Take a look at this picture (courtesy of Frontpage Magazine)
FrontpageMag is ripping the bejesus out of the morons holding it up – but as an ex-teacher, writer and copyeditor I thought that I’d clean up the grammar and spelling a little bit before making any attempt to understand the message.
|“We live in a country founded by cheats, murderers, rapists, thieVES and terrorists WHO captured, killed and enslaved millions of Africans. THEY ALSO killed more natives than the Nazis KILLED Jews. ALL THE WHILE the Catholic Church PROTECTS CHILD MOLESTING PRIESTS- God Bless America”|
What is it with extremists and bad English? I recall seeing Klansmen holding signs saying “Nigers go home” at a rally in Greensboro – and there weren’t any citizens from that west African nation around. Recently much has been made in the press about the poor writing skills of young Americans. This is yet another example of the problem.
The purpose of this “sign” is to make an impression in order to convey a message. One way to do this would be to cover your naked skin with writing (see a discussion on naked protests here). Another way is to take a symbol and deface it in some way. The Cornell lads evidently chose this route – perhaps because their bodies aren’t as attractive as the Dixie Chicks – or because it was chilly that day. Because the flag has white in it, and because white displays black ink better, they can then combine the desecration of a symbol with the message.
However in this case, the first criteria seems to have been to fill up all the white stripes in the flag with “the Message”? Why?
Perhaps they are Visual Arts majors who couldn’t figure out how to balance the short message of say “America=Evil!” or “America sucks and so do we!” Or maybe they believed like children that more of a good thing is always better, so they decided to continue adding grievances without regard to the overall content of the sign. This of course is a blatant disregard for the writing dictum that one should never use three words when two will do.
That said, let’s take a look at the messages:
|Message #1: America was founded by bad people and therefore American institutions are evil.
Message #2: The Catholic church protects bad priests. Because the Catholic Church is an institution within America, America is therefore responsible for controlling the Church.
Message #3: (implicit) Being patriotic about America is wrong.
According to author Stephen Jay Gould, the worst historical sin one makes is to judge our forebears by contemporary standards. Setting aside the fact that the vast majority of historians continue to recognize the positive contributions made by the Founding Fathers of the United States, the logic of the protesters is wrong. Good can come out of Evil acts – and does so all the time. The modern day integration of Europe, for example, is a direct consequence of Hitler’s conquest of Europe. The opposite is also true: good can beget evil – hence the old saw “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” (and one which the current administration is no doubt concerned about in Iraq).
Secondly, the connection between the USA and the Catholic Church has got to be a filler. Even those who rode the short-bus to school yet still made it into Cornell through the “Affirmative Action for Absolute Morons” program must recognize that the US government has no control whatsoever over the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is an international entity that frequently conflicts with the agenda of the American government. The US is no more responsible for pedophile priests than the Pope is the 2002 Farm Bill passed by Congress.
Finally, the students fail to recognize that we are, according to William James, imperfect beings living in an imperfect world – and the same can be said of the institutions these beings create. As such every modern nation state has a few genocides and atrocities in the closet. However that in no way justifies ignoring the atrocities of today – as these students seem to be arguing rather pathetically.
Germans have every right to speak out against inhumanity – even though Germans committed some of the most egregious acts of inhumanity ever seen on the planet. The Japanese are some of the most outspoken pacifists of today, yet were some of the most militaristic of nationalities just 58 years ago. History does not bind us by passing on the sins of the fathers to the sons. Thank god for that. I’m sure there’s a whole heap of sins buried in the past along with the moldering bones of my alcoholic Irish ancestors. I simply don’t want to know what those bog-dwelling bastards did to survive – but I’m sure it wasn’t all pleasant, legal, and proud. Still, in fairness to them and their memories, I’m here and managed to breed….
True patriotism comes from pride in national accomplishments and shame in national mistakes. I can still wave the flag proudly while knowing about America’s 19th century genocide against native Americans. Did the US shaft native Americans? You bet. Did America rebuild Europe and Japan after World War 2 without turning them into colonies? Uh-huh.
Instead of a clear message of dissent we get “We’re a bunch of university morons who should spend less time writing on flags in dorm rooms and more time reading and writing on paper in classrooms.” Do yourselves a favor and take remedial writing classes you freaking assholes…
A joke – given to me by The Mother-in-law
Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on. The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.” The second responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians. Everything inside them is color-coded.” The third surgeon says, “No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”
The fourth surgeon chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers. They always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end and when the job takes longer than you said it would.”
But the fifth surgeon, Dr. Morris Fishbein, shuts them all up when he observes: “The French are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, no balls and no spine. Plus the head and ass are interchangeable.”
Note: I’ve done a quick search of the net and found that the joke dates back to at least 1999, and has been directed at lawyers, politicians and engineers. Personally I think it works best with the French; I also like the nice touch of a Jew handing over the punch line.