Friday, August 12, 2005

Fair Weather Patriots

Here's a story making the rounds on the political blogs that I can't let pass without commenting. Via Atrios:

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.
I've seen the right try to spin this as the mother only saying she supports the Marines, not the war necessarily. If that's indeed what she meant, though, then her t-shirt and flags outside are sending a mixed message to many people. And for the right to suggest that such a distinction is possible, well...let's just say, that's progress, I guess.

Bottom line is, this disconnect afflicting the nation, where folks equate supporting the war with bumper stickers and patriotic t-shirts, has been enabled if not right out encouraged by Bush's refusal to insist the nation sacrifice anything more than their civil liberties for the effort. When shopping with your tax cuts cash (providing you were rich to start with) is all he can think to ask Americans to do for their country, it's no small wonder Americans like this mother think they're doing their part.

Don't get me wrong. I don't blame any American for not wanting to send their children to Iraq. The war is being led by historically incompetent fools or was never winnable in the first place (the primary consideration for a pre-emptive war, btw), so it's understandable to discourage one's children from signing up, but the naked hypocrisy, not to mention repulsive classism, of this woman's statement warrants a sharply delivered smack upside her head.

UPDATE: Oy vey! I've turned comments off for this post (they're still on for other posts). I don't want this blog to become the red vs. blue free-for-all other blogs are. I'll continue to post on politics from time to time, but think it's best to take Basil's advice and not mention the war. Happy weekend all.


Blogger Mark said...

When the picking gets tight and the draft begins it will be the beginning of the end for this mess. African American (traditionally the largest population to sign up for active duty) support is declining rapidly also.
Keep an eye on the Cindy Sheehan story, the woman camped out at Bush's ranch in Crawford. This is a link to a very thorough Newsgrist piece. I think the ground swell is finally begining to end this incredibly stupid mistake.

8/12/2005 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh said...

There's an anti-war group called Operation Yellow Elephant that's trying to get people who support the war to join the army. Their slogan is "Sign up or shut up"

I also saw a poster glued to a wall recently that said "Join the Army!" above a photograph of a dead soldier. Under the photo it said "Replacements Needed."

8/12/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

Let me repeat what I said at... well... elsewhere:

Let me point out a couple of issues with this that limit the ability to comment definitively on it. The reporter, which doesn't mention in any way that he/she was actually at this home, appears to be far more likely quoting the recruiter not the mom. The quote should have been presented more like:

Rivera said, "she gushed 'I want you to know we support you,'" but he soon reached the limits of her support. He related that she told him 'Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people.'

Why is this important? Because the quote at a minimum is second hand and given what the story is about, it is even more likely that it isn't a quote at all, but rather a recollection or even more likely a compilation of various recruiting visits Rivera related to the reporter during an interview.

It's also presented without any context for the comments except for an obvious attempt by the writer to set up one. For instance, did it occur to anyone that this story is from Pennsylvania? If she in fact said "our kind of people" did she mean Quakers?

Rivera may have had three or four similar recruiting visits, each with situations where the parents had valid reasons for saying 'not for our son'. As an example in addition to one Quaker, one said their son is going to college and intends to enter ROTC and become an officer. Another has his sights set on medical school and the parents believe he'll better serve the nation in that capacity, and the fourth is concerned about how their gay son would fair in the Marines. A frustrated recruiter could easily relate those experiences as one the way Rivera has, but none of those parents are hypocrites.

Other than bias confirmation purposes, I wouldn't make anything of this one-way or the other. There isn't enough info to be fair to either Rivera or "mom".

8/12/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I hear what you're saying Mac, but I think there's more evidence that the bias (if there is any) that led to the inclusion of the offensive quote is more the recruiter's than the reporter's. By putting quotes around it, unless the reporter's a hack, the article is suggesting Rivera offered it up as a direct quote.

I love how meta the dismissal of this episode is making everyone get though. It helps to know all those arguments against nuance were somewhat relative. ;pp

8/12/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Further, to the Quaker argument, I'm sure the son would have mentioned such a thing to the recruiter, no?

8/12/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

Why are you sure? Based on what? This "article"?

I think you're missing my point.

8/12/2005 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

well, i THINK your point is that bias confirmation is the only reasonable conclusion one can draw from the responses to the report (but as with all such stories that's the case).

I wrote the following on ...well...somewhere. This summarizes why I think there is enough evidence in the article to make the conclusions I do:

Most Americans tend to make less prominent displays of their patriotism when their country is engaged in activities they're dead set against, human nature being what it is.

Further, and much more to the point, her son had expressed interest in going. Do you think if his mother had expressed any anti-war sentiments at all to her son, that he would have not warned the recruiter about them before the interview?

So what little evidence there is suggests she outwardly does support the war. Considering there's no evidence at all she doesn't outwardly support the war, I think it's fair to conclude she's being hypocritical.

8/12/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

No my point is that the article is of poor quality. The reporter does not indicate in any way that he witnessed this meeting, but uses direct quotes as though he did. Second hand recollections of conversations are notoriously inaccurate. You can't conclude she's hypocritical because you don't even know if she exists. The point isn't the bias of the article, the point is that its *only* value is to those seeking to confirm their bias.

8/12/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous ML said...

There is bias even if this article doesn't substantiate it adequately. Think of all the young Republicans in college who support the war but do not volunteer. And the President's daughters. My suggestion is that everyone who owns an SUV has to send one family member to the military. The military will meet its quotas.

8/12/2005 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Splitting hairs here.I don't doubt the story at all. I have had MANY conversations with ardent supporters of this mess. My Question is always, are you going to enlist? Fuck no, is most, no always the answer. The most important issue is that the majority of the enlisted troops National Guard in cluded are from low or poor income families. They are there for the money. That's your all volunteer military.I speak from experience. You can have all the magnetic ribbons on your car or flags on your house that you wish. Will the Country share equally in this travesty? NO.

8/12/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

And the President's daughters.

Do you seriously think putting them in a combat role would actually be remotely smart? At any level? Putting them in any kind of sham, out of harm's way, type role certainly would not placate those who trade in the chickenhawk meme. So please explain how having the president's family member's in combat is anything other than stupid idea.

8/12/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

My suggestion is that everyone who owns an SUV has to send one family member to the military.

What if I, at great expense, live close enough to my job that I can walk to work resulting in my using about 10 gallons of gas a month in my SUV. Can I ask that the Suburbanite in a Prius that uses 10 gallons a week send 4 of his/her family members to the military?

8/12/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Can I ask that the Suburbanite in a Prius that uses 10 gallons a week send 4 of his/her family members to the military?

If they have 4 kids and drive a Prius they probably already have a kid serving.

8/12/2005 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


Take one emergency work-related call, and this thread turns into the sort debate you can find in any number of red meat blogs out there...not my intention.

But clearly that's my fault for posting such a divisive post in the first place, so I'm gonna try to make it up.

There's a wind blowing through the land that makes most of the arguments, on both sides, null and void. It's not a matter of whether or not you ever supported the war. It's not a matter of whether or not you think it's about oil or SUVs or you're sure it's about our national security.

Really, it's not. Right now it's only about moving past this point. Most of the anti-war arguments operate as if there were still time to prevent the invasion. Most of the pro-war arguments strike me as hopeful we'll still find WMDs.

I know he's trying, but I really wish the President were better at unifying the nation around this. That most definitely means doing so whether or not it costs him a pound of political flesh.

No one at this point believes he's doing a bang-up job, so he's not got his legacy to stop him here. Iraq needs stability. Training Iraqi troops might be the best way to get that, but it ain't working so well. We need a plan that doesn't count on that.

The time is coming when the President must put the same effort into selling the war he did the invasion or he must sell the idea we're done and coming home. He cannot just keep limping along as he has. I know he's counting on the constitution and December elections, but that's only more of the same really. I've lost any faith that the insurgents will see that as checkmate.

No matter what. We must move past this point with a clear, doable plan. You'll see an army of Cindy Sheehans otherwise.

If he had only listened to me in the first place. I told him not to do this without a stronger coalition.


8/12/2005 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous LA artist said...

There's nothing like powerlessness and fear to turn us all rabid.

8/12/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

If they have 4 kids and drive a Prius they probably already have a kid serving.

But not 4? They use 4x the gas... And what about all the energy it took to make that shiny new Prius in the first place. I bought my truck used, years ago. And heck, while we're at it, FOUR kids? How much energy does that use up? I'd guess a lot more than folks with one child. How dare they have four children...

Look, I believe all of that about as much as I believe my Giants are going to make the playoffs this year (NOT), but once you start down this path, it gets pretty ugly, just as it has here (for which I'm sorry e, I sense this has been an oasis for you and it certainly has for me, so I'll see ya Monday to talk art, photography and spelling ;)

8/12/2005 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Ok, enough said, back to painting.

8/12/2005 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

I told him not to do this without a stronger coalition.

A stronger coalition of what? Who? The only other credible, advanced, not to mention civilized, fighting force in the world is already in the coalition. You know of some great counter insurgency force out there I haven't heard of?

Is it possible that a larger coalition might be bad thing? Is it possible coordination, effectiveness and agility would suffer? Is it possible that war crimes and abuse of civilians would increase significantly? Is it possible that the larger the coalition the more likely a premature pullout or uncertain peace?

I'll drop it, because I don't want to be seen to picking a fight, but the choices and consequences just aren't as black and white as people wish.

8/12/2005 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'll drop it, because I don't want to be seen to picking a fight,

so will Crionna suggested, back to art, photography, and spelling

should have posted this where it's more bad...

8/12/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The choices WERE black and white - to war or not to. Bush chose to lie, obfuscate and push it through with no post-combat plan and without even trying to rally the world to our side. Hell, he didn't even care almost half of the American people themselves didn't want this war.

As for the Bush twins, yeah, let them sign up for the service. I wouldnt let them drive a tank or anything, bu they can dig ditches like anyone else...

8/12/2005 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

And that will have to be the last word...thanks for playing...

/comments off/

ps... note to self, don't mention the war.

8/12/2005 05:04:00 PM  

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