Tag Archives: Vietnam

Culture War Reporters’ Memorial Day Montage

War.

For the vast majority of the lives of every writer here at CWR, wars and rumors of war have been a part of daily life. As of 2013, over 43% of the US military is comprised of men and women aged 25 or younger, an additional 22% just barely older. The majority of this nation’s army are tasked with fighting in conflicts many are barely old enough to remember the start of. The once rare presence of a person in uniform has now become a commonplace in airports all across the continent, and for good or ill, the armed forces have become a major element in our culture, and we here at CWR have engaged the subject over and over again.

Today’s post comes to you on Memorial Day for Americans. In the spirit of the day, I figured we should take a moment to offer a review on the material we’ve produced on the subject of the military. The good, the bad, the ugly- altogether.

Why We Need Graphic Violence

Violence in media is often cited as being one of the chief sources of violence in everyday life. But is our paralytic fear of showing blood and gore actually a good thing? Here we argue that disturbing images need to be seen for us to be really and truly disturbed, and that there’s no better place to start than with war. How else can we measure the real cost?

Stars Earn Stripes (Is A Terrible, Awful, Idiotic Abomination)

Fortunately cancelled after only four weeks of airtime, NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes stands as a demonstration of just how depraved we can be when it comes to exploiting the horror of war and our sympathy for folks in uniform. Here we break down every repellent detail of why this show (and shows like it) are as damaging as they are deluding.

No War, No More

During the height of tensions with North Korea during the spring of 2013 there was more than a little bravado on the side of Americans mocking the little dictatorship and laughing at the prospect of bombing the country out of existence. Frustrated by the cavalier attitude of so many, we provided this reminder of the actual nature of war and conflict.

Shame Day: War As A Fashion Statement

Later that same year, Evan covered the trend on militaria as a fashion, targeting the ironic(?) use of Vietnam War caps specifically. Disrespectful to veterans? Trivializing of combat? Read on to see for yourself.

(Admittedly, the title’s probably a giveaway. It’s still a good piece- read it anyways.)

America Wants Dead Soldiers

In what was perhaps the most shocking titles ever given to a post here at CWR, yours truly argues that the sympathy offered the members of the armed services (especially on days such as today) are by and large crocodile tears. Actual gratitude to the men and women in uniform has a strange habit of disappearing when it involves any actual sacrifice or effort on our part. Read on to discover why.

The Black And White Of American Sniper [No, This Isn’t About Race]

While real support for the armed forces is no easy task, honest criticism’s no picnic either, as Evan demonstrates in his analysis of the reactions to American Sniper. In addressing the legacy of celebrated marksman Chris Kyle we examine how quickly both history and our depictions of it can be distorted to complement our own views. If you look at nothing else today, look at this one.

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Explaining American Politics To Non Americans – Part III: The Democratic Party

And so we’re back, dear readers, with another installment of “Explaining American Politics to Non Americans”, in which yours truly attempts to guide you through the strange, savage, and unforgiving terrain of our nation’s government. Today we cover the other side to our two-party system: the Democrats.

Democrats are, like it or not, usually seen as the good guys by plenty of folks out there in the wide world. More diplomatic, less rapaciously capitalistic, more secular, less imperialistic, and so on.

Or so the image goes.

But is that reputation an accurate one?

The answer might surprise you.

No, It’s Not

Okay, I guess that wasn’t really a surprise.

I’ve made no secret of my contempt for the president and my fundamental issues with liberalism in general. But my own irritations aside, the facts must be faced- Democrats aren’t the glorious heroes that the world (or they) imagine them to be.

Let me break it down here.

Democrats Are Still Incredibly Right-Wing

And that’s going to be weird for a lot of the world. Pretty much everywhere else on the planet, there’s a comparatively broad range of political discourse, though even relatively conservative parties still tend to endorse free(ish) healthcare and education. The Democrats seem to get mistaken as being simply an American version of what many beyond our borders take for granted- a center-left party advocating universal healthcare, free education, environmental protection, and championship of the poor and working class.

That’s just not how it is.

First, let’s start with healthcare.

Don’t get me wrong- there are plenty of vocal liberals within the party (we’ll get to them in a second) who advocate the principles I mentioned above, the party has more often than not capitulated to these demands, rather than having fought for ’em.

The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, as it’s more commonly called, serves an example of this. While it’s absolutely an achievement (credit where credit is due), it’s about as far as possible from the systems used elsewhere in the world.

Now I’m not going to presume to know where you’re coming from, dear readers (Canada and Northern Europe tend to be big hits for us here at CWR), but I’m guessing that wherever it is, you enjoy some degree of universal healthcare. Chances are that you’re healthcare system is subsidized through hefty taxes, if not owned outright by the state. The present state of healthcare in the good ol’ US of A, however, works like so:

Since Obamacare’s legislation, all Americans are simply required to “have” health insurance. While certain points of the law keep insurance companies from preventing people with pre-existing conditions from getting service, these are all still private companies. Some programs exist to assist the extremely poor in getting some assistance in paying for insurance, but most everyone has to pay for it on their own (and it is not cheap, folks).

Does you cell phone bill equal about half of your rent? ‘Cuz that’s about how an insurance plan actually costs…

And that’s it. The hallmark of healthcare reform in this country.

The end. Continue reading

America Wants Dead Soldiers

Dead or silent- exactly which doesn’t seem to matter much. And for the vast majority of us, that statement’s going to sound absurd, perhaps even offensive. After all, this isn’t the tail end of Vietnam. Returning servicemen aren’t being spat on.

Unless you count Bowe Bergdahl.

In June of 2009, Sergeant Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces after he disappeared from his base. He spent the past five years as a prisoner, repeatedly tortured and used for Taliban propaganda. After a prisoner exchange was made on May 31st of this year, Sergeant Bergdahl returned home at last…

…to a chorus of “coward!”, “deserter!”, and “traitor!”

Who needs “innocent until proven guilty?”

Continue reading

The Presidents’ Day Post

It’s one of the few holidays we get in the US, and seeing as how the nation’s executive office is as much a part of our cultural identity as it is part of our politics, it’d be remiss if we didn’t cover the topic. Below are some of the most interesting topics about the men who’ve lived in the oval office and how they’re affecting culture even to this day.

George Washington

The Image: Heroic freedom-fighter who bled liberty and could speak to bald eagles.

The Reality: Slave-owner, who was apparently abusive enough that many of his slaves tried to escape to freedom. Also a pretty bad general, in the greater scope of things, having lost the majority of battles in his military career.

The Implications: The idea that our founding fathers were somehow demigods of democracy and equality is shoved down our throats at most every opportunity, and as a result we’ve got a culture that constantly asks “What would the founders have wanted?” whenever any big social debate breaks out. Rather than deal with the problem as-is, both sides of the aisle try to appeal to the interpretations of men who owned slaves. For all the good they did do, I’m not sure I’m going to care too much for their opinion on property rights (or immigration, seeing as how they were huge racists). Continue reading

Fame Day: Johnny Cash

Readers, I do what I can to keep my fame days contemporary, but with Switzerland pretty much legalizing apartheid, bloody crackdowns in Egypt, and network giant Cisco cutting 5% of it’s workforce, finding something positive today just isn’t happening. So I figured I’d reach back a bit and pull out a shining beacon of hope from days gone by- my favorite music artist of all time, Johnny Cash.

Yes, he is looking at your soul.

Continue reading

Shame Day: “Black History”

adfhadfgdsfaAllow me to set one thing straight before we begin.

This isn’t some “let’s not talk about black history, let’s talk about human history” spiel, similar to sentiment put forward by Morgan Freeman a while ago.


I completely disagree with Mr. Freeman, but my reasons for that can be answered better in a different post.

This is a Shame Day post directed against “black history,” or rather, the reprehensible white-washed version we, the people, are spoon fed each February.

Now you all know who this is:

And you could probably tell me who this is:

We’re getting a little more obscure, but the literary-minded among you might even recognize who this is:

Continue reading

Will The Real Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Please Stand Up?

If you’ve read even a couple of my posts, you’ll probably be able to guess that yours truly is more than a little bit political.

The problem with having political views pretty divergent from the rest of the country is that I often get stuck between two (supposedly) diametrically opposed worldviews who flood my inbox with conflicting petitions. The group whose legalize gay marriage petition I signed fully expects that I’ll jump at a chance to demand a ban on assault rifles, and vice versa.

Today being both inauguration day and Martin Luther King day, the liberal and progressive groups I’ve signed with have naturally been rejoicing like kids on Christmas morning.

Me?

Not so much.

What ticks me off isn’t that Obama is going to be president for another four years (okay, that does tick me off, but no more than any other proposed candidate), it’s all these people attempting to draw lines between what happened earlier today on the steps of the capitol and what happened half a century ago only a short distance away.

Now this certainly isn’t the first time Obama and MLK have been thrown together, and as simple examples of key figures in African American history, there’s really nothing wrong with that. What gets me- what really gets me- is how the two men are imagined as being part of the same great lineage, and nothing could be further from the truth.

What is so often forgotten is that MLK wasn’t simply an advocate of non-violence for the purpose of advancing the cause of civil rights- he was an advocate of non-violence for the purpose of stopping violence. MLK despised conflict, and was one of the staunchest voices of opposition to the Vietnam war. But hey, don’t take my word for it, hear it from the man himself:

Strong words, eh?

Those sentiments of King don’t exactly overlap with those of Obama on the subject of drone strikes and decade-long military occupations. Heck, at 3:40, King straight up declares his views to be biblical- something that the neo-cons and religious right in this country would definitely take issue with. Can you imagine MLK living today?

Well you don’t have to- Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks, already has.

Again- regardless of feelings about either MLK or Obama, you can’t deny that the two of them were/are integral figures in American history, but it’s there that the similarities need to stop. Guantanamo Bay was not King’s dream for the country. Same goes for drone strikes, indefinite detention, record deportation rates, and the White House’s inaction on the wrongful execution of Troy Davis.

I’m just speculating, but I imagine King’s reaction would look a bit more like this.

And not so much like this:

It’s just something to think about…