6.20.2005

someone else's child

With Paul Krugman on vacation, Bob Herbert becomes the sole reason to read the New York Times. You know, the "paper of record" that has yet to report on the Downing Street Memo???

Today, Herbert asks the question that, for me, has always the bottom line. Would you send your child?

When I was growing up during the Vietnam War, my father used to say this all the time. Would they (the hawk politicians) send their kids? Of course, "they" did not. He had no intentions of sending his, either. My brother was of draft age, and my father, who was very political, explored whatever options there were to keep him out: exaggerating a knee injury, getting conscientious objector status, and if necessary, moving to Canada.

I have no idea if my father would have actually moved us north, though I know he would have done whatever it took to keep his son out of Southeast Asia. My brother "got a good number," as we said in those days, and I never found out.

Bob Herbert says:
It's easy to be macho when you have nothing at risk. The hawks want the war to be fought with other people's children, while their own children go safely off to college, or to the mall. The number of influential American officials who have children in uniform in Iraq is minuscule.

Most Americans want no part of Mr. Bush's war, which is why Army recruiters are failing so miserably at meeting their monthly enlistment quotas. Desperate, the Army is lowering its standards, shortening tours, increasing bonuses and violating its own recruitment regulations and ethical guidelines.
Daddy Bush didn't want Junior to go, either. Hell, Junior didn't even show up at his avoid-the-draft club, a/k/a the National Guard. (Let's not forget, folks, the Guard meant something different in those days. People joined to get out of the draft, period.)

My only quibble with Herbert is over this:
If the United States had a draft (for which there is no political sentiment), its warriors would be drawn from a much wider swath of the population, and political leaders would think much longer and harder before committing the country to war.
This should be true, but in reality, there is always a way out for the rich and connected. It has always been thus. Given the disparities of wealth and privilege in the US today, there is no reason to think it would be otherwise. I don't think a draft is the cure. Though with these dark hints of Osama in Iran, we may soon find out.

18 comments:

Lone Primate said...

I gather it's getting harder and harder for the press in the States to bury this story since the British press is leaning on the horn. Damn the British, why can't they speak some other language so they could be safely ignored? :)

I know Michael Moore has a rep for going over the top and playing fast and loose with the facts, but sometimes things just can't be faked. No question in my mind, the most poignant thread in Fahrenheit 9/11 was the story of Lila Lipscomb and her son. The incredible thing is that Moore knew her and interviewed her before her son died. She was quietly patriotic and believed in the country, and even came to understand the protests. But when she lost her son in Iraq, it was heartbreaking to watch. The scene where she visits Washington on business and winds up in front of the White House... this small human being, divorced from the seat of power by walls, an empty street that once ran with traffic, and men patroling atop the building... it was stark, and even as a Canadian I found it startling and ominous. It was a like a scene out of a movie about some dystopian future. Her son died not because the United States was under threat, but because there was an opportunity for some people to get richer, period. Nothing different from how the British Empire behaved 125 years ago. :(

L-girl said...

I know Michael Moore has a rep for going over the top and playing fast and loose with the facts, but sometimes things just can't be faked. No question in my mind, the most poignant thread in Fahrenheit 9/11 was the story of Lila Lipscomb and her son.

Oh I agree completely.

I happen to love Michael Moore's work, with no apology or caveat attached.

Her son died not because the United States was under threat, but because there was an opportunity for some people to get richer, period.

Say it. It needs to be said and we have to keep saying it.

Crabbi said...

Actually, the NY Times did report on the DSM. although it hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves. I did see a link on their home page the day after the hearing (below the fold, of course).

andym said...

Reporting on it, and managing to shape peoples' opinions are two different things, and the MSM and the NYT in particular are both quite adept at doing the latter. There is no excuse for the apathetic approach they have taken thus far. Are they really that affraid of Karl Rove?

Crabbi said...

Although, I should add that they didn't appear to do any investigating on their own; they simply reported on the hearing. And their headline sucked.

Lone Primate said...

I happen to love Michael Moore's work, with no apology or caveat attached.

Me too, but these days a lot of people seem to focus on that so I guess I felt the need to throw in that little 'notwithstanding clause' of my own. :)

First time I ever saw anything by MM was in 1992 when a scriptwriting course I was in in college. For the section on black humour, the teacher showed us Roger & Me, which was relatively new at the time. The scene where the camera's being driven past boarded up home after home after business after business while "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is playing was one of the most astounding and unsettling pieces of cinema verite I ever saw. Pure genius of understatement. You could rave about statistics, or talk about the impact, or argue economic philosphy... or you could just show what happens. That was amazing. I try to catch everything MM does these days.

L-girl said...

Me too, but these days a lot of people seem to focus on that so I guess I felt the need to throw in that little 'notwithstanding clause' of my own. :)

I suspected as much! :)

Not to sound like oneupmanship (I don't mean it that way, truly), but we happened to see Roger & Me when it premiered at the NY Film Festival.

The Festival was not such a big deal then, it was easy to get tickets, and Mike - totally unknown at the time - was there answering questions after the film. We were blown away! It was a just a fantastic evening of humor and politics.

Since then, we've followed his career avidly and see everything he does.

L-girl said...

Thanks Crabbi and Andy. :)

G said...

On Moore and being apologetic:

I think it's difficult in any presentation of an argument to hide or completely avoid bias of any kind. Does it exist in his work? Absolutely. Why not? He comes from a certain perspective and argues that perspective from his heart. Of course there is bias. It's just the other side of what we see/hear/read in the right-biased press conferences, interviews, and media releases of the GOP. If anything, it provides a balance from the other side of the argument - one bias versus another. Which is what a democracy is all about.

My own theory is to take in as much as is possible from every side, weigh it all, and find the common elements. For it is in those shared elements, the things in each argument that remain the same, where we will find truth amidst each bias.

So don't apologize for being a Michael Moore fan - I don't - just be sure it's not the only bias you pay attention to. The others, whether we agree with them or not, are equally important if we are ever to find a smidgeon of truth in this whole bloody mess.

redsock said...

Moore published a book listing every single source for all of his claims in F-9/11.

It is called The F-9/11 Reader and has an amusing "picture" of him and Bush eating popcorn together at the theater.

I have not bought or read the book, though, but I'm a big 9/11 researcher and there was very little in the movie that seemed even dicey to me.

I think his reputation for being "fast and loose with the facts" is overblown.

L-girl said...

The way see it, we are bombarded with propaganda from the right, and from the supposed center. If someone can inject a little leftist perspective into the mainstream culture, more power to them.

I personally call that truth-telling, but that's my own perspective. Even if someone else calls it over-the-top propaganda, it's still a drop in the bucket towards balance.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

So you must be counting down the days now....

I guess it will seem like a real relief to leave all the crises behind. After all, the Iraq war is kind of a dull murmur here in comparison.

Are you going to take some time to relax and just de-stress, or continue the fight from afar?

L-girl said...

Thanks for asking that, Kyle.

In all honesty, I'm not doing that much fighting right now. My activism really dropped off after the election. My time is pretty much consumed just getting my own work finished, seeing people and enjoying the city before I leave.

I'm very upset about the war, but other than blogging, reading and donating to the cause, I'm not doing much. It makes me feel pretty helpless.

It will be a great relief to get out of here. We'll have our hands full after the move - getting settled, finding jobs! - but yes, we'll definitely make time to relax and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Hi L-Girl
Tons of stuff today...
ALPF

http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=34&idsub=127&id=1538

http://www.canada.com/fortstjohn/story.html?id=5e9d5b91-55ba-4ad8-a177-8287d56d77be

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny--canada-airsummit0620jun20,0,6988368.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork

--------------------------------
Cool Brit site on how to tour Canada...
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2100-1659313_1,00.html

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

And now a link of my own, from (ugh) Fox News. It's an interesting article though. Note that America is unique in trying to mix religion and politics. All other countries, even devout ones like Mexico, seem to oppose mixing politics and religion:
____________________________

Religious devotion sets the United States apart from some of its closest allies. Americans profess unquestioning belief in God and are far more willing to mix faith and politics than people in other countries, AP-Ipsos (search) polling found.

....

Only Mexicans come close to Americans in embracing faith, the poll found. But unlike Americans, Mexicans strongly object to clergy lobbying lawmakers, in line with the nation's historical opposition to church influence

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,158683,00.html

L-girl said...

Thanks guys! I'm on it tomorrow.

G said...

Be interesting to see what happens here in Canada re religion and politics in the wake of conservative aligned churches in parts of Canada "urging" their members to run for MP nominations in the CPC party to stand up for religious beliefs in politics (primarily to fight against gay marriage). While this doesn't yet reflect the majority Canadian opinion on mixing religion and politics, it does raise the disturbing notion of single-issue candidates, and the impact that would have on the progression of other political issues within the party. Something to keep an eye on.

L-girl said...

Definitely gotta keep an eye on those folks. At one time they weren't a threat in the US either.