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Sat, Feb 18, 2006

Get Thee Behind Me, Pappy Boyington

Univ of Washington Student Senate Slams "Evil" War Hero

Aero-News Opinion By Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien

Student senator Jill Edwards spoke for the student body when she "questioned whether it was appropriate to honor a person who killed other people." She "didn’t’ believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

Ashley Miller agrees. "Too many monuments commemorate white men," she sneered. They should probably tear some down until pygmies, eskimos and victims of gender dysphoria have caught up in the heroism department, then. It might take a while (The white guy, by the way, wasn't all white -- he was part Native American, Sioux specifically. But maybe joining the "evil" Marines bleached the red out of him?)

Jon Lee said he "didn’t want to see a campus inundated with memorials." Hey, they already have a memorial to someone with University values -- the Lincoln Brigade, a group of American Communists who fought in the Spanish Civil War. The survivors used to march in New York City in solidarity with Hitler, and then against him, oddly enough changing direction on June 22, 1941. That's University of Washington values for you.

The occasion: a meeting of the University of Washington student senate, in which Andrew Everett committed the moral equivalent of Danish cartooning, by proposing that the school erect a small statue to Marine Lt. Col. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, UW '34, who with 28 victories remains the Marine Corps' all-time ace. Boyington grew up in hard circumstances, and long before there was the sort of lavish student aid that makes college an extension of childhood for today's students, put himself through the University and went on to become one of the school's most distinguished alumni.

So Everett and a small group of students and faculty thought it would be a great idea to honor him, and to give today's students a reminder of a hero of days gone by.

As the reaction of Edwards (below right), Miller, and Lee show, it went over like an offer of a golden calf to a synagogue, or a statue of Satan in the Vatican, or, well, a Marine on a modern college campus.

Some students sought compromise. Deirdre Lockman said "the resolution focused more heavily on the negative aspects of war, and should instead focus on more positive aspects, such as the awarding of the Medal of Honor." Yeah, you know, like all guys who won the MOH for acts of genteel kindness, like Audie Murphy, or Bob Howard. (Look 'em up. You in the UW shirt, put down that bong).

Mikhail Smirnoff apparently thought he was seeking middle ground when he "understood the sentiment of not wanting to reward those who fought in the war," but he pointed out that "those who fought in WWII were heros [sic]..." unlike, he helpfully added, those who fight in Iraq. To quote someone with the same last name as young Mikhail, "What a country!"

Defending his decision to diss Boyington,  Director of Student Senate Operations Karl D. Smith thought he was going for middle ground, commenting in a regional blog, "We also are home to civil rights leaders such as Gordon Hirabayshi and a major contributor in the eradication of smallpox William Foege, and the Nigerian statesman who worked for peace Alex Ekwueme." Yep, household names all, just like Boyington. I was just wondering today, what's Al Ekwueme up to these days? You hardly hear his name any more. By the way, I am not the Great Punctuator, but I'm willing to send Karl some commas. You know, to bring his writing up to the junior-high-school standard expected at UW.

Smith issued the plaintive call of today's university dweller, confused, intimidated, and relativistic: "How do we decide who is and is not deserving?"

Well, Karl, it looks like you just did, despite your girly-man waffling. Did you say that he was evil for shooting down enemy airplanes?

"I stand by my comments in support of removing the language regarding the Japanese planes shot down." (Geez, the kid talks like a bureaucrat already. He'll be making everyone's life miserable in the DMV some day). "In war, killing is a necessary evil. Because of this I am all the more grateful for those who endure the effects of war. 
But I do not believe our honor of him should focus upon the evil, regardless of how necessary."

Yeah...  make a resolution about Gramps Boyington, just don't mention that he was a Marine, and skip the bit about 28 planes he shot down. 

It might offend airplane-Americans. ("He's really famous for something, but we can't tell you what, because this is a university, and we have to keep a lid on the information"). If this is the courage that they inculcate at UW, Boyington must have had all of his already, on the day he got there.

Or just maybe the campus has changed in seventy-two years.

The University of Washington student senate is a strange organization, with many seats reserved for particular races, ethnicities, and extracurricular activities. The seat that Jill Edwards represents belongs to -- I am not making this up -- the Honors Croquet League, which appears to be the pinnacle of the deep- thinking Miss Edwards's accomplishments at UW. (A personal page notes that she posed in a swimsuit for a calendar of UW women -- I won't comment but every male who reads this and sees her picture will make a snap judgment on what the dating scene is like at UW. Swimsuit, croquet, knowledge of history half as deep as a bird bath: she's the complete package, men).

Boyington died in 1988 and is buried in Arlington -- which is the national cemetery in Washington, DC, where we bury people that most in the nation think are heroes -- which detail we spell out for any of those suffering from a Washington (University of) education.



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