Desperate glory

One of a series of six 17×17″ posters designed to raise awareness of Greenville’s contribution to ending the Great War. The Army’s 30th “Old Hickory” division, which trained at Camp Sevier in Greenville County, is credited with breaking through the Hindenburg Line on September 29, 1918.

One year of right-wing death threats later, 38-year-old Drexel University political science professor and agent provocateur George Ciccariello-Maher has tendered his resignation. At the root of the controversy are Ciccariello-Maher’s many incendiary tweets, including last December’s satiric “All I want for Christmas is white genocide,” and the observation in March that he was “trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul” at the sight of someone giving up their first class airline seat to a soldier in uniform. All in all, a textbook example of setting one’s bed on fire, repeatedly and with avidity, since he now says his situation at Drexel has become “unsustainable.”

But that’s how some activists roll, isn’t it? Diplomacy be damned. And the rules of public engagement being what they are these days, I can’t say I take much issue with his style, particularly since I agree with the substance of everything I’ve seen attributed to his Twitter feed …

… that our country’s military-industrial complex is crawling with war criminals.

… that the concept of “white genocide” is a paranoid, racist fantasy.

… that by “honoring our troops” we glorify war, ipso facto, whatever our actual intentions.

On that last point, I’m feeling rather hypocritical these days as I design marketing materials for a year-long WWI remembrance campaign in Greenville. While other members of our team hum “Over There” with the purest of patriotic hearts, I can’t get the last stanza of Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum est” out of my mind, his framing of “the old lie” that lures “children ardent for some desperate glory” to the early grave.