Thursday, August 18, 2005

Veterans of Future Wars

Okay, when I first saw this I thought it was a joke. Turns out it was, but not in the way I thought. Instead of a joke it was a hoax that, like many hoaxes, got quickly way out of hand.

Way back in 1936, following the unfortunate and tragic 1932 Bonus Army encampment in Washington DC, Congress passed the Veterans Bonus Bill for WWI veterans. Students at Princeton, under the questionable leadership of one chucklehead expert in irony names Lewis Gorin, started a group called Veterans of Future Wars. Their demand was simple: Pay them a $1000 bonus now, under the assumption that they would eventually have to go fight in a war; this way they wouldn't lose a paycheck.

Although it was always intended as satire, as a sophomoric campus joke (their salute was a mock Nazi sieg heil, with the arm outstretched and the palm up to allow for the easy deposit of the cash), other campuses picked up on it, took it seriously, and soon there were over 50,000 dues-paying members.

In the interests of full disclosure, it must be stated at this that most college students at the time -- with most of the nation still in the throes of the Great Depression --were sons of the arisitocracy, scions of the ruling class, an effete corps of impudent snobs. In a word, Republicans.

I think the only reason that today's crop of college young Republicans doesn't come up with a similar idea is because none of them are in any danger of becoming veterans of the current war, let alone any potential future war.

Still, doesn't it strike you as the very epitiome of Republican thought? Just so long as these bonuses don't get paid to minorities, the poor, the disaffected, the liberal, the morally weak, the physically disabled, etc etc., none of whom deserve anything more than a flag for their coffins and a scratchy pre-recorded rendition of Taps at their funerals?

An ironic footnote to all of this: With the exception of one student injured in an automobile accident, every single one of the Princeton students who founded Future Veterans of America served in uniform in WWII.

Very different from today, as you know.