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September 23, 2003 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Warblogger as Goodwill Ambassador Chief Wiggles, one of the major military warbloggers, is running a toy drive for Iraqi children. Seems like it might be a nice way to engender some good vibes in the next generation of Iraqis.
posted by jengod (30 comments total)
GI Joes especially welcome....
posted by zeoslap at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2003

... or make them think we are patronizing assholes.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:15 AM on September 23, 2003

How weird, I was just reading this, the blog entry that inspired the toy drive.

Maybe, instead of turning this thread into a bunch of partisan bitching, we could gather links to individuals and organizations that are actually helping the people of Iraq.
posted by whatnot at 10:29 AM on September 23, 2003

oh COME ON whatnot this is MeFi!!!

(and monju please note the ....'s of sarcasm)
posted by zeoslap at 10:31 AM on September 23, 2003

Ok here's my list

Northrop Grummann
and of course Halliburton
posted by zeoslap at 10:34 AM on September 23, 2003

Actually, zeoslap, I took your comment in the vein it was intended. I was commenting on the whole idea of sending toys to Iraqi children in the first place.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:41 AM on September 23, 2003

There must be plenty of these to ship to the cute little liberated tykes.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:00 AM on September 23, 2003

It's a re-enactment of the 1948-49 candy flights over Berlin. And they've already got a list going of stuff to send, which rules out guns, action figures, and dolls.

I'm torn, though it's a noble thing and everyone wants to help out, it reminds me of a bike race I did in Mexico, and how some competitors brought candy along to throw to kids on the sidelines. The kids followed along happily, but I always felt weird about it, giving them stuff that was bad for their teeth, etc.
posted by mathowie at 11:11 AM on September 23, 2003

Chief Wiggum? The Wiggles? What?
posted by drinkcoffee at 11:49 AM on September 23, 2003


so buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, bandaids and such. I'd actually avoid candy anyway, there's no guarantee that your favourite treat won't be repulsive to somebody else. I've had friends travel and bring me back treats from Japan, Hong Kong, Iceland etc. I couldn't believe that some of these things were considered treats. I considered them punishment for future sins.

I'm looking for a place that sells bulk toothbrushes and such, as well as bulk toys or something. I figure dentists must buy in bulk, so there should be something available.
posted by substrate at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2003

Ooo! Send over Malibu Barbie. That'll endear us to them...
posted by KnitWit at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2003

Chief Wiggles gets my respect, which I will vote for with my wallet. (On payday)
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2003

I'd happily contribute for voice-activated toys for the children of Iraq whose limbs and eyes have been blown off and out by cluster bombs and shrapnel.
posted by troutfishing at 3:22 PM on September 23, 2003

I wondered how long it would take before this story would make it to metafilter. I was exactly right on how long it would take before people would try and derail it.

Chief Wiggles is a wonderful person doing a tough job in a difficult environment. With that, he is one of those people that tries to find the good in everything and tries to make the best of everything.

This toy drive started with an off-hand comment in his journal. He didn't even think of what he was saying when he conveyed his experience with an Iraqi child and then saying he wanted more toys to give out. I realized a bit more what was going to happen, but I certainly didn't realize how quickly it would balloon.

If you don't remember, I run the website for the Chief. Anyway, if you would like to send something, great. If not, that's fine. And if you want to make snarky comments so you can feel superior in your own mind, more power to you.
posted by Plunge at 3:52 PM on September 23, 2003

Plunge - I thought of what I was saying before I hit the return key. If you don't think I was serious, Email me.

If chief wiggles cares for wounded children, he has my respect - But that doesn't detract from my disgust at the use of cluster bombs.

I think that a consideration of the wider frame of the situation in Iraq is important.

Consider this: cluster bombs are said to save the lives of US troops ( probably at a cost in term of civilian deaths ). I don't want anyone to die. But: take the logic inherent in the use of cluster bombs, mines, or biological weapons (the US has recently refused to sign world conventions on all of these weapons) a bit further.

There was a reason that major powers agreed to ban the use of poison gas in warfare over 1/2 a century ago. Indiscriminate weaponry of that sort was deemed to be inhumane.
posted by troutfishing at 4:17 PM on September 23, 2003

shut up, trout.

and i know, i know, don't feed the trolls and freespeech is good ya ya.
posted by jengod at 4:45 PM on September 23, 2003

So, then, jengod, your point?

troutfishing speaks the truth, verily, his word doth abide.

"Shut up" really doesn't come up to tried and true Mefi standards, now does it? At least post a pissing elephant .gif or something.
posted by jokeefe at 4:49 PM on September 23, 2003

How about "you disgust me" trout.

I speak the truth too. Verily - my word doth abide.

Consider this - cluster bombs killed less Iraqis in the entire war than Saddam's machinations killed in an average day. And if it saved the lives of American servicemen, good.

AND FURTHERMORE, this ain't about that, it's about doing something good, so keep your political screedism to yourself, you cynical maroon. How do you sleep at night knowing that you refuse to do something good for someone in need because you believe that cluster bombing is wrong? "I know! I won't do anything to help poor children because my government attacked them." Wow. That's righteous.

To you cynical jackasses like KnitWit, read the list of things not to send before you spout.

I come here a lot. I know a lot of you would rather cut off your own arm than say something nice about the current administration other than that they'll be out of office eventually. What I can't understand is why the supposed paragons of virtue who are for the little guy refuse to help said little guy, and instead have picked a soapbox to stand on, complaining long and loud about politics instead of addressing a simply toys for tots program to help children. (Was that a good enough straw man for you meta-metafilter judges? Do I get a 10 for my generalized ad hominem straw man attack?)

If you all get any more cynical, I'm not sure what I'll do. Laugh at you some more, probably.
posted by swerdloff at 6:46 PM on September 23, 2003

Fuck toys. Buy medecine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2003

Good Christ, people. How many of you ponied up for the Star Wars kid? Or for the MeFi server? This is embarassing.

Now, if you'd rather not have the Chief handing out your contributions, or if you'd rather give something other than toys and personal grooming supplies, here are some groups that are doing good things:
International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF , CARE International, and my favorite, the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers)
posted by whatnot at 9:04 PM on September 23, 2003

I think it would have been really neat if Chief Wiggles started the toy drive before the war started. Then he could say he was really nice. But you know, he had Shock and Awe (TM) preparations to attend to then. You know, to make sure the Iraqi kids and whatnot got shocked and awed in time for Christmas.

Donate toys to the Iraqis? That's great, really. It's a nice gesture. But a gesture is one thing. Not caring a whit about the kids in the first place reeks of disingenuineness.

Consider this - cluster bombs killed less Iraqis in the entire war than Saddam's machinations killed in an average day. And if it saved the lives of American servicemen, good.

Consider this: the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium will be a gift of American beneficence that just keeps on giving.

You do the google search. And you tell me, once again, how to define "too little, too fucking late."

Laugh on swerdloff, laugh on. The myths you believe about your dear leader and this crime against humanity will, like any DU related cancer or birth defect, be shown shortly for the shortsightedness of its use. There are some things about nature that even a donated 250 count lego set cannot surmount.
posted by crasspastor at 9:19 PM on September 23, 2003

Right on whatnot.

And that's a good idea too, stavros.

If you all want to make the world better, go freakin' make the world better. Less whining, more helping other people.

Ok. Depleted uranium, once and for all. The World Health Organization farts in your general direction. The National Radiological Protection Board blows its nose at you. Reason Online has an article that makes you look like a nattering neighbob. Because, you know, DU is one of those things that can be understood scientifically. Unless you do, you can scream all you like, but you'll still be wrong. (Please note that the World Health Organization says so: "No reproductive or developmental effects have been reported in humans.")

There were plenty of birth defects in Iraq after Gulf War 1. Of course, a large percentage of them were in the Kurdish North. There was no use of DU there, but Saddam was known to use chemical weapons there. Coincidence? The myths you believe about yourself allow you to delude yourself into thinking so. (See? I can do those ad-hominem-thought-bubbles just like you can, crassp)

In fact, most of the DU used in GW1 was used in Kuwait. Where is the concommittant rise in birth defects among kuwaitis?

Whine on, Crasspastor, Whine on. You do the research about the science. And you tell me, once again, how to define "Uranium 238."
posted by swerdloff at 9:32 PM on September 23, 2003

swerdloff - In fact you don't know anything about whether I support Wiggles' effort, or other efforts to help Iraqi children, or not.

So your reaction puzzles me.

Do you think that it's a bad thing - or immoral - to both support children wounded in war and to also condemn the use of indiscriminate weaponry - cluster bombs and mines - which tend to incur high rates of civilian casualties, especially among children?

For that matter, would you consider it unpatriotic to mention US troops who have been maimed in the invasion or occupation of Iraq?

If you want to weigh in the balance the lives of Iraqi children against those of American soldiers, if you want to propose a ratio - that of X number of children maimed and killed to save the lives of # number of American troops - please let me know, and I'll have a look at your numbers. But don't ask me to judge your calculus.

You can take on that burden. I don't want it.

Let me propose an experiment: Is there any way - through Wiggles or otherwise - that we can directly ask maimed Iraqi children whether or not they thought that the use of cluster bombs - during the US invasion to unseat Saddam, of course - was just or appropriate?

But do you think that the US military is incapable of doing a better job, so that it would not need recourse to indiscriminate weapons which incur high rates of civilian (read - child) casualties?

I have a higher opinion of the US military. I think it can do better, and so I think the US should support international conventions against the use of indiscriminate weaponry.

If you think that the US must have recourse to cluster bombs, napalm, land mines, biological weapons, tactical nuclear weapons and "mini-nukes" and so on - all weapons which indiscriminately target civilians ( immediately or through pollution and radiation) and which the US has recently backed out of international treaties and conventions on - well then that is your opinion and you have every right to hold it.

But I feel very differently about this.

There is a good reason that the use of gas - another indiscriminate weapon - in warfare or against civiians is now considered noteworthy and barbaric; International conventions against the use of gas were agreed upon over 8 decades ago. it is in this light that Saddam's gassing of Kurdish civikians is considered noteworthy.

But, the US happily tolerated the "collateral damage" of Saddam Hussein's gas attacks (against Iranians troops and against the Kurds) while the regime fit into the US' overall geopolitical calculus. Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld looked the other way while Hussein's henchmen were gassing the Kurds. Now it is currently in vogue in the US to be concerned with the wellbeing of Iraqi citizens.

On this, I am not talking about you or others on this discussion - or anyone in particular at all. And if you informed me that you have been concerned for human right issues everywhere, and for decades, I would have to bite my tongue.

And even if you had only come to a heartfelt appreciation of the recent suffering of Iraqi children, I could only commend you.

But the world is a big place, full of human suffering.

The UN has calculated that for about 1/3 of what wil have been spent on Iraq by the US by the end of 2003, that most malnutrition, illiteracy, and basic health care needs of the 1-2 billion of the world's poorest people could have been addressed.

Assume that those numbers are off. Assume that we could have done the job for three times that sum, for 200 billion US dollars. Spent in that manner, the lives of many more children - than those who died every year under Saddam Hussein - would have been saved.

Am I arguing for my ow type of "calculus of death"? No. But I am saying that rare is the war that benefits civilians. Most wars are humanitarian disasters which are initiated for the ugliest of motives.

A huge amount could have been accomplished - worldwide - with the few billions spent on padded contracts awarded to Halliburton (and other Bush Administration insider favorites) for the rebuilding of Iraq. Those billions so spent will not fulfill noble or idealistic aims.

The Bush Administration could have pursued the invasion of Iraq in a noble manner. But that way would have demanded a mobilization of world disgust at the evils of Saddam's regime - and from that would have sprung true authority. But the gratuitously arrogant manner in which the Bush Administration initiated the war squandered much of that moral capital.

On closing, I think whatnot's comment is very humanely practical.
posted by troutfishing at 9:37 PM on September 23, 2003

Swerdloff - I returned to this thread becuse I came across this testimony from a guy from the 101 Airborne who wrote this in an editorial for the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois:

"As soldiers serving in Iraq, we have been told that our purpose here is to help the people of Iraq by providing them the necessary assistance militarily as well as in humanitarian efforts. Then tell me where the humanity was in the recent Stars and Stripes account of two young children brought to a U.S. military camp by their mother, in search of medical care? The two children had been, unbeknown to them, playing with explosive ordinance they had found and as a result were severely burned. The account tells how the two children, following an hour-long wait, were denied care by two U.S. military doctors. The soldier described the incident as one of many "atrocities" he has witnessed on the part of the U.S. military.

So then, what is our purpose here? Was this invasion due to weapons of mass destruction as we so often heard? If so, where are they? Did we invade to dispose of a leader and his regime on the account of close association with Osama bin Laden? If so, where is the proof? Or is it that our incursion is a result of our own economic advantage? Iraq's oil can be refined at the lowest cost of any in the world. Coincidence?

This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or to rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest and domination but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource. At least for us here, oil seems to be the reason for our presence.

There is only one truth, and it is that Americans are dying."

posted by troutfishing at 10:34 PM on September 23, 2003


Yeah, I'm fucking whining swerdloff. Hardly. It's not effecting me, but it is effecting others who aren't mefi members. So I'm the whiner?

Marie Curie has just wafted a good cancerous one your way as well.

What kind of an idiot must you be to make inane excuses about this kind of stuff?
posted by crasspastor at 4:02 AM on September 24, 2003

You tell me where the concern comes from swerdloff. . . I'm not making shit up. But you're making excuses.

You simply do not use this kind of metal when humans are around. You also don't shoot them either. Especially when they're innocent.
posted by crasspastor at 4:31 AM on September 24, 2003

The Iraqi children do not need toys. The need safety, schooling, and medicine. It's nice that someone is gathering up toys for them, but it's a gesture spectacularly out of touch with the reality of the situation. Teddy bears are useless here.

Anyone remember how Germany sent a load of gas masks to Israel during the Six Day War? I find the irony/level of grotesque misunderstanding of this effort to be similar.

*braces self*
posted by jokeefe at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2003

Her eyes lit up with such joy as I put the monkey arms over her head. She was so excited to receive everything, being somewhat shy though, not having dealt with an American before. She was so precious as her big brown eyes looked up at me, causing me to almost breakdown into tears as I walked away quickly so as to not bring too much attention to the little girl from the on looking crowd.

What a moment! In my own little way, I am influencing and affecting the attitudes of Iraqis one person at a time, taking baby steps, one experience at a time.

A good friend of mine found herself in Romania a few years back. She, too, tried buying toys for a child she met on the street, Joszi, thinking she could make his life a little bit better. The parents took the toys and sold them for food. And why not--they were hungry. Really hungry: life isn't easy for gypsies in Romania (they're barred from most employment and suffer extreme social prejudice). Now she sends them money for medical care and food and clothing, which works much better. The point being that sentimental gestures may seem worthwhile for us, well fed, warm and dry and comfortable us, but it might really help if the basics were addressed first. You can't bomb the hell out of country and then fix it with stuffed monkeys.
posted by jokeefe at 11:56 AM on September 24, 2003

She was so precious as her big brown eyes looked up at me, causing me to almost breakdown into tears as I walked away quickly so as to not bring too much attention to the little girl from the on looking crowd.

God, we love our little moments of power, don't we...
posted by jokeefe at 11:59 AM on September 24, 2003

Now she sends them money for medical care and food and clothing, which works much better. The point being that sentimental gestures may seem worthwhile for us, well fed, warm and dry and comfortable us, but it might really help if the basics were addressed first.

Which is, with my little 4-word rant upthread, exactly what I was trying to say.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:27 AM on September 25, 2003

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