Homefront: Life during wartime

A brutal arrest at Saturday's New York rally, the Operation Iraqi Freedom drinking game, and war protests come to Costco.

Published March 24, 2003 8:48AM (EST)


North Carolina's Winston-Salem Journal ran a piece this weekend about the war's impact on comic relief. Stand-up comedians have been trying to walk the narrow path between jokes that are relevant and jokes that are too relevant, that is to say depressing and/or tasteless. Jeff Foxworthy described the conundrum as "weird," while the usually ferocious Margaret Cho, made one -- count 'em one -- Bush joke at her Wednesday show in Raleigh, and then moved on.

Far be it from us to suggest mockery of our fearless leader as an antidote to the grim days behind us, and probably ahead -- we're not tasteless. Instead, we turn to nonstop boozing, in particular the Gulf War Drinking Game, which in and of itself is insensitive and boorish beyond description, though not nearly as insensitive and boorish as participants will become just 15 minutes in, if they follow directions carefully.

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Someone give these kids a vote: Time Magazine's children's Web page, which is actually far more balanced in its coverage of the war than the "adult" Time Magazine, polled its young audience about free speech "in troubled times." A whopping 70 percent of children who responded opted for freedom of speech, over "supporting our leaders." This is something you already know, if you've ever had to play the role of leader and impinge on any child's freedom of speech.

On a more somber note, 66.8 percent of these very same children voted that reality shows are not just a passing fad, but instead are here to stay.

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In the St-Petersburg Times, columnist Eric Deggans offers some thoughtful, if Sisyphean, tips for making sense of all the dizzying media coverage of the war. Deggans acknowledges that we are being carpet-bombed with information, and then refers to an expert who recommends beginning with NPR in the morning, at least one good newspaper during the day, and then CNN at night.

After clearing up your confusion, but stressing yourself out, you can seek advice on how to calm down again at the National Mental Health Association, which provides a <a target="new" href="http://www.nmha.org/newsroom/system/news.vw.cfm?do=vw&rid=501 brief list of strategies for coping with stress during wartime. In addition to the NMHA's somewhat suspect suggestion that you avoid drugs and alcohol, nowhere on the list is there an endorsement of adding more news sources to your media diet, probably because too much of this kind of information will make you, well, crazy.

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First Person

(part of a letter from a New Yorker, describing Saturday's protests)

I witnessed a pretty brutal arrest on Saturday afternoon. Five or six policemen wrestled a young man (early 20s, I would guess) to the ground. They kneeled on his head. Flipped him over on his stomach. Pinned him down. Wrenched his arms behind his back. Put a boot heel on his neck. Cuffed him with the plastic tie wraps. And dragged him off.


I've never been arrested. I don't really relish the idea. I'd much rather ride my mountain bike, drink a cold beer and watch Mets games on TV. But how could I go on living my normal life when bombs, with my return address on them, are raining down on the people of Iraq? How can I go on living a normal life when this administration has so cynically used the fear of terrorism to terrorize the world?

The simple answer is, I can't. So, as with others, I've reached the point where marching and writing letters is not enough. Civil disobedience is next. I'll let you know how it goes.

-- Tom Bregman

My husband and I were in Costco in Los Angeles last weekend with my in-laws. A woman who was watching the news on one of the TVs started to rant about how Bush was killing Iraqi children.

An Iraqi man came over to her and angrily told her that she didn't know what she was talking about because she has lived her comfortable life in the U.S. He said Saddam is the one who has been killing children.

My normally shy in-laws, who are Iranian, piped in that Saddam has killed millions of Iranians also and that he has to be stopped. The woman, who must have felt outnumbered, said nothing and left Costco in a hurry -- without buying anything!

-- Leila Lavizadeh

By Sheerly Avni

Sheerly Avni is a freelance writer living in Oakland.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Iraq Middle East National Security