do with support for Saddam. I was not a supporter of Saddam Hussein or the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan when they were U.S. clients, and I do not support them now.

These are very serious times, and we as citizens have a very important job to do. I hope that we can keep the debate focused on the vital decisions that lie ahead.

James Hayes-Bohanan

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