As those thinking of becoming soldiers arrive on the slushy doorstep of the Army recruiting station here, they cannot miss the message posted in bold black letters on the storefront right next door.
The two storefronts. Staff Sgt. Gary J. Capan wants the sign removed from the window next door to his Army recruiting office in Duluth, Minn.
"Remember the Fallen Heroes," the sign reads, and then it ticks off numbers - the number of American troops killed in Iraq, the number wounded, the number of days gone by since this war began.
The sign, put up by a former soldier, has stirred intense, though always polite, debate in this city along the edge of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota. In a way, many of the nation's vast and complicated arguments about war are playing out on a single block here, around a simple piece of wood.
The seven military recruiters here, six of whom have themselves served in Iraq, want the sign taken away. "It's disheartening," Staff Sgt. Gary J. Capan, the station's commander, said. "Everyone knows that people are dying in Iraq, but to walk past this on the way to work every day is too much."
The above is from Monica Davey's "A Veteran's Iraq Message Upsets Army Recruiters" in this morning's New York Times. Let's pretend we're working in the current administration and forget all about free speech for a moment to instead zero in Capan's remarks. "But to walk past this on the way to work every day is too much." Oh boo-hoo.
Poor little, tender-hearted recruiter. It's just "too much" to look at a number "every day." Capan (sounding like a capon?) is just too delicate to be faced with numbers and figures.
This is where we are thanks to the Bully Boy and his out-of-sight-out-of-mind methodology. Just acknowledging the number of those soldiers lost in war is too much for someone enlisted in the military? Only in Bully Boy's America could such an embarrasing remark be made by someone in uniform.
Note, this isn't a total death toll. There's no figure posted for Iraqis or, for that matter, for "coalition" forces. Just for Americans who have lost their lives serving in Bully Boy's war of choice and suddenly the military has to grab the vapors because they're far too refined and delicate to face a number, day after day. Not the faces and names of those who've given their lives, just the number is too much.
Possibly Capon (either on his own or with guidance from above) made the comment thinking that it would help take down the display which would lead to a jump in recruitment? Possibly he thought casting himself as Blanche du Bois, too overcome by the loss of Belle Reve to address it, would play well? If so, he's sadly mistaken.
The sign addresses one (one) cost of war. The cost paid by the military. The military Capon serves in. But seeing a number is just too much for Capon. Perhaps he should hang paper laterns and take other steps to preserve his illusions? Or possibly he's been so infantilized, the way the nation has been, under the Bully Boy that he truly thinks if he doesn't think about something, it will just go away.
I hope Capon (or someone above him) thought up the statements as part of a p.r. move to gain sympathy. That's sad enough, but if this is reflective of what Capon truly feels, that's even sadder. One wonders how such a delicate flower made it through basics? One also wonders what the prospects for some memorial, long after the occupation ends, in D.C. are when the sight of mere numbers forces swoons from those wearing the uniform?
In the real world, Danny Schechter's "The News About the News: More Media Decline in 2005" (BuzzFlash) is worth noting:
Perhaps it's just me-but news seems to be coming our way faster and with a greater fury than ever before. A tsunami of "Breaking News" bulletins courses through the veins and ganglia of what passes for an information system. A corporate news system pumps it on more platforms dedicated to "more news in less time" on the web, on TV, on the radio, and now on the phone. It's hard to escape the deluge.Before we have time to digest it, or understand any story's implications, it's on to the next, making it more and more difficult to focus on any one item or connect it with another. The author Larry Beinhart of "Wag the Dog" fame speaks of the proliferation of "fog facts" in which important information systematically disappears from view.
No wonder a paralysis of analysis has set in with "on message" spin machines making it harder and harder for us to assess trends objectively, construct meaning or let us think for ourselves. Rather than inform, much of the news often disinforms distorts and deceives. Rather than strengthen our society by talking truth to power, our media system increasingly undermines democracy by making a civil discourse harder and harder to practice. The loud-mouthed partisans in the punditocracy turn substantive debate into noise. Heat, not light, proliferates.
We are all under attack-some from bombs, others from bullet points. The media system has become a battlefield of competing values and often the absence of any values.
2005 was a year in which the media not only brought us news but also became part of the news as scandals usually associated with government and politicians rippled through the media companies, their boardrooms and newsrooms.
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