This piece by Paul Whitefield of the L.A. Times is labeled a “Modest Proposal.” I guess that means it is supposed to be funny, or at least ironic. But instead, it merely revels pointlessly in offensive stereotypes of Vietnam veterans:
LISTENING TO President Bush’s speech on Iraq earlier this month, my first thought was: “Where the heck are we going to get 21,500 more soldiers to send to Iraq?” Our Reserves are depleted, our National Guard is worn out, our Army and Marine Corps are stretched to the limit.
Then it hit me: Re-up our Vietnam War veterans and send them.
They’re trained. They’re battle-hardened. Many already have post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, some have their own vehicles — Harleys mostly, which are cheap to run, make small targets and are highly mobile. I’ll even bet that lots of these guys still have guns (you know, just in case).
So: Vietnam vets are crazy guys with post-traumatic stress syndrome, Harleys, and lots of guns. Savor the irony!
Finally, these Vietnam War guys are hungry for revenge. After all, they fought in the only war the U.S. ever lost. And they didn’t even get a parade. So this is their chance. We can throw them that big parade when they come marching home.
So they’re not only crazy — they’re losers, too! The irony is delicious! Jonathan Swift himself would be jealous.
Let me get serious for a moment and ask: just what the hell is this guy’s point?
He doesn’t really want to send Vietnam vets to Iraq. I get that. But why does he spend a good chunk of the piece riffing off of hoary stereotypes of Vietnam Vets?
If you read the actual piece “A Modest Proposal,” you’ll see that author Jonathan Swift actually had a point. This was evident in his subtle digs at landlords, like this:
I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children.
Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients [such as] teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants.
Heh. He’s slagging landlords. It’s funny because it has a point.
Whitefield’s piece doesn’t. The only digs I see in Paul Whitefield’s piece are jokes at the expense of Vietnam veterans, consisting of snide references to discredited and offensive stereotypes. What’s the point of that?
I have the sense that the author is trying to be Joel Stein — the self-absorbed contrarian who gets a lot of page views. But for all his failings, you can at least understand what Joel Stein is trying to say, even if it’s nothing more than: look at me! I’m a self-absorbed contrarian!
By contrast, this piece by Whitefield is just offensive — and pointlessly so.
Thanks to F15C.