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Soldier's Death Causes Rift in Illinois Family
November 14, 2003 11:25 AM   Subscribe

"George Bush killed my son." With these words, peace activist Rosemary Slavenas buried her son, Brian, a National Guardsman and "great, big kid" killed in the downing of a Chinook helicopter in Iraq. A tragic story of an Illinois family split in two by the death of their son, who received two funerals -- one military, with honors, and the other, with strong words for the current administration.
posted by digaman (96 comments total)

 
Quick - somebody give her a cushy job at Halliburton. Nothing like a pile of war profits to ease the pain of a child lost to violence.
posted by 2sheets at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2003


Whoa, if our president is over there firing missiles at our helicopters we got ourselves a problem.
posted by xmutex at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2003


I guess Rose thought her son was just a pretend soldier. "I mean he looked so cute in his uniform." Fuck off Rose.
posted by Witty at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2003


Fuck off Rose

Yeah, support the troops! Bush/Cheney '04! WOOOO!

So, Witty, what unit you with?
posted by moonbiter at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2003


I guess Rose thought her son was just a pretend soldier.

Or maybe she thought that being a soldier meant that if/when he died as one, it would be in defense of his country.
posted by badstone at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2003


It's sadder the press reported this. Let them grieve: how ever they would like. She buried a son, some privacy would be better.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2003


I'm sorry for Ms. Slavenas' loss, but I find her protest very disrespectful. Her son was a soldier by choice and knew what he was getting himself into. By protesting how he died, Ms. Slavenas is dishonoring him and who he was. If he were a civilian casualty, her action would be appropriate.

I disagree with the war myself and do feel that Bush is accountable for many things - however, I would never choose my son's funeral to dishonor what he obviously believed in.
posted by widdershins at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2003


Cut her a little slack. She just lost her son. That has to be the greatest pain a person can ever go through. It is unnatural to have to bury your child.

I wasn't particularly for this war to begin with, but we are stuck now, and need to clean up our mess for the sake of world security-and yet every death is a death too many.
posted by konolia at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2003


Witty, that was the rudest and most tasteless remark I've ever read on metafilter.

Take the rest of the day off, do something you enjoy and stop telling mothers who just lost their children to fuck off.
posted by mosch at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2003


Good to see Witty supporting our troops and families in their time of grief.
There's no beating good old chickenhawk style compassionate conservatism.

Next thing you know FAUX will be showing pictures of our dead on TV and aWol Bush will turn himself in for court martial!

to dishonor what he obviously believed in.

He believed he was poor and the best way out of poverty was through military service. Nothing else is 'obvious'. Supporting the crazy ideas of aWol and company is not a requirement of military service. Supporting the Constitution is. You are the one who should be ashamed of how you dishonor him widdershins.
posted by nofundy at 12:02 PM on November 14, 2003


moonbiter, badstone: don't feed the troll.
posted by Ptrin at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2003


Yeah, Ptrin, you're right. I should know better. But man, sometimes ... I mean, if this woman's son were alive and heard/read a comment like that, I have no doubt that he would be looking to kick the living sh*t out of the person who said it. We are talking about a woman who's son was killed, and she's going to be a bit off and looking to cast blame. But the attitude of "keep you f*cking mouth shut" just ain't going to fly. That's just not right.
posted by moonbiter at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2003


He joined the National Guard - for money, for benefits, for patriotism, for serving the nation that was founded on principles that he believed in. All of these reasons - mixed together - are why he joined, I'd wager. His death is sad - but he will always be remembered as a hero and a great American.

As for his mother - I can't imagine her pain. I have no doubt that she is sincere in her beliefs, even if I disagree with them. My disbelief does not, however, diminish her anguish. Nor does her pain diminish her son's role and patriotic spirit.
posted by davidmsc at 12:20 PM on November 14, 2003


Chicken hawk down.
posted by the fire you left me at 12:28 PM on November 14, 2003


i feel witty,
oh, so shitty!
posted by quonsar at 12:38 PM on November 14, 2003


nofundy, I fail to see how I dishonor him.

Supporting the crazy ideas of aWol and company is not a requirement of military service. Actually, it pretty much is - if you choose to commit to military service you choose to do the president's bidding. If your orders are contrary to your beliefs, then you have to make your choices based on that.

I feel very sorry for his mother. But I also do think it's inappropriate to have a separate service just so she can say her piece. His father and brother both attended the military service and do not share her views. Do I understand her pain? Yes. Do I share her views? Yes. Do I think she chose a good way to express them? No. But that's only my opinion. My thoughts are with her and her family.
posted by widdershins at 12:39 PM on November 14, 2003


Even though he lost his life, he has the thanks of grateful folks like Witty. Makes it all seem worthwile dosen't it.
posted by jonmc at 12:41 PM on November 14, 2003


Easy, Jon...for us military folks, being remembered is a HUGE part of our service -- whether we perish in battle, on active duty, or as a long-since retired veteran.

Lt Brian does have the gratitude and respect of legions of military personnel, their families, and veterans.
posted by davidmsc at 12:46 PM on November 14, 2003


Well said davidmsc.

Following orders is quite different from agreeing with said orders widdershins.
The oath is to protect the Constitution, not the current politicians ideas.
You imply the son agreed with the crazy ideas.
I state there is no evidence.
The only one the mother wishes to dishonor is the aWol pResident and his commitment to get more sons killed.

Perhaps the son agreed and his mother is reflecting that sentiment?
You dishonor the son when you diminish his mother by implying her statements at his funeral service was anything less than heartfelt , true and genuine and a reflection of her son's sentiments (unless you can prove otherwise.)
posted by nofundy at 12:48 PM on November 14, 2003


I'll likely be flamed for this, but it's a genuine curiosity, so I'm going with it: if you thank someone for an act or service, aren't you implying that you not only condone but appreciate what they have done? Would I thank someone who has done something I consider abhorrent? If I consider the 'war' in Iraq a moral disgrace, should I really feel thankful for those who carry out its atrocities daily?

Just a thought.
posted by xmutex at 12:50 PM on November 14, 2003


walk a mile in someone else's shoes instead of being so cleve and witty
posted by Postroad at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2003


david, nofundy: I am grateful for this young man's sacrifice and sad at his passing, regardless of my feelings on the war. The comment was meant as a jab at Witty's feeling it neccessary to take a gratuitous jab at a greiving mother.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on November 14, 2003


Very good then jonmc. It probably goes without saying (but I'm taking no chances) that witty is anything but.
posted by nofundy at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2003


nofundy, I don't personally know whether Brian was pro- or anti-war. The fact that he was in the military made me believe that he agreed with this government's military policy. My belief is that people take responsibility for their choices and as such, they wouldn't voluntarily enter military service unless they felt very comfortable with executing orders coming from their president. I understand that many people don't agree with me on this, though.

Since there are military people in this thread, I would appreciate it if someone would answer this question: If an enlisted person disagrees with military orders and/or policy, what are his/her choices?

Sorry if I'm derailing the thread...
posted by widdershins at 1:31 PM on November 14, 2003


I'm with you, xmutex. I'd like to hear what others have to say about that thought.

At some level, in some way, doesn't a soldier have a decision to make when it comes to following an order? Should I support troops who follow orders I don't support?

Well, let the flaming begin...
posted by josephtate at 1:33 PM on November 14, 2003


Have to log off but look forward to reading any responses later ~
posted by widdershins at 1:34 PM on November 14, 2003


he will always be remembered as a hero and a great American.

Except for the part where his body is brought back to the US in secret and no one in the White House will bother to go to the funeral because too many soldiers are dying for them to bother.
posted by Nelson at 1:35 PM on November 14, 2003


It is unnatural to have to bury your child.

"Unnatural" is certainly the wrong word there. Uncommon, perhaps, but not tremendously so. Even in this modern era, we probably all know at least one person who has had a chiild die, and it used to be far more common.
posted by rushmc at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2003


If an enlisted person disagrees with military orders and/or policy, what are his/her choices?

Well, you can be kicked out. And, uh, well, that's pretty much it.
posted by rushmc at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2003


The fact that he was in the military made me believe that he agreed with this government's military policy.

Speaking as someone with a good friend who is a Lt. Col. in one branch of the military who has been fighting this government's military policy tooth-and-nail in the post-9/11 era, I've learned not to make the same assumption.
posted by scody at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2003


Boy, even I remember "Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" The fact is that this president is responsible for her son's death, just as LBJ and Nixon were during Vietnam. The buck--and the coffins--stops where?

and what Nelson said.
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2003


I didn't mean unnatural in that sense, of course. Simply on an emotional level. Those of us with children simply expect we will go before they do.

I have a friend who lost an adult daughter in a car accident fairly recently, and one of the things she said at the funeral is that mothers aren't supposed to outlive their children.

On the other hand my great-grandmother had 6 children and outlived all but one.
posted by konolia at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2003


A grieving mother deserves a modicum of tolerance, but
did George Bush force her son to join the Army? Was she aware of the kind of job a soldier has to do and the kinds of daily risks associated with his duties?

Until all the idiotic, irrational sixties hippies are gone, this kind of faulty "blame the Man" logic will be around, I guess. But it's a very stupid thing to say and it's absolutely not news or FPP worthy for that matter.

Now this is more levelheaded and dignified:

"Brian's death was not caused by President Bush," said Slavenas' brother, Eric. "We stand behind President Bush. [Brian's] death was caused by an Iraqi guerrilla who fired a missile, which took down his aircraft."

"I see my son as a hero," said Ronald Slavenas, Brian's father. "He was not a high-strutting soldier. He was no Rambo. But he was doing the best he could for his country. He did his job."
posted by 111 at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2003


The Germans did their jobs too.
posted by digaman at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2003


You know, this is a subject that has two approaches: the emotional and the logical. Emotionally I think all of us would say that every death in this conflict is painful to hear about. Since I have a son that age who plans a career in the Air Force after college, it is particularly hard for me, as I can so easily put myself in the shoes of each grieving mother.

On the other hand, the logical view: Whether or not this was a just cause, whether or not this was necessary for national security, whether or not this helps or hurts the goal of defeating terrorism...these are things that require hashing out in a context that excludes emotion.

If this is a just cause, then these deaths are a sad necessity. If it is NOT a just cause, then they are a tragedy (as I now think of Vietnam.) Either way my heart breaks, but heartbreak should not affect the logical decisionmaking process on whether or not troops go into conflict.

Notice I didn't say whether or not I agree with us being in Iraq. Either way that would have been beside the point.
posted by konolia at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2003


Which is not to impugn the memory of Brian. But poet William Stafford, who spent four years in a labor camp during WW2 for being a conscientious objector, wrote this:

Objector
by William Stafford

In line at lunch I cross my fork and spoon
to ward off complicity--the ordered life
our leaders have offered us. Thin as a knife,
our chance to live depends on such a sign
while others talk and The Pentagon from the moon
is bouncing exact commands: "Forget your faith;
be ready for whatever it takes to win: we face
annihilation unless all citizens get in line."

I bow and cross my fork and spoon: somewhere
other citizens more fearfully bow
in a place terrorized by their kind of oppressive state.
Our signs both mean, "You hostages over there
will never be slaughtered by my act." Our vows
cross: never to kill and call it fate.
posted by digaman at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2003


The Germans did their jobs too.

No they didn't. That's the Nuremberg excuse. There are very different motivations at work. To equate the American soldiers with the Nazis is unspeakably immoral, delusional, historically inaccurate and, to put it mildly, stupid.

Yeah right, give us a bad poem about "conscientious objectors". Perhaps if you read it out loud to the leaders of terrorist cells in the Middle East (many of whom do not hesitate to send their own sons to certain, brutal death as bomb attack martyrs) they'll be instantly moved to tears and become pacifists on the spot.
posted by 111 at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2003


US in secret and no one in the White House will bother to go to the funeral because too many soldiers are dying for them to bother
Called: privacy, you want the whole world watching your family mourn your death and a white house staff was there, just not someone like Bush whom would take away the focus of the funeral.

But I also do think it's inappropriate to have a separate service just so she can say her piece.
They played taps at both funerals so a military presence was there. Add too, those whom oppose war/Bush. Would you want his name spoken at your grave side? Remember this is all about/for YOU, as this is what will be remembered that you're taking to your grave?
posted by thomcatspike at 2:22 PM on November 14, 2003


111, when you come up with a better idea than everyone "becoming pacifists" on the spot, tell it to Gandhi. I'm sure he'll want to hear about it.

I wasn't, by the way, equating our soldiers with Nazis -- or didn't intend to. I was making the point that when atrocities become another "job" -- on either side -- everyone's in deep shit, as the last thousand years of history attest.
posted by digaman at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2003


I apologize to everyone for my comment... I clicked on post far too quickly; totally uncalled for. Agreed. I just can't stand to see people act like being in the military is anything but EXACTLY what the military is for. For the better part of the last 30 years, it has been, indeed, a "peaceful" way to make a living. But the chance of risking one's life has always been there.

I'm couldn't feel any more terrible that she's lost her son, honest. I wish that both sides of this conflict could come out of this with ZERO loss of life. I don't want this war any more than the lot of you. I just find her comments disrespectful to everyone, me, you, Bush, the armed forces, his fellow soldiers, vets, etc... not to mention completely ridiculous.

But again, I'm sorry.
posted by Witty at 2:40 PM on November 14, 2003


also, aren't National Guards supposed to be, well, national--and not in some other country? They ran out of Army, Marine, Air Force, and Reserves?
posted by amberglow at 2:46 PM on November 14, 2003


Nelson: Except for the part where his body is brought back to the US in secret and no one in the White House will bother to go to the funeral because too many soldiers are dying for them to bother.

Nelson, you're an ass. It is not the job of the President to attend funerals of every (or even any) military person who dies while serving the country.

Every single time that I (and my fellow airmen, soldiers, Marines, and sailors) hear "Taps," or snap to attention and render a salute during the playing of the National Anthem (a daily occurence at most military installations), we are honoring - remembering - respecting - the men and women who have died while wearing the uniform.
posted by davidmsc at 2:54 PM on November 14, 2003


If I consider the 'war' in Iraq a moral disgrace, should I really feel thankful for those who carry out its atrocities daily?

It is a tricky issue, xmutex. On the one hand, I have a problem with people in military because they've signed up to do whatever is asked of them, including kill foreign people to protect business interests in areas where we don't belong.

That said:

1. I don't want them to die for it and I don't want their families to suffer their loss.

2. Each branch of the military runs ads that make their organization look like some big technical school, a Dungeons and Dragons game or "Top Gun," without any mention of getting shipped off to be cannon fodder, so there's a definite bit of coercion there.

3. Because there are people willing to sign up, I didn't have to spend my late teens or early twenties getting idiot haircuts and being shouted at.

As for the "honoring" part, that's a lie that most people have agreed to keep quiet about. Because the military is now all volunteer, the "doing one's patriotic duty" stuff is largely veneer. If there were better opportunities in the private sector for high school graduates, there would be a huge drop in people who "patriotically and selflessly serve their country" in the military. It's mostly a way out of a shitty situation that you were born into, not some driving obligation.

I agree that there's nothing noble about being in the armed forces. But we've got to be thankful that someone's doing it or else the government would force you and me to die for Haliburton just like it killed and maimed a lot of people senselessly (and in vain) to make a stop the spread of anti-business ideology in the 60's and 70's. So in a sense, those soldiers are heroes because they've protected me (and every other male citizen of the post-Vietnam era) from my own government.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:55 PM on November 14, 2003


The fact is that this president is responsible for her son's death, just as LBJ and Nixon were during Vietnam. The buck--and the coffins--stops where?

What about those who decided to join the military since 9-11... knowing that the likelyhood of going into combat was pretty high. What about those that decided to join in this last year or so? Is Bush still to blame? It's not like anyone is being drafted. Even Army chefs have to be willing to die for us, should it ever come to that.

Getting college tuition, medical benefits, technical training (or whatever), all should be a potential enlisted person's SECOND thought before signing up. The first is, "Am I willing to die?"

To equate the American soldiers with the Nazis is unspeakably immoral, delusional, historically inaccurate and, to put it mildly, stupid.

Well, he did says Germans, not Nazis. I wouldn't consider them to be one in the same.
posted by Witty at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2003


amberglow: The National Guard of any given state serves the governor of each respective state...but the President has the authority to "federalize" them to serve in a broader context.
posted by davidmsc at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2003


mothers aren't supposed to outlive their children

The fact that children predeceasing their parents is not the norm does not imply that there exists such a thing as a "supposed to."

If this is a just cause, then these deaths are a sad necessity. If it is NOT a just cause, then they are a tragedy

I disagree that they are a "tragedy" in such a case because the word "tragedy" implies something that occurs due to forces beyond one's control (often "fate"). Failing to keep leaders with mad imperialist urges in check hardly qualifies, IMO. Rather than a tragedy, I would call it a consequence of an immoral act (which makes it no less upsetting...in fact, I would argue that it makes it MORE so, as there is no death more difficult to bear than an unnecessary one).
posted by rushmc at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2003


Witty, who sent them to war? Whether a soldier was itching to fight or just getting college tuition and training, it's always the president's responsibility to send young people to fight and die. They should recognize that responsibility and perhaps be a little less eager to start elective wars, and realize that war should be a last resort.

and thanks, davidmsc--I had no idea they were sent to Iraq until this story. I had only heard of them being sent to bases here to replace those soldiers sent over to Iraq.
posted by amberglow at 3:09 PM on November 14, 2003


Is Bush still to blame?

Even if you think that fighting Iraq is somehow a just cause and in the national interest, as Commander in Chief, Bush is to blame for this asinine exploratory surgery approach to war. There is no exit strategy and never was. They thought they'd just blast their way in there, and then everything would just sorta come together. Now we have kids dying left and right, not as a part of any strategy for "winning" this war, but because no one knows what they're doing, how they got there, or where they are going.
posted by badstone at 3:10 PM on November 14, 2003


Add too, those whom oppose war/Bush. Would you want his name spoken at your grave side?

Spoken, and cursed roundly by each and all.

Getting college tuition, medical benefits, technical training (or whatever), all should be a potential enlisted person's SECOND thought before signing up. The first is, "Am I willing to die?"

I'd say the first should be "Am I willing to kill," and then the two you list.
posted by rushmc at 3:10 PM on November 14, 2003


I had only heard of them being sent to bases here to replace those soldiers sent over to Iraq.
In WWII the National guards were some of the first to go. That is why so many ended up in the Baton March. Goes for Reservist too, they are the "temps" in a sense.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:15 PM on November 14, 2003


I disagree that they are a "tragedy" in such a case because the word "tragedy" implies something that occurs due to forces beyond one's control (often "fate")

Well, all I can say to that is that if my son were to die in those circumstances it would be a tragedy to me and my family.

I respectfully suggest that you may be splitting a few rhetorical hairs here. I'd really rather discuss the broader issues.
posted by konolia at 3:27 PM on November 14, 2003


Until all the idiotic, irrational sixties hippies are gone, this kind of faulty "blame the Man" logic will be around, I guess.

I was born in the early 70s, and like mischief recently said here, if you think I'm a hippie, you can come over and check out my gun collection.

And we're going to be around for a long, long time.
posted by majcher at 3:30 PM on November 14, 2003


The fact that he was in the military made me believe that he agreed with this government's military policy.

"ours is not to reason why
ours is but to do or die"

or something..
posted by carfilhiot at 3:31 PM on November 14, 2003


(Bataan March)

In today's military, it is referred to as "Total Force" -- the utilization of active-duty, Guard, and Reserve. People from all branches of service and all types of service are currently "over there."
posted by davidmsc at 3:31 PM on November 14, 2003


To equate the American soldiers with the Nazis is unspeakably immoral, delusional, historically inaccurate and, to put it mildly, stupid.

just like your riposte - which misses the point entirely.
posted by carfilhiot at 3:43 PM on November 14, 2003


If all we sent were active duty, my city would be a ghost town.
posted by konolia at 3:52 PM on November 14, 2003


It doesn't matter if it's a soldier's job to die where needed or if they should expect that the need may arise. The fact is that the president as commander in chief is responsible for deciding how those lives will be spent. A soldier's mother, and in fact all citizens of the USA, should be free to ask whether those lives were well spent. We owe it to the memory of those who went before and to all of those who will have to go after.

You can question the general (or commander in chief) without taking anything away from the memories or the sacrifice of the brave men and women who paid the ultimate price. They went where they were told. They did what they were told. They performed their jobs to the best of their abilities. We appreciate and respect that. Now, is the person telling them where to go and telling them what to do doing his job with equal honor and valor? That's a question that people must be free to ask.
posted by willnot at 4:05 PM on November 14, 2003


If there were better opportunities in the private sector for high school graduates, there would be a huge drop in people who "patriotically and selflessly serve their country" in the military...So in a sense, those soldiers are heroes because they've protected me (and every other male citizen of the post-Vietnam era) from my own government.

Whether a soldier was itching to fight or just getting college tuition and training, it's always the president's responsibility to send young people to fight and die.


Mayor Curley, AmberGlow you've managed to say it for me. No, no one MADE these people join. Their individual circumstances, however, may have made the military the best option to choose in order to have more than some dead-end, minimum wage future. Those in power have to consider the fact that they're not shipping off units of equipment, they're sending out human beings who, if they don't die themselves, might be horrifically maimed for life (both physiologically and psychologically), or have the death of another human being on their conscience for the rest of their lives. I don't think they have done their duty in exploring all of the alternative options in this situation. I believe that war is sometimes the only option. I don't believe that it was the case in this situation.

If my brother was sent into war somewhere like the Congo, where there are staggering atrocities comitted every day, with the specific intent to right a great injustice with no financial benefit to be gained by those in power, I might be sad and fearful for his well-being but I could look upon his potential death as a true sacrifice for the betterment of humanity. However, the campaign in Iraq has always been tainted by the fact that so many in power stand to gain ridiculous amounts of money from this war. If my brother were to die in this war, I'd have a hard time looking at it as an honorable sacrifice and would take no comfort from the platitudes of government officials. I think that's where this woman's coming from.
posted by echolalia67 at 4:09 PM on November 14, 2003


amberglow - You're just twisting the arguement about the purpose of soldier to fit in with your feelings about this war. Yes, Bush sent them to war, that's part of the President's responsibility... the President, not George W. Bush. Whether you think the war is right or wrong is simply your opinion, and certainly a fine one. But that doesn't change what a soldier's job is and whose responsibility it is to decide if and when to use them. Badstone is mixing the arguement too.

Anyway, it's not like I don't understand where you're coming from. I just don't agree with the outright statement that Pres. Bush directly responsible for the deaths of ANY of these men and women.

I'd say the first should be "Am I willing to kill," and then the two you list.

Perhaps. But I don't think the foremost duty of the company clerk is to kill or be killed. But he/she could certainly die if the CP were hit by a missle... never chance at seeing the enemy or defending himself. Everyone shares a chance at death... not so much the killing part.
posted by Witty at 4:17 PM on November 14, 2003


The woman just lost a son due to a war that she considers to be unjust. Bush started the war which she thinks wasn't necessary. Her son was called up for that war that she considers uncalled for. If she wants to blame Bush then she's totally entitled to do so. Nice attitude to have about a grieving mother. Her son paid the price for her to speak out on whatever she wants with his life. Witty, maybe you and any other "companionate conservative" out there that would insult a grieving mother should be the ones to "fuck off".
posted by whirlwind29 at 4:18 PM on November 14, 2003


Uhh... I did apologize for my comment. I uhh... tried to explain that it wasn't exactly how I felt, and attempted to clarify my point. But maybe you only got 4 or 5 comments into this before posting. I assure you, I'm as [companionate] as I can be, and as conservative as I need to be (not sure what that has to do with anything though).
posted by Witty at 4:26 PM on November 14, 2003


OK, let's divorce this of any present context then, just to get Iraq/Bush politics out of the picture. Suppose you had a child, and that child was in some branch of the military, and the President of the United States, whoever s/he might be in this contextless world, asked your child to swim to the Arctic Circle in their skivvies and look around for terrorists hiding underneath the ice or masquerading as polar bears. Suppose then that your child dies somewhere along the way in this process. You're saying that you wouldn't hold the President to blame for your child's death?
posted by badstone at 4:34 PM on November 14, 2003


badstone, would I think your bad because "bad" is part of your nickname. Why make it such a bizarre task. Ask the same that this mother just went through. As they have not found WMD, thier mission. Yet you could ask, ... if he was sent their to aid the Iraqis as he arrived after (for me the war is not over ) the war.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:44 PM on November 14, 2003


"After the war": mean when Bush said it was over.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:46 PM on November 14, 2003


Also thinking these thoughts are what my brother asked the family not to think about when he left. There is no wrong way to mourn. You may cause more grief for yourself which you're stuck with it.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:51 PM on November 14, 2003


Witty, I'm saying that the direct responsibility falls on the president (any president) to send young people to fight and die at any time in any circumstances. It's his decision, just as it's the soldier's decision to become a soldier, with all the responsibilities those decisions entail. Needless deaths in an elective war (as opposed to WW2) are perhaps even more directly the responsibility of the man who decided to go to war. Again--the buck stops where? The motivations for joining up, or the motivations for the war do not exclude the fact that one man (maybe one day, one woman) made the decision to go to war. It's simple. The blood of all fallen soldiers in every war falls on the president in power at the time. If they hadn't made the decision they had, there wouldn't be these funerals. It's simple, and part of the great responsibility of the presidency. This woman is one of many grieving parents rightfully placing blame where it lies.
posted by amberglow at 5:02 PM on November 14, 2003


Uhh... I did apologize for my comment. I uhh... tried to explain that it wasn't exactly how I felt, and attempted to clarify my point. But maybe you only got 4 or 5 comments into this before posting. I assure you, I'm as [compassion] as I can be, and as conservative as I need to be (not sure what that has to do with anything though).
posted by Witty at 9:26 PM on November 14


The depth of your companion is totally evident in your first response to this woman's grief. All you're doing now is trying to cover your tracks so people won't think you're a total asshole.
posted by whirlwind29 at 5:05 PM on November 14, 2003


witty apologized, whirlwind--we're discussing now : >

also, I really can't separate this war and pres (due to intense dislike and anger at these deaths which i see as preventable and not necessary), but feel the same way about all presidents who send soldiers to war (whether the war is one i supported or not)--it's their responsibility.
posted by amberglow at 5:15 PM on November 14, 2003


This mom is wrong and should be ashamed of herself, even in grief. She obviously thought that her son was a pretend soldier and/or in a pretend world. Which is not that different from anyone who doesn't think going into Iraq in the first place was a necessary step in world still replete with non-civilization (Muslim or otherwise).
posted by ParisParamus at 5:19 PM on November 14, 2003


I respectfully suggest that you may be splitting a few rhetorical hairs here.

Perhaps I am, but not just to be annoying but because such "rhetorical hairs" can in fact speak to the very crux of the matter.

How we talk about things (in the media and amongst ourselves) helps shape how we see things and what we think about them. If we term these deaths—and all the other negative consequences of the invasion—to be a tragedy, it encourages us to accept the idea that it was all inevitable and therefore no one is responsible, so no one should be held accountable. It is important to remember that none of these outcomes were inevitable, that they are the result of choices that were made, and that those who made those choices should be held accountable for them. We should not let the facts be spun into other than they are.
posted by rushmc at 5:24 PM on November 14, 2003


They performed their jobs to the best of their abilities. We appreciate and respect that. Now, is the person telling them where to go and telling them what to do doing his job with equal honor and valor? That's a question that people must be free to ask.

That just about sums it up. Does anyone here disagree with that?
posted by rushmc at 5:26 PM on November 14, 2003


Which is not that different from anyone who doesn't think going into Iraq in the first place was a necessary step in world still replete with non-civilization...
I'm sure Torquemada felt the same way as you, Paris, and the crusaders, and that (ex)judge in Alabama......
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2003


She obviously thought that her son was a pretend soldier and/or in a pretend world.

I don't see how that's obvious. She had a husband and two other sons in the military. I think she knows the drill. I don't necessarily think she said anything that didn't come from a tremendous sense of grief and loss. That's a hell of a thing to sit in judgment and say that she should be ashamed of what she said. Agree, don't agree, I can empathize with the sentiment she's expressed.
posted by psmealey at 5:32 PM on November 14, 2003


More about Brian Slavenas, from the AP:

The pilot killed when his helicopter was shot down in Iraq on Sunday came from a family with a history of military service--his father was a paratrooper, one of his brothers fought in Grenada, and the other served in Desert Storm.

So going into the military was a natural path for 1st Lt. Brian Slavenas, even if it didn't fit his personality.

"He wasn't one of those gung-ho, want-to-go-to-war-type guys. He was there to do a job," said his brother Eric Slavenas, who served in Grenada with the U.S. Army.

The recent college graduate was one of 16 soldiers killed when insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter west of Baghdad. It was the deadliest strike against U.S. forces since they invaded Iraq in March.

Slavenas stood 6 feet 5 and weighed nearly 230 pounds but was a "gentle giant," according to his family. The 30-year-old competed in weightlifting competitions and played the piano beautifully, his father, Ronald Slavenas, said Monday from his home in Genoa--a town of about 4,300 carved among cornfields.

"He was kind of a quiet person who had a circle of friends but wasn't the rah-rah type of guy who did all kinds of drinking and stuff like that, because he didn't like violence and destruction," Ronald Slavenas said.

Slavenas wasn't eager to go to the Middle East when he left in April, family members said. He had just graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with an engineering degree and was looking forward to starting his career.

Nevertheless, he felt obliged to serve his country.

"He wasn't keen on the idea, but he said, 'Once you're in, you can't cop out,' " Ronald Slavenas said.

Slavenas was from the F Company 106 Aviation Battalion based at the Greater Peoria Airport, where flags flew at half-staff Monday.

He was born in DeKalb, about 60 miles west of Chicago, but moved to Ft. Wayne, Ind., as a child. He later moved back to Illinois and attended high school in DeKalb, where he played the drums and threw the discus.

After high school, he became a paratrooper with the U.S. Army and then joined the same unit of the National Guard that his father was in for 17 years. He later went to officer school and decided to become a helicopter pilot.

Besides his two brothers and father, he is survived by his mother, a stepmother and a stepbrother and stepsister.

The Slavenas family has mixed feelings about the conflict in Iraq.

Marcus Slavenas, who was a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War, said the United States should not have sent troops over there again.

"I'm just furious that we're over there," he said.


and from CBS:

The pilots, Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Smith and 1st Lieutenant Brian Slavenas, fought to keep their aircraft level. The soldiers say the pilots slowed the helicopter's fall, saving many lives but losing their own.
posted by digaman at 5:40 PM on November 14, 2003


I think a bit of Henry V is appropriate (Mind you, I think Shakespeare is always appropriate :) ):

KING HENRY V
I dare say you love him not so ill, to wish him here alone, howsoever you speak this to feel other men's minds: methinks I could not die any where so contented as in the king's company; his cause being just and his quarrel honourable.

WILLIAMS
That's more than we know.

BATES
Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the kings subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

WILLIAMS
But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of
subjection.

(Henry V, Act Four, Scene 1)
posted by kaemaril at 5:44 PM on November 14, 2003


Beautiful.
posted by digaman at 5:54 PM on November 14, 2003


I agree that there's nothing noble about being in the armed forces.

I beg to differ. I don't believe this war is neccessary and that the motivations behind it are suspect. And in an ideal world military forces would not be neccessary. Although that ideal is something we should aspire towards, we will probably never reach it.

In the world as it is, however, there is always the possiblity, however remote, that we may have to defend ourselves against an enemy or defend an ally under attack. To be willing to risk your life in that manner that others may live, that is noble.

Also, this guy was a National Guardsmen, who are usually the last to be called into oversaes duty if I understand correctly. They're usually used in disaster situations or as security at events like the Olympics, like my buddy JakeEXTREME. Who I hope hasn't been called over yet. Sounds like he joined for the job training and college money, not out of any thirst for war.
posted by jonmc at 5:55 PM on November 14, 2003


I had a great aunt and uncle. He had served in the Korean War and she was a die-hard pacifist. Up until the day he died she berated him for fighting in an "unjust war".
It didn't matter that he lost most of his unit saving a South Korean town from being slaughtered, or that he had been tortured as a POW.
He got something of a last laugh, though, when she decided to tell an aged Korean woman how much better Korea would have been if the US (sic UN) hadn't intervened. The old Korean woman slapped her hard across the face and came out with a string of Korean expletives that would have made a longshoreman blush.

And he never would tell her what those words meant.
posted by kablam at 6:13 PM on November 14, 2003


I just realized this guy was the one whose picture was on the front page of our local paper. Before he died. I believe one of our local photogs was over there to take the pic.
posted by konolia at 6:16 PM on November 14, 2003


Yeah, she's wrong to grieve in that manner. Never mind the fact that the boy who came out of her had his fucking guts blown across the desert. You have an awful lot of nerve telling others how they should bury their dead.
posted by trondant at 6:47 PM on November 14, 2003


Great quote, kaemaril. And very appropriate.

I would suggest, however, that soldiers in the U.S. armed services do not owe the same fealty that those soldiers did to the King. Not to the President, and not even to the country. I would like to think that we have advanced to the point that their primary allegiance must be to humanity, and to their own conscience and moral compulsion.
posted by rushmc at 7:26 PM on November 14, 2003


Well put, rushmc.
posted by josephtate at 7:41 PM on November 14, 2003


Or maybe she thought that being a soldier meant that if/when he died as one, it would be in defense of his country.

It has been a long, long time since that could be said to be true. Basically since WWII. Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Korea, Vietnam.....etc None of those conflicts were about defending America or its freedoms. There were no direct attacks against the USA that prompted our involvement in any of them. Some questionable events used as excuses for some to be sure though.

That being said, is it justifiable to use our military at all when national defense is not an issue? Surely we have seen much use in the last decade for humanitarian missions, and have lost soldiers on said missions.


I agree that there's nothing noble about being in the armed forces.

Military service is not an act of nobility, maybe you should enlist and go find out what it is about, rather then speculate and form erroneous opinions
posted by a3matrix at 7:47 PM on November 14, 2003


[The Germans did their jobs too.] No they didn't. That's the Nuremberg excuse. There are very different motivations at work. To equate the American soldiers with the Nazis is unspeakably immoral, delusional, historically inaccurate and, to put it mildly, stupid.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

There were undoubtedly Nazi soldiers who were responsible for making decisions like rounding up all the Jews, Gypsies, queers, and halfwits and putting them to death. And there were undoubtedly Nazi soldiers who were immoral scum that did unconscionable things.

But I believe that by far and large, many of the soldiers were conscripted children who hated being in the front lines, hated the demands put upon them by their superiors, did not know of the atrocities that were being committed back in the homeland, and wished the whole damn thing were just over so they could go back to their families and lead a normal sort of life.

Rather like our soldiers during that war, who were in much the same situation.

Rather like the soldiers in Iraq now.

Frontline grunts are frontline grunts the world over: they follow orders, hate the killing, and try to avoid being killed. You have to start looking far up the chain of command before you start to find "very different motivations at work."
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 PM on November 14, 2003


Early in the nineteenth century a gallant American naval officer, Stephen Decatur, proposed the toast, "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she be always in the right, but out country, right or wrong." Nearly 150 years later the United States Third Army, marching into Germany following the collapse of the Nazi regime, liberated the huge concentration camp at Buchenwald. Over the main entrance to that place of torture and death, the Nazi elite guard had thoughtfully written, "My Country, Right or Wrong."
(Deutsch 1974, 124-125)
-----

To suggest Bush and the Coalition of the Killing are anything but responsible is ridiculous. They manipulated the emotions of Americans after 9/11 and maneuvered into a war they'd been wet dreaming about since Clinton got into office in '92. The willingness to die for your country is noble, but this mess is anything but.
posted by The God Complex at 9:48 PM on November 14, 2003


Sorry, that should read "our" country.
posted by The God Complex at 9:49 PM on November 14, 2003


Until all the idiotic, irrational sixties hippies are gone, this kind of faulty "blame the Man" logic will be around, I guess. But it's a very stupid thing to say and it's absolutely not news or FPP worthy for that matter.

Now this is more levelheaded and dignified:


No, it just agrees with your viewpoint, actually. If anything, it's simpler, and that's about it. Obviously this young man was killed by an Iraqi, but to exclude the possibility that anyone else could be responsible is logically vacuous.
posted by The God Complex at 9:53 PM on November 14, 2003


I apologize to everyone for my comment... I clicked on post far too quickly; totally uncalled for. Agreed.

Witty: Good show. We could use more of this type of courage on MeFi.
posted by moonbiter at 10:03 PM on November 14, 2003




George Bush is personally killing American soldiers?

"Does Chomsky know about this? Because, man, oh, man, is he ever gonna hit the roof."
posted by keswick at 11:15 PM on November 14, 2003


All you're doing now is trying to cover your tracks so people won't think you're a total asshole.

Right. Ok. I think it's a little late for that, don'tcha think. I've been a "total asshole" to a lot of people here for a long time. You just haven't been paying attention. That aside, I assure you that any apology I offer is done so with the most sincere intentions.
posted by Witty at 1:32 AM on November 15, 2003


>Nelson: Except for the part where his body is brought back to the US in secret and no one in the White House will bother to go to the funeral because too many soldiers are dying for them to bother.

>>Nelson, you're an ass. It is not the job of the President to attend funerals of every (or even any) military person who dies while serving the country.

Fuck that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:04 AM on November 15, 2003


George Bush is personally killing American soldiers?

I don't see that terminology used even once in this thread, so your point, if you had one, is irrelevant.
posted by The God Complex at 2:37 AM on November 15, 2003


Witty pile on!

No, just kidding. And as for the people lambasting those who "blamed the Man" during the sixties, I think you're forgetting the difference between draft and volunteer. If my son were drafted and subsequently killed in a war he didn't want any part of, I'd certainly blame the president for his death. If, on the other hand, he joined voluntarily, then the death is unfortunate, but not GW's fault or responsibility.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:18 AM on November 15, 2003


But I believe that by far and large, many of the soldiers were conscripted children who hated being in the front lines, hated the demands put upon them by their superiors, did not know of the atrocities that were being committed back in the homeland, and wished the whole damn thing were just over so they could go back to their families and lead a normal sort of life.

Um, dude, you're making that old liberal mistake of acknowledging these people as, er, people. Like the terrorists (and I suppose now the Iraqis), they were MONSTERS, man! Alien pods of pure evil, who shared nothing with we human beings! Evil, wicked, unrepentent one-dimensional monsters that have absolutely nothing in common with us. Nothing, do you hear?

If, on the other hand, he joined voluntarily, then the death is unfortunate, but not GW's fault or responsibility.

I understand your point and even agree with it up to a point, but I think you've got to add the caveat that such is only the case so long as what he gets remotely resembles what he might have reasonably expected when he signed up. If Bush for his own amusement started ordering troops to line up and jump off a cliff one by one like lemmings (don't do), I think that alters the moral obligation to honor one's commitment. Obviously many people don't feel that starting preemptive wars is the same level of breach of faith, but one is entitled (and, I think, has the moral responsibility) to examine the question.
posted by rushmc at 6:31 AM on November 15, 2003


Getting college tuition, medical benefits, technical training (or whatever), all should be a potential enlisted person's SECOND thought before signing up. The first is, "Am I willing to die?"
Boy, there's a slogan you'll never see on a recruiting poster.
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 AM on November 18, 2003


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