Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Confederacy of Dunces

Simple-mindedness is an equal-opportunity disability. That’s certainly evident in the UAW v. USMC tiff that Mark Hyman describes in his latest “Point.” The problem is that Hyman seems to only see half of the picture.

Apparently, the auto workers union was allowing Marines to park in a UAW headquarters parking lot that happens to be located near a Marine training facility. Although the UAW has a long tradition of barring foreign-made cars from the lot, they made an exception for the Marines.

At least they did until a few weeks ago, when the UAW decided to ban not only all foreign-made cars regardless of who was driving, but also to ban cars sporting bumper stickers supporting George W. Bush. The Marines got peeved, the UAW eventually relented and invited the Marines back, but the Marines, still in a snit, decided they didn’t want to park in the UAW’s stinky old parking lot anyway—so there! (No word yet on whether either side has accused the other of having cooties.)

Hyman rightly points out that it’s hard to tell exactly what cars are made in the U.S. and which aren’t. He’s also right in suggesting the UAW folks were being unfair in barring cars with pro-Bush bumper stickers. It’s petty. But the good ol’ USMC is being every bit as childish as the UAW. Explaining the decision not to return to the UAW parking lot even after being invited back, Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge said, “either you support the Marines or you don't."

Suggesting that the UAW’s desire not to have bumper stickers supporting one of the most viciously anti-labor presidents in history somehow means they don’t support the Marines is every bit as silly as the UAW’s position that driving a Honda makes you unAmerican. Both are simplistic, dopey positions that are much more about the egos of those involved than they are about substance.

Hyman, however, buys into the silliness by suggesting that the UAW is besmirching the honor of the Marines (the title of the commentary is actually “Auto Workers Unite! Against The Marines”). I can’t help wondering what Hyman’s view would be, however, if the situation was reversed. What if a Marine base was allowing union workers (or some other group) to park for free on their grounds, but said they did not want vehicles parking there that sported anti-war or anti-Bush bumper stickers out of respect for those serving on the base? Somehow, I think Hyman would find the Marines’ argument convincing and would likely accuse those who complained about the policy of (all together now) “hating the troops.”

Of course, the executives at Sinclair Broadcasting are no strangers themselves to stubborn and childish demands that others toe their political line. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Sinclair
insisted that on-air personalities at all of its stations make a statement “conveying full support” for the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies.

And then there’s poor Jon Lieberman. The one-time “golden boy” of Sinclair was promptly fired when he dared question the company’s decision to air a piece of anti-John Kerry propaganda as a news show.

Yep—simple-mindedness can strike anybody. But it does seem more pronounced in some people than others, doesn’t it?

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should be "if the situation were reversed," not "if the situation was reversed."


Bob Beal.

At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

uhh... no it shouldn't be.
subject is singular "the situation"
verb tense should agree "was"
back to grammar school, bob

chairman kulanova


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