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.

Yours sincerely

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.

Warren Gray

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