January 20th, 2003

Nicodemus

MLK, Peacenik Rant, and a Book Review

So here we are, celebrating MLK and civil rights while our nation prepares for war. Bush & Co. seem dead set to have their war while people are protesting in the streets. Yet there's a large part of the American public in Bush's camp, supporting the concept of war in Iraq, with or without any of this trivial "proof" stuff. They think we should attack Saddam by ourselves, regardless of the feelings of the international community.

While I cannot make any excuses for Saddam -- he is a horrible despot -- I cannot agree that we should rush in. This is why we have the United Nations and processes in international law; to go in ourselves is to trivialize the UN and become the renegade. Many countries already see us as a playground bully; we don't need to do anything to ruin our reputation further.

But I am most frustrated by the part of the American public that calls for war without really understanding what war entails. People who have not been in a war are saying that we should attack. They know we have complete military superiority and that there is no real threat to their own insulated middle-America white-collar SUV-driving life; they are immune to the effects of war.

They see the war on CNN, right after the latest sports scores. What cities have we bombed? What's the score in the third quarter? How many killed? How many goals?


Recently, I read an interesting book. It's called Grandma's Wartime Kitchen. It is not only a collection of historical recipes from the 40s, but a perspective on what World War II was like on the homefront. American housewives were drafted in this war effort as our government sought to maximize food supplies available to the troops in Europe and Asia.

The book is quite enlightening. I, like many Americans, have never lived through the desperate conditions of a real war. But I like to think that I can learn from the experience of others; what I learned was something of the sacrifices everyone made during that era.

Recipes are provided for braised beef hearts and how to make meatloaf from old breadcrumbs and kidneys. These are not the exceptions. Several meals per week were likely to be made from what was euphemistically termed "variety meats", because that was all that you could buy. Food stamps limited how much meat, sugar, chocolate, eggs, butter, and oil you could buy; even if you had the stamps, there might be none at the local market and you were allowed no gas to drive to another town's store.

And I look around today... And I hear people yelling about that commercial that says SUVs support Iraq because they're gas guzzlers. Though an exaggeration, it is at some level true. But people were incensed by this ad! To suggest that we should give up SUVs! When we could simply start a war and take the oil and continue driving wasteful vehicles!


What would these people think of gas rationing? What would they think of having to eat stewed pork shoulder because it was the only thing they were allowed? What would they think of a real war?
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