Support the Troops

The retired postmaster flags certain items he comes across, for female soldiers: such as a little box of nice soaps. Stirling says even people who don’t support specific wars should support the troops. But he’s not sure he supports the troop withdrawal, “I think that’s a political thing right now. I think it’s expedient. But I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do unless they’re right there waiting to go back in because the situation in the world is very. It’s like a tinderbox, you know, and you’ve got to make sure things are done properly.”

My local NPR affiliate

I guess now that the troops are coming home from Iraq (except for the ones who will remain to guard the embassy, and the others who will remain in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, just, you know, to make sure nobody steals any sand) we’re going to get more of these sentimental puff pieces about those brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our freedoms.

Of all the braindead slogans regularly parroted in the mainstream media and culture, “support the troops” has got to be the most nauseating.  Even when an effort is made, as in the passage quoted above, to separate the soldiers from the mission, it’s still, in effect, an underhanded attempt to silence dissent.  What they’re actually saying is, “You may not support the war(s), but really you should, if only for the sake of the troops.”  It’s become the foreign policy equivalent of “think of the children.”

But what really irks is the implied obligation.  You should support the troops because they’re risking their lives for you.  I mean, they wouldn’t even be in Iraq, killing all of those terrible sand niggers and getting their arms and legs blown off by IEDs, if it wasn’t for you and your damn freedom that needs to be protected all the time.  You’re not some kind of ingrate, are you?

Funny thing is, I don’t recall asking a single soldier to go anywhere and do anything for me.  So I have an idea: Instead of telling me that I should support the troops, I think you should just fuck off.

You’re the brightest most wonderful person

I love when my local public radio station resorts to naked flattery in its pledge drives.  Immediately following a segment this morning on NPR, in which Cokie Roberts used the word “obstreperous,” the local pledge drive host came on and said: “Where else on the radio can you hear the word ‘obstreperous’?  Here at WHYY, we don’t insult your intelligence.”

Or, more straightforwardly: “You’re so much smarter and more sophisticated than the riffraff that listens to those other radio stations.” 

Not that there’s anything surprising here.  They’re just playing to their audience, or their perceived audience—or perhaps just that portion of the audience most likely to break out their wallets.  But still, it’s funny how this also feeds into the negative stereotype of the typical public radio listener: essentially an elitist whose progressive, socially conscious views (often on display in the form of bumper stickers on the back of his suitably “green” automobile) are just further evidence (in addition to his master’s degree in corporate handjobbery) of his superiority to others.

Truth in Advertising

The local NPR affiliate in Philly, WHYY, is in the midst of one of its annual pledge drives, and this morning its main pitch man, a pompous twit whose affected highbrow manner of speaking arouses a powerful urge to drag him to the nearest high school and stuff him in a locker (after dumping his backpack and stealing his lunch money, of course) was going on about how “you, the listener” are responsible for financing the station and how they’re able to bring us the high-quality programming they do because they’re not beholden to the commercial interests that other stations are.

Then, I swear less than two minutes later, the other pitch person said something about how they’re probably going to get less money from the federal government (not a “commercial” interest, true, but certainly a pretty big interest nevertheless, wouldn’t you say?) this year, so listener pledges are even more important than usual; and this was followed by a spot for a local hospital that specializes in cancer care.  So, for shits and giggles, I went onto the station’s website and, sure enough, there’s a page dedicated entirely to soliciting corporate “underwriters.”

Well, gee whiz, and all along I was wondering why their programming is basically no different than the so-called commercial media outlets.