Tuesday, May 10, 2005

How sweet... Pentagon Daycare!

Daycare and Child Development Centers are apparently located on military bases for our military mothers and fathers.

Think about that for a second.

Daycare centers. On military bases.

Military bases are unquestionably valid military targets in a nation at war, which last I checked is the unfortunate status of our country. And we house children in these targets.

One wonders whether this is an act of incompetence. Maybe ignorance is at work, our country never having been invaded en masse. Perhaps it is even a holdover from the Cold War, when nuclear weaponry was assumed capable of destroying everything nearby, which in the minds of some would justify keeping a daycare on base though not, apparently, keeping military targets as far as possible from concentrated civilian centers.

One would hope that this is only an ill-reasoned attempt to attract and keep parents in the military by making easier the lives of soldiers, many of whom are single parents who are victims of and/or contributors to the decline of premarital chastity, marital fidelity, or responsible fatherhood.

But then one remembers that poor dead girl in the arms of a fireman from the bombed-out Federal Building's daycare in Oklahoma City, a picture plastered far and wide after that act of barbarism. Could it be that someone in the Department of Defense long ago realized that such images have their uses? Did some anonymous offical conclude that, in the absence of government-controlled newspapers, the best one could do was so arrange events to provide the opportunity for propagandistic fodder that would rapidly be spread throughout the press?

I would hope not.

But I recall the various women-in-arms images I have seen throughout my life, from Lady Jane in the GI Joe comics and animated cartoons to the salacious shower scene of Starship Troopers where, in a spirit of egalitarian prurience, the men shower side-by-side with the women, to the GI Jane movie depicting a women being a far more effective a soldier than any man. And I will not mention the various other shows that have had similar aspirations to the elimination of all sex roles in the military and society as a whole by picturing women fighting and killing not in self-defense from some random thug in the park, but in full military garb using military-grade weapons, vehicles, and, let us not forget, hand-to-hand combat techniques.

Which brings us to Private Jessica Lynch. When she was captured, I have little doubt that various editorialists held her up as an icon for the new inclusive army, a sign of how far women had progressed in society. The military made a point of staging a rescue, filming it for popular consumption. (One wonders if they would have released the film, or even filmed at all, had Private Lynch been a male.) There was brief media speculation about whether or not she had been raped, more sadistic than titilating. It came out that Jessica Lynch had indeed been so violated, proving that the privacy of rape victims is one of the other privileges lost for those in the combat support service. I do not say "for those in the military," since the victims of sexual assault at the Air Force Academy were able to maintain their privacy despite much media coverage.

(Not to continue this tangent for too long, but Private Lynch had a forerunner during the first Gulf Conflict. A woman aviator was shot down and captured. I was too young to remember the coverage at the time, but I remember reading her story in a Reader's Digest a few years after the war. And sadly, yes, she too was violated by her captors.)

Should some devastating attack hit one of our daycare-providing military bases in the future, no doubt the victims will receive the Lynch Treatment. Stations will show some enlisted mother weeping over the charred, half-dismembered remains of her baby, or perhaps only show that bereaved woman holding a more tasteful photograph of her beloved, very cute, and very dead child. The footage will run every day for a fortnight, and if the child's name is easily lent to the task, he or she shall become immortalized in a rallying cry, just like Valley Forge, the Alamo, the Maine, and Pearl Harbor. Doubters of our military policy will be shouted down for sympathizing with baby killers. Any surviving children will enjoy, if that is the right word, media profiles at various stages of their surgeries and rehabilitation sessions; perhaps they will have a scholarship fund established for them, plus a reserved spot at any military academy.

Did some Machiavellian civilians on the DoD committee plan for such an outcome? Perhaps not, but few will have any qualms about exploiting such an event when it happens. Indeed, any such exploitation might even be unconscious. But keep in mind just who has built that daycare in harm's way. Do it for the children.

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