Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day Poppy

Veteran's Day is to be counted, I believe, among the fairly insignificant patriotic "holidays," similiar to Labor or Memorial Day; the American Legion guys are featured in the paper wearing their nice caps with medallions; politicians appear at various veterans functions to shake hands with some grizzled old WWII infantrymen, or Shriner-like survivors of the Korean War, though we don't see the politicos too often shaking hands with the Vietnam type vets, who are, as the media would have it, all long-haired street psychotics searching for some decent bud and underground assault rifles. Solid conservative opportunities to obtain vet. photographs--photos of stern hawk-faced elders that a backwater republican congressman like Big Billy Thomas might display like trophies on a web site festooned with flags, schoolkids, and the expected rows of healthy crops or orchards--are rather slim with former Ranger-marksman turned freaks who think the local mall is "in country" and whose most profound spiritual memory is most likely of Thai or Subic Bay bar girls on a table top performing for the crew.

But words are so feeble, as are sentences and propositions, and ultimately, statistics, in terms of capturing the monumental psychopathology of war; the photographs and documentary footage present the truth far more effectively and more evocatively. Old grainy photos of dead German or French dogfaces hanging in barbed wire above trenches at the Battle of Verdun or something are as beautiful as Van Gogh's drawings of whores, perhaps more so, and the beauty is not one of artifice; it's not contrived, as most war writing and Ho-wood films seem to be. (Though having recently read Tim O'Brien's "The Things they Carried" I must say it is quite powerful).

Yet given the millions of 20th century war dead--whether soldiers, civilians, or genocide victims--it's surprising and in fact dismaying that so few pictures of the dead are to be seen in newspapers, on TV, on the web, in books. And this "corpse image control" continues presently with the Iraqi conflict: we see a few pics of blasted cities, perhaps a few graves or bodies, and the occasional beheading, but on the whole the American public does not have to endure, say, the sight of dozens of mangled bodies blown apart by a US cruise missile. This is a type of modern political injustice if not hypocrisy. It is not unreasonable to argue that the US Government, and any govt. engaging in warfare, has an obligation to show graphic pictures of death and military destruction; indeed, the war should be live and media-streamed on TV and the Net for all to see, including schoolchildren.


The Young Hegelian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Custom Search

Blog Archive