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Marlboro Man
November 13, 2004 9:55 AM   Subscribe

"Marlboro Man" reflects on his sudden fame
posted by falconred (70 comments total)

 
That is an amazing shot. Good to hear the backstory on it.
posted by mathowie at 10:10 AM on November 13, 2004


Great post! Thanks, falconred.
posted by keswick at 10:36 AM on November 13, 2004


In related news, soon to be a made-for-TV movie starring Giovanni Ribisi. In the film version, they'll spend half those 12 hours saving starving orphans from insurgents, and instead of a guy serving out his hitch, he'll be turned into a patriot who learned the importance of his mission. Instead of a guy who'd prefer to be at home on his roof, smoking a Marlboro.
posted by lodurr at 10:40 AM on November 13, 2004


good post, I saw the story this morning in the LAT and the first thing I noticed is how incredibly young this kid looks, once he removes the dirt and encrusted blood and after he shaves. he is 20, for Chrissakes. a baby, really.
posted by matteo at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2004


Philip Morris must be thrilled.

the LATimes showed this pic of us desecrating a mosque there on their front page on the 12th
posted by amberglow at 11:11 AM on November 13, 2004


I saw a commercial for the Air Force the other day.

Except it wasn't a commercial for the Air Force, it was a commercial for God/Good.

In the commercial a young boy wanders around the cafeteria in his school. He sees another with too much water to drink, and he takes that water. He sees another with an extra piece of fruit, and he takes the fruit. He finds a young girl with an extra bit of sandwich, and he takes the sandwich.

This extra meal he then takes out onto the street. He hands to meal to a poverty stricken man. He gave it to the beggar, without even being asked.

Then the hook sets in. 'Do you want to help? Join the Air Force. We do this every day.'

Then we see a shot of a cargo plane dropping supplies.

The commercial was a lie*. An evil lie. Such things abound in times of great moral confusion.

If anyone knows where I can download it, please mention so. It is in serious need of deconstruction.

*Video from the last uprising in Fallujah. And no, insurgents do not normally walk down the middle of the street.

On preview...phillip morris will be pleased. They will send many, many packs of cigarettes. They will think themselves to be helping. They will profit from war.
posted by wah at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


amberglow: just out of curiosity, have you ever been inside a mosque?
posted by b_thinky at 11:39 AM on November 13, 2004


have you ever been inside a mosque?

I have, several times actually, in different countries. and I am as appalled as amber. do you have a question?
posted by matteo at 11:43 AM on November 13, 2004


Corporate killers clash.
posted by rushmc at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2004


i don't find that photo of amberglow's particularly shocking. maybe it's because i'm an atheist, but i don't feel people just sitting around particularly bad. i guess if i thought the soldiers were terribly evil then it would be upsetting - is that what it is? is it something special about mosques? or is there something i'm missing - as far as i can tell they're not doing damage or behaving in an obscene way. if the usa was being invaded by a bunch of iraqis, and there was a photo of some in a church, sitting around, i can't see how it would shock me either. would that shock americans? would it shock you, amberglow? i mean, not trashing the place, but just sitting around and looking like tired soldiers. i don't think i've ever been in a mosque (i've been in sikh temples, if they're similar - but even if i imagine that there's nothing particularly shocking about this).

is the idea that muslims are more religious somehow? more likely to be upset? i guess i can imagine extreme christian fundamentalists getting upset about people sitting round in a church, and the same about extreme islamic fundamentalists. but them being fundamentalists, either way, means they're extreme and not due particular consideration. people i knew in leicester who were muslims seemed pretty much relaxed about things. i can't see why they'd get more annoyed about this than christians i know in the reverse situation.

and of course i can understand people not liking occupying forces per se. but not that photo particularly. presumably they're tired. isn't a church or mosque a pretty good place to be when you're tired?

so what's up?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:51 AM on November 13, 2004


and of course i can understand people not liking occupying forces per se. but not that photo particularly. presumably they're tired. isn't a church or mosque a pretty good place to be when you're tired?

Not if you are tired from killing the people that would normally worship in such a place.
posted by wah at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2004


ok, i can understand people not liking soldiers. but i'd object to them anyway. what does the mosque have to do with it? wouldn't you object to them just as much in someone's living room? a family used to live there.

wars are horrible. people are killed. they're shocking things. but what makes that photo particularly bad?

if you imagine it in reverse, would you be as shocked if the iraqi troops were in a church? that's what i thought about, and i couldn't see how. as i said. i mean, not destroying the place, or having sex or something, but just sitting down, tired.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2004


SMOKE.
posted by Satapher at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2004


i just wonder because you hear of people on the left tolerating extremists from one side more than another. i'd laugh at fundamentalist christians who onbjected to iraqi soldiers in a church. i'm wondering whether i should be laughing here. but obviously i might have missed something. maybe they're something particular bad about sitting (rather than, say, satnding) in mosques? hence the question.
on preview - what, it's smoke? do muslims not smoke? do people not smoke in churches? would it be ok if they'd put their cigarettes out? i can't really believe amberglow would be happier if they'd stubbed out their fags at the door...
posted by andrew cooke at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2004


If anyone knows where I can download it, please mention so. It is in serious need of deconstruction.

yeah, sock it to 'em.
posted by the cuban at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2004


but what makes that photo particularly bad?

it makes it a holy war.

that's what i thought about, and i couldn't see how.

Yes, you could ("christians getting upset about people sitting round in a church")

And as a self-avowed 'atheist', I've very little doubt you would consider any with a strong belief in a higher power to be 'fundies'.

Now...you have seen that you have seen. Stop playing the blind man. Obre tus ojos.
posted by wah at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2004


but i don't feel people just sitting around particularly bad

it's the boots.
many pictures -- mostly unpublished, to my knowledge, by the lib'rul American media -- show Iraqi soldiers taking off their boots before entering Falluja mosques, and patrolling said mosques barefoot.
how would God-fearing Americans like a photo of Muslim occupying forces using an American church's holy water font as a bidet?



I thought so.
posted by matteo at 12:04 PM on November 13, 2004


Honestly, I'd agree with andrew. It doesn't seem to me that the soldiers sitting in the mosque presents any sort of new height of outrage. I mean, if you're a citizen in an occupied land, which are you to care more about: pictures of dying and wounded children, or pictures of foreign soldiers relaxing in a place of worship without actively defacing it? Hell, I'd be more distressed by the shots of marines and soldiers holing up in houses: bedrooms, living rooms. Spaces that were shared by family.

That said - I too was struck by this photo when it first showed up. I'm sure with a camera, a good photographer, and a time machine, you could obtain similar portraits from wars and conflicts throughout human history.
posted by kavasa at 12:06 PM on November 13, 2004


(20.12) Surely I am your Lord, therefore put off your shoes; surely you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa,
(20.13) And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed:

posted by matteo at 12:07 PM on November 13, 2004


If you had a photo of the same mosque 24 hrs earlier, only with insurgents storing and firing weapons, would it change your perception?

I don't see where one side can be allowed to use certain building while the other side can't. Let's face it: the insurgents are using the "sacred" status of mosques and hospitals to their advantage.
posted by b_thinky at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2004


would you be as shocked if the iraqi troops were in a church?

He'd be rooting for them.
posted by keswick at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2004


the insurgents are using the "sacred" status of mosques and hospitals to their advantage.

the insurgents also kidnap and behead their enemies. I don't think it'd be acceptable for Americans to do the same. Abu Ghraib was bad enough, I hope you agree.
it sucks to have to occupy a land where everybody hates you, I agree.


"winning hearts and minds"
*snicker*
posted by matteo at 12:18 PM on November 13, 2004


yes, i have b_thinky, but not during services...i removed my shoes and treated the place respectfully, as i do with synagogues, churches, etc...

We've all heard how Fallujah is an important city to Iraqis for religious/spiritual reasons. We've also all heard about some Iraqis using the mosques as storage places--given that some clerics are also head of insurgent groups, that's to be expected. (and for a weird parallel, think of how our churches and temples are full of food pantries/winter clothing drives/toy drives/etc).

There's no way to win anything by offending the people whose country we're occupying. This whole Fallujah thing has been an empty show of force--who have we captured? how has it helped? haven't we already done this before, repeatedly? Even having embeds is just for pr back home, as evidenced by the marlboro man--will there be another Jessica soon?
posted by amberglow at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2004


will there be another Jessica soon?

Depends. What's the PR payoff?
posted by lodurr at 12:36 PM on November 13, 2004


the potential of good spin in our press, as opposed to a focus on explosions and death, resulting in a possible change in attitude towards Iraq by us, thus leading to support for the next invasion/occupation. Puff pieces like the marlboro man are already starting to accomplish that--a human-interest nothing piece will take space otherwise occupied by the actual fighting.

This whole fallujah thing is seeming more and more as an event constructed solely for us, since the insurgents got out way before we came (at least the important ones did). They just have to wait until we withdraw again, and then they'll come back. (and Mosul and Tikrit are not really being covered, and are flaring up.) This is not helping make Iraq safer or more secure, or more stable--at all.
posted by amberglow at 12:43 PM on November 13, 2004


matteo - ok, I had forgotten about shoes. But I don't think you can compare that with pissing in the holy water. The first is a sign of understandable ignorance; the second is a sign of deliberate desecration. I'd think a better example would be foreign soldiers in a Catholic land finding the supply of the host and chowing down. It's not an action that bespeaks premeditated action with intent to profane, but is nonetheless a breach of protocol. The parallel isn't exact of course, but it seems better.

My point being - it seems pretty believable to me that this photo isn't going to figure largely in the Arab conscious mind, when compared even with photos of soldiers behaving similarly in homes. I'm not saying you're totally for sure wrong, just that I'm not worried about it in particular.

Which makes me feel pretty silly for having spent all this time writing these two comments.

on preview - amberglow, I think there are pretty sound military and strategic reasons for taking Fallujah back. I mean, it's where the kidnapping victims were beheaded. Unless we plan on pulling out and leaving the country in chaos, this is something we had to do. Just leaving an entire city in the hand of guerrilla fighters is a poor way to keep them from organizing and supplying themselves. And if this constitutes a serious blow to the insurgency, remember that the car bombs haven't just been killing American soldiers, or even mostly, from all reports. Admitting that an individual military action was a sensible one from a military standpoint doesn't mean you have to give up your stance on the war as a whole.

What I find distressing is that I've read a couple reports from captured fighters in Fallujah, and the theme I've seen is hopelessness. There is no better way to recruit fighters than a culture of hopelessness. And, wrong though it may have been to invade, now we're there. I think it is within our power to leave the country better than we found it. Using the term "leave" fairly loosely: we're still in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Kosovo.
posted by kavasa at 12:47 PM on November 13, 2004


OT or maybe not: I too am struck by how young the kids look when their pictures get flashed on the screen. But I'm struck by that because I was earlier (18 months ago) struck by how old the faces were.

Because during the "active combat operations phase" [sic] of the war [sic]*, I had been struck by how old the faces were, of the privates and specialists and corporals and seargeants that I saw. I found myself thinking of these people as people relying on that Reserve stipend to help "survive the boom times". Volunteers, sure; they didn't have to sign up in the first place. But they left lives of their own, families, kids, dreams in progress.

Now, I guess we're back to the more "normal" face of American overseas war: The faces are the faces of young noncoms.

--
* I think it's a good idea to remind yourselves now and then that this isn't a war under the American legal definition of the term. While we are arguably "in a time of war" (as defined by common sense and the War Powers Act), we are not "at war" as defined by a Congressional Declaration of War. We should all think about that fact, daily. And remember Sulla.

posted by lodurr at 12:48 PM on November 13, 2004


amberglow, I don't recall reading that the Fallujah invasion was to capture certain leaders (like al-Zarqawi). After all, like all great jihadist leaders, he lets the others become martyrs for him.

Fallujah was a town basically under 100% insurgent control. Just by threatening attack, 50% of them scattered. We're now mopping up the rest. Those who escaped will have to start from scratch wherever they try to hole up at. Sure, they can plot attacks, but they won't control a whole city.
posted by b_thinky at 12:57 PM on November 13, 2004


... but they won't control a whole city.

I'm puzzled. Why would you say that? They'll probably control Fallujah again in 3 months.
posted by lodurr at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2004


what lodurr said. Fallujah’s empty promise--... For those who accepted the notion, propagated by the Pentagon in the week leading up to the attack, that many thousands of Iraqi insurgents had dug in to defend their vital base in Fallujah, news that only light resistance greeted the U.S. and Iraqi government forces may be perplexing. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:13 PM on November 13, 2004


So...


On-topic:


The photo is really striking. The man (boy, practically) looks timeless in that pose. Could've been a young American driving the Germans out of France sixty years ago. He looks pretty different without his gear on, though.
posted by dhoyt at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2004


The man (boy, practically) looks timeless in that pose. Could've been a

a Marine shellshocked in Hue.
it depends on one's point of view, as always in life.
posted by matteo at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2004


Striking or not, the picture's purpose is clear: It's to consolidate support behind the war effort. "Look at how young he is!" "See what a good american boy he is!"

It's propaganda, folks. Don't fall for it. The quality of the image has nothing whatever to do with Lance Cpl J. B. Miller, or any personal qualities he may or may not have.
posted by lodurr at 2:18 PM on November 13, 2004


And no, insurgents do not normally walk down the middle of the street.

Can you exactly tell me how you know this? Are you an expert on "insurgents"? Have you been to Iraq?

No, you don't know. But in your skewed reality the U.S. Military goes around blowing up innocents.

Remember kids, America is evil.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:20 PM on November 13, 2004


Sudden fame? What fame? Oh, the fame that a newspaper tries to heap on a man only four days after taking his photo, so that it can turn around and say its own photo is fantastic.

Sad, sad prostitution of the military upon a gullible public for a PR gimmic. Oh wait, it's the military saying the photo is famous, so I guess there are two pimps pumping the public for all the milk they can get.
posted by fleener at 2:21 PM on November 13, 2004


I think the appalling thing is that they're not wearing their sunday best.
posted by jeblis at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2004


Steve: If you were an insurgent, would you walk down the middle of a city under attack by the US Marines? (And do you have anything better to do than make knee-jerk attacks on simple out of context statements?)
posted by lodurr at 2:26 PM on November 13, 2004


correction: "...middle of a city street..."
posted by lodurr at 2:37 PM on November 13, 2004


But in your skewed reality the U.S. Military goes around blowing up innocents.

yes, skewed. skewed indeed.


Remember kids, America is evil.

you're the only one who said so. what we're saying is entirely different -- but one needs a modicum of brains, or of good faith, to get it, so you're excused Stevie. what we're saying is that the decision to invade Iraq put America in a situation where she ended up killing thousands and thousands and thousands of brown-skinned civilians.

for some of us, the lives of Iraqi civilians are as sacred as, say, the lives of Americans who worked in Lower Manhattan.

we're so weird, I know.
posted by matteo at 2:53 PM on November 13, 2004


Steve_at _Linnwood...

I would also suggest you read this.

It is a news account of that video.

Remember kids, America is evil.

No, remember rule number #1 for Neoconservatism, the U.S. is the only good nation in the world. We are the only one who do any good, and we do it all. We are the greatest, and everyone else thinks so too. Everything we have ever done is good and anyone who says otherwise is a whiny, traitorous liberal (*ptoooey*). They might even be French.

/silly sarcasm.

Here's a nice one for ya...
"More than half of Iraq's 24 million people are children under the age of 15. That's 12 million kids. Kids like me. Well, I'm almost 13, so some are a little older, and some a lot younger, some boys instead of girls, some with brown hair, not red. But kids who are pretty much like me just the same. So take a look at me -- a good long look. Because I am what you should see in your head when you think about bombing Iraq. I am what you are going to destroy."

Charlotte Aldebron, 13, from Presque Isle, ME
But in your skewed reality the U.S. Military goes around blowing up innocents.

Yea, what was a I thinking. Innocents dying in a war. I must be totally farking crazy to think such a thing.

I mean, it's not like there's first hand reports of the bodies of women and children rotting on the streets of Fallujah.

I need a cigarette. Anybody got a Marlboro for a real man like me?
posted by wah at 3:01 PM on November 13, 2004


what we're saying is that the decision to invade Iraq put America in a situation where she ended up killing thousands and thousands and thousands of brown-skinned civilians.


Omission of ostensible purposes of invasion? Check.
Omission of culpability of insurgents for Iraqi deaths? Check.
Weakly couched charge of racism? Check.

Nice work. Who says that the Left can't frame a debate?
posted by trharlan at 3:20 PM on November 13, 2004


So, trharlan, are you saying that the fact that many Americans thought there was a reason in the first place, that some of the natives don't like us being there enough to shoot at us, and that Americans don't seem to give a shit about Iraqi dead, make it all all-right?
posted by lodurr at 3:24 PM on November 13, 2004


lodurr: No.
posted by trharlan at 3:28 PM on November 13, 2004


I think there are pretty sound military and strategic reasons for taking Fallujah back

Sure, but taking Fallujah isn't the problem. Keeping it is, and we don't have enough troops. While we're retaking Fallujah, where "any (Iraqi National Guard) or (Iraqi special forces) not seen with the Marines are to be considered hostile," fighting has spread throughout the country, and guerillas have reportedly burned every police station in Mosul (formerly Iraq's first postwar success story).
posted by kirkaracha at 3:31 PM on November 13, 2004


How odd. The Times is showing another cigarette smokin' soldier on the front page right now. It's the return of Mr. Butts!

And yeah, it's a distraction from the destruction.
posted by muckster at 3:47 PM on November 13, 2004


So, the picture of that boy, 20 years old, three pack a day habit. Sending kids off to war.

My son turns 18 in a couple of weeks. The other day I went into his room-- he was playing Everquest-- and just hugged him from behind and thanked God that Canada doesn't have a draft. I know, the States doesn't yet, either. But the writing's on the wall. And I think of my son, and all his friends, and they're just children, really, in these gawky adolescent bodies, and remember that the average age of a Vietman-era grunt was, what, 19?

And then my son got ticked off at me because he got killed, or something, so he had to go and pick up his corpse. Whatever. At least it's just a game.
posted by jokeefe at 3:53 PM on November 13, 2004


choire documented the saturation of that particular image.
posted by heather at 4:41 PM on November 13, 2004


god ruins everything.

please die god, please.
posted by Satapher at 5:24 PM on November 13, 2004


I salute that young man and his service. The picture is incredible - and I not normally prone to admiring pictures as works of art.
posted by davidmsc at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2004


Thank you God, for sending Lisa to save us from that moth you sent.
posted by interrobang at 6:29 PM on November 13, 2004


Lance Corporal Miller: "I already signed the papers, so I got no choice but to do what we're doing."

I salute that young man, and his committment to contractually binding agreements.
posted by lodurr at 6:33 PM on November 13, 2004


I don't think the Iraqi people are "brown-skinned". "Olive-skinned" maybe.

Using a mosque as a base of operations is unfortunate, yes. However, it's not like this is the first time soldiers have used a mosque/church/synagogue/temple as bases of operations. It's something that happens in wars.

There's a big difference between "wearing shoes in a mosque" and "using a baptismal font as a bidet". First of all, American soldiers don't use bidets.

Second of all, wearing shoes in a mosque is improper and a sign of disrespect to a holy place. So is a man wearing a hat in a Christian church, or a man not wearing a hat in a Jewish synagogue, or someone wearing shoes in a Buddhist temple. All of these things have happened in the history of the world, and they're just not the most enormous outrages ever.

Now, vandalizing houses of worship is another matter entirely, and I certainly hope the US Authority in Iraq will swiftly make good any damage--accidental or otherwise--to any mosques.

But waving our hands in the air and saying "Oh my heavens! Soldiers have shoes on in a mosque!" is just tiresome. Yes, it is going to offend people who believe in Allah. But, sweet mother of Baal, can the people who don't believe in Allah just SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT?????
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:34 PM on November 13, 2004


That guy's got really nasty skin. Like I expect a heavy smoker would. I think the women writing to enquire about him want to make a faux alligator handbag.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:40 PM on November 13, 2004


Note: I should have said "any damage...to any mosques that can reasonably be attributed to Coalition troops."

We have no way of knowing, for example, whether the damage to windows and plaster (and maybe a door?) shown in the photo cited on yesterday's thread was caused by the Coalition troops or by Iraqi insurgent troops.

Which is not to deny that a photo of a damaged mosque with fully-shod Coalition soldiers inside it is not going to be a powerful propaganda message for anti-Coalition, anti-US folks. It is.

But anyone who thinks that soldiers in the midst of a battle should a) refrain from using mosques as bases of operations, or b) take their shoes off while inside the mosque they are using as a base of operations is quite simply, insane.

I was not in favor of this war. I am still not in favor of this war. But suggesting that mosques are somehow "holier" than the churches/synagogues/temples that have been used as bases of operations by every army in every war since the Middle Ages is utter crap.

Again, if soldiers are purposefully vandalizing mosques, desecrating mosaics, taking a crap in the muezzin's minaret, what have you, then that's spectacularly inappropriate and shameful, and a matter for military discipline.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:43 PM on November 13, 2004


That's a likeable picture indeed , there's a strong contrast between the tiredness and clarity of the eyes and the dirt on his face...I find that quite dramatic, a good shoot enhanced by the cigarette which perfectly fits the "cowboy" or "marlboro cowboy" image that's pretty much well know.

No wonder it was saturated (not in the photographic technical sense) all over the newspapers, such an image sells newspapers.

Even without the cigarette it would be a good shoot anyway.I hope the guy and the other soldiers all come back in one piece.

On the mosque tangent: that's a good example of how war can destroy respect, leading to dangerous consequences. I guess that the soldiers depicted would have, in their civilian life, respected the place if advised that it is disrispectful to enter a mosque with shoes...but probably

1. that mosque is one of the least damaged building in that area if not the only one left standing
2. boots are a fundamental part of grunts, take boots away from grunt and you have a sitting duck

I could understand the commander that decided to use the mosque as a resting place, but I think he/she should reconsider the location -at once- because it's ok to have troops rest, but it's not ok to put them in danger by fomenting more hate by the means of disrispectful behaviors, commander MUST consider that too.
posted by elpapacito at 7:31 PM on November 13, 2004


But waving our hands in the air and saying "Oh my heavens! Soldiers have shoes on in a mosque!" is just tiresome. Yes, it is going to offend people who believe in Allah. But, sweet mother of Baal, can the people who don't believe in Allah just SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT?????
"Could the people who didn't get killed in the september 11th 2001 attacks please stop whining about terrorism?"
posted by fvw at 7:44 PM on November 13, 2004


Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time.
But all the people can't be all right all the time.
I think John Wilkes Booth said that.
posted by Satapher at 8:52 PM on November 13, 2004


LOL. I come here now and then just to remind myself why you idiots lost. You never let me down.
posted by HTuttle at 10:26 PM on November 13, 2004


Nothing like a little hit-&-run troll-baiting, eh, MTuttle? Makes you feel nice and superior. Bully for you. Gotta have something, eh?

I'm struck in this thread by the number and identify of folks making excuses for the mosque thing. First, wearing shoes in a traditional mosque in Iraq is most assuredly not analogous to "wearing a hat in a christian church" or "not wearing a hat" in most American temples. Have you people never watched Nat'l Geographic? Did you not notice the depictions of middle-eastern muslim men not merely removing shoes, but washing their feet? This is actually a pretty big deal. I can understand why they might go in, if their "Iraqi Special Forces" partners weren't available to clear the building, and I can understand why they wouldn't stop to take off their shoes. But that they let their embed in to see it, and that they then all gathered in there to take a load off -- that betrayed really remarkable ignorance of the local customs.

Similarly, when American troops "arrest" suspects and jam their foreheads into the ground -- and especially when they do it with their feet -- that's a big deal, too, to a traditional muslim man. I forget the exact formulation, but the gist of it is that no muslim is ever supposed to let his forhead touch the ground except in obeisance to God.

In other words, this stuff betrays that there actually is no real committment to winning "hearts and minds", except through superficial media like candy handouts. No one has bothered to brief the platoon leaders on local customs sufficiently that they'd understand this was a bad thing.

In short, it betrays a casual thougtlessness about the customs and practices of the people we're ostenibly there to help.
posted by lodurr at 10:29 AM on November 14, 2004


Omission of ostensible purposes of invasion? Check.
Omission of culpability of insurgents for Iraqi deaths? Check.
Weakly couched charge of racism? Check.

Nice work. Who says that the Left can't frame a debate?


heh, it's so funny.

your first point? WMD's. they weren't there. deal with it. not there.

second point? If you really think that Iraqi civlians are killed by insurgents and not by US troops, well, OK. or, just whine about how those ungrateful Iraqis aren't greeting you as liberators.

third point? with the exception of the Satanic Bill Clinton, after 1945 US Presidents don't bomb white people. but yeah, maybe you'll bomb France soon.

____

take their shoes off while inside the mosque they are using as a base of operations is quite simply, insane.

bah. better insane than stupid, or ignorant, or both.
I agree that at this point Iraqis hate the American aggressors so much that taking boots off (like the Iraqi soldiers do, by the way) sounds like a moot point, they'll hate your guts anyway. but still. lots of those 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide do have TV's, and that footage may look very bad to them.
you don't like silly Muslim traditions? then stay the fuck out of Muslim countries. stay home. you won't have to take off your boots in bombed-out Mosques, then.

_____

I come here now and then just to remind myself why you idiots lost. You never let me down.

cool, you never let me down: arrogance, childish gloating, absence of rational argument -- you remind me why people can actually vote for the man who dragged America into that disaster of an invasion. please stick around, your one-liners are appreciated.
posted by matteo at 10:33 AM on November 14, 2004


anyway, another soldier in the LATimes today:

Matt LaBranche got the tattoos at a seedy place down the street from the Army hospital here where he was a patient in the psychiatric ward.

The pain of the needle felt good to the 40-year-old former Army sergeant, whose memories of his nine months as a machine-gunner in Iraq had left him, he said, "feeling dead inside." LaBranche's back is now covered in images, the largest the dark outline of a sword. Drawn from his neck to the small of his back, it is emblazoned with the words LaBranche says encapsulate the war's effect on him: "I've come to bring you hell."

In soldiers like LaBranche — their bodies whole but their psyches deeply wounded — a crisis is unfolding, mental health experts say. One out of six soldiers returning from Iraq is suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress — and as more come home, that number is widely expected to grow.

The Pentagon, which did not anticipate the extent of the problem, is scrambling to find resources to address it.


so, at least those Hollywood lib'ruls will have a new character to replace the tired cliche of the crazed Vietnam vet: the crazed Iraq vet.
the world is so much safer now.
posted by matteo at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2004


Getting back to the original story, what I want to know is, what goes on in the mind of a woman who sees an iconic picture like this and says to herself, "I was born to marry that icon." They can't all be completely batshit, because every time a story like this takes hold, it's one of the standard lines. They look at an image, project their fantasies -- I understand that part of it from my old Billy Idol posters -- but then they act. They make inquiries, they try to contact the man, they tell their friends about the momentous destiny they feel spurring them on -- they try to actually live our their fantasies.

He had that stuff on his face. And the expression, that look," said Rodney Rowe, Miller's high school basketball coach. "Those are not the eyes I'm used to seeing in his face."

There's a kid whose been disabused of fantasy, if he ever had one. No wonder he's not letting any of the sudden attention go to his head. He's an adult, and I'm guessing he became on in an awful damn hurry, just like Carl Cranston and so many of the young men and women who've been sent to Iraq.

I wish the great photographs and icons would stop. We don't need any more of them. The pictures are well-lit and sexy, but sticking around to read the articles would help all those women besotted with the Marlboro Man understand what they would actually be signing up for -- a tour of duty with James Blake Miller III, who, if he ever gets to come home, is going to be coughing a lot and having some really bad dreams.
posted by melissa may at 10:54 AM on November 14, 2004


melissa may: nicely said, fantasy projection and desire to live a fantasy. What goes in their mind ? I guess they're not really aware of the fact they're setting themselves up to live a fantasy , and if they are somehow aware of the fantasy they reject the possibility they are going to meet a chimney with nightmares....that's why they may not read the article, it would hint of disappointment.

On a parallel, I had a similar experience with a girl I become totally infatuated of with a sexual desire so high I thought I was going slightly mad ; the girl was real (not a picture) and thankfully I had some revealing hint of her nature (racist pig, tons of insecurities) before entering the relationship. Guess I was lucky, hopefully marlboro-guy-digging girls will be as well.
posted by elpapacito at 11:26 AM on November 14, 2004


Ops I forgot, melissa may: guess marlboro guy will benefit of the popularity advantage, same effect that made Billy Idol you poster dream boy for a while, I guess.
posted by elpapacito at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2004


matteo, I would much have preferred it if the US soldiers could have stayed home. However, people cannot remove their shoes in the middle of a battle.

The Iraqi troops don't do it, either--they remove their shoes when they're guarding a mosque, which is something entirely different. I would hope the Coalition troops do the same.

Something people are forgetting here is that in many neighborhoods, the mosque is the only large building. Again, I don't think that using houses of worship as military bases of operations is a Good Thing--I don't. But in the midst of a battle, it may be the most logical decision.

me: But waving our hands in the air and saying "Oh my heavens! Soldiers have shoes on in a mosque!" is just tiresome. Yes, it is going to offend people who believe in Allah. But, sweet mother of Baal, can the people who don't believe in Allah just SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT?????
fvw: "Could the people who didn't get killed in the september 11th 2001 attacks please stop whining about terrorism?"


fvw, words cannot express how little you got my point. My point is this--it's appropriate to point out that this is disrespectful of cultural traditions, will offend religious Muslims all over the world, and is an unfortunate image in the midst of this very unpopular war.

However, it's ridiculous for people who don't believe in God(s) or the concept of sacrilege themselves to add that energy to the debate.

People who have proudly declared themselves to be atheists have been carrying on on this thread saying "Imagine if you saw an image of Islamic terrorists in a church..." etc.

Well, I'm a churchgoing Christian and I have seen images of Islamic terrorists in a church--not using it as a staging point only, mind you, but pissing and shitting in the aisles, firing machine guns out of the broken windows, etc. And it wasn't just any church---it was one of the oldest and most revered churches in the entire Christian tradition.

But you know what? It didn't make me feel any differently about Hamas or the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad than I did before I saw the images of the ancient church damaged and befouled. Because that's the kind of thing that happens in armed conflicts, and has happened around the world since people first started erecting houses of worship.

So please don't tell me how outraged Christians would be if armed Muslims desecrated a church. I've seen images of that, and it didn't outrage me as much as sadden me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:16 PM on November 14, 2004


People who have proudly declared themselves to be atheists

I never did that. and anyway, the tide of hate against the West which is growing and growing and growing in the Muslim world after America's glorious invasion/occupation, will hurt atheists, too.

it's not that, if/when buildings blow up again somewhere in America, the atheists will be spared by Al Qaeda -- just like Mohammed Atta didn't call in advance the WTC to evacuate all atheists before he hit the tower.
an atheist could give a sweet fuck about mosques, or churches, or synagogues, and he/she'd perfectly have the right to complain against stuff like the boots-in-the-mosque incident. saner individuals know that at this point, the less you stir the shit in Iraq, the better off you are.

___________________

It didn't make me feel any differently about Hamas or the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad than I did before I saw the images of the ancient church damaged and befouled

good for you! I'm sure Muslims don't feel any differently about America now than they did before they saw, you know, the Statue of Liberty of Abu Ghraib! or before they read about those invisible WMD's!
posted by matteo at 5:44 PM on November 14, 2004


matteo, I think it's absolutely appropriate to complain about images like this, and actions like this, as something that will lead to more shitstirring, which would be bad. It's the appropriation of the language and mood of sacrilege by people who don't believe in sacrilege that bugs me.

And you seem intent on not getting my point, which is that people do mildly disrespectful and sometimes even horrific things in all religions' houses of worship in times of war. To pretend that that doesn't happen is silly.

I have been against this war from day one, so I don't know why you're pretending that I am trying to bang the Bush drum on this. But thanks for talking to me as though I don't exist or as if you haven't actually read or understood anything I have said on this thread, or on the site. It means a lot. Really.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:51 PM on November 14, 2004


Well, I'm a churchgoing Christian.... So please don't tell me how outraged Christians would be....

Why do you keep insisting that your experience as a mainstream American "churchgoing Christian" is somehow equivalent to the experience of someone living in a remarkably different culture, adhering to a different religion? There really just aren't direct 1:1 analogies for everything. Why do you keep looking for them?

FWIW, I don't know what Matteo believes about what Christians would believe. Having been raised a Christian, and spending (as I do, as a functioning member of American society and as a member of a family comprised largely of fundamentalist Christians) a lot of time around christians, I think I do actually have a pretty good idea of how they'd feel about this: They wouldn't be outraged by the "sacrilage", pretty much no matter what happened in there, because for mainstream American churchgoers, the church just is not equivalent to the mosque.

A better analogy would be to have a bunch of gentiles go into a deep-orthodox Temple and spread out the scrolls as a picnic blanket, while ostensibly in the neighborhood on a mission to end persecution of Jews.

it's ridiculous for people who don't believe in God(s) or the concept of sacrilege themselves to add that energy to the debate.

Frankly: Horseshit.

Again, what is your point? Are you saying that "belief in God" is somehow required to participate in the debate, or to make observations based on knowledge of other cultures?

Given the fact that you aren't really considering the other factors involved -- such as the role of a mosque in a traditional Islamic society, or the fact that we were supposed to be there to help them -- how is it that you have any more right to criticise these analogies than ones that matteo (or I, a confirmed, albeit not "proud", atheist) might make regarding offense to the sensibilities of muslims?

What you're doing seems to me to be trying to claim the terms of the debate for yourself, and bar others from entering into it.
posted by lodurr at 6:16 PM on November 14, 2004


Almost half of the mosques in the Iraqi city of Falluja have been destroyed, with US warplanes launching air strikes and fierce fighting on the ground continuing. (from the 10th)
posted by amberglow at 8:09 PM on November 14, 2004


people do mildly disrespectful and sometimes even horrific things in all religions' houses of worship in times of war

Not taking your shoes off in a mosque? Probably mildly disrespectful.

Shooting and killing an already captive and wounded Iraqi prisoner? Pretty damn horrific, and certainly shouldn't be happening.
posted by Orb at 11:24 PM on November 15, 2004


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