(Let me begin with a point of clarification. The reader board in Caldwell is the sole property of the Smeed estate co-executors, Dan Symms and Maurice Clements. It is not part of the Ralph Smeed Private Memorial Foundation.)
A recent message on Ralph Smeeds reader board in Caldwell has sparked responses from all over the nation. The committee that manages the messages thought it appropriate to respond.
The left side of the sign showed a picture of James Holmes, Kills 12 In Movie Theater. The caption below his picture read, Everyone Freaks Out. The right side of the sign showed a picture of President Obama with the top caption reading, Kills Thousands With His Foreign Policy. Then below Obamas picture was the caption Wins Nobel Peace Prize.
The aim of the message was to point out that the nation was outraged by the massacre in Aurora, Colo., and rightly so. And yet there seems to be no equivalent outrage for the thousands of American soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and the countless innocent civilians who have perished as collateral damage of these wars. Our nation has tuned out to the massacre in the Mideast and seems to have become numb to the carnage occurring there.
When President Obama promised to bring the troops home during his campaign of 2008, someone should have asked him in which decade he intended to make good on that promise.
Our nation has been led into illegal wars for years by presidents. We are told what the given reasons are, but the real reasons are not always clear. Our Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. Yet presidents including Harry Truman (Korea), John Kennedy (Vietnam and Bay of Pigs), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam) Richard Nixon (Vietnam and Cambodia) Ronald Reagan (Lebanon and Grenada), George Bush I (Panama, Iraq and Somalia), Bill Clinton (Somalia, Kosovo and Haiti), George Bush II (Iraq and Afghanistan), and now Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, with his wars in Libya and Syria, and the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all have violated Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution.
We have become a nation with perpetual wars, a long list of dead and maimed American soldiers, and millions of innocent civilians, sacrificed as collateral damage. And for what purpose? To keep the peace? Give me a break.
Our message on the reader board was designed to elevate the outrage for this worldwide slaughter. To that purpose, I think we have been somewhat successful. I agree we might have said it better. Hindsight is always 20/20. To the extent that our message got attention, I think it was a tremendous success.
We respect the loss and grief suffered by the families in Colorado. Our intent was to encourage some critical thinking and create a discourse on how to put an end to the perpetual state of war that our politicians, regardless of party, seem to perpetuate.
Maurice Clements is a retired farmer and legislator, and chairman of the board of directors of the Ralph Smeed Foundation.