Monday, November 29, 2004


Run into machine-gun fire - But watch out for second-hand smoke!

The Idleworm has a good link to an article by Naomi Klein in the Guardian, Smoking while Iraq burns, in which she tears apart some of the hubbub in the US around the photograph of a US Marine relaxing with a cigarette after a long hard day's work of killing the natives in Fallujah. The photograph itself apparently has quite a few pro-war crotches in the US going a bit damp.

Here's the photograph on a pro-Bush blog by Michelle Malkin. It seems CBS news anchor Dan Rather commented this photograph as follows: "For me, this one's personal. This is a warrior with his eyes on the far horizon, scanning for danger. See it. Study it. Absorb it. Think about it. Then take a deep breath of pride. And if your eyes don't dampen, you're a better man or woman than I."

So, the Americans have found their rugged, sweaty, masculine God of War. You'd think they'd be happy.

But no. As Naomi Klein's article reports, the wide coverage the photograph has received has met with criticism in some quarters. Some people remark that this cigarette-smoking Mars may not be a good example to the children.

Of course - you'd think. Running around in a country where you have no business being and alternatingly shooting people and getting shot at is not what mom and dad might have in mind for junior. Glorification of war, combat and widespread destruction is, perhaps, not what one would want the next generation to be raised with.


The problem, you see, is not that he's engaged in a senseless slaughter that has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives. Don't be that naive. The problem is - that he's smoking.

As Naomi Klein quotes some letter-writers: ""Lots of children, particularly boys, play army, and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette," wrote Daniel Maloney in a scolding letter to the Houston Chronicle. Linda Ortman made the same point to the editors of the Dallas Morning News: "Are there no photos of non-smoking soldiers?" A reader of the New York Post helpfully suggested more politically correct propaganda imagery: "Maybe showing a marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking water would have a more positive impact on your readers.""

That's right. Quite aside from the little circumstance that, after having dodged bullets all day, the Marine in question probably couldn't care less about the warnings on the cigarette package, it now seems that it's okay if the current generation of children take the Marine as their role-model when playing army - after all, we want them to become good cannon fodder for the Fatherland, won't we? But God forbid that they get the idea to indulge in the disgusting habit of smoking!!! Lest they do not understand that their bodies do not belong to them, but to the State, and they are their Fueh.., erm, President's to expend, not theirs!

As Klein continues: "Yes, that's right: letter writers from across the nation are united in their outrage - not that the steely-eyed, smoking soldier makes mass killing look cool, but that the laudable act of mass killing makes the grave crime of smoking look cool."

Quite. If you needed any proof of the life-abhorring, decadent, morally vacuous nature of today's health fascists - look no further.

- Merlijn

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