An essay published in Newsweek, The Washington Spectator and at least one other website argues that a flag honoring U.S. troops who have been captured or gone missing is actually “racist” and deserves to be treated with the same hostility as the Confederate flag.
“You know that racist flag?” writes Rick Perlstein. “The one that supposedly honors history but actually spreads a pernicious myth? And is useful only to venal right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage? It’s past time to pull it down.”
No, Perlstein isn’t talking about the Confederate flag, but actually the POW/MIA flag, which can be seen at countless veterans’ events and outside the offices of many congressmen.
The problem lies with the flag’s origins. “Missing in action” soldiers, Perlstein says, were simply invented out of thin air by Richard Nixon in an effort to “justify the carnage in Vietnam in a way that rendered the United States as its sole victim.”
Perlstein expresses outrage at Nixon’s administration for inaugurating a “newly invented” missing-in-action category to describe pilots who were shot down and never had their bodies recovered. Perlstein seems to imply that Nixon invented the idea of “missing” soldiers out of whole cloth, though this is quite untrue. Soldiers have been going missing for as long as wars have been fought, and official “missing” classifications were famously applied to thousands of soldiers in both world wars whose fates were impossible to determine.
Whatever the origins of the term itself, Perlstein says the flag is obviously racist, because, well, it implies that being a POW under the North Vietnamese was bad:
The moral confusion was abetted by the flag: the barbed-wire misery of that stark white figure, emblazoned in black.
It memorializes Americans as the preeminent victims of the Vietnam War, a notion seared into the nation’s visual unconscious by the Oscar-nominated 1978 film The Deer Hunter, which depicts acts of sadism, which were documented to have been carried out by our South Vietnamese allies, as acts committed by our North Vietnamese enemies, including the famous scene pictured on The Deer Hunter poster: a pistol pointed at the American prisoner’s head at exactly the same angle of the gun in the famous photograph of the summary execution in the middle of the street of an alleged Communist spy by a South Vietnamese official.
It’s not clear how, exactly, the POW/MIA flag can be tied to the poster for a movie that came out nearly a decade after it was created. It’s also not exactly clear how the flag portrays Americans as the “preeminent” victims of Vietnam: the flag itself has a timeless appearance and doesn’t mention Vietnam or the Vietnamese at all.
Perlstein goes a step further, suggesting that even when the Vietnamese did torture prisoners, they were “only borrowing techniques practiced on them by their French colonists,” though oddly he only offers this excuse to the North Vietnamese while being extremely severe in his condemnation of the South Vietnamese for any atrocities they committed.
The POW/MIA issue is an enduring concern for Perlstein, who wrote a similar article complaining about it for The Nation in 2013. It also played a role in his 2014 book “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan”, which ran into allegations of plagiarism.
“That damned flag: It’s a shroud. It smothers the complexity, the reality, of what really happened in Vietnam,” says Perlstein. “We’ve come to our senses about that other banner of lies. It’s time to do the same with this.”
Unsurprisingly, Perlstein’s conception of the flag is not shared by everybody.
“I’m appalled that anyone can make anything racist out of something that stands for what [the flag] stands for,” Vietnam veteran Ed Lewis told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Lewis founded Ride of the Brotherhood, a charitable organization that assists veterans in the U.S. and also assists with the search for missing soldiers’ remains in Vietnam.
Lewis pointed out that while the POW/MIA flag is most associated with Vietnam, its purpose extends well beyond that war.
“That flag symbolically stands for not just the POWs and MIAs from Vietnam but from all wars,” he said. He cited as an example the recent discovery and return to the U.S. of the remains of several dozen Marines killed in the Pacific during World War II.
As for the notion that the flag’s “barbed-wire misery” somehow demeaned the experience of others in the Vietnam War, Lewis said the imagery was designed to be symbolic and to extend well beyond the circumstances of that war alone. It simply symbolizes the universal experience of any prisoners of war, with the barbed wire showing they are restrained and the tower representing that they are always watched.
“We’re not the only country that lost in the [Vietnam] War, or any war,” he said.
While Perlstein complains that the flag had hurt relations with Vietnam after the war, Lewis said that his group actually collaborates extensively with the Vietnamese for the shared goal of discovering those still missing from the war. In fact, Lewis said that in September he will be traveling to Vietnam to help search for the remains of 16 North Vietnamese special forces. Ultimately, the cause is about providing closure and honoring veterans of all conflicts, Lewis said.
“Whether your a soldier of the American Army, the Vietnamese army, the German Army, the Japanese army…no matter what military a soldier may have served under, it’s only right that their remains be returned to their family for closure.”
Still, Lewis said he wasn’t surprised the matter had somehow become politicized.
“I just knew, I felt that deep down inside, that when the controversy with the rebel flag started coming down, I told my wife ‘Anything that’s out there can be made controversial if you want to,’” he said.
Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space
Would you pay $1200 a month for a bunk bed in a shared space? Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are opting for pods in communal home with a desk, locker and personal TV
With the cost of rent continuing to rise, some Americans are taking unusual measures to find a place to sleep.
PodShare, which provides 10 to 15 co-ed bunkbeds in six locations across California, is hoping to help solve the affordable housing crisis.
The beds can be rented from $35 to $50 a night, which amounts to between $1,050 and $1500 for one month.
It’s no secret that housing prices have rapidly spiked over the last decade and incomes have not kept up
One 2018 study published found that only about one-third of millennials currently own homes.
This is fewer than the number of Generation Xers and baby boomers who owned homes when they were the same age.
And a study conducted by Harvard University this year found that one-in-three Americans can’t afford to pay rent.
It’s unsurprising considering that, in cities such as San Francisco, the average rent for an apartment is about $3,900.
But for $1,200, if you rent with PodShare everyone gets a bed that turns into a desk, individual power outlets, a locker, a shelf and a personal TV.
Each location also provides a communal living room, food such as cereal, toiletries such as toilet paper, laundry machines and WiFi access, reported CNN.
Tenants are known as ‘pod-estrians’.
Although the set-up may seem like an adult dormitory or a hostel, the company uses the term ‘co-living’.
‘PodShare makes life more affordable because there is no security deposit or cost of furnishings and we provide flexible living,’ co-founder Elvina Beck told Vice in 2016.
‘Pod life is the future for singles which are not looking to settle down, but focus on their startups and experience something new.’
There are no curtains to close off the beds, and the only doors are to the bathroom, reported Time Out Los Angeles.
Although there’s no privacy, pod-residents are willing to exchange that for affordability or a reduced travel time to work.
Beck, 34, told CNN that she founded the company in 2012 because she wanted to meet new people and provide housing security to others.
‘Maybe they don’t have two months’ rent to put down or they don’t have proof of income,’ she said.
‘Whether it’s from a divorce or their family kicked them out for being gay or because they’re in a different country or a different city.’
She told CNN that, when she began PodShare, most residents were between ages 24 and 30. Today, however, most ‘tenants’ are in their late 20s or early 30s.
Additionally, many of the early residents were young adults who had just moved to a new city. But many new residents are older adults and even those traveling on business.
However, there some rules that people are required to follow. Lights have to be off by 10pm, no guests are allowed and tenants can’t have sex.
‘You can’t invite any friends over,’ Beck told CNN. ‘Sorry. Just make new ones here.’
Caretaker Ties a Wheelchair-Bound Pensioner to a Tree by The Neck
Shocking footage of a wheelchair-bound pensioner being tied to a tree by the neck by a caretaker has sparked controversy in China.
The caretaker claimed to have no other way but to bind her frail client with a rope because she had to rush back home to deal with family emergency.
Furious onlookers demanded the caretaker free the pensioner immediately. The domestic worker defended her act by calling the incident ‘no big deal’.
The pensioner appeared extremely distressed throughout the video and could not speak clearly.
One angry male passer-by accused the caretaker: ‘How would you feel if your daughter treated you like this?’
He criticised the caretaker and said she should bring the pensioner with her.
The caretaker replied: ‘[If I had] pushed her back, she would tell [on me].’
Another female bystander pointed out that the pensioner neck had turned red because of the rough treatment.
After being lambasted by eyewitnesses, the caretaker untied the pensioner and pushed her away.
Authority said the clip had been uploaded onto the social media by residents in a neighbourhood called Nanyuan on the outskirts of southern Beijing.
But they had not been able to identify the exact location of the incident or track down the individuals involved.
Police have been alerted of the video and launched an investigation, according to Beijing Evening News.
Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition
“Calming the Canines,” at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC), is a new Independence Day tradition.
Last year, over 300 people from the community showed up at the shelter’s two locations around Phoenix, Arizona.
It was overwhelming to see how the community responded. It really helped spread our message that MCACC is here to help.
Amy Engel, who attended Calming the Canines last year said that she definitely plans on attending this year, too.
Engel wrote about her experience last year
Some people sang to them, some people read to them, some people just sat there and gave treats! It was so, so awesome because the dogs absolutely love the attention and were focused on the people and not the fireworks going on outside.
Many participants developed lasting relationships with the shelter, returning to provide foster care, adopt a pet or volunteer.
The shelter suggests people to bring blankets to sit on, or folding chairs, and to let the dog or cat approach them to sit calmly and quietly.
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