Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nov.10: de Adder has.....

...a first rate editorial cartoon. Always a good artist, he has this time brought in a serious topic (the failure of our prime minister to do much for veterans); and he has done it with humour - a very hard-edged humour. This is first-rate. (It's a picture of Harper kneeling in remembrance while ignoring two men who sit at a distance - veterans selling poppies.)
     The Saturday "Faith" page remains stunningly boring. I can imagine nothing more likely to make people find something else to do on Sunday. I note, though, that the ads show Vision United Church will be holding its service in the the Empire Theatre. This looks like an intriguing story. And a story on that would be a lot more interesting that than today's trite sermonette.

     To my surprise the "Business" page had no story on the third, newly-appointed member of the NB Business Hall of Fame, "the great one". (Well, okay, "the other great one".)  Maybe he's too modest to allow it.
    It was depressing to read of vandalism on the Northrop Frye statue outside the library. This is a brilliantly conceived piece of work.  I am not, as a general rule, fond of statues. But this one is in a class by itself
 something for every Monctonian to be proud of. (except, it seems, for one lout.). Fortunately, it is repairable.
     Today's edition is heavily devoted, and reasonably so, to Armistice day. But one can see that a change of tone for the day cannot be far off.

     The editorial, for example, is full of the sort of mindless blather that shows the editorialist has never really thought of what the day means. It's the old "they died for our freedom" stuff. No. They didn't. Our freedom was never threatened. It was never possible in any war from the Boer War to Libya that our freedom was in danger. No enemy in those wars was anywhere close to having an ability to invade North America which is, in fact, the most unattackable area in the world. The logistical problems alone make such an invasion impossible.

        That does nothing to reduce the sacrifices that were made. But the mindless repetition year after year of "died for our freedom" just shows that the writer knows nothing about warfare, and has never much thought about it. And if the editorialist really thinks Libya or Afghanistan have any capacity or even wish to destroy our freedom, then I despair for any flash of intelligence in that paper.

       Norbert Cunningham comes closer when he suggests we are coming to a change in our approach to Remembrance Day. As he says, the number of veterans we know is diminishing. The personal contact with wars of the past is disappearing. So where does Remembrance day go from here? Does it just fade away?

I don't think it does; and I don't think it should. It can go in two ways. It can continue as it is, focusing on the veterans and the purely military aspects of war. If it does, it will become a cheerleader for all the wars we are now drifting toward - and we are drifting toward a great many of them. We are letting ourselves be used to fight the wars of American big business as we once fought a war of British big business - the Boer War. We need to start thinking more broadly about the meaning of war and the victims of it.

We can start with remembering the wives and children and mothers and fathers of those who went over, who lost them them for four or five years, and often forever.

Then we can remember the other victims of war, the civilians. Almost every war in the past century has killed far more civilians than soldiers. The death toll of civilians is commonly ten times that of soldiers, often more.
Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan (the latter invaded by us and the Soviet Union) lost over five million of all ages down to infants. Then there are the crippled, the orphaned, the refugees, the amputees - and the victims of mysterious chemicals in war - like the large numbers of still-born babies in Iraq, especially in towns heavily bombarded by American troops.

Now, we are moving into the age of automated warfare - and we're being manipulated in how we see it. Two days ago, an Iraqi jet fired on what the pentagon referred to as "an unarmed drone."

Omigod! The drone wasn't even armed? What kind of animals are they to shoot at an unarmed drone? The word "unarmed" was not put n their accidentally. It was put there to condition how we would think about it. O, the poor drone!"

Will we, in future, celebrate the sacrifices of those brave men who direct the drones while sitting at computer desks in Virginia and directing them to targets who are 90% civilian? Actually, it has already begun. The US government has approved combat medals for those courageous pilots - seriously.

We do our veterans and their families no honour if we turn Remembrance Day into a "three cheers for war day". We do our own children no favours if we allow that to happen.

Sorry to go off on my own editorial. There simply was very little in The Moncton Times and Tribune worth talking about.

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