Anti-war liberals patriotic? Prove it

Posted: Dec 17, 2003 12:00 AM

Anti-war liberals are angry. Over the past two years, their party has imploded, their dreams of a socialist utopia have faded, and worst of all, their patriotism has supposedly been questioned.

"The Republican leadership has attacked our freedom to speak and even our very patriotism," flip-flopping John Kerry told a union audience in April. "I refuse to have my patriotism questioned ... I fought for and bled for and earned the right to express my views in this country."

Fellow indecision-maker Wesley Clark concurred: "No administration has the right to tell Americans that to dissent is disloyal and to disagree is unpatriotic."

The Great White Draft-Dodging Hope of all anti-war liberals, Howard Dean, shouted: "That flag does not belong to John Ashcroft, or Rush Limbaugh, or Jerry Falwell, or Tom DeLay. ... It is not unpatriotic to disagree with the president of the United States."

Peaceniks, striving to preserve their patriotic image, explain that they are "anti-war but pro-troops." But are they?

Far be it from me to question the patriotism of any man or woman who has served in the Armed Forces. I do not doubt the patriotism of John Kerry or Wes Clark (Howard Dean is another matter). However, it is time for those liberals who say they are anti-war but pro-troops to put their money where their mouths are. Anti-war liberals are quick enough to call for tax boosts, but when it comes to charity, they can't seem to find their checkbooks. If these anti-warniks are pro-troops, let them show it by donating to our soldiers.

My hopes are not high for these so-called anti-war patriots. They are much better at spending others' money than opening their own wallets. A 2003 state-by-state study done by the Center for Philanthropy measured charitable donations in relation to income. The "Generosity Index" created by the study showed that the top 20 generous states are states that voted for Bush in the 2000 election. Heavily liberal states like Massachusetts, Vermont, California and New York ranked 47th, 38th, 29th and 25th, respectively.

So, I offer the following challenge. I will describe two non-profit, non-partisan, pro-troops charities below. Both liberals and conservatives should donate to these charities. After donating, send me an e-mail with your name, the amount you donated, and whether you are pro-war or anti-war. After the charities verify each donation, I will tally up the total amount donated by each side. Let's find out if anti-war liberals are really as patriotic as they suggest.

Here are the charities:

Operation Gratitude is basically a one-woman operation. Carolyn Blashek, a Los Angeles-based former lawyer and mother of two, decided after Sept. 11 that she wanted to join the military. After being informed that she was too old, she volunteered at Bob Hope USO, where she spoke to troops heading overseas.

One day, Blashek talked with an Army officer, who told her that his mother had died and his wife had left him. He didn't think he would make it back home, he said, but that it didn't matter since no one cared anyway. Blashek realized that soldiers needed to feel personal attention just as much as they needed to receive care packages. She set up Operation Gratitude.

Operating from her home, Blashek made care packages, individually addressed to soldiers overseas. The packages included items like shampoos, DVDs, books and snacks. The response was overwhelming. Dozens of people got involved. I've visited Blashek's home and seen the stacks of materials in every corner of the house. Operation Gratitude needs your help: The cost of postage alone for each care package is $15 to $20. To donate, e-mail Carolyn at, or visit the Operation Gratitude Web site at

Freedom Alliance is a major charitable organization dedicated to helping our troops. Its latest campaign aims to bring comfort to military men and women injured in the line of fire. The Walter Reed Medical Army Hospital is filled almost to capacity with soldiers wounded in Iraq. Fifty soldiers have lost limbs, sometimes more than one.

Freedom Alliance asks that you send phone cards, clothing gift certificates, food gift certificates, and cards and notes to our veterans. Other Freedom Alliance campaigns include a Scholarship Fund for children of wounded, killed or missing in action, and the National Military Leadership Academy, where teenagers can meet with military people and learn about the American military. To donate, visit , or call (800) 475-6620.

It's the season for giving. Let's hope that all Americans, even anti-war ones, can find a place in their hearts for our troops.