war/military

At the intersection of the trivializing of horrific violence aimed at ethnic/religious groups and the pornification of American culture, comes this “Anne Skank” costume:

[APOLOGIES: We were asked to remove the photograph and complied.]

Yes that is, indeed, a woman dressed up like Anne Frank, the Jewish child who hid from the Nazis for two years, only to be discovered and moved to a concentration camp where she died from Typhus.  Her companions are dressed up like Nazi soldiers.  The Halloween revelers who made the choice to sexualize and laugh at this 15-year-old victim of the holocaust are graduate students in a Creative Writing program.

UPDATE: Comments thread closed.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

While men have always had sex with men and women have always had sex with women, the idea that a person could be of a particular homosexual type (as opposed to someone who did homosexual acts) only emerged in the late 1800s (in Western culture anyway).  Even then, it took a very long time for the idea that gay people might be among us to filter through popular culture.  Only after an active gay liberation movement made homosexuality more visible did people actually start to look for it in people they knew.

Accordingly, things that look very “gay” to us today, didn’t look that way before homosexuality became part of our consciousness. In a previous post on this topic, I discuss a vintage soap ad in which two naked men in a public shower have a conversation about “hard” water and “lathering” up.  It seems to have clear gay undertones today (maybe overtones), but it wasn’t meant to suggest homosexuality then.  Likewise, a series of military recruitment posters, sent in by Katrin, might very well trigger the “specter” of homosexuality today, but likely would not have inspired giggles at the time.


More at Scribd.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The chart below summarizes the position on 12 rights for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans held by Barack Obama and 12 candidates for the Republican Presidential Election:

Data collected by Ned Flaherty for Marriage Equality USA.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

A  picture – or a graph without data – is like anecdotal evidence.  It can be very persuasive, but unless it’s based on systematic evidence, it’s just misleading.  Case in point:

The FBI is teaching its counter-terrorism agents that Islam is an inherently violent religion.  So are the followers of Islam.  Not just the extremists and radicals, but the mainstream.

There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology… The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.

Wired got hold of the training materials.  The Times has more coverage, including a section of the report that describes Muhammad as “a cult leader for a small inner circle.” (How small? Twelve perhaps?)  He also “employed torture to extract information.”*

An FBI PowerPoint slide has a “graph” to support its assertions.

The graph, really just a drawing, claims to show that followers of the Torah and the Bible have gotten progressively less violent since 1400 BC, while followers of the Koran flatline starting around 620 AD and remain just as violent as ever.

Unfortunately, the creators of the chart do not say how they operationalized “violent” and “non-violent.”  But since the title of the presentation is “Militancy Considerations,” it might have something to do with military, para-military, and quasi-military violence.  When it comes to quantities of death, destruction, and injury, these overwhelm other types of violence.

I must confess that my knowledge of history is sadly wanting, and I was educated before liberals imposed all this global, multicultural nonsense on schools, so I know nothing about wars that might have happened among Muslims during the period in question.  What I was taught was that the really big wars, the important wars, the wars that killed the most people, were mostly affairs among followers of the Bible.  Some of these were so big that they were called “World Wars” even though followers of the Qur’an had very low levels of participation.  Some of these wars lasted quite a long time – thirty years, a hundred years.  I was also taught that the in the important violence that did involve Muslims – i.e., the Crusades** – it was the followers of the Bible who were doing most of the killing.

Perhaps those with a more knowledge of Muslim militant violence can provide the data.

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* To be fair, the FBI seems to have been innocent of any of the torture that took place during the Bush years.  That was all done by the military and the CIA – and by the non-Christian governments to which the Bush administration outsourced the work.

** Followers of the Bible crusading to “take back our city” from a Muslim-led regime may have familiar overtones.

As of today, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the U.S. policy that allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military only as long as they kept their sexual orientation a secret, is officially over. In honor of this milestone, here’s the official letter from top Army commanders to soldiers announcing the end of the policy:

Via Joe. My. God.

NPR posted interviews with two men who worked hard for repeal, and it’s worth a read.

Recently, Raz sent in this image of cans of WD-40, part of their Collectible Military Series, for sale at an auto parts store:

The types of war-related advertising we see can give us insights about how average Americans are connected to, and affected by, different wars. During many U.S. wars, contributing to the war effort was the duty of every citizen; this is particularly apparent with World War II. The draft, the deployment of some 16 million Americans, and public calls to purchase war bonds and ration food meant that war was nearly everyone’s concern. In contrast, the current War on Terrorism mostly only impacts those connected directly to it—military families. There are no widespread calls to ration, buy war bonds, or otherwise support the war effort through employment, growing vegetables, saving scrap metal, or other changes to our daily lives. My own research shows that members of military families feel the war is ignored and forgotten by most Americans. They feel isolated in their daily anxieties and their efforts to support their loved ones.

Products like the WD-40 Collectible Military Series were more common during WWII than they are now. During WWII advertising used the war cause and feelings of patriotism to sell a wide range of products that, ads argued, would help the U.S. win. Some were clearly connected to the war effort:

With others, the connection was much less obvious or direct:

Both Shlitz and Camel donated to the war effort. Similarly, with their “Drop and Give Me 40” campaign, WD-40 is donating part of their profits to charities that support service members and their families:

For each can purchased from March 2011 through May 2011, WD-40 Company donated 10 cents to three charities that help active-duty military, wounded warriors, retired veterans and their families. On Memorial Day, WD-40 Company presented $100,000 checks to each of the following military charities: Armed Services YMCA, Wounded Warrior Project, and the Veterans Medical Research Foundation.

Although military-themed products (aside from “support the troops” t-shirts, stickers and pins that are widely available) are not as common as they were during WWII, some companies have come out with patriotic advertising.

Goodyear has “support the troops” tires, sold and marketed at NASCAR races:

An Anheuser-Busch commercial shows ordinary Americans stopping their everyday lives to thank the troops. There is no mention of the company until the very end, and nothing at all about beer:

American Airlines has a similar advertisement depicting various Americans being supportive the troops before and during their flight:

The messages in these recent ads are markedly different than the WWII messages of everyone taking part and working toward victory, reflecting changing relationships between war efforts and the average citizen. No reminder of the war was necessary in the 1940s—war was a part of everyday Americans’ lives. Current ads, like the WD-40 series, often serve less as a call to specific action than as a reminder that the war exists, as a reminder to thank the troops and support service members. It’s a different type of message for a different type of war, one that only involves a small fraction of Americans and is often largely invisible to everyone else.


Mexico filmmaker Pablo Fulgueira happened to be traveling in New York shortly after the attack of 9/11. He took the opportunity to interview people on the streets and turned that footage into this short documentary, “SiNYster,” showing the very first social consequences of the 9/11 attack in New York City.

Part I:

Part II:

Pablo Fulgueira studied filmmaking at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica in Mexico City and graduated in 2006.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Atlantic recently posted an article by Conor Friedersdorf about the results of polls conducted by the Abu Dhabi branch of the Gallup organization, in cooperation with the U.S. branch, on the political attitudes of various religious groups in the U.S., particularly focusing on how Muslim Americans compare to other groups. The respondents were chosen as a subsample of respondents to ongoing Gallup telephone polling of hundreds of thousands of randomly-selected Americans each year. One major caveat: though Gallup reports that the overall sample is representative of the U.S. population as a whole, the response rate for the subsample of 2,482 individuals chosen to investigate these issues in depth was low: 21% for the first wave, 34% for the second (the methodology begins on p. 57 of the full report). The authors argue the data have been weighted to ensure representativeness, but the low response rates require caution.

One set of questions looked at attitudes about violence toward civilians, whether by military or non-military groups. As we see, Muslims were more likely than any other group to say targeting civilians is never justified:

But every group overwhelmingly said it is “never” justified for a non-military group to attack and kill civilians, though Friedersdorf points out that a not insignificant minority of Americans said that targeting civilians is at least somewhat justified — a proportion that might have been lower if the word “terrorism” had been used to describe targeting civilians, I suspect.

However, Americans are much more divided on whether the military is sometimes justified in targeting and killing civilians. Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reported it is “never” justified, but the only other group where over half of respondents held that view was for non-believers/agnostics. A solid majority of Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons, and a slim majority of Jews, said that it is “sometimes” justified for the military to target civilians:

The full report includes data on a wide variety of indicators of political engagement and perceptions of quality of life and the future. Consistent with the graphs above, Muslim Americans have less confidence in the military and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI than all other groups (with non-believers/agnostics have the second-lowest levels of confidence):

One major area of difference is in perceptions of why people in Muslim countries might have unfavorable views of the U.S. Muslims Americans were the only group where a majority (65%) thought that U.S. actions were mostly responsible for such unfavorable views. For every other group, the majority thought that misinformation distribution by media outlets or governments was the major cause of unfavorable views of the U.S.:

Muslim Americans were much more likely than all other groups to believe they have experienced racial or religious discrimination. Interestingly, Muslim Americans were the only group where women were less likely than men to say they are always treated with respect by members of other religious groups:

The report authors suggest this may be partially due to Muslim women who wear hijab being visibly recognizable as Muslims in a way that may lead to negative interactions or comments from others.

However, despite higher levels of perceived discrimination, overall, Muslim Americans had a generally optimistic view of their future in the U.S.; the majority of respondents said they will be thriving in the future, and they were slightly less likely than other groups to believe they will be struggling:

I’ve just posted a few items that stood out to me here. Check out the full report for a much fuller discussion of attitudes toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, perceptions about quality of life in the U.S., major sources of self-identification (religion, ethnicity, citizenship, etc.), whether Muslims are loyal Americans, and more.