Wisconsin peace activists win skirmish with the Army

I wouldn’t blame you, dear reader, if you are weary of this topic, but I feel obliged to write one more time on Milwaukee Summerfest and the US Army.

Having now visited the Army exhibit at Summerfest, rather than relying on newspaper accounts, I am ready to say that Peace Action-Wisconsin, Veterans for Peace and others made some real gains. I had questioned that earlier when Summerfest appeared to back off.

As Julie Enslow of Peace Action-Wisconsin said:

This is a victory. We asked for the Virtual Army Experience to be removed and it was… They removed the Humvee and the huge screen with the virtual ride through the streets of a middle eastern town with people appearing on the streets to shoot at. After a temporary shut down of the tent to remove the virtual experience game, it was reopened with two rifle practice targets.

One target was a typical circular target and the other, according to a TV reporter on the scene, were black silhouettes of the upper body and heads of people such as are used in police target practice, and I guess some arcade games.  I cringe at the thought of the black silhouettes but it is a heck of a lot better than the virtual experience exhibit. Its not often you can take on the Army and win.

I had reacted more negatively based on Summerfest's statement on the issue, devoted in large part to licking the Army's boots and kissing its rear end. But actions speak louder than words, and Summerfest did the right thing.

Peace Action reports that, "There are still heavy recruitment tactics going on, including asking young people to sign up with their personal information which allows you to get a DVD game of the Virtual Army Experience to take home and allows you entrance into the tent to the target practice where you can choose between a rifle or a lazer pistol."

But it's certainly progress.

Summerfest and Peace Action have received lots of irate, vile telephone calls from right-wingers, hopped up from listening to talk radio.

If you have not yet called Summerfest to thank them for removing the Virtual Army Experience Exhibit, please do so. They need to hear some friendly calls from us. 414-273-2690.  


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  1. This is mostly for the record, for fear I may have left a false, negative impression earlier.

  2. If it wasn’t deadly serious, these guys would be comical. Wasn’t there a ‘christian’ video game where the player dusted nonbelievers?

    Congrats to Peace Action and all!  

    • kj on July 5, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Summerfest:  414-273-2690

  3. This clarification is the sort of behavior that, hope I’m not going over the top here, results in civilization. It is the opposite of the sort of rant propaganda illustrated by a virtual ride thru an Arab town committing virtual murders.

    I say Arab, because I am certain those virtual people were not virtual Jews. That would be anti-semitic. That’s Baa-aa-aa-ad. Shooting virtual Arabs is different… no, wait, I just remembered. Arabs are Semites too. Ooh Dear. Now I’ve got my foot in it.

    Anyway. My point is the contrast between Mr. Xofferson saying, “Waitaminute, I went too far. Here is the real deal.” and the opposite affect of that virtual murder wagon which was admittedly only virtually racist.

    Two questions :

    1/ How many who took that ride came away saying, “I need a shower and a stiff drink!” and how many came away saying, “That was SO COOL! I can’t WAIT till I turn seventeen!”

    2/ Which of these two groups is the Army hoping to sign up?

    This goes to hiring and firing practices, and that goes to the nature of the employee retained, and that goes to the nature of the performance to be expected of them. If the intent were to obtain the service of SANE individuals, the filter demonstrated by this virtual murder wagon would be turned around the other way, to screen out those who come away thrilled in favor of those who come away sickened.

    While this point has not been explicitly stated, the Army HAS been told directly, “Knock that sh!t off!”

    And did.

    That is progress.

    And I have to respect Mr. Xofferson, for not needing to be told.

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