Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Sad Day for Big Cardboard: On Hallmark Cards & the Maxine Memorial Day Snub / UPDATED

So many holidays... so much cardboard....
* See update below

Now for a rather... uh, striking.... post-holiday Hallmark Moment.

Many years ago, before I stopped allowing Big Cardboard to express my sentiments for me, I used to buy a fair amount of Hallmark greeting cards. That was when you still could walk into a Hallmark store without being assaulted by Yankee Candle poison gas fumes and the Vera Bradley Black Hole of Endless Want. I sometimes laughed at a particular Hallmark line: The Maxine cards, featuring a crabby old lady. I haven't seen her in a while, though. Until yesterday. Hallmark published a Maxine Memorial Day cartoon, and some of my mil-pals made sure I saw it.

In the cartoon, Maxine said:

"Lots of people don't have to work today. Which is why my motto is "Live every day like it's Memorial Day!"
 
The punchline wasn't entirely clear, and many people missed whatever joke it supposedly contained. But others - notably some Gold Star families, and people who lost loved ones in combat - took one look and were offended. A handful emailed Hallmark directly. Others voiced their complaints on the Facebook pages for Maxine and Hallmark.

Two sample comments left on FB:

This tasteless card is tremendously insulting to this spouse of a Army Retiree and the Very Proud Mom of Two Marines! It is ignorance and insensitivity at its best!


This is disgusting. My son is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and barely made it home alive. Being a medic, he held a few friends while they died.

The comments were heartfelt and sincere - and spot-on. But Maxine's defenders fired back.

One woman wrote:



 Seriously! Unlike this page you whiners! Its a cartoon!!!

Another, Sherry Dixon, left this comment:

To all of the people "offended" by Maxine's post on Memorial Day: Get your heads out of your asses and loosen up and smile once in a while. It is you people who are offended by anything and anyone who does not think the way you do. GET OVER IT and get a LIFE.

Stalwart troop supporter Carrie Costantini jumped into the discussion and tried to educate the Maxine fans on why the cartoon was offensive. Carrie even gave a tutorial on what Memorial Day actually is, and what it means to people who have lost a loved one in combat. The Maxine fans hooted ever louder. Their responses showed them to be people who care very deeply about when their new Keepsake Ornament catalogs will arrive, but not at all about telling a Gold Star mother to "get a life."

Despite the fact that "Maxine" frequently responds to people who leave comments on the page, Hallmark allowed the dialog to continue unmonitored. The Maxine Brigade grew increasingly snide, belittling, and hostile. Anyone who objected to the cartoon was cast as a whiner, or stupid, and worthy of extreme mockery.

This extended "Hallmark Moment" continued much of the day.

I posted a couple neutral questions, myself, asking Hallmark to respond to the complaints. "Maxine" remained silent. I posted again. Still nothing. Finally, I questioned whether Hallmark would have been willing to use a different holiday in place of Memorial Day in the cartoon. What if, for example, the Maxine character joked about Martin Luther King Day. Within minutes, Hallmark removed my questions. Then they surfed into the blog and read a couple posts. 

Eventually, Maxine artist John Wagner posted an apology. It was sufficiently gracious that many accepted it at face value. My good pal and Cooking With the Troops pardner Blake Powers posted a thumbs-up over at B5.

That could have been the end of it. Instead, the Maxine fans responded to the apology by swinging wildly, blindly, and stupidly.

Lizmari M.Collazo posted:

I bet you anything the people claiming they were offended were out having a picnic on Memorial Day, or renovating their own home... and doing anything except what is supposed to be done on Memorial Day. lol Bunch of whiners. Heck, they probably went to the mall, too.

I told Lizmari she'd lost her bet, and asked her to pay up. She said she would. I suggested a couple troop-support charities. She reneged on her pledge. I offered to make good on her bet. She spiraled downward from there. As did the others.

One woman took a (somewhat incoherent) swipe at an entire class of Hallmark customers: Maybe the Bible Belt Inbred's need to do something for their country than sit behind a computer & complain get a life seriously. 

Tonight, one commenter wrote this on the Maxine wall:

Found this E-card on Hallmark's site, searched Memorial Day: Maxine: "Well, it's Memorial Day Weekend, and you know what that means... it's white shoe season unless you have a dog." & search Islam, whole page of Eid cards.........so dead soldiers are dogshit & Islam is wonderful. Hallmark Cards you're not worthy to lick the sweat off my balls.

I responded:

So... will Maxine make equal opportunity jokes about Islamic holidays? Or would that be deemed... offensive?


Within moments, both posts were removed. Perhaps, as Dbie Johnson wrote in an email, it was because the first comment made reference to "dogshit" and other unmentionables. But the cynic in me sees Hallmark trembling at any hint of dissing its Muslim customers, while not worrying when it clearly offends members of the American military community.

It's been a sad day, indeed, for Big Cardboard. But also, I hope, an enlightening one. I'd like to think they learned that not everyone salivates over each year's offering of prefab hominess. Some of us really do get worked up about our troops. And we stay worked up. As for Carrie, who didn't so much as flinch at the incoming: Bravo Zulu! Your stalwart steadfastery makes me want to send you a... handwritten note.


* UPDATE

Over at B5, Blake, AKA Laughing Wolf, has revised his views on Hallmark's handling of this. If you don't know Blake: Hyperbole is not in his repertoire.

Cassy Fiano has posted her own beautifully written letter to Hallmark over at her place.

And Brat takes it international!



51 comments:

Barb said...

You know - for the last couple of years it's been harder and harder to find the troop support type cards that Hallmark used to carry. This is the last straw, I'm going to get my sister to start her card company, and we'll compete with the big turkeys who have lost touch.
Well written, sistah.

Anonymous said...

It is fascinating to watch this type of thing from both sides. Memorial Day for many Americans is just that, a day off, and nothing more. Even though it is an imperialistic country with never ending militarism and crazy nationalism it still remains that this particular holiday is only meaningful to those who have served or their families. That is becoming a minority population in the US despite our never ending and often unjustified combat. Basically, most Americans just don't care any more unless it touches them personally. To be offended by this is interesting because what this really reflects is a large problem of lethargy on the part of the US citizens. I think most people are just numbed by it all and don't see it as anything particularly special any more. We have had 21 armed conflicts since I entered active duty in 1971 (last time I counted). Was the US in any danger at any time to cause these conflicts? I think not and it looks like most Americans are in the same mindset. Most are just dulled into not caring any more.

War Collegian said...

This is fascinating, yes. I disagree with the analysis from Anonymous, but agree that this marks more than a one-off event. There is a huge gulf between distinct cultures within our country.

Barb, I will be interested to see what your sister comes up with. She may have an untapped consumer market to reach out to.

SDN said...

Well, anonymous, it's obvious you're on the Copperhead side of the aisle.

Unfortunately, it won't be just your family and friends in the next World Trade Center, or Mumbai, or London bus, or... If I could guarantee that would be the case, not only would I not care, I'd provide directions.

However, since my family and friends, not to mention the families and friends of those who serve and sacrifice, will also be in harm's way, I guess we'll just have to let you keep freeloading off the sacrifices of those better than you.

BillT said...

We have had 21 armed conflicts since I entered active duty in 1971 (last time I counted).

Care to enumerate them? And, based on your choice of vocabulary, you either served in the Cuban military or you're bullshitting.

Was the US in any danger at any time to cause these conflicts? I think not...

You just stated we started every fight we've engaged in since 1971, and that the US was in no danger from our adversary -- by that, I take it you mean that if you were to punch someone and he were to hit you back, then *he* started the fight?

But, I've gotta admit you have an impressive vocabulary, for a troll...

Anonymous said...

I am actually underestimating it. Perhaps your memories are very weak, I didn't state declared wars (although some of those we think of as wars were never declared) but active combat not in any particular order: 1) Vietnam, 2)Korea (Servicemen are killed every year and it has never been declared over), 3) Afghanistan (could be counted twice as we had a presence there during the Soviet War), 4) Nicaragua (I was there), 5) El Salvador, 6) West Sahara, 7) Ethiopia (I was there in 1974), 8) Panama, 9) Grenada, 10) Somalia, 11) Bosnia, 12) Beirut, 13)Tehran Hostage Rescue (failed but it was an armed incursion), 14) Philippines 2002, 15) Cambodia, 16) Yemen, 17/18) Libya (Twice as we bombed them in 1988 and again in 2011, 19) Columbia, 20) Gulf War, 21) Iraq Invasion, and 22) Pakistan 2011. If you want to haggle over some of these there is also others which were minor and /or classified. But, as I said most Americans are just numbed by it all. I find your comments illustrative of the schism between the groups in the US. I served over 28 years then retired but I saw action and paid the price. But, I am also realistic and none of those armed incursions had anything to do with US security. Maybe helping out some of the more shady regimes would be a better description? Democracy? Oil? But US security, no way. War on Terrorism? We created Bin Laden to fight the Russians, we created Saddam Hussein to fight Iran, we created Noriega, Somoza, the list goes on and on. Who is responsible for destabilizing these areas? Maybe some of you better start reading some history and take off those silver flight glasses and see the truth. Yes, I served, and I served proudly but am I proud of the US doing these things? No, and I have waited until I retired to state my view on this. As a former PSYOPS officer I know BS when I see it and y'all have been charmed like snakes by a snake charmer. It hurts to know you or your loved ones were put up as a sacrifice for BS reasons. But, the patriotic BS works as evidenced by your comments. Just remember that armed conflict is the last form of diplomacy NOT the first.

Dbie said...

As you said, Susan... at first I thought that it wasn't a real jab but rather a reflection of how many Americans view Memorial Day- just another day off work to bbq. It was stupid, and the apology was issued. I also thought they deleted some of the comments because they contained cuss words (which I still think is the case for a couple).

However... since they've began deleting comments that don't contain cuss words... I've changed my tune also. Like Blake, I am done with Hallmark.

If you care enough to send the very best... don't send a Hallmark; send a lovely hand-drawn picture from a child with messages like "Tank you for fiting for my cuntry". That holds more meaning than any mushy Hallmark card ever could anyway.

jimc5499 said...

Anonymous,
We bombed Libya in 1986 not 1988. I was there.

Susan Katz Keating said...

As a former PSYOPS officer I know BS when I see it

I have no way of knowing if you are former Psyop, but I'll take you at your word.

Sometimes the people least able to judge a situation are longterm Psyops types. They become so immersed in the wilderness of mirrors, everything - even a clear day - is viewed as mirage, and no one or nothing is to be trusted. Remember what happened to all those LeCarre characters, allegedly drawn from life. They lost the ability to see.

Which is my long winded way of saying, I think you misread the history.

I'll take just a couple examples.

The U.S. did not "create" bin Laden. But even if we did, that does not negate the fact that he became an aggressive threat to U.S. security.

Columbia is a great font of narcoterrorism - a direct threat to our security.

In both cases, we had the choice: Fight or roll over. My personal view is that we didn't fight soon enough or hard enough or effectively enough - but that is getting us even farther off topic.

The dustup with Hallmark is not a debate over which wars to fight nor why. It's about respect for the troops we send to do combat on our behalf. And how we honor the memory of those who died fighting while we remained safely at home.

BillT said...

My menmory is actually quite good, Anon -- but you seem to have formulated your own, private definition of "armed conflict," of which I was previously unaware. The phrase "armed conflict" has wider overtones than that of a cop vs. druggie engaged in a drive-by, as does your use of the term "active combat." You also cherry-picked the circumstance of a threat to US security, glossing over additional reasons such as treaty commitments, requests for assistance, etc.

However, let's look at your instances -- and some of them were only instances -- of "armed conflict" and what they had to do with US security. In order:

1) Vietnam -- request for assistance and (unarguably) an effort to contain the spread of Communism throughout SouthEast Asia (and yes, I was there);

2) Korea (Servicemen are killed every year and it has never been declared over) -- the violence has been strictly one-sided, even though both sides are armed, so it doesn't meet your active combat criterion;

3) Afghanistan (could be counted twice as we had a presence there during the Soviet War) -- we had no active combatants there in the first instance, and the second is part of the Global War against Salafists -- and we were attacked by the Taliban's "guests," in case your memories of 2001 are weak;

4) Nicaragua (I was there) -- that's a good example, and also one I considered, even though our proxies, the contras, did the bulk of the fighting. Did we have security interests? You could argue both ways, but I hold that we did;

5) El Salvador -- I had friends there, so I'm pretty confident in saying that we were involved at the training level but not at the "active combat" level. My friends were forbidden to accompany their students on graduation exercise combat patrols;

6) West Sahara -- are you referring to the Polisario Revolt, or the actions near the Moroccan Wall? Neither one involved us in much "active combat;"

7) Ethiopia (I was there in 1974) -- another proxy fight with the Soviets, and small US units *were* in active combat, and US security interests were involved from '74 until '91;

8) Panama -- there's another one I'll agree with you on;

9) Grenada -- a hostage rescue situation;

*to be continued*

BillT said...

10) Somalia -- Mogadishu was more of an extended firefight than an "armed conflict," but I'll agree with you for personal reasons;

11) Bosnia -- no compelling US security reasons, but there *was* a request for help;

12) Beirut -- we were part of the organized MultiNational Peacekeeping Force, and we didn't start the fight that led to our being there;

13)Tehran Hostage Rescue (failed but it was an armed incursion) -- an armed incursion that didn't engage in "active combat" with anyone;

14) Philippines 2002 -- another one for you;

15) Cambodia -- sorry, but it won't count. In '70, we were already fighting the VC and NVA, we just brought the fight further into their turf -- we didn't attack any Cambodians -- and the Mayaguez Incident (1975) was a hostage rescue attempt;

16) Yemen -- do you mean the attack on the USS Cole, or the targeted assassinations of Al-Q leaders by UAVs?

17/18) Libya (Twice as we bombed them in 1988 and again in 2011 -- there's another one I'll give you, even though '86 (not '88) was in retaliation for attacks on US personnel;

19) Columbia -- without going into detail, I'll conditionally give you Colombia;

20) Gulf War -- we weren't in it by ourselves, hence, all the references to "Coalition Forces" in the media at the time;

21) Iraq Invasion -- we were enforcing 19 UN Resolutions didn't stop Saddam from dropping his WMD program(s) -- no one in the region (including Iraqis, and I talked to a lot of Iraqis between '07 and early '11) doubts he would have sold nukes to anyone coughing up the price;

22) Pakistan 2011 -- arguably part of the ongoing Global War Against the Salafists, but very badly handled. In fact, we've been mishandling Pakistan since '07 (been there).

*pausing before I use up Mizz Susan's 'tron allotment for the week*

Ken said...

I wasn't offended by the card although I can see where some people would be. I served in the Marines but I really don't give a damn what Hallmark does. If you don't like Hallmark don't shop there. I don't.

Susan Katz Keating said...

*pausing before I use up Mizz Susan's 'tron allotment for the week*

No... keep going... I'm on the Unlimited Tron Plan!

Susan Katz Keating said...

Ken, it's not so much the card as the way Hallmark handled the dustup. Once Hallmark apologized, the issue should have been declared over. But the Hallmark and Maxine fans - on the two FB pages - ripped into people for being offended by the card. They were downright ugly towards Gold Star families, which - to me - is akin to a mortal sin. Hallmark allowed the ugly comments to stand, while removing some fairly reasoned posts related to the offending card.

The other thing that grated was Hallmark's choice of when to respond to comments. A few fans posted questions about new ornament lines and catalogues. Hallmark answered those questions right away. Questions related to the Maxine card, meanwhile, went unanswered for more than a day.

Erin Widener said...

Eh, I don't see a reason to get too worked up over this. Memorial Day this year for me marked the opening of the pool, a trip to the beach, and a long weekend with my husband. I think it has a similar "meaning" to most Americans. I also think it's a bit silly to get too upset over this because any true supporter of the troops does not need a special day to remind them to do so.

Susan Katz Keating said...

The holiday has nothing to do with supporting the troops. It's about honoring troops who have been killed in action. Hence the offense of making fun of Gold Star families.

For those of you who are new to the topic: A Gold Star family is one who has lost a family member in combat.

Erin Widener said...

Again, I don't think people should need reminding to honor the troops. Holidays have different meanings for different people. Just like Christmas is about Jesus to some and the solstice to others, Memorial Day can mean honoring the troops or it can mark the start of summer and a day off.

Susan Katz Keating said...

Christmas is rooted in multiple reasons. Memorial Day has one reason, and one reason only.

This is not a holiday about "the troops."

This is a holiday about troops who have been killed.

Huge, huge difference.

Laughing Wolf said...

Erin, the entire reason for the day is to honor those who died fighting for the cause of freedom. Look it up, started as "Decoration Day" and grew into the current holiday. Read the law that made it a holiday for that purpose. It's not about honoring veterans, but those that died for you, me, and liberty.

Hallmark made what many of us took as a sincere apology. The problem is not with the cartoon, for which they apologized, but with the vicious, vile and nasty comments attacking those who didn't like it, attacking the families of those who died (Gold Star Families, hint), the troops, etc. That's where people really have the problem.

Again, it's not about honoring the troops, but those who died.

Erin Widener said...

I understand the original meaning of the holiday. However, like many holidays, it has taken on another meaning altogether among many people, including myself. I absolutely agree that the hateful comments on the Maxine FB page are disgusting and uncalled for, but I also think it's silly to be offended over this card in the first place.

Susan Katz Keating said...

The holiday never has changed meaning. Some people simply choose not to observe it.

There also is a difference between saying, "I personally am not offended," and "it's silly for others to be offended." The difference hinges on empathy. I have a lot of that for our Gold Star families.

Susan Katz Keating said...

And in the ongoing Google Stakes:

Out of 1,000,000 entries, directly beneath the Maxine FB pages:

#s 4 and 5 for Maxine's Memorial Day Cartoon!

Cassy hold slots # 6, 7, and 8!

*fist pump!*

Raven said...

I am very disappointed that no one included Laos in the lists of incursions.

BillT said...

The current purpose of Memorial Day remains unchanged from the original: to allow the living to take some time from their quotidian activities to honor those who died in the service and defense of our nation.

Even the name says it: Memorial Day.

We hold memorials for the dead, not the living.

Those who argue that Memorial Day has somehow, inexplicably -- magically -- morphed into a day devoted to any purpose other than remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in the service of our country are merely admitting that they were unsure of the purpose in the first place.

BillT said...

If you're referring to Lam Son 719, Raven, that was a South Vietnamese show, and it was just another action in an ongoing war -- pushing deeper onto NVA turf to fight NVA, not Laotians.

Raven said...

Susan knows what I am talking about. That is how I found this blog. She wrote about it.

BillT said...

Okay, now I got it -- "The Secret War."

I could argue that it was only a part of the larger SouthEast Asian War, with the US providing a supporting role for the Hmong and Meo.

But I won't.

Susan Katz Keating said...

So, Raven - I guess this is what brought you in:

http://www.susankatzkeating.com/search/label/Laos

As for whether this counts as its own incursion... If Bill won't say it, I will. It was part of the overall war in SEA. But it was an awesome operation!

BillT said...

Numbers One and Two in Google for "A Sad Day for Big Cardboard" with a link on number Three, the author of the immortal lines, "To All Of The People Offended By Maxine39s Post On Memorial Day Get Your Heads Out Of Your Asses And Loosen Up..."

Which strikes me as a singularly inappropriate thing for a

*koff*

female Youth Minister to say...

http://serialyouthpastor.com/info-prayers-of-confession-on-memorial-day

BillT said...

The Secret War wasn't an incursion, it was its own theater in the larger war.

DLS the historical revisionists don't want you to know: The strategic hamlet program which worked so well in the Delta from 1970 until 1975 was modeled after the program started in Laos in -- I think -- '62 0r '63...

Susan Katz Keating said...

Well, now. This latest bit of Google news is most welcome, indeed!

*beams*

Although, I find the Youth Minister quote a bit...mmmm... koff-worthy, as well...

Susan Katz Keating said...

About that Strategic Hamlet Program... I had a long chat about that once, with William Colby.

BillT said...

I find the Youth Minister quote a bit...mmmm... koff-worthy, as well...

Heh. "Today's lesson, boys and girls, is from the Old Testament -- Jeremiah, Chapter 5, verse 21..."

Anonymous said...

First of all, this is just a humorous card, poking fun at the fact that most people do have the day off on Memorial Day. And, in our society, it is generally viewed as one of the holidays that isn't that big of a deal to some people, unless they have lost a close friend or family member in combat. When I say not that big of a deal, I'm referring to the fact that it's not Christmas, or Easter, or Thanksgiving. Those are the holidays in which most people go to more trouble planning, cooking, getting together with extended family members, etc. That being said, our awareness of our freedoms should be thought about every day of the year. If people focused more on what our country was founded on, and those sacrifices initially made, instead of who is on American Idol or some other entertainment the rest of the year, they would see the big picture. For what is really going on is our country is now teetering on the verge of losing some of our freedoms, in the name of fighting the so-called War on Terrorism. Lots of people are aware of this, and find the whole war issue a joke. Wake up and see that our true enemy is our government in this day and age, and there was prior knowledge of 9-11 and nothing was done about it. Our defense system is the best, and noone is a threat to us unless allowed to be. That should be the concern of military families and American citizens alike, not a stupid little Hallmark card aimed at humor.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about Laos and apologize as I am working mostly from memory which is suffering from CRS these days. El Salvador was a hot war in which our SF guys were involved and I have a friend who was shot down twice there flying a Mohawk. I think that qualifies. I also forgot about the drug interdiction stuff ongoing in Peru which is also hot. I left out purposely all the assassinations so Israel, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Indonesia, etc. could also qualify but it is messy and usually a team of less than 4 guys. I do agree with the other anonymous and the US people need to wake up and realize that the US is a highly aggressive nation and very dangerous. It is this constant mingling in other countries business and I do not agree that any of these were for US security purposes. If we are honoring the dead who fought in these wars then we need to recognize that the majority of them since at least 1951 have been for reasons that really shouldn't qualify as justified. The UN resolutions are a sham as we drive that train. Sometimes they don't cooperate (Iraq) and we go off on our own regardless. But that is our quasi-elected government who makes those decisions and one cannot blame our soldiers for their active involvement although one could argue that at the top they drive decisions through the military-industrial complex lobbyists. The other issue is the drifting away from the classic American model of what a soldier is these days. One could argue that it is highly clouded by 1) an all volunteer force and 2) the number of contractors involved and their various roles which include active combat. Do we honor the Blackwater dead and their ilk as well? But, I do agree we need a Memorial Day and it needs to be observed by each person as they best see it. On the other hand people need to lighten up a little and be less sensitive about something which is so minuscule as a greeting card. It reminds me of the crazy response to the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. I am not trolling but the interface here doesn't let me post any other way as I live outside the US (on my teenie pension I live well here).

BillT said...

Do we honor the Blackwater dead and their ilk as well?

I consider "and their ilk" a poor choice of words. In 2005, I lost a very good friend -- a contractor -- who died in Iraq providing suppressive fire that allowed a US squad to escape the kill zone of an urban ambush.

There are contractors, and there are contractors. Carl wasn't an armed bodyguard, he was only a teacher...

Anonymous said...

Contractors are a "new" phenomena and are not covered under the Geneva convention. However, they are well paid for the risks, far more than the soldiers who in my time would have been doing these jobs. This is a neat trick by DoD and Congress to multiply the force with contractor support so as to keep the total fighting force below the maximum allowable total force cap. The same logic is used to activate (constantly) the Reserve and National Guard forces who were never intended to be first line soldiers. But, this cap problem forced the military to compensate and utilize these alternative forces to the maximum extent possible. I have NG friends who have been on 9 deployments now. This seems ridiculous for weekend warriors. I have one friend who is a 2 star in the NG who has been on constant deployment for 10 years now. But, he is a happy man as he draws full pay from his town where he is Chief of Police and full pay from the military. The motivations between these different groups are vastly different and the large majority of contractors are in it strictly for the money and are in fact "Mercenaries", to me a despicable word. There is no honor in fighting for money and certainly their loyalty extends only to the next pay check or to the highest bidder. To mourn them is to me farcical.

Anonymous said...

While your friend did his arguably heroic best he should never have been there in the first place. This is a travesty perpetrated by our government and many good people are paying for it. On top of that I am aghast at the amount of money wasted in the process. Now they are talking about cutting the military wages; however, no one has put out there to stop building Aircraft Carriers (12 new ones on the way), or 100 more F35 for a total cost of 1 trillion dollars. They would rather keep their new shiny technology (as it profits the manufacturers and lobbyists and perhaps Congressmen if we look hard enough) at the cost of the "low hanging fruit" the soldiers fighting these incessant combat situations. The stated logic is "unemployment is high and we have no reason to expect this to have an adverse impact on recruiting". So, they keep unemployment high (not too high or we would actually get pissed) so as to keep enslaving through economic pressure those who could not make it any other way. So cannon fodder seems to be the only recourse for these current new enlistees. Is that in fact patriotism or a survival response in the face of economic disaster? I will be major league pissed if they cut my retirement. It is bad enough I haven't had a cost of living increase in 2 years and worse that my Tricare Overseas actually only pays 64% of expenses(if they pay at all which is a huge struggle).

Susan Katz Keating said...

As an aside...

You can create a posting name for yourself by clicking on the Name/URL option. It's directly above the Anonymous option. You don't have to register; just type in a name. Or sign a name in the body of your comment. That way we won't have to tease out stylistic differences in order to figure out who's talking.

Susan Katz Keating said...

It reminds me of the crazy response to the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

How so?

In the Mohammed cartoon instance, an entire populace went over the edge. People rioted. People were killed. Buildings were set on fire. At least one cartoonist and his family went into hiding in fear of their lives.

In the case of the Maxine cartoon, the only thing that happened was that some servicemembers' families said the cartoon was in poor taste. In response, they were mocked and vilified.

I don't see how you can compare the two, except maybe as an object lesson in how to be civilized when lodging a complaint.

Susan Katz Keating said...

As for your other comments, Anonymous [not sure how many of you there are]...

I am not happy with the current structure of having an all-volunteer force. It creates more problems than I have room to describe here; but, among other things, it forms a social divide between the protectors and the protected. It also contributes toward a ruling class that has no personal stake in how we use our troops. If our members of Congress have not served, and if their children do not have to serve, it keeps these decision-makers all the more removed from the nitty gritty of what really happens when we send our servicemembers into combat. And btw, I am 6 years into my 20 year term on the local Draft Board.

As for your other commentary... much of it is rooted in premises that require huge leaps of faith and supposition. Yes, there was a 9/11 conspiracy. We just killed one of the prime conspirators. He wasn't one of ours.

BillT said...

This is a neat trick by DoD and Congress to multiply the force with contractor support so as to keep the total fighting force below the maximum allowable total force cap.

That's a half-truth, at best. I replaced *three* active duty instructors, and my salary was well below what those three officers would have been paid -- so the Army was able to use those three in combat slots and saved the price of replacing them with three additional personnel.

...the large majority of contractors are in it strictly for the money and are in fact "Mercenaries", to me a despicable word.

You're displaying your ignorance. The large majority of contractors are, in fact, employees of engineering firms, working to rebuild destroyed infrastructure. And a mercenary is one who fights for a government other than his own -- but no matter. I've been called worse, and I fought for their right to call me names, too.

You're welcome.

...their loyalty extends only to the next pay check or to the highest bidder.

You just described not only the workforce of every company in the world, but a goodly portion of governmental functionaries and educators.

To mourn them is to me farcical.

You don't agree with mourning the loss of a friend? My condolences on the loss of an essential part of that which makes you human...

BillT said...

While your friend did his arguably heroic best he should never have been there in the first place.

Just as a soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his brothers should never have been on top of that grenade in the first place?

You're entitled to your opinion; certainly his former employer, co-workers, students, and ten US soldiers disagree with you.

BillT said...

I am not happy with the current structure of having an all-volunteer force. It creates more problems than I have room to describe here...

Correct you are, Mizz Susan. Congress sets the limits on the size of the military, and the numbers of the All-Volunteer Force were set by an anti-military, left-wing Democratic Congress in 1971 in order to "preclude military adventurism," as the phrase was. Without DoD's end run of hiring civilians to replace soldiers in support positions, we would never have had enough trigger-pullers in the '70s through mid-'80s to provide a creditable deterrence to the Sovs.

Susan Katz Keating said...

On the subject of mercenaries...

I have known many, and mourn the loss of one, a friend who left behind a wife and child. His family gets no benefits - only the knowledge that he lived and died honestly. He would have stayed in the U.S. Army, but they medically retired him at 70% disability after he was shot in Vietnam. He knew he was a soldier, so he found work elsewhere. He fought for the good guys. I don't see that as despicable. It's honorable. I contrast that, for example, against people whose work seems motivated only by the need to gain more stuff for their loved ones to dispose of when they die.

Susan Katz Keating said...

Another problem with the all-volunteer force is that it encourages civilians to be dismissive of our troops. How many times have you heard a lifelong civilian say something along the lines of, "Well...it's sad that they died. But...they did volunteer...."

Which in turn creates resentment within the armed forces. And also fosters a military class. And military families. And civilian elitists.

We do not want this dynamic in our society. At all.

BillT said...

"Well...it's sad that they died. But...they did volunteer...."

Which is a thinly-disguised way of saying, "They asked for it."

Susan Katz Keating said...

And a thoroughly undisguised way of saying, "I could care less."

Motorcop505 said...

Erin, the one and only meaning of "Memorial Day" is as a holiday to remember all those service members who gave theireir lives in defense of their country. It is not merely about supporting our troops.

"Veterans' Day," which is celebrated on Nov. 11th, is the holiday that is devoted to the rememberance of all those who have served in the armed forces, and is therefore the holiday devoted to supporting our troops.

In England, this holiday is known as "Rememberence Day," (or Armistace Day) and the entire country comes to a halt each Nov. 11th at 11:00 am for a moment of silence. This time was chosen since it was the date and time when the Armistace Agreement was signed that brought WW I to an end.

That includes pedestrians on the sidewalks and even cars pull over and stop. In the days leading up to Rememberence Day, vaterans organizations sell small red silk poppies with black centers that almost everyone buys and the proceeds go to veterans' organizations.

Motorcop505 said...

One last comment about our "armed incursions", we had US Army Special Forces advisers who trained the indigenous tribesmen and engaged in ground combat in Laos in the 1970's as part of Oeration White Star I and II. Likewise, Army SF divers engaged in combat operations on several deep water oil well platforms off the coast of Iran in the 1970'2 while the Shah was still in power against individuals who were hostile to the Iranian regime at the time.

Finally, I think that "Anonymous's" argument that none of the instances of combat were related to the United States' interests is specious and, ultimately, racist.

Taking two examples from the War on Terror it is clear that it is "in our best interest". In both Afghanistan and Iraq we invaded to remove bloodthirsty, ruthless dictators and to introduce freedom and democracy to a region that has never had such freedom in it's history.

It is and undisputed fact that Saddam killed hundreds of thousands of his own people with chemical agents, and hundreds of thousands more by torture and execution. In the majority of these cases their bodies were never returned to their families for proer burial.

It is likewise undisputed that the Taliban was equally ruthless in their gorerence of the Afghan people. They imposed Sharia law and killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of their own people, and virtualy eliminated all rights for women.

After World War II, the civilized world collectively declared, "Never Again!" to fascist tyranny, yet, as years went by countries fell into their old habits of looking the other was while genocide, ethnic cleansing, and mass murder - whichever label you prefer - continued around the world in Rwanda, Burundi, The Sudan, Cambodia, burma, Argentina, Bolivia, and the list goes on and on...

The United States of America is the sole superpower in the world now. As such, the whole world looks to the USA for help whenever there is a catastrophy or large conflict. For all those who say that America should only send its troops whenever our national interests are directly put in jeopardy, they are really just saying that those people's lives aren't worth as much as ours.

For those who complain about the cost of the GWOT, they are really just saying that Iraqi lives and Afghan lives aren't equal to American lives. For all those hypocrites who say "Never Again" to fascism, communism, genocide, or other forms of tyranny - save your breath unless you mean that it applies to everyone, and that everyone should be free from these curses on society.

Even if you admit your hypocracy, it still should be apparent to you that saving citizens in other countries from brutal oppression is still in our best interest, since people who are forced to live like animals - with no self respect and without adequate food, water, shelter, and a fair functioning government - are all at a much greater risk of becomig terrorists and lashing out against those countries that are seen as prosperous yet inattentive and uncaring towards their basic human needs.

In summation, even if you are only motivated by those things that directly impact you, it is still in your best interest to come to the aid of people in poor and oppressed countries.

Gerry said...

WOW! All of this over a poorly contracted cartoon that I am sure was not intended to offend? From this we come to deriding those who have truly experienced a loss to arguing about which military action was or was not a war, or whether it was a conflict, incursion or whatever?
Here is what upsets me in all of this. That people today actually think or believe that Memorial Day is anything other than what it truly is; a day to reflect and remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice, their own lives, to uphold and defend the Constitution of the U.S. against all enemies both foreign and domestic., which is their sworn duty, all I have to say to you is, " What sacrifices have you made in support or defense of this great country of ours?"