The Fight Against ISIS is My Fight

by Bill Weinberg, The Villager

Most "anti-war" folks in the US (like nearly everyone else) are in the dangerous habit of referring to the government with the pronoun "we." This rhetorical convention fosters the illusion that "we" commoners have any voice in Washington's foreign policy (beyond assenting with our silence or, optimistically, restraining somewhat through protest). It betrays more naiveté than cynicism about the nature of power in this country. There is no area where the US behaves more like an empire and less like a democracy than in waging war. Even Congress is rarely consulted—much less its lowly constituents.

This pronoun also burdens the question of US military involvements with a personal sense of (for the anti-war crowd) guilt or (for their jingo opposites) pride, barring a more distanced and objective view. For both the peaceniks and the jingos, use of "we" constitutes an imperial narcissism—an identification with the empire that makes the question about "us."

So when Ted Rall in The Villager last month asked, "Why are we at war with ISIS?"—my reply is, "Who is asking, and what is your stake in the question?"