About that Onion/Click Hole Meme

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Honey, I love a bit of satire as much as the next person. I’ve even been known to employ it a time or two myself. But I realized a few years back that the kind of satire I was used to enjoying – that employed by wisecracking Southerners like Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Rick Bragg, Roy Blount Jr. – was a far cry different than the kind employed nowadays.

My panties were jerked in a knot some years back when I spoke out about a book that millions found funny – Go the F**k to Sleep – but which I found to be decidedly not funny. As I pointed out in an essay I wrote for CNN, when one has been immersed in a story about child abuse, one is hypersensitive to the ways in which children today are being abused. One of which is the ugly, demeaning ways in which so many children are spoken to on a daily basis. So there was no way I was going to find a book that adapts that same abusive language and cloaks it as “satire” funny. I stand by my original assessment of Mansbach’s book: Not funny. Not in the least bit.

You, of course, have the right to disagree with me.

And thousands did. Some of them were people I consider friends of mine.

When CNN published my oped about the book. my cell phone blew up. Hundreds sent me tweets, FB messages, and voicemails, telling me what a loser I am (only the language they used was much more abrasive). If I’d listened to all their advice, comments, suggestions, I wouldn’t be here writing this today. I would have thrown myself atop a heap of manure and suffocated to death.

If I had been a more insecure person I might have been devastated by the overwhelming negative response to my take on the book.

Instead, I took Taylor Swift’s advice.

TS. Shake

 

 

But that was the first time I really understood what was meant by “generational gap.” Up until then, it was only a term I thought old people used to describe their dislike of hippies.

Now the hippies are the old people, and there is much about today’s online “anything goes” generation that I don’t find to be entertaining or humorous in the least.

I’ll admit that The Onion lost me as a reader some years ago. That’s okay. I don’t think they are aiming to lure me in anyway. I’m not part of their demographic. I’ll readily admit that I am not hip enough, or cool enough, or some would probably suggest, smart enough for their sort of humor.

I’m good with that.

One of the gifts of aging is that I no longer care about trying to be somebody I’m not.

I’ve come to accept and embrace my quirky sense of self. I like me and I’m okay if you don’t.

That’s my disclaimer, by the way. You might not like what I am going to say next.

The Onion and Click Hole put up a meme this week that for some reason they found humorous. It’s a picture of a young girl holding a folded flag with the caption: Free Triangle! Fuck Yeah! 

I’d like to buy the person who created this meme a cup of coffee. I’d really like to try and understand what in God’s sweet name they found humorous at all about this. I’d like to give them a chance to explain how such an image is “satire”.

Then, I’d like to take them out back to the woodshed and let a group of hardened Army Rangers beat the holy shit out of whatever punk came up with this meme.

Once they’ve recovered, if they recover, I’d like to hand them a copy of AFTER THE FLAG HAS BEEN FOLDED and make them write a book report detailing all the ways in which the death of a soldier changes the life of his or her loved ones.

Once they’ve done that, I’m going to take that punk and his/her editor on a little trip – to Washington D.C. and Normandy.

We’ll visit the gravesites of those soldiers whose last gift from the country that too often betrayed them was a folded flag.

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I’ll hold the hand of that punk and his/her editor as they snot all over themselves saying how sorry they are, that they had no idea, as we read the names of all those sons and daughters who deserve every bit of honor we can muster because they were doing exactly what their country asked of them when they were shot down or blown up or tortured to death.

Yeah.

In our family the folded flag isn’t a meme. And, I can assure you, there is nothing at all funny about waking to a flag in a box rather than the warm embrace of a loving father.

Yeah, our family has one of those triangles depicted in your ridiculous meme. (It should be noted that I am employing self-control here. What I feel about what you have done is a lot more hateful than the words I am using. That’s the difference between my values & yours: Self-control. Respect. Honor. Kindness.)

Your meme, which I am sure you meant as satire but isn’t, suggests that such flags are free.

I don’t know how to respond to that other than to shake my head at your complete and utter stupidity.

You know nothing, absolutely nothing about the cost of such a flag.

Stand before that black marble scar off Henry Bacon Road and then ponder the wisdom of your silly meme.

If you dare to face the truth behind a little girl holding a folded flag, you can read my father’s name on Panel 9 East Line 71. I was about the age of that little girl in your  meme when my father died.

In fact, I’ll meet you there over Memorial Day weekend, if you like, and I’ll gladly tell you the stories of the father I lost. I’ll even introduce you to some of the finest men I’ve ever known. Vietnam veterans who volunteer their time at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. They know the stories behind the names of those men and women. Some of the dead were their good buddies. Men and women that they laughed with, back before anyone had ever even heard of a meme.

I’m not much for online shaming. It’s not my style. I think regret is only useful when it wells up from within and compels a person to change. I also get that The Onion prides itself on having no respect of anyone or anything.

I just hope you understand that the reason you have the opportunity to do what you do is because of the sacrifices attached to that folded flag you so willingly degrade and dishonor.

Here’s a meme I’ve created just for you. It’s not funny. It’s just true.

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Book Karen

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Gold Star Daughter. Trump will never be my president.

10 Comments

Bill Garbett

about 11 months ago

Once again, you've said what I feel much better than I could. Still waiting on Rain.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 11 months ago

Working on it. Hugs.

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Staci Chiomento

about 11 months ago

As a Gold Star wife with two Gold Star children, I echo your statements and thought of similar reactions. My husband's folded flag was not free and we pay the price. Every. Single. Day. Every dinner missed, every holiday, every success, and every failure. I hope they never know this pain and I hope they learn from the backlash. We are coming up on 10 years to the day he was killed in Afghanistan. July 17, 2006. Rest in the Peace of Christ, Robert J Chiomento II, our hero.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 11 months ago

Staci: I am so saddened by the loss of your husband and your children's father. I understand the devastation and I honor the sacrifices you and your children make every single day. And will continue to make for years to come. Hugs and prayers for all. Karen

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Justin

about 11 months ago

Karen, I have never seen this meme before but I am sickened by it. I hear comedians say everything is on the table. But in today's world everyone is so easily offended but oddly enough, they are never offended by someone's stupidity. Just because you can do it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Obviously the creator of this meme has never been in your shoes or the shoes of countless families who have lost loved ones who did their duty. Their duty protected this moron's right to free speech. I bet if this moron was in North Korea and did a meme mocking the North Korean flag he would have been tried, convicted and dying in a labor camp in short order. But here in the country where men and women died for his freedom, he can publish it and laugh to himself and walk away thinking it's satire. This is sadly what is considered acceptable in our society now and it shows how far we HAVEN'T come as a people.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 11 months ago

Yes, it's pretty doggone awful. Of course, so much about our national climate is right now. Thanks for sharing.

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mike@hannanart.com

about 11 months ago

Hi Karen- I was at the Wall last Sunday and was astounded at how many of the people there were obviously from some other country - mostly middle eastern, I think. I can't digest that! Probably 80% weren't American or were Naturalized citizens who still spoke in their native tongue. Maybe they were there to gauge the cost of freedom and think about all the names that are on "their wall" in their homeland. All I could think of was how lucky I was to be standing there with tears in my eyes thanking God that my name wasn't on that wall because at 23 when I was there I hadn't even begun to live my life ... or even feel a sense of pride in the fact that what i did in Vietnam was to save lives by playing the game we were tasked with ...... scare the "enemy" into quitting in fear of our great superiority in weaponry without really trying to win a war. What a waste. Your Dad lost his life just a few miles from where I was just 4 months later. I felt the fear that he might have his first few days in country but I was in a "safe" job inside the perimeter of the 4th Division Base Camp at Dragon Mountain - I thought about those who had lost their personal battle and whose names would later be etched on "our wall" and made my own decision about how to finish the stupidity of "fighting " this war by the way I did my work as a communications intelligence analyst and Vietnamese linguist. I started crying 18 years later when I met some guys in Austin, Texas who were marching from Dallas to San Antonio to keep the MIA/POW issue on the front burner. The following year they WALKED from San Antonio to Washington DC carrying their American and POW/MIA flags - I met them on the Arlington Bridge as they crossed the Potomac River to get to the Wall after their long and brave trek - It was my first visit to the Wall and it simply took my breath away as it came into sight and i cried. I was home then for 20 years and was still learning how much more so many suffered than I - but I was there trying to save lives not with a gun but with the only weapon I had .... my unformed 23 year old brain. I got there a little late to help your Dad, Karen, but I hope that I saved others on his behalf.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 10 months ago

Mike: Thank you for this story. There are always so many visitors to the Wall. It astounds and encourages me. I hope that this tradition continues long after we are gone. The stories like yours give those names meaning, puts war into context. We need to hear your stories. I will be there in a couple of weeks. I no longer dread it. For me it is a time to come together with those who understand the loss and the sacrifice, men and women like you. Thank you for sharing, Mike.

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Richard

about 8 months ago

Who wouldn't be excited to get a free triangle from the government after all they take from us!

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Me.

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