Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Ted Rall is America's BullShit Detector

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last week...I've been busy fuckin' hoes and smokin' "o's". Belieee dat.
Anyway, have any of you noticed the whole Pat Tillman thing in the media the last week or two?
Short synopsis: Tillman gives up a large contract with the NFL to serve in the armed forces. Then he is killed in Afghanistan. ESPN and others devote segments to his heroic sacrifice. We Americans should think of him as a hero. Blah blah blah...
So then Ted Rall (kinda the anarchist/punk-rock/cartoonist-think Bill Hicks with a pen) creates this cartoon and suddenly patriotic citizens are calling for his head. Personally I think it's a damn fine cartoon.
Suitable for framing actually.
Then I read this column by the always-provoking Matt Taibbi. I didn't read the kid's editorial, but I understand the sentiment and I agree with Taibbi's analysis.
And then, I notice this little part of this article:

'Just when we thought we had a pure and simple hero, a millionaire athlete who gave up wealth and fame to become the ideal patriot, to make the ultimate sacrifice, his friends and family complicated everything. They turned Pat Tillman into a human being Monday, showing us what was really lost during that ambush in Afghanistan, insisting that we question every assumption we've made since he died an icon on April 22.

Yes, there were uplifting tales, moments when tears and pride swelled in everyone watching Tillman's memorial service at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. There were jarring moments, too, and they carried the message of the afternoon -- "challenge yourself" -- more powerfully than those laden with conventional inspiration.

Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God,'' he said. "He's f -- ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f -- ing dead.''' (There's the O.G. article)

If you continue reading the article a much more complex human comes into focus. This man is not some uber-patriot portrayed in Rall's cartoon (though I still like it), he was an interesting, intellegent, confused human being who was trying to figure out how to do the best with his life (well, that may be laying it on thick, but he seemed like a thoughtful person anyway) and he thought military service might be the best way to do so.
Now I don't think of Pat Tillman as a hero and nor do I consider him a failure.
He was just some guy who got caught up in the insane mechanisms of military service and died while fighting uhhhh, the Taliban, uh yeah (Taibbi brings up a good point: how exactly did Tillman die? How? Why? Isn't that important? Oh no-that's right, that part of the story isn't important, but turning him into a celebrity-hero-patriot is...oh that's right, god bless 'merica and her heroes!).
Well however he died doesn't matter but you can add his name to the list of those who died for an unneccessary war. Or a just cause. It just depends on what you believe.
I'll be back next time with humor...

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