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Let's take a look at the latest propaganda from Uncle Sam.
The old recruiting slogan for the Air Force was "No One Comes Close."
The new slogan is "Cross Into The Blue."
Pretty innocent, huh?
Nope: That new catchphrase is expertly designed to recruit exactly the kind of soldiers needed for the Hundred Years War Against Terrorism.
As we all know, advertising is filled with content other than the product or service being sold. A car commercial on TV may have sexy young people, cool computer graphics, and trendy music in it.
It doesn't tell you shit about the car, really. You see maybe three seconds of the car. That ad is selling you a lifestyle, and associating that lifestyle with the car.
Images and words in an ad can bring up uncomfortable or unpleasant motivations using double meanings. Ads regularly suggest, indirectly, that not desiring the product can associate you with impotents, aging, poverty, meanness, or death. You're denying your four-year-old your love when you don't buy Pillsbury Cookie Dough and bake it with him.
Okay, let's look at the Air Force slogans.
On its surface, "No One Comes Close" states the well-earned pride of an elite military force with training honed to perfection.
The double meaning, though, evokes one of the chief ways the Air Force found recruits before September 11th: it cast itself as the service with the lowest mortality. If you're in the Air Force these days, you're usually in a plane, bombing villages from thousands of feet up. No one, literally, comes close. You'll be safe.
Likewise, "Cross Into The Blue" suggests the blue Air Force uniform and planes in a blue sky.
But you've got to take into account that the Air Force changed this slogan after September 11th, to reflect the circumstances of the war it was beginning to fight.
To many Muslim opponents of this war, the Air Force truly must be a "Cross into the blue;" that is, a crusade. Now, the Air Force is openly recruiting crusaders.
The war sure looks like an Air Force crusade. Thus far, it's mostly an air war. There are a few troops on the ground, but the majority of the campaigns are bombing raids from airplanes too high up for anybody to hit. In Afghanistan, like in Iraq, the Air Force acts like the hand of a capricious god, killing civilians by chance.
Those who doubt that the U.S. is going to war against Islam don't consider that even Pervez Musharraf, the military dictator of Pakistan and the most valuable "coalition" ally of the United States, has pressured the U.S. to stop operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. We're likely to ignore him.
We're stepping up the war on every Islam-related front. Next, we're in the Phillipines fighting Abu Sayyaf, a group known for beheading American tourists (and, maybe, a few spies). We'll be in Brazil fighting the Party of God. We'll disrupt the private hawallah banks, and with them, the ordinary lives of millions of people in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. We'll dry up the funding of Hamas, and with it the funding of social services for thousands in Palestine.
All of these acts may be designed to fight terrorists, crucial for our national security.
But, how do they look to the outside? And, more importantly, how do they look to potential Air Force recruits, the kind of people who shoot targets of Arabs at shooting ranges and on their computer screens?