This is a very minor rant, but…
I participated in a panel discussion for my school’s veterans week. There were several panels, and I was selected for the Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam Panel. The idea was to discuss those conflicts and their parallels, particularly with respect to the conditions of US withdrawal. There perhaps too many panelists to in all, given the time constraints of the panel. We had 90 minutes to discuss three conflicts with ten panelists. Six in person, and four remote. So that was… suboptimal (or hyper-optimal?), but not the reason for this mini-rant.
What really irked we was that within those constraints, much of the time was monopolized by the leader, and a couple other panelists. Not simply because they talked the most, but because they went on, and on, and on about things that had… not a whole lot to do with Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam. Two of them went on about just how great America is and how we don’t fight dirty like those other people, and we don’t go around committing atrocities (on purpose), etc., etc., and a whole bunch of other highly questionable (and, perhaps more to the point, completely off-topic) assertions. One went on at length, for example, on just how “magnanimous” (panelist’s word) the Union was after the Civil War ended as evidence of how much nicer the US is at waging war. And another panelist picked up on just how great it was that the Union Army only hanged two men for crimes after the war (again, this is the Civil War), and just how great that was. And the whole time I was just sitting there trying to keep from storming off the panel.
Another panelist went into a similarly time consuming and only minimally relevant tangent about how his son, who never served in the military, was representing a military veteran who had (allegedly) deployed something like five times to Iraq or Afghanistan and then–that poor thing–ended up falling in with some white supremacists planning to blow up government buildings (to be fair, I think his point was going to be that while he very much was opposed to white nationalist terrorism, he considered his son, acting as a government-appointed defender to provide a defense in keeping with the constitutional right to counsel, etc was a kind of service in his mind too–which, fine, but still not a whole lot to do with the end of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam). But then he announced he was going to read a poem from WWI. I think it was going to be In Flanders Field, but at that point (mercifully) the organizer announced we were well overtime.
At some point, I did at least manage to get a few words in about Iraq, in partial rebuttal of the “America is so great, just look how nice we are to the people in countries we bomb and then abandon” line of argument, but I was one of the lucky ones. Just like in Iraq. One of the lucky ones.
Oh, and a couple of them even got in a few well-intended but outrageously over-simplified and ignorant comments about how it turns out PTSD is really just caused by brain damage. Always nice to hear someone tell you you’re brain damaged, you know?
Anyway, I figured I’d do one of these panels just once. And now I have. Never again.
ETA: Extensive edits to remove… some of the vitriol.