Perspectives: Being unpopular isn’t always bad; the Iraq war, other countercurrents

OPINION – Having a clearly defined set of principles is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. I learned this the hard way about 10 years ago.

During the build up to the Iraq War, it became clear to me that our nation was being herded into an unjust, unnecessary conflict. Iraq bore no responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. They had no capability of materially harming the U.S. The rationale for invading Iraq shifted every time the most current excuse failed to survive scrutiny.

As a conservative talk radio host, the safest bet would have been to jump aboard the bandwagon, wave the flag, and cheerlead for the war. But I could not reconcile those things that were inconsistent with the limited constitutional powers of our government and the concept of Just War.

I never claimed to have all the answers, but I could see that some things simply didn’t add up.

So I spoke out about it on my radio show. I questioned the wisdom and morality of ordering the members of our armed forces into harm’s way for such dubious reasons. I pointed out the inconsistencies in the official statements and the incessant fear mongering that was taking place. And the backlash was immediate and thorough.

Callers from throughout Southern Utah jammed the phones daily to take me to task for refusing to support the war hysteria. One co-worker made a daily pilgrimage to my desk to argue the war with me. Our station manager called an emergency meeting with the entire staff to stress the importance of supporting the war because that’s what the community wanted to hear.

At the time, my program comprised just three hours of the broadcast day. The other 21 hours were filled with undeniably pro-war hosts who agitated relentlessly for war with Iraq. But somehow, my admittedly minority viewpoint was perceived as dangerous and destructive.

The pressure to conform was constant, intense and, at times, very personal. My wife asked me on more than one occasion: “Is it worth it?”

Like most people, I have a deep desire to be loved and appreciated. But in this case, the approval and acceptance of others had to take a backseat to my desire to be true to my principles. Bucking the trend of popular opinion made life extremely uncomfortable for the next couple of years.

It’s possible to develop a thicker skin over time, but it’s a lot tougher getting used to being vilified.

In retrospect, it would have almost certainly been easier to either become a sycophantic supporter of the Iraq War or to have simply gone silent on the subject. But either one of these actions would have required a tacit denial of principles or truths for which I stand.

No matter how isolated I may have felt at times, by knowing and staying true to my principles, there was a surprising consequence. I retained my credibility with my listeners; even with those that vehemently disagreed with me.

In the years since, I have been approached by a handful of individuals who have quietly pulled me aside and expressed appreciation for my willingness to stand firm on the Iraq War. A few have even uttered the words “You were right.” But that’s not why I chose to speak out. If I had to do it again, I’d do it gladly. The only thing I would choose to do differently is incorporate more diplomacy.

Truth isn’t dependent upon consensus or approval in order to be true. In every age and in every conflict, there are times when it is necessary for people to stand for it — no matter how unpopular. Of course, this is often easier said than done.

As Joseph Sobran used to say, “in every controversy, most people care much less for what the truth is than for which side it’s safer and more respectable to take.”

Anyone who chooses to stand for truth will find that there is a price to be paid. One reason that many people are reluctant to take a stand is that they’re unsure what their foundational principles are.

We need more individuals that are willing to examine their own hearts and determine where they stand. And then we need them to stand strong no matter what the crowd may say or do.

This is obviously easier to ask of others if we’ve been willing to do it ourselves.

 

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • starboss December 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Brian, it doesn’t matter what the area of interest, or controversy, is, there is always gonna be the beguilers who are on whichever side delivers the most personal benefit at that particular moment. I’m reminded of the dialogue in “Catch 22” where the Italian grandfather goes on about being the BEST nazi when the nazi’s were in power, being the BEST democrat when the Americans are in power, and so on. It has been the Age of the Chameleon since Clinton denied inhaling marijuana; go-with-the-flow. Taking a stand has always been hard for any number of reasons and then when you die Shakespear’s observation becomes relevant; “…the evil men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with the bones.” Then after a generation if the stand taken has grown roots, potency, and effected change, boom; you’re a hero!

    Ain’t very many folks who are going to do anything that is inconvenient or uncomfortable unless there is something in it for them; payment, praise, fame, clout, or sexual favors. If what they are asked to do has the possibility of looking bad or being humiliating, the payoff better be in spades. I think, however, that there is the possibility that (as Dylan says) a hard rain is gonna fall; as we baby boomers realize that what we’ve accumulated only makes in harder to move, we’re gonna realize we have nothing to lose by taking a stand except having to remember what we said!

  • Bretticus December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    True to your principles is a great thing. Kudos to not backing down on an unpopular position. However, it doesn’t always mean you are always right when you disagree with the mainstream. It also doesn’t mean the majority or even the minority are mindless minions of the powers that be. That, as the public, we are sometimes misinformed, uninformed, or even manipulated is not being questioned here. That we are perpetually being manipulated to the point of conspiracy at every turn is where I have to take a step back and shake off the paranoia goggles and take another look. The world is full of different opinions. Many of the people holding them are not ignorant crowd-pleasing lemurs.

    It’s evident to me that when a person aligns himself or herself to a far corner of the political spectrum based on an original personal bias, he or she seems to equate the main-stream ideology with undereducated, unintelligent, minions. He or she develops a sense of moral and intellectual superiority. Because I live among you in a predominantly conservative area, this complex seems to eek out of the Constitutionalist, Skousen-minded, George Wythe, Tea-party crowd (I say this being acquainted or even related to many of this crowd with whom I feel respect for individually in most cases.) . I am not opposed in principle of persons espousing their opinions nor lobbying for their values. I’m opposed to persons who claim to profess moral superiority crucifying those in their community who disagree with their core values. Sorry Brian. I see this far more often with your crowd (because let’s face it. That is pretty much the only local “crowd” that is significantly politically active around here.) Because of that fact, it appears that many of you go on witch-hunts for banning things like book mobiles and local police forces at the expense of many of your peer citizens so you can feel you’re making a difference in a world in which you have little power. Who cares if jobs are lost or your neighbors livelihoods are turned upside down as long as you save $50 per year in property taxes. I’m not talking planned parenthood here. I’m talking books and cops.

    Try to step aside in your ever-increasing political leaning once in awhile and remember to give the masses a little more credit now and then. Your powers of persuasion will improve on not insulting the intelligence of your readers in almost every article.

    Thanks for the column. 😉

    • Bryan Hyde Bryan Hyde December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      If I have offended you, I apologize. A great book on how even a highly educated populace can be misled is Milton Meyer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945.” It’s not an insult to suggest that a great many Americans have fallen prey to many generations of propaganda. We’re not so different from other civilizations throughout history that have likewise stumbled.

      • Bretticus December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

        Let’s not spin this that you have personally offended me. You haven’t.

        Let’s also not forget that propaganda typically comes from the far edges of the political spectrum. Since you brought up the nazi’s, it would be wise to remember that they gained political power in the first place by their fear/hate-mongering to the masses. As far as I’m concerned, political talk shows are carrying on that work. Nazi’s had a conviction of their vision also. I’m not labeling anyone here as a Nazi. I’m just saying we, as a nation, need to be more objective, not less. There are far less moderate politicians in Washington today as a result. It’s not good for our nation.

        The propaganda comes from both ends. You frequently suggest (and you’re not alone here so don’t take it personal again) that anyone with a more moderate view of politics is not taking a stand. I believe you said, “…they’re unsure what their foundational principles are.” I would suggest to you and other extreme left-or-right-ists, that perhaps the so-called “mainstream” may simply disagree with you.

        • Bryan Hyde Bryan Hyde December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm

          Contrary to what you’ve suggested, I refuse to frame things in purely political terms. Politics is, by its very nature, divisive. Those who choose to see things in purely political terms are forever trying to label and categorize others to pigeonhole them.
          .
          Few people appreciate having their assumptions challenged, but my goal is to promote critical thinking, not to recruit fresh ideologues.

  • Chris December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I applaud your wisdom and courage in opposing the war despite overwhelming support by your fellow workers. I am particularly disturbed by two items you mention. First, you say that the station manager urged support for the war because “that’s what the community wanted to hear.” Is that how talk radio typically works? You don’t have a frank discussion of important issues, but rather just reinforce what you know the audience already believes? What value is there in that format? Secondly, you say that only a ” a handful of individuals” later expressed appreciation for your stand. Are the other war supporters so blinded by partisan loyalty that they cannot yet admit that the war was a horrendous mistake foisted upon us by supposedly reliable conservative politicians? I admire your ability to see that the war was based on faulty reasoning from the start, but wonder how anyone can still refuse to see the ridiculous nature of the arguments made by the Bush administration prior to the war.

    • Bryan Hyde Bryan Hyde December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      I’ve always had great freedom to choose my own content here locally. But the war hysteria ran so deep in 2002-2003 that my refusal to support the Iraq campaign was considered a liability by my manager. Unlike many hosts, I don’t want an echo chamber for a talk show. Thorough discussion is better when there are dissenting viewpoints.
      .
      As for the war supporters, I believe many have come to see that they were misled. That’s not something any of us are keen to admit. Like Saddam’s henchmen, we still have a few ideological dead-enders who will defend the Iraq War to their last breath.

  • Maggie December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    First let me say I am not a pacifist ,nor a war monger. I have not seen a war since WW2 that was worth fighting nor was it worth the number of treasured lives we lost.
    We actually have not even “fought” a war since Viet Nam. We send our troops to a foreign country and tell them they have to “fight” a war but be politically correct. Either way we lost lives and money to no avail in the process. So I would have been on your side Bryan had I have lived here at the time.
    If I ran the world I would notify the world the USA is done fighting for anyone but themselves. We stay home and fix ourselves and notify the world we will fight only to protect ourselves and to do so we will open the doors of hell on any country who does us harm!
    If a country wants us to help them build, educate or improve, we will be there with bells on. Forming their government is their job along with choosing or getting rid of their leaders. Harder for those who gave up their guns for sure.
    As it stands now we have the means to protect ourselves from any invaders from the outside. Our real problem is the enemies from the inside and the people here or coming into our country mostly illegally who will harm us physically, spiritually and financially. That will be our biggest fight in our history, and our forefathers warned us this would be the case. We walked right into it even after being warned and examples history gave to us.
    God bless and help America.

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