The Troops Aren't Heroes


To the Editors of The Crimson:

In his opinion piece in The Crimson (February 5), Kenneth Katz, citing a column in this month's Perspective, says that the anti-war movement hails the U.S. troops in the Middle East as heroes. He says that, on the contrary, "the soldier who participates in [the prosecution of an unjust war] certainly merits much less than the label of 'hero.'"

We agree that the label "hero" is inappropriate for the soldiers who are executing the U.S.'s unjust policy in the Middle East. Mr. Katz should not take the views of one Perspective writer as representative of the anti-war movement as a whole.

That the troops are not heroes does not imply that they are villains on a par with those who direct the war. Mr. Katz says that refusing to fight "may be a difficult decision, and the consequences may be severe. But with so many lives at stake, the choice--maybe a 'heroic' one--must be made by each and every soldier."

Perhaps Mr. Katz believes that if the war is immoral and "so many lives are at stake," it would be an appropriately "heroic" act for U.S. soldiers to mutiny at the front. Perhaps this is correct. But can we set this as our minimum standard of resistance, even if it is within the power of every soldier to resist in this way?


Is every soldier who does not mutiny worthy of being reviled? Is every bystander who does not rush into a burning house to save innocent children guilty of their deaths? Of course not, precisely because it would require heroism to do so. It is elitist and untenable to take such a position, especially from the safe haven of Harvard University. How easy it must be to sit behind your Macintosh and write that people whose lives would be jeopardized by acting heroically must nevertheless act heroically to avoid being reviled as monsters.

We need to stop the war and make sure that others like it do not happen. To this end we do not revile soldiers, but try to convince them that they have been deliberately deceived by the state that rules them.

We hope that they, like the members of the Boston veterans group, the Smedley Butler Brigade, may stand as witnesses against the criminal government that put their lives in jeopardy for its unjust goals. Tom Garvey '92   Alejandro Reuss '92   Members of SAWME