We’re all heard stories about young children being punished at school by their socialist teachers for drawing or cutting out pretend handguns, or even for pointing a finger on the playground and saying “Bang! Bang!”
And some of us did sound the alarm about the “slippery slope,” years ago, when the forces of political correctness realized how easy it was to start rewriting history by “digitally editing” old historical photos. After all, why NOT remove the cigarette holder from old photos of President Franklin Roosevelt? You don’t want today’s kids to think it’s OK to smoke, do you?
But surely we’ll never reach the point where gun haters in a U.S. government agency will actually start doctoring images to remove the rifles (the arms with which Americans won and have long defended our freedoms) from the hands of American COMBAT SOLDIERS, will we? — altering an image of a soldier in combat, removing the piece of equipment on which his survival depended, to make it appear that U.S. soldiers CARRY NO NASTY RIFLES when they go to war?
They’ll never go THAT far. Right?
Gee, that’s a toughie all right.
Standing in line at the post office the other day, I noticed a poster on display showing eight newly issued commemorative stamps, along with a sheet of 20, behind glass, of one of the new stamps, called “World War I / Turning the Tide.” In the background of this stamp can be seen a biplane, a shell burst, and some barbed wire. In the foreground, a uniformed and helmeted U.S. doughboy strides bravely ahead, holding close to his chest an American flag.
I have nothing against featuring the American flag on a stamp, mind you. But look at the way that soldier’s arms and hands are positioned. You’ve seen men on combat patrol holding their arms and hands in that position plenty of times. But they weren’t holding flags.
Does it get worse, you ask? Guess.
I emailed artist Mark Stutzman in Maryland, who designed the “Turning the Tide” commemorative and who had earlier drawn the Post office’s popular 1993 “Elvis” and “Buddy Holly” stamps. In his original design, as submitted, had the American doughboy held a rifle in his hands?
He replied: “Hi Vin, Thanks for writing. Interesting that you should bring this up. My original proposal was with a rifle.”
A source familiar with the back-and-forth between artist Stutzman and the Postal Service told me the USPS “Stamp Advisory Committee” was “a little ‘gun shy’ about the rifle being so prominent.” Stutzman declined to confirm that for the record.
“We debated a few options and settled on him holding the flag instead,” Stutzman told me. “It seemed to bring some patriotism forward and helped identify him as American more immediately. Since stamp images are so small, there’s a need for immediate comprehension. In this case the read of hierarchy is WWI soldier, America, and war (barbed wire, plane, smoke)…I am somewhat speculating on the reasoning for why the decision (to remove the rifle) was made since I got information about committee meetings second-hand through the art director. He may be a better source for info and also have a direct line with the Postal Service. Greg Breeding is his name. . . . Super guy and easy to talk to.”
Not so much.
Imagine my surprise. Then begins the hem-hawing, slithering-squirming, slip-sliding evasion of the old Bureacrat Shuffle.
After several days of ducking my emails and phone messages, art director Breeding, in Charlottesville, Virginia, finally sent me his polite refusal to talk:
“Hello Vin, Thank you for your interest in the World War I stamp. It was my deep privilege to art director this issuance to commemorate America’s role in bringing World War I to an end. Such an incredible part of our history. Regarding your questions, it is the policy of the Postal Service to direct these types of inquiries to Public Relations…”
Said PR guy “will be happy to assist you and, sometimes, he will subsequently involve the art directors and other Postal employees as well.”
Not so much.
Suprynowicz soldiers manfully on in his bootless quest for a simple, straight answer to his query, but the bobbing and weaving from our putative “civil servants” just continues on and on from there. Y’know, like it does. I guess we can maybe take some small gratification from the fact that even these insensate bureauweasels seem to know that their airbrushing of history is something to be ashamed of, cold though that comfort may be.