Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let me count the ways

meme about honoring dead troops and nobody will ever repost it and blah blah blahSo, this thing was on a Facebook friend's page today.

It's like a lot of them: mindlessly "patriotic," hectoring, and inaccurate.

First, "yesterday"? This was August 6, 2011. It was not yesterday. What kind of "respect" is it that causes people with loved ones still in country to fear for their lives? That stirs up fear of another major attack? How hard is it to write a meme with the right gorram date on it?

Second, "the real reason for flags at half staff"? What does that mean? That flags cannot be at half staff for any reason other than American soldiers dying in combat? Because that's ridiculous. And given the most recent "flags at half staff", it can't help but make me wonder (not about my particular friend, but the source she got it from). Like that sheriff in South Carolina, who by the way was pretty quickly set straight, we don't get to decide why flags are flown at half staff, and dead foreign statesmen have been a valid reason for decades now. Regardless of the color of the statesman, or the president.

Third, "only seen this posted one time"? Then how did you get it?

Fourth, comparing troops' deaths to celebrities' deaths is pointless. The last time this made major rounds was after Whitney Houston died. Like it or not, more people in this country knew who she was than knew those 31 soldiers. And more people know the Fast and Furious franchise.

Fifth, "respect"? Posting something on Facebook is about the lowest value you can give to "respect". Do you lobby your congressmen to get the VA fully funded? To stop us going into wars of choice without the manpower or equipment to fight them? Yes, maybe Afghanistan wasn't a war of choice, but Iraq was, and the invasion of Iraq is the biggest reason the war in Afghanistan is still going on, damnit. And why it took so long to accomplish its biggest stated goal. Are you ready to have your taxes raised to support the troops' needs here and abroad, while they serve and afterwards? Do you vote that support? Do you in fact do anything but post hectoring Facebook memes and put a sticker on your car?

Sixth, "fallen heroes". I quoted Mike Dunford once:
Referring to everyone in uniform as a "hero" is a nice, easy way for the bulk of the American public to assuage whatever pangs their consciences might experience when they consider their own lack of sacrifice during the current war. If everyone who serves is special, heroic, above and beyond the norm, you don't have to feel as bad for not participating yourself. You've left it to the heroes to bear that burden.
I'm not sure that's true of everybody who throws the word around, but it is of many. But this certainly is true: Not everyone in the military is a hero (I wasn't), and saying that they are only devalues the word.

Seventh, Afghan soldiers died that day, too. In that same attack. Afghans on our side. I know most of these memes are pure tribalism (just like that "real reason" thing), but can't we be better than that? Can't we at least try?

And last, that hectoring tone. That "I bet no one cares enough to repost this". It's one thing to say "I reposted out of respect" and another to explicitly say that only someone who reposts "cares enough". The truly repellent thing about all these memes is that accusation, the straight-out labeling of anyone who doesn't join this ritual as callous, troop-hating, un-American...

The odds that I would repost a meme like this are very small anyway. But when you tell me that I have to to pass some purity test ... no.

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At 1:21 PM, December 10, 2013 Blogger Mary Butler had this to say...

"Every word in it is a lie, including 'and' and 'the,'" as Mary McCarthy almost said.


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