Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day in the US, and the most depressing one I can remember. I could write a post about how sad it is, or how enraged it makes me that the warmongers are accusing the anti-war movement of "politicizing" Memorial Day by calling for protests today, when every goddamn Memorial Day since 2001has been nothing but a propaganda opportunity for administration mouthpieces to beat the drums of war, Bush being the Politicizer-in-Chief. But nothing I could've written could've summed up my thoughts on this day better than this excerpt from a blog post from Whatever it is, I'm against it:

"As in all Bush Memorial Day speeches, he insisted that the best way to
honor his war dead is to make more of them: 'Our duty is to ensure that its
outcome justifies the sacrifices made by those who fought and died in it.'

Then all that remained was to look all squinty and somber-like and not at
all like he had anything to feel guilty or ashamed about."

It's times like this I wish there was a hell, 'cause there are a few people I would sure like to see burn in it.

ronnie

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time I see that picture of the little boy being handed his father's flag (as in the blog you quoted)it makes my blood boil. I'm sure he also was being told that he is now "the man in the family" and that he should take care of his mother. That poor little child, robbed of so much, and not permitted to feel and express his own horrendous grief, confusion, anger over what he is asked to bear.
Ronnie

7:26 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Oh, Ronnie, I know exactly what you mean. My reaction was identical. The grief on his little face is so palpable and it makes me outraged, too, that such pictures are used to manipulate people into supporting the war that stole his father from him - that he has been, with the taking and distribution of that photo, turned into a prop, and into propaganda.

ronnie

8:31 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

We had a local guy get a bronze star, which is worth covering, but the photo showed his maybe-seven-year-old son in the background in fatigues, saluting. Fortunately, there was another shot that didn't include the kid. Isn't the point of going to war the hope that your children won't have to?

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Dann said...

Sorry, Ronnie. I gotta disagree. Losing either campaign in the current conflict will result in long term harm here at home. Leaving before the job is done is a waste of those lost lives. I'll leave it at that.

Yup, Mike. A part of serving includes solving problems so your kids won't have to deal with them. Another part of serving is being enough of a realist to understand that they will have a completely different set of problems to solve. Raising kids that believe that their country is worth defending is a noble thing to do.

You should have run the picture that included the son. He just loves his dad enough to want to be like him.

Regards,
Dann

1:41 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

Some of the attitude I see confuses me. The kid shouldn't take pride in his father's service?

Just about the only thing I do respect about my father's life is his service in World War Two.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

An explanation -- I was speaking as an editor as well as a parent.

When John Kennedy Jr. saluted his father's casket, he was actually saluting the flag, as he had been taught, but it became iconic because it was an unplanned move captured in a way that shared a moment.

But I oppose the use of children to stage such moments, whether it is handing them the flag or letting them show up at a ceremony in uniform. In the latter case, it was a private thing for the family and I don't care if little Billy shows up in cammo to watch his Daddy get a medal. For my part, I'd have put the kid in civvies for the same reason I didn't let my kids bring toy trucks to church and play in the pews -- kids need to learn some sense of time and place. But, again, that's a choice people make, and I don't think it was an overtly political act on their part, like the people who make signs for their children to carry at protests -- for or against the war.

Still, the difference is not huge when the photo arrives on my desktop -- and if I have a choice of pictures, and I choose that one, I'm elevating that private moment into a political statement.

Consider: If it's a private ceremony for the family, there's no reason for us to cover it. If it has meaning for the greater community, then we have to be careful to maintain some sense of neutrality in how we portray it. The child was not central to the story (as were the joyous family members running towards the released Vietnam POW in that classic photo). He was not standing with his father but in the background, and only showed up in one of four photos.

Every decision I make has implications and there's no decision that can't be questioned -- including by me. But exploiting children is a bad thing, and it doesn't have to be part of what the media serves up. If I'm going to err, I'll err on the side of not exploiting kids.

We now return you to your regular blog.

6:55 AM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Carl: I don't think anybody is objecting to anything the children in these photos are doing. It is the use of their innocent gestures of respect, and/or directing them to pose in manipulated poses of respect, and then using the resulting images as pro-war propaganda that upsets people. At least, that's what I got from Ronnie and Mike's comments and that's how I feel.

Dann - ah, Dann. You're a good person but you just cannot see the forest for the trees about this war. The fact that you are still talking about "losing" as if there was a "win" to be had over there somehow is sad.

The invasion has turned Iraq from a country ruled by a brutal dictator who terrorized his own people, but who distrusted al-Qaida because he distrusted everyone, into a reeking nightmarish cesspool of violence in which hundreds of thousands of people who didn't have much of an opinion one way or another now despise America with all their hearts and and all their souls. It will be, terrifyingly, a major recruitment and training ground for Islamic fundamentalist terrorists for decades to come.

We already "lost", Dann. We "lost" when we invaded and turned millions of Muslims who didn't care before against the west. There is no "win" unless "winning" means staying there forever and ever, amen, to engage as many of the terrorists we've created as we can, so that their resources are stretched so tightly they can only do sporadic violence in the west.

It is, pardon my french, an apalling clusterfuck of a mess and there is no good way out. All you can do by seeking a "win" (and what will that look like, by the way? is that when they greet us with sweets? 'cause I've been waiting for that part) is keep sending more Americans and Brits to die, one after another, for nothing.

ronnie

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I saw was a little boy thrust into an adult role and into the spotlight by grown-ups who should instead have protected his right to be a child...just one more young male person being taught to stifle feelings and be brave.

And of course he should be proud of his father!

Ronnie

9:34 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

You know, I'm rarely conventionally macho, but I still don't get it. What's wrong with teaching a child to be brave and show self-control?

As for propaganda uses: welcome to the world. "Propaganda" doesn't mean "wrong".

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have chosen another time and place for the lessons.

Ronnie

12:55 AM  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

To capital-R Ronnie:

You evidently did, and those lessons were evidently learned well. Bravery and self-control come across pretty clearly in your son's writing, and not at the expense of forthrightness or conviction. Since I'm more of a believer in nurture than nature, I can say this:

Congrats. You did good (as my Mom would -- rarely, but she would -- say).

4:09 AM  

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