"Good to Go"

By Russell Morse

By Salon Staff

Published September 19, 2001 7:41PM (EDT)

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Has Russell Morse joined the Army yet? Or is his deep commitment to the present struggle restricted to driveling generalities ("I'm down with America ... I'm down with George W.") and sneering at the generation of his parents? He wants to fight, but only against bad guys, not citizens of "scapegoat countries." Apparently he thinks that resistance to the Vietnam war was a kind of self-indulgent embarrassment. Enough of those brain dead meanderings with your college classmates, Russell. Quit cheering at the TV set. The Army recruiter is in the Yellow Pages.

-- John Borrego

War is not a tool for self-esteem building.

Russell Morse discussed his dislike of a war on a scapegoat nation, yet there's a pervasive excitement about finding some generation-defining "meaning" throughout this article. He hates the idea of killing civilians, but he's willing to do it if he gets the call.

War is sometimes necessary, as some form of war will be in our current situation, but it's always horrific and can never be gleefully justified as a generation-spanning nationwide team-building exercise. It's my belief that when the upcoming war campaign is announced, it is the duty of real Americans to support it or stand against it, true to their independent conclusions, at the cost of generational identity and the natural need to belong.

-- Jim Kang

Russell Morse's article articulates the feelings of my generation perfectly. Overnight, we went from complaining about vocabulary quizzes and Spanish tests to collecting bags of dog food for the rescue dogs, T-shirts for emergency workers, and selling ribbons for the Red Cross. During the Pledge of Allegiance, we used to stand idle, continue a conversation, or finish up last night's homework. However, since last Wednesday morning, "I pledge allegiance ..." has never been said more clearly or proudly.

-- Liz Ramirez, 16

I'd like to congratulate Mr. Morse on his selling out. It's good to know that you've given up on the overrated causes of "poverty, injustice, racism, and an inflated military budget." It would be a waste of your intellect and wit to work for social justice. Who cares about inhumane conditions in "sweat shops?" We should put those people to work sewing American flags! Who cares if "George W." hasn't even told us what he plans to do yet? What really matters is that you are "down with him."

It was comforting to know that selling out will have the added benefit of pleasing your mother. Follow her advice and example closely! Who better to teach a young man about abandoning his ideals than an aging baby boomer? The so-called bravery and personal sacrifice of the Vietnam War protestors was just a big waste of time. Just think about how much more money your mother could have made in her lifetime if she had sold out earlier.

Of course, we realize that your selling out will be purely theoretical, given the unlikeliness of the draft being used. That's OK, there are plenty of poor and/or minority men of your age already enlisted, ready to take up arms in support of your new cause. I'm sure they would all be grateful to hear of your selling out. In addition, there are plenty of citizens in the reserves ready to leave their families, jobs and colleges. Don't bother to enlist yourself, they'll be happy to protect your "privilege."

Personally, I regret that I'm too cowardly to join your generation of sell-outs. (The pronoun "we" used in your article does refer to your entire generation, right?) It's a pity I passed up my chance to sell out in my 20s during the Gulf War.

-- Michael Pullin

For all that Russell Morse waves the flag, and for all that he scorns his Orange County-expatriated fellow students (with whom I'll bet he has more in common than he wants to admit), he exposes the weak foundations his convictions rest upon.

By his own words, one day he's against poverty and injustice, and the next day he claims solidarity with President Bush and tells anyone who'll listen that he'll go if drafted.

Certainly he's entitled to stake a claim anywhere he wants along the continuum from dove to hawk, but the alacrity with which he changes positions suggests that his principles are easily subject to manipulation by the media and other external influences.

What will his position be when the media starts bringing us pictures of dead Afghan civilians, as blameless in this mess as were the office workers of the WTC towers?

As a fellow college student, I urge him to think critically and to resist thoughtless flag waving.

-- Walt Roberts

Salon Staff

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