Pro-Bush supporter and veteran criticizes protesters, pullout call
Veteran Parrish Stevens, 37, took time Wednesday evening to chat with RAW STORY about standing out in support of President Bush alongside protesters calling for the United States to pull out of Iraq. He is standing with three other supporters, who hold signs, including, "All troops volunteer" and "Let's support the troops who give to make us free." This interview, arranged by Brad Show's Brad Friedman, follows.
You've been overseas.
I work in Camp Arisjan Kuwait, we process men and send them, at the headquarters of Third Army.
Tell me about your protest, what it's been like.
I saw a girl standing in a ditch holding a sign, she supports her father and her troops in Iraq and she supports George Bush.... I know some of those professional protesters can get pretty violent, they really don't care about the law, and other people's rights, just to get some coverage. My whole calling in life has always been protecting. So I decided to come up here and show them my support. I'm here with a gentleman who's a survivor of 9/11, he worked on the 52nd floor when it was hit. He's here supporting the troops. I met a couple of gentlemen who came home from Iraq, [One] has trouble walking, he has mental in his legs, and he's really upset when he can't go back.
Freedom just isn't for Americans. It's Americans' responsibility as the torchbearers of freedom, [Iraqis] want it... they're happy we're there. Don't get me wrong, they have the people who don't want it.
Have you run into protesters?
Some... and it's just amazing the reasons they say that we should end the war. If we pull out, every death would be in vain. We have to stabilize the government. The war is over; we defeated the Iraqi army. The people we are fighting now are the same people that bombed those World Trade Center towers. They don't hit our troops that often. Mostly they're going after civilians. They're trying to dissuade their people to give up. They had a higher voter turnout rate than we do in America. And they could have gotten killed to do it, and they risk their lives to vote.
Another thing that I'd like to discuss with them is equal rights, racism, suffrage. Shouldn't everybody in the world have that same right? Shouldn't all women have the right to vote, and to be educated, and have their own choices? Should people be persecuted and have less of an opportunity because of their race, their religion and their creed? All those freedoms that we enjoy every day, is that just for Americans or is that for everybody in the world? It’s not for oil, it's not a vendetta.
What are your thoughts on the justifications for the war, about WMDs?
We found the trail, I believe it was moved, or destroyed. We found the factories, but the machines were out of there. Where did the machines go?
My big thing is – I want to talk to Cindy. I'm not going to get up there and argue with her. [I have] questions about why she's here, what she hopes to accomplish, and about her son.
Do you expect her to speak with you?
I really hope she does.
How long have you been in Crawford?
I came down Friday and I should leave Sunday. I gotta get up to Indiana before I head back to Kuwait.
Clarification: The photo that originally ran beside this was not of Mr. Stevens and did not identify him as such. The photo has been removed to avoid confusion.