Just in time for Memorial Day comes this depressing example of how timid and wan Americans have become when free speech and expression are under attack. This is how acceptance of the Universal Veto of the Officious Offended will reduce the U.S. to a barren, humorless, imagination-free culture dominated by political correctness bullies and exploitive self-anointed, power-seeking “victims.”
Under Armour advertised a “Band of Ballers” tee-shirt showing a silhouette of men in backwards baseball caps raising a basketball hoop in the iconic pose of the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, in which combat weary soldiers are frozen in the act of raising an American flag after the Marine’s bloody victory at Iwo Jima.
There is nothing remotely wrong with this design. It is not disrespectful It is satire. It is a parody. It is using the status of the image to extol basketball; only a fool could read the image as an effort to denigrate veterans or the American flag. Personally, I think it’s clever, just as I like Charles Addams’ cartoon showing butchers wrestling with sausages in the pose of the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons being devoured by serpents…
…or parodies of Washington crossing the Delaware, like this ad for HBO’s “Veep”…
…or spoofs of the “Spirit of ’76″…
But some indignant veterans who have nothing better to do than fire off e-mails expressing their dislike of apparel that was neither designed for them, intended for them, or forced upon them, objected vociferously, so Under Armour made the shirt unavailable to those who wanted to buy it, pulling it off the market with a craven series of tweets that said…
“Under Armour has the utmost respect and admiration for active duty service men and women and veterans who have served our country. We deeply regret and apologize the release of a shirt that is not reflective of our commitment to support & honor our country’s heroes We have taken the necessary steps to remove this shirt, and any related shirts, from all retail and ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Ensure that what doesn’t happen again? Historical references? Parodies? Humor? Irreverence? A sports apparel company daring to compare the “combat” of playground hoops to real combat?
We should be grateful for any pop culture reference that reminds our stunningly ignorant younger generations of American history; if schools won’t do the job, somebody has to. Jay Leno once showed the Rosenthal AP photo that served as the model for the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial to a group of clueless Gen Xers in his “Jay Walking” segment. One woman…she was on a college campus…opined that this was a photo of U.S. astronauts raising a flag on the moon.
Moreover, as Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags of Our Fathers” reminded us, the photo itself was a staged PR stunt, recreating an unrecorded event that had just occurred, with different participants.
Under Armour is the sole guilty party here—someone is going to complain about anything and everything now— as is every company, corporation, celebrity, university, sports franchise and school district that caves in to censorship efforts when there has been no legitimate offense. They take the path of least resistance, rather than stand up for expressive freedom, as is their duty as citizens in our society. That is ironic, when you think about it. My favorite fatuous complaint about the tee-shirt was from a tweeter who wrote,
“6,281 men didn’t die at Iwo Jima so you could sell a “Band of Ballers” t-shirt.”
Actually, you moron, they did.
Facts: USA Today