Recently there has been a spate of hateful responses to people who expressed opposition to the unjust war in Iraq. Opposition has been equated to not supporting our troops in the field. This is absolutely false.

Supporting military personnel, who are under military oath not to object to orders, means to do everything possible to keep them out of harms’ way. They were ordered by a Commander-in-Chief. (Whose powers, by the way, derived from voter discrepancies in Florida and was then leveraged into assuming the power of the presidency by a biased Supreme Court.)

Supporting our troops means to disagree with our present administration, who, for narrow reasons, has placed us in opposition to the majority of the people of the world.

Supporting our troops means to guarantee that whether they come back alive and well, or hurt, they will receive full and improved veterans benefits. This program has been placed in danger by the president’s proposed tax cut for the rich. It has been placed in danger by the billions of dollars this war is costing.

The president lied on many issues to justify this war. He claimed Saddam Hussein threatens us, has weapons of mass destruction and was linked to the terrible events of 9/11.

Despite all forms of vigorous efforts by either the UN weapons inspectors or the U.S. troops, no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

Many in the government and around the world have testified there is absolutely no credible evidence linking the Iraqi regime to 9/11. Yet the president keeps asserting this idea in the hope, like many despots from before, that if a lie is repeated enough it will be accepted.

To support our troops means to defend and support democracy at home. This is what they are there in Iraq to supposedly defend. But, freedom of speech, the press, religion and assembly are all under attack here. When war protesters are told to go home and shut up, then our democracy is in trouble.

As a survivor of Hitler’s Austria and as a person who served in the Korean war, I have dedicated my life to seeing that fascism and despotism should never arise anywhere in the world. The best thing that all of us can do to support our troops is to fight and defend democracy here at home and to assure that through the assistance of the United Nations, this unjust war and occupation ends.

Peace is patriotic and the best way to support our troops.

Emil Shaw is active in peace and justice struggles in New Mexico and a long-time contributor to the World. He can be reached at pww@pww.org