Symbols

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
I think you give me too much credit. I think everyone's brain should work as well as it can, but -- sadly -- do not believe I have any more resources than anyone else with which to further this noble aim in reality. But it's a pleasant thought.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Sorry, it was not in my plans to trigger a reaction or be too "political"....
No worries, just a few stray comments...
To be fair, MZ kicked it all off, lecturing us all on libertarianism, and ending in a typical Yank meltdown where he demands praise for being daft enough not to have had any other options than to sign up to be cannon fodder.
That is absolutely false on a couple of levels. I did not "lecture" about Libertarianism. I mentioned Libertarianism in general as an example of continued usage of the symbol, and my own Libertarianism as an explanation of the comment:
Now for what is, perhaps, my favorite snake symbol...
...and then provided a link to the Stanford website simply for those internationals who might not know what Libertarianism is. Neither did I evince any type of "typical Yank meltdown", as you suggest; I spoke to that which Mr. Fields implied in his posting, I think in a fairly coherent, though pointed, manner. Rather, the ensuing fracas was initiated by yourself with this insulting barb:
I daresay most scholars would call you an arrogant puppy...
You might dare to say that, but surely are ill-advised to do so. Look, I realize that you enjoy playing the consummate wit, engaging in often biting persiflage, which is fine in general, and can often add humor to a discussion. If, however, you are the paragon of logic which you imply, then you will realize that because of the cursory way in which we members know one another on such a site as this, that the rendering of such verbal barbs is not only imprudent, it is erroneously unsound and counterproductive.

Because of your customary usage, I am of the assumption that you are British. Do you insult British soldiers (who, historically, are the umtimate agents of the current English language hegemony) with the suggestion that they are:
...daft enough not to have had any other options than to sign up to be cannon fodder.
? Why don't you find a couple of SAS chaps, and give that one a try on them; I bet you will not enjoy the reaction. As pertains to my own personal experience of the military, I feel almost that I should have paid for the honor, the experience, having met and served with men there who will always be remembered by me as examples of true manhood. The head drill instructor of my basic training platoon, one Staff Sargeant Nathaniel Johnson, persists in my mind thusly. Without having met Nate Johnson, I might never have fully realized the meaning of the phrase "his heart is in the right place". Contrary to the stereotype, I never heard him utter a foul word; he was training to become a minister in the Baptist Church following his military retirement. He could "run you up the left side and down the right", and all the while make you feel that he "was pulling for you", trying to encourage you. He could run the platoon ragged all day and half the night and most amazingly, reappear early the next morning, looking "as fresh as a daisy"; he had incredible physical and psychological stamina, and it was obvious that he was constantly seeking a way of engendering that in his trainees, with the continued verbal refrain "c'mon you mens" this, and "c'mon you mens" that. Yes, I met some exemplary men in the Army...men so different from myself whom I would never have known otherwise, and who remain for me, in very many ways, as a standard (though I fear with certainty, that I will never live up to it) of what I, as a man, might be. This thread is about symbols...now those memories are of some powerful symbols for myself.

So congratulations, Etaoin, you have successfully insulted @EstQuodFulmineIungo (as inoffensive a lad as you're wont to find), myself (perhaps a pain-in-the-ass, but one who means well), Americans in general, and all soldiers, sailors and airmen worldwide, all in the space of a few witty lines of commentary. You should be a bit ashamed (not utterly, but a little abashed) of yourself, but I doubt that you will.
 
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Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
It was a tad over the top, I admit. But then your expecting to be thanked for military service was as well.

I am American by birth (I was very young at the time), but British by virtue of coming here at the age of 19, and for whatever reason hanging around. I have relatives who have served in the American forces, and friends who have served in all sorts of forces. There are numerous contexts in which this is a perfectly valid thing to do, which does not change the fact that I believe there is a dangerous fetishisation of the military, common in the US, and possibly spreading to the UK as well, at least in certain circles.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
It was a tad over the top, I admit. But then your expecting to be thanked for military service was as well.
Thank you for the recognition and admission. That was manly of you. The now well-established custom of thanking veterans for their service began as a backlash against the reaction that returning American soldiers received upon their return from Vietnam during the conflict there, when they were derided and, often quite literally, spit upon. My reference to the custom was merely a verbal slap at Mr. Fields, which surely he will contextualize and understand.
...which does not change the fact that I believe there is a dangerous fetishisation of the military, common in the US, and possibly spreading to the UK as well, at least in certain circles.
What is actually more dangerous, in my view, is the continuing militarization of municipal and state police forces, at least here in the U.S., for which anti-terrorism has served as a pretext. The main cheerleader for this trend in the States has been one ex-Army Lieutenant Colonel of questionable judgement named David Grossman, who has made a business of it. The problem with this trend, is that the actual military has well established traditions and other measures in place to restrain and discipline those soldiers who tend toward becoming "rogue warriors". Civilian police forces do not. Rather, the historic culture of exclusive cohesiveness (the so-called "thin blue line" mindset) and disciplinary secrecy which has long characterized civilian police departments (both bolstered by the demands of...what else...the police union), lends itself to the "rogue warrior" going undisciplined, often for too long. Simply note the current Derek Chauvin case as an example. If police officers wish to be soldiers, then they should join the military as a career, where the warrior mindset is tempered by the notion of a "military/soldierly bearing", and the UCMJ forever hangs, like Damacles' sword.

I'm not sure that I discern the fetishization to which you allude. I do know one thing, however: that having directly taken the lives of other men in combat has taught me more about my own nature, and about human nature in general, than a thousand readings of Caesar and Xenophon ever will. I feel somehow linked to those men, a feeling which will undoubtedly persist for the remainder of my life.
 
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Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
The now well-established custom of thanking veterans for their service began as a backlash against the reaction that returning American soldiers received upon their return from Vietnam during the conflict there, when they were derided and, often quite literally, spit upon.
There are several differences.

Most of the soldiers in Vietnam were draftees. I believe the draft no longer exists; am I wrong?

I have often voiced the opinion that it was more honourable to have dodged the draft, by whatever means and from whatever motivation, than to have served in Vietnam. This has sometimes been misinterpreted as condemning those who did serve in Vietnam.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
There are several differences.

Most of the soldiers in Vietnam were draftees. I believe the draft no longer exists; am I wrong?
You are right, we in the U.S. live in the age of the professional military. Even so, should a "big" war obtain, the draft is ever but a few pen strokes from reinstatement.
I have often voiced the opinion that it was more honourable to have dodged the draft, by whatever means and from whatever motivation, than to have served in Vietnam. This has sometimes been misinterpreted as condemning those who did serve in Vietnam.
The U.S. had no business in Vietnam, interfering in those people's and that culture's political evolution. I do not believe that we should condemn those who, based upon that premise, dodged the draft. Despite that, the individual American soldier who went and did his duty as he discerned it was deserving of the respect due that service. One sees and does things in combat following which one needs a hug, rather than a slap.

We should probably begin to veer from this tangential discussion, and return to the topic of symbols (which, after all, is fun), lest the moderators feel their patience tested...
 
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Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
The plot thickens.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Well, there's the fetish of the sexy soldier, but it's hardly new. :D
 
There are numerous contexts in which this is a perfectly valid thing to do, which does not change the fact that I believe there is a dangerous fetishisation of the military, common in the US, and possibly spreading to the UK as well, at least in certain circles.
Maybe you could expand on this without resorting to spite. I am genuinely interested in where you're going with it.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
I wasn't going anywhere. MZ said that he had served in the military -- fair enough -- and that we should thank him for his service -- which prompted my comment.
 
I wanted to know more about the dangerous fetishisation of the US military that's possibly spreading over here, not what prompted said comment.

Edit: perhaps it's the new uniforms. I hear the combat shorts are rather tight and revealing in the US army. Our lads haven't the legs for them to be fair.
 
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Michael Zwingli

Active Member
...perhaps it's the new uniforms. I hear the combat shorts are rather tight and revealing in the US army. Our lads haven't the legs for them to be fair.
Ah, I'm glad to be out of it. The new uniform regs demand shaving of the legs to wear those, in addition to the bikini wax, and judging by my luck in shaving my face daily (thank God for the septic stick), that could well prove suicidal to me.
 
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