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Old Glory

By Miniluv in Op-Ed
Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:51:18 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

As most everyone knows, this week has been one of senseless brutality and death. Rioting in the middle east, Israeli soldiers being lynched, the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen followed shortly by the bombing of the British Embassy in the same city. As a citizen of the world, and human being, I find all of this violence deplorable.

What I find even more deplorable is that nobody seems to care. I'm not saying we should all be building shrines, marching in protest or anything like that. Merely that I'm amazed to see the common populace so unaware of ANYthing going on in the world. In my case it's particularly enraging when people are unaware of the deaths of US servicemen and servicewomen abroad.


Today I was out and about like I usually am on days off...having gotten up early to be horrified by the front page of my local newspaper. After taking in my news for the morning I headed out..and noticed businesses with flags at full staff. I haven't served in the military, I'm not violently patriotic..though I do consider it a positive quality of my character. I was however enraged and then some seeing businesses so blatantly disrespecting their countrymen, and their President, by not following the instructions of President Clinton that flags remain at half staff until Monday Oct 16.

How can people have such blatant disregard for the honor and dignity of their countrymen? 7 confirmed and 10 missing sailors of the US Navy willingly put their lives upon the altar to be spared or not as life saw willing, and they did this in defense of all the rest of us. Having finally had enough of this outrage I stopped at my local bank who were mistakenly flying their flag improperly. Demanding to immediately speak with whomever was in charge of the flag and how it was being flown I ended up in the manager of the banks office. All he had to offer for explanation was, "I didn't know." I asked if he knew what had happened, and he said sure, it was a tragedy in his opinion, but he didn't even THINK to find out if flags were to be flown at half staff with near a score of dead or missing servicemen. Is this man DAFT? I do not know the intricacies of flag flying rule, and there are many, but I do know that when servicemen die in tragedies like this the flag flies at half staff.

The final straw in this incident is the incredible weakness we Americans are showing as a world power. The UN has decried the escalations of the Israeli's in the West Bank and Gaza Strip...escalations certainly linked to the bombing of the USS Cole. This resolution saw the United States sit out on the vote. Why? Out of long standing friendship for Israel.

Friendship is not standing by and watching hundreds dying in senseless violence. Friendship is not abstaining from stating our moral beliefs in the face of innocents being slaughtered. Friendship ends when moral behavior ceases, whether on a personal level or national, and it's time the administration took a stand on behavior like this the world over. Israel, and others like her, MUST understand that no civilized nation can support the escalation of violence with more violence. This is not how civilized nations solve problems.

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Old Glory | 48 comments (45 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Poorly informed. (2.16 / 6) (#1)
by delver on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:54:21 AM EST

I agree with your disgust, but I can see how it might be done without a negative intent. A vast majority of students at the University I attend didn't even know what had happened to the Cole untill the professor mentioned it. I can't help but feel that somehow most people just missed out on it. This isn't to excuse their actions in any way, but it might help understand what might lead to such apparent idiocy. Hopefully the news will trickle down to everyone before too long.

Woah there, tiger.... (3.36 / 11) (#2)
by TheLocust on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 03:18:49 AM EST

This resolution saw the United States sit out on the vote.

If we are to remain moderators in the Middle East peace talks, then why should we vote either way. While i do agree that we support the Israelis more than the Palestinians, it is wise not to throw stones.

And about the half-mast thing... get off it! Damn, i read the news, but i didn't hear anything about the "instructions" of Clinton, and btw, when did they become INSTRUCTIONS, anyway? It is a horrible tragedy, tis true, but you can't expect every person to remember their goddamned flag on the occasion. If it makes you feel any better, i played Battleship today, too! Oh dear, i'm a heartless daft bastard. Hehe.


.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

It's the way it is. (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by Miniluv on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:30:06 AM EST

The President has ALWAYS had discretion as to the flying of the flag. If you read the press release, he INSTRUCTED Federal institutions, etc to fly it until Monday. These are not mandatory to businesses and the like, but tradition holds that when the President declares flags be flown at half-staff, everyone complies. There is complicated etiquette involved in the flying of the Stars and Stripes, something some of us choose to take seriously out of patriotism.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
Proportion. (3.31 / 19) (#3)
by sakico on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 03:39:17 AM EST

One moment here...

A few American soldiers, who *did* know that they could die at any time in the service of their country, were killed. A hundred Palestinians and a few Israelis have been killed in the past week, and just who knows how many homicides there were in the US just yesterday?

Fly the flags at half-mast - as if it really makes a difference to the dead.

When I heard about the bombing of the ship, I laughed. Who'd have thought that a tiny boat could disable a multi-billion dollar battleship? When I heard that later in the day, the UK Embassy in Yemen was bombed, I did not laugh. I wondered just what sort of statement someone is trying to make by bombing a civilian facility. Get it into your head that a military casualty is not the same thing as a civilian casualty.

If someone joins the military, they'd better be prepared to pay the price. All I can say is that if *I* had been in that bank manager's shoes, I'd have considered calling the police to remove the deranged patriot from my building.

Also, am I correct when I read your statement to say that the escalations in the Middle East are a result of the destroyer incident? Hardly. In addition, your remarks about how a civilized nation solves problems are idealistic bullshit. It's all well and good for the bullied to say "bullying is wrong", but that won't stop the bullies. It's ironic, too - coming from the United States. I don't believe I need to explain why.

Point not quite made... (5.00 / 5) (#6)
by Miniluv on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:17:35 AM EST

No, I believe the destroyer incident is stemming from US policy in the Middle East, now and earlier. I definitely think it was sparked by the current crisis though.

As to your comment that military casualties are different from civilian casualties...in time of war I would agree. When we send soldiers into harms way, in a known combat zone, that's one thing. When they're attacked by terrorists during a routine refueling, that's something different. Either way we should honor their memory for serving their country. As to the flag issue mattering to the dead, it matters that we continue to tell everyone who serves our country that they DO matter, alive or dead. That we do not forget those who serve us, and who die for us in that service.

As to the bank manager? I wasn't screaming and hollering, nor was he making excuses. He honestly didn't know...perhaps it didn't come across, but I know him somewhat well, which is why I approached the bank in the first place. As soon as I explained to him the nature of their mistake he and I hustled outside and corrected it. Had he objected I may have strenously made my point, and being a customer of said institution I have somewhat more right to be making a point than John Q Public. Perhaps you regard my views as extreme, and that doesn't bother me. I know not everyone shares them, though there is a certain modicum of respect I believe due to the dead.

That includes the Palestinian, Israeli and other dead, not just the Americans, though they deserve special recognition, because they were serving in their country's uniform, from their countrymen.

On the whole the entire situation, Palestine, Israel, the bombings, the whole thing is disgusting to me. Perhaps it's naive, but I had thought MAYBE we were getting close to outgrowing these acts as a race.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Terrorists (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:35:54 AM EST

Maybe the bombing of the destroyer was a consequence of the Middle East problems, however the attack was well planned, so it’s quite safe to assume this had been mapped out a few weeks before the unrest kicked off.

Maybe these guerrilla groups plan out lots of attacks whether or not they’re going to take place, so when an opportunity of unrest comes up they have a target ready and waiting.

It's a sad situation.


[ Parent ]
Act of terrorism (4.00 / 3) (#31)
by sakico on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:32:59 AM EST

Alright, you aren't some sort of extremist, though that was indeed the impression I was given by the original article in which you claimed to be outraged. I suppose that the symbolic attachment runs more deeply than I can ever understand... "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."

The Middle East is a known combat zone, though. Sure, there may not be an active declaration of war, but US and UK planes are still bombing Iraq fairly frequently. The people who were responsible for the suicide attack would have thought of it as dying for their people, their culture. It was yet another act of war, in the longwinded tale of western intervention in the Middle East. They were not "blowing shit up for the sake of blowing shit up", they were trying to drive the Americans out, and they may have acheived some degree of success. Remember that the policy of refueling in unfriendly nations is now under fire.

The anti-American sentiment in Canada and Europe is small-potatoes when compared to the anti-West of the Arab world. A great many of them have considered themselves at war with us for decades. Calling it terrorism simply because the governments don't openly condone it is rather foolish, in my opinion. The Unabomber was a terrorist, Usamah Bin Laden and his like are on a jihad which is essentially equivalent to the Christian Crusades.

[ Parent ]

Destroyers (3.33 / 3) (#14)
by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:25:40 AM EST

The modern day destroyers actually have less amour than their WWII counter parts. The reason being, new ships rely on fast manoeuvring and sophisticated radar so the ship should never come into the vicinity of heavy gunfire. Obviously if you load a ship up with amour, it cannot move as swiftly, and therefore becomes a sitting duck.

I believe the Cole had an aluminium hull, whilst WWII boats had steel, but obviously the latter had to sustain direct attack.


[ Parent ]
Not Aluminum (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by scorpion on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:29:44 PM EST

The ships in the US are not made of Aluminum... the USS Cole was 1/2 inch steel. The rest of your response was correct.

[ Parent ]
Steel, yes.. (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by Dr Caleb on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 02:09:19 AM EST

But WWII Destroyers were up to 6 inches of steel armour. Battleships and carriers could have three to four times as much!

If you think that M1A2 Main Battle tanks can have as much as 10 inches of hardened depeted uranium as their armour, 1/2 of steel might as well be an aluminum can!


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

I'm disgusted by the media coverage (3.83 / 12) (#4)
by Lode Runner on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:03:54 AM EST

I think the media does a horrible job of covering the Middle East riots and their consequences. The vast majority of reports I've read are either strongly biased towards the Israelis or the Palestinians. In the pro-Israel reports there are brief hints (in passive voice) that Israeli troops killed some, or maybe even a lot of people they shouldn't have. In the pro-Palestinian reports there brief mentions (again, in passive voice) that many of these "massacre victims" and "martyrs" were firing guns and throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops.

What we need is a full picture of these riots but all we get are sensationalist pictures of that Palestinian kid's death and of a lynch mob tearing apart a couple of Israeli soldiers. Put these two images side by side and what do you get? It's straw man Israeli versus straw man Palestianian, and not the real picture. So instead of becoming informed of what's really going on, people use the news to justify their already warped view of the world.

And then there was the U.S.S. Cole. Nobody who knows much about the Middle East is surprised by the terrorist attack (er... I mean guerilla operation) one bit. But ordinary Americans seem just shocked that such a thing could happen. But no fear, others are just as bad... soon we'll be launching cruise missiles and people will be stunned by "American aggression" (or rather, strategic and tactical countermeasures). I blame all of this shock on shoddy journalism.

I don't know about you, but I can't figure out how the Middle East will ever achieve peace if everyone involved only listens to what they want to hear.

Braindump:
What I see is two sides who are hitting each other over the head in a fight to claim victimhood. Then each side accuses the other of blaming the victim for the violence.



Re: I'm disgusted by the media coverage (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by swr on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:43:20 AM EST

I think the media does a horrible job of covering the Middle East riots and their consequences.

Over the past 5-10 years or so the major networks have drasitcally cut back on their spending for world coverage (or so I've heard). AFAICS all they do is fly a reporter and cameraman out there just for a backdrop and get their actual reports from some common feed. I seem to remember similar crappy coverage during the war with Iraq. Whatever happened to the reporters out with the troops in the jungle like in Vietnam (before my time)? Aren't we supposed to be in an information age?

But the submitted article is not so much about the quality of the coverage, as the fact that people aren't even watching. I can't help but wonder if there is a cause-and-effect relationship there.

BTW, good post LR.



[ Parent ]
Well, Yes... (2.25 / 4) (#11)
by Matrix on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:34:07 AM EST

...What do you expect? Remember that most of the media in America is owned by three or four big companies. And what they want, more than anything else, is for people not to care about minor things like forigners killing each other half a planet away and just sit back and be good little consumers. After all, with America, the world's policeman, at the top of the heap, things like violence "don't happen" anymore... Unless they're of advantage to the big media companies, of course.

Paradoxically, Vietnam may have been what killed reporting on things like Vietnam. All those reporters out there and all the interest that generated, then all the Nixon stuff following it... That made the major networks quite a lot of money, IIRC...


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Apathy (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:32:23 AM EST

CNN and MSNBC etc seem to follow the "what's happening and when it happened" rule rather than "what's happening, why it's happening? (to any depth anyway)", so people see lots of ferocious pictures on their TV screen with no appreciated of what truly going on.

I was on IRC yesterday when somebody came into the channel and said, "What's going on? Did the Israeli army attack a US boat or somethin?", I think the ignorance speaks for itself.


[ Parent ]
Flag Rules (4.38 / 13) (#12)
by Jade E. on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:17:09 AM EST

I'd guess the reason you don't know the intricacies of the flag flying rules is that there are none. The proclamation you linked is a direction from the head of the federal government that all *government* agencies must fly their flags at half staff. The President could no more order your local bank to fly their flag at half staff than he could order them to take it down. They could, if they wished, fly their flag upside down and on fire. While many places voluntarily chose to fly their flags at half staff, your outrage at your bank is totally unjustified. (Unless it happened to be a Federal Reserve bank, but I assume you would have mentioned that.)

And just for perspective, I'm in the process of joining the Army, and I ship off to basic training this coming Wednesday. If I were to die in a terrorist attack while deployed abroad, of course I would like to think that the general public would honor my passing. But, the very reason I'm joining is to defend the rights of those same people to have a choice whether or not to pay tribute to the servicemen who defend them, and in fact to have a choice in most every other aspect of their lives. It would be a sad day, and a giant leap towards a police state, when the federal government could tell private organizations how and when they could fly the American flag.

-Jade E.

Legal obligations and moral ones... (2.00 / 2) (#28)
by Miniluv on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:16:03 PM EST

There are in fact compelx customs related to the flag. No, they're not laws...in my opinion they're something rather more important. These rules apply strictly to Federal institutions, but they are typically observed by everyone flying a flag.

As for the perspective part...I'm proud to be a countryman of yours. In my opinion, humble or not, that's the exactly right reason to join the Army, or any branch of the service. I hope you never have to give your life for your country, but if you do I hope you're remembered and honored in a fashion befitting the sacrifice you make.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Just out of curiosity (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:27:17 PM EST

And just for perspective, I'm in the process of joining the Army, and I ship off to basic training this coming Wednesday

What are you hoping to do in the army? (Since you're a visitor of this site, I'd assume it wouldn't be an army grunt, probably an engineer of some sort.) Just curious...

Have a great day!

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
OT: Army job (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by Jade E. on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:14:35 AM EST

What are you hoping to do in the army? You pretty much guessed it. I'm signed up for MOS 31F, Network Switching Systems Operator-Maintainer.

[ Parent ]
Just for perspective... (2.00 / 2) (#42)
by Dr Caleb on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 02:19:13 AM EST

Many people die while in the service of their country. What about the three Israel reservists who died for theirs?

That's what they sign on for, not just to play with all the cool toys. If you were to give your life for your country, you will be honoured and remembered.

Every year. Novemeber 11th in Canada, Veterans Day in the States.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

open your eyes (3.25 / 4) (#13)
by Anonymous 242 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:20:57 AM EST

The fact of the matter is that horrible acts of violence like this go on virtually every day, but folks in the US only hear about the acts that involve the US or its close allies. In general, the world is an incredibly violent place. There are exceptions to this, the occasional oasis of peace does exist, but the world over, man countries have unspeakable violence going on right now and most of us in the US don't really want to know about, nor hear about it.

Re: open your eyes (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by Luke Scharf on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 12:50:36 PM EST

man countries have unspeakable violence going on right now and most of us in the US don't really want to know about, nor hear about it.

Can you give us some examples? I'm from the US and I'd like to know.



[ Parent ]
look for good global news sources (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 09:17:14 AM EST

The first step is to find decent sources of international news. The second is to keep in mind that violence is so common and wide spread that commonly the violence is only mentioned when work is started towards some sort of settlement. Oftentimes, even local papers will carry these types of reports, but they are almost always buried and take time pouring through the entire paper to get all the relevant information.

The Christian Science Monitor is a great source. Some headlines from their news in brief section:

  • A 30-day truce was agreed to by coca farmers and Bolivian authorities, clearing the way for the removal of roadblocks (below) that have hobbled the economy and caused at least 10 deaths.
  • Heavily armed troops escorted new President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan into Somalia's capital to assume the reins of the first central government since 1991. The show of force kept rival clan factions from fulfilling vows to block Salad's takeover.
  • Despite the signing of a deal to end two years of ethnic fighting in the Solomon Islands, operators of key businesses said they wouldn't reopen until they were satisfied it was holding.

The printed version of the Christian Science Monitor contains much that the online version does not. Consider looking it up at your local library or newstand. It will be much cheaper at your local library. ;)

The BBC has a decent international bureau. Look at some of their international headlines for today:

If you don't mind a very left-wing slant, In These Times has a great selection of news that many large news agencies leave out.

What I'd like to find that I haven't been able to yet are some decent news sites (in English) for Asia and Africa written by Asians and Africans.

[ Parent ]

another good site (none / 0) (#47)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 12:34:04 PM EST

Today I found a link to allafrica.com which apears to be an excellent source of news concerning Africa. Scroll through the headlines and you'll quickly see that violence on the order what is happening in the middle east happens somewhat frequently in many nations in Africa. I often wonder why these stories don't make as many headlines world wide such as US ships getting blown up or violence between Arabs and Israelis in the "promised land."

[ Parent ]

haha (1.66 / 9) (#16)
by boxed on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:07:26 AM EST

This is exactly the kind of US-centricity I bashed in my rant. So a few american soldiers got killed, they're soldiers for crying out loud, it's to be expected. The amount of violence in the world is currently on an all time low right now, not on a top as this rant claims. Remember all the small holocausts in Africa the last years? Well there is no one going on now. The same goes for the rest of the world. These are quiet and peaceful times. Not peacuful enough of course, but it never is...

Hmm (4.33 / 6) (#18)
by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:24:43 AM EST

I don't think you should disregard any life, it's not very nice to be so passé about the US servicemen who recently lost their life.

However, you do make some good points, 600,000 people died through ethic cleansing in Africa around 1994, and there was no international action. I can remember from the recently presidential debate Bush said 'Africa is important [?], however there should be priorities when it comes to action against ethnic cleansing'. Which basically translates to "it's ok for people to commit genocide in some places in the world, but not others", that's equality for you.



[ Parent ]
Not exactly (2.00 / 2) (#38)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:24:39 PM EST

Which basically translates to "it's ok for people to commit genocide in some places in the world, but not others", that's equality for you

I don't think Bush was saying that. Genocide is never OK. The question is, "Should the US get involved?" I don't think by not getting involved we are saying that an act is OK. For example, Putin's crunch on the Russian press sometime ago was not an OK thing to do, but you didn't see the US jump to action and threaten sanctions, military action, etc. The US (especially its military) should only get involved (as Bush put it), when our national interests are at stake...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
what about Kongo? (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by ooch on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:38:06 PM EST

If I Remember Correctly there is a quite bloody war going on in the african nation of Kongo. I don't ever read about it in the newspapers, but i believe some rebels supportes by Rwanda, Burundi and some other nations, are trying to overtrow president Kabila. The UN is to scared to stop it. And how about Sierra Leone? Still a civil war going on there.

And I am sure there are a lot of other places in the world where there is a war going on, you just don't hear about it.


[ Parent ]

US centrism (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by Miniluv on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:12:21 PM EST

Being an American, what other country SHOULD I focus on?

When did I claim violence was at any sort of statistical position? Never..becuase I don't care about that. Being an American I do care when American soldiers are the victims of terrorist attacks and people do not support and honor them.

As to the small holocausts in Africa, yeah I do remember them, I was apalled by them the same way that I'm apalled by what's happening in Israel.


"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Not us-centric at all. (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by aphrael on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:29:55 PM EST

This is exactly the kind of US-centricity I bashed in my rant

It's not US-centric to ask why other Americans don't care when their fellow countrymen are killed. It would be US-centric to ask why Swedes don't care when Americans are killed. :)

Yeah, they're soldiers. But they died in a symbolic attack on the nation --- they died, in a sense, for me, and for the people of my town, state and country. I have an *extremely* low sense of patriotism; i'd be happier if California were an independant country. But I can't see this attack as anything except a proxy attack on me, and have to respect for people who, in essence, died in my place.

[ Parent ]

Implicit assumptions (3.75 / 16) (#17)
by bugeyedbill on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:23:09 AM EST

This resolution saw the United States sit out on the vote. Why? Out of long standing friendship for Israel.

This writer of this article may be well-intentioned, and I respect him for that, but I think it is important to understand that states are not now nor have they ever been moral agents capable of a conscience, and therefore the idea that they can be 'friends' is absurd. Israel and US are not 'friends', they are both little more than large street gangs looking out for their own interests, and it just so happens that helping each other advance their interests. Maybe next year they'll be at each other's throats - like what happened with US and Iraq. Saddam used to be Uncle Sam's pal, even when he was gassing the kurds - and just as the Israelis are now mass murdering the Palestinians. Maybe next year US will be cluster bombing Tel Aviv.

Moreover, I feel bad about the US soldiers getting killed too, but no more than I would about anyone else getting killed. I feel bad about the 52k US soldiers who lost their lives under the diktat of pond scum Nixon and Kissinger. Imagine throwing your life away because some old fart needs to prove his manhood. But I also feel especially bad for the 4 million people who were killed in Vietnam by those same soldiers. My question is, where is the half-mast for the Iraqis, East Timorese, Kurds, Columbians, Vietnamese, and all those millions of other people directly and indirectly killed by the US? Do they get their memorial? Maybe we should fly a piece of colored cloth half-mast them since apparently a piece of cloth is all a human life is worth.

Nations can have friends (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by aphrael on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:20:31 PM EST

states are not now nor have they ever been moral agents capable of a conscience, and therefore the idea that they can be 'friends' is absurd

I disagree, sort of. 'States' cannot be friends, but 'nations' can be. There is a long-standing friendship between the Serbian and Russian nations (for example), or between the English and 'American' nations (if you will concede the existence of such a thing as an American nation), or between the Portugese and English nations.



[ Parent ]
general apathy (3.50 / 4) (#20)
by aprater on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:59:35 PM EST

What I find even more deplorable is that nobody seems to care. I'm not saying we should all be building shrines, marching in protest or anything like that. Merely that I'm amazed to see the common populace so unaware of ANYthing going on in the world. In my case it's particularly enraging when people are unaware of the deaths of US servicemen and servicewomen abroad.
I'm surprised that you're "amazed to see the common populace so unaware." I think it's safe to say that the common populace (in America, at least) is only aware of news that is entertaining or has a direct impact on people's daily life. Vietnam got the attention of the United States because there was a draft and many American soldiers died. The draft threatened to pull young American males out of their normal daily routines and fight. Other people's lives were changed because their sons, brothers, neighbors, etc were disappearing to fight, and some of them were dying.

In the Gulf War, very few American's died. It had relatively little impact on American daily life (besides the impact of the news itself). But the CNN coverage was amazing. Watching the images of anti-aircraft fire over a blacked out Baghdad with the eerie bomb sirens in the background was very entertaining - entertaining in the way that a horrible car crash is entertaining. It's surreal and frightening, so unlike normal daily life, that it's fascinating. If you ask anyone about their memories of the Gulf War, I almost guarantee that the image I just described is the one they'll remember.

In the case of the recent fighting in the Middle East, there has been neither large numbers of American life lost, or any images like the bombing of Baghdad. The image that I've seen the most is the one where a man is huddled in a corner protecting a child who is subsequently killed. That image is not entertaining. It's simply horrifying. In the case of the Gulf War, the media never showed actual people getting killed, only the city getting bombed. It's the difference between seeing a mangled car and seeing a mangled car with a badly mutilated body hanging out the window. The first is entertaining, the second is not.

A vast majority of students at the University I attend didn't even know what had happened to the Cole untill the professor mentioned it.
This doesn't surprise me either. When I was a student, I probably wouldn't have known either. For students, Chick-Fil-A burgers are more important than the incident with the Cole. Of course, I think this is probably true for most people. Imagine what would happen if Chick-Fil-A stopped serving Chicken Burgers tomorrow. People would be outraged.

I don't think there's anything to be done about this general state of apathy. Nor do I think it's a new phenomenon. I believe that people have always cared more about finding their next meal (even when it's very easy to find) than about the most monstrous atrocities happening half way around the world. There are exceptions, of course. Some people, for whatever reason, seem to be more empathetic than others. When they hear about a killing, they understand the reality and the horror behind the abstraction, and it sickens them.

But generally, I think, it's normal for the "common populace" to be so unaware and unconcerned.

It is a horrible tragedy, tis true, but you can't expect every person to remember their goddamned flag on the occasion. If it makes you feel any better, i played Battleship today, too! Oh dear, i'm a heartless daft bastard. Hehe.


onion-esque (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by saucepan on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:24:21 PM EST

> Is this man DAFT? I do not know the intricacies[...]

The power of symbols continues to amaze me. I agree that this is very serious and tragic--and certainly I would never dream of trivializing an issue about which others have strong feelings--but the tone reminded me strongly of something else I read once somewhere.



people are busy.... (2.75 / 4) (#24)
by omegadave on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:41:50 PM EST

...trying to get on with their lives. had you thought that maybe the person at the bank might have been more conserned with getting up today, doing whatever he/she needed to do for the day, and getting to his/her job? instead of assuming that everyone gets up and rushes out to read about horrible news, news that most of us are disgusted with and try not to get involved in. maybe you need to calm down and let people live their lives, ok? think you can handle that? thanks...

Zach Hartley

I totally agree (1.00 / 1) (#40)
by TimL on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:52:36 AM EST

This guy obviously needs to get a life. I mean, what kind of moron gets up early on their day off?
"Teach a man to make fire, and he will be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he will be warm for the rest of his life."
[ Parent ]
Evidence? (2.00 / 3) (#25)
by pete on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:25:24 PM EST

Has there been any evidence shown so far that the Cole explosion wasn't just an accident (e.g. stored weapon malfunction inside the ship or something)?

The conspiracy theorist in me knows how the government likes to use terrorism as a reason to take away more of our rights, and there hasn't been an incident in a while...with the damage already done, why not take advantage of it?


--pete


See today's NYT and other papers. (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by aphrael on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:16:43 PM EST

Today's papers indicate that the navy's inveestigators report that 480 pounds of explosives detonated. Witnesses saw two men in a motorized rubber dinghy race up to the port side of the vessel before it exploded. The press is, of course, being less than detailed --- but that's to be expected; if it was a terrorist act, then giving away *exactly* what is known would make it harder to take the case to trial, if it comes to that.



[ Parent ]
Besides.... (none / 0) (#46)
by minusp on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 10:38:35 AM EST

Take a look at the photos, especially the one closeup that has been printed *everywhere*... the hull plates are definitely blown _inward_, which just does not happen with an internal *incident*
Remember, regime change begins at home.
[ Parent ]
K5: Technology and Culture (1.80 / 5) (#26)
by JB on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:53:36 PM EST

Not politics and culture. I read K5 because it is about t-e-c-h-n-o-l-o-g-y and culture. I could say alot about the Middle East. I could say alot about Gore vs. Bush. Or abortion. But I won't say it here, unless it ties in with the technology and culture theme.

JB

Politics IS culture (4.00 / 4) (#29)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:19:16 PM EST

Politics is and essential part of culture: You can't seperate the two.

[ Parent ]
Tech and Culture. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by Nyarlathotep on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:36:11 PM EST

We really should read the "Technology and Culture" as "***CULTURE*** and technology," i.e. allow the occasional general culture story if it is good and unique, but not allow any story which have only technological significance and no cultural significance (i.e. do not post anything about the new Linux kernels).

This will keep us from falling into the pit of repeatitive stories that is slashdotism. Anyway, i would not want to see more then one story about the middle east situation here before 2001, but this one will do nicely. It's quite relevent to the diffrences between people that live in diffrent countries.. something many people who spend a lot of time online incounter.

If your really looking for technology only then your always going to like slashdot more then K5.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
I agree... (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:19:29 PM EST

I agree wholeheartedly... kind of. :-) There are a lot of stories here on politics, more so than ones on technology. Is this a bad thing? Nah, I don't think so. View a site like this as a living organism, one that responds to its environment (those that visit the site). If the people who visit the site start wanting to talk about politics, then the site will turn into a "politics and culture" site. This is not a bad thing, in my book, let the site go where the readers lead it...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Why the sudden outrage? (2.33 / 3) (#35)
by Chakotay on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:22:19 PM EST

Violence like this is going on all around the world constantly, but nobody seems to mind. When it reaches CNN, however, it is suddenly shocking and horrifying.

The Israeli trample the Palestinians for years on end. The Palestinians don't take it any longer, and start throwing rocks. The Israeli start shooting at the rock-throwing Palestinians, killing about a hundred of them in several days of uproar. Then two Israeli soldiers are lynched by Palestinians, and a global outrage follows. The Israeli bomb Palestinian police stations out of vengeance, and still the public opinion of the western world stays with the Israelis.

What the hell is wrong here??? A handful of Israeli soldiers have died, while scores upon scores of Palestinian civilians have died. The Israeli have even used rockets to level police stations - civilian targets. I have nothing against Jews or Muslims or whatever other religions, but it is my firm belief that the Israeli are in the wrong here. They've been bullying the Palestinians for ages, and the simmering pot has finally started boiling out of control. Why does the West support Israel, while they don't support the Palestinians, who have an equal, if not greater right at their own country in that region?

--
Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

Why does the West support Israel? (none / 0) (#45)
by dalek_of_god on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 12:30:44 AM EST

The west supports Israel because the West created Israel. And because of it the Palestinians and most of the Arab countries hate the West.

So now the West sides with the people who like them, who happen to be people who rely on them to retain power. Western powers (read the U.S.A and only the U.S.A) can rely on Israel to support Western interests. The same can't be said for any other country in the region. And because of this, the Israelis' sickening grabs for lebensraum are tolerated again and again.



[ Parent ]
The problem is hypocrisy (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by bjrubble on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 08:16:00 PM EST

Several people have (correctly) pointed out that nobody has a legal obligation to fly the flag as instructed by the President. But I don't think that's the point.

Incorrectly flying a flag at full mast because you can't be bothered to keep up on the state of the country, is the equivalent of pasting Greenpeace stickers all over your behemoth SUV. I regard it as the worst kind of hypocrisy, making a visible public statement in support of various ideals, while simultaneously demonstrating that those ideals aren't really worth enough to bother following.

OTOH, it's the kind of thing that, if I saw it, would make me just shake my head and say, "that's America." Because I *do* see Greenpeace stickers on SUVs. All the time. A nation of platitude-mouthing decadents, we are.

(Okay, okay, let's not be to US-centric. Most people *everywhere* in the first world are platitude-mouthing decadents.)

Old Glory | 48 comments (45 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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