An open letter to Red Cross International
This is my response to an advertisement on television by the
Red Cross, asking for donations to help with the victims of the
war in Bosnia. It may seem like a trivial comment, but big things
are built on little things, and as long as the little things go
unchallenged, the big things will be much harder to topple.
Dear Sirs and Madams
I would like to express my concern about an advertisement placed
on television by Red Cross concerning helping the victims of the
war in Bosnia. In this advertisement you stated that you help
victims "especially women and children, who have no part
in this conflict". I strongly resent this sexist attitude.
There was a crime gang in England recently, consisting of two
males and two females. The women would lure victims into a park
where the men would assault and mug them. The women in this gang
did not actually participate in the violence, but they are no
less guilty of it. The same goes for women in Bosnia. Just because
they do not participate in the fighting it does not mean they
do not share responsibility. Ethnic hatred is not confined to
men. Many women are bigoted and no doubt support and encourage
the violence. They don't fight because violence is a man's chore.
If a home or family is threatened, it is the man who is required
to defend it. If a nation goes to war, it is the men who are sent
off to die. If a woman wants violence to be committed, she gets
her lover to do it.
Just because I'm a man, it does not make me responsible for
the war in Bosnia. The same is true for many millions of men who
find themselves within the warzone. Many men fight only to protect
their homes and families. Other men have nothing to do with the
war at all, but they are still victims. These men are just as
innocent as the women, but because they have the same anatomy
as those who are responsible, they are declared guilty. These
men are innocent, and they deserve to be treated with the same
compassion as the women and children.
I condemn you for judging people according to their gender.
I condemn you for treating people as genders, not individuals.
And I condemn you for your implication that masculinity is responsible
for this war.
Jason H. den Dulk
I Honour those women but...
I just catalogued a new video into our library collection.
It's about the "neglected story" of nurses in Vietnam.
Problem is, we don't have another video in our collection about
Vietnam, unless you count a couple of feature films. We have no
documentary about the men who served there.
I know that over 50,000 men died there. I know that 8 women
died there. I know that the names of the 8 women who died there
are inscribed on the memorial. Yet I also know that a couple of
years ago, amid great fanfare, a second statue was added next
to the monument honoring the women who served there - again amid
much talk about their "neglected story." As if the two
contributions were somewhat equal.
I also remember the D-Day 50th anniversary celebrations back
in 1994, and how the networks took great pains to make sure that
the nurses who had served there were well-represented among those
who were interviewed and asked for commentary. Again, as if the
contributions were somewhat equal.
I honor those women. They served, and risked their lives, and
in some cases, lost their lives, voluntarily. You have to honor
that. In a way, it's like honoring the Dietrich Bonhoeffers and
Corrie ten Booms, who gave andrisked their lives voluntarily to
help the Jews during World War II. Their sacrifices were valiant;
they were voluntary. But they don't over-shadow the sacrifices
of the Jews themselves.
Like Bill Clinton and like most of my generation who could,
I avoided service in Vietnam. I didn't risk my life; I didn't
kill anyone. I opposed the war, though rather quietly. I don't
regret that. But there are times when I think about those who
did serve, who died, who were maimed, or who were scarred psychologically,
and I feel a lot of guilt. I think it must be a powerful sense
of obligation I'm fighting, because I don't feel guilt easily.
© Copyright 1995.