Selling Patriotism To Kids by Kate Donnelly As ribbon manufactures worked 24-hour shifts t

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Selling Patriotism To Kids by Kate Donnelly As ribbon manufactures worked 24-hour shifts to keep up with the demand for yellow ribbons, and upscale boutiques marketed rhinestone U.S. flag, the toy manufactures-The most insidious capitalists-wasted no time in cashing in on the war. Operations Desert Shield/Storm products hit the shelves so quickly one wondered who in the toy industry had a direct line to the Pentagon. Even before the bombing started, manufacturers produced war toys to excite young ones about war. The myriad of merchandise was awesome, from cheap weapons in camouflage packaging to video games set in the Middle East. Revell/Monogram Inc. tripled production capacity of models of the Patriot missile. Adult board games were marketed for armchair generals to strategize war maneuvers. This war made the crossover with war toys for girls; one evening news broadcast showed a young girl carrying a rifle and saying that she wanted to be just like female reservists in Saudi Arabia. Mattel's Barbie dressed in a variety of military outfits is reportedly moving quickly off the shelves. It was all to be expected. Toy manufacturers have always jumped on anything that will make money, and with the seal-of- approval of patriotism it seams a sure proof venture. Stephen Sandberg, a New England toy distributor who said war toy sales were up, was quoted in a January 31, 1991, Wall Street Journal article as saying "Let's not forget the holy crusade against a little Hitler. Just look at the little American flags waving on TV during the national anthems at football and hockey games." In the same article a man was interviewed who was buying a poster of a Grumman F-14 Tomcat(U.S. Navy Fighter) to "proudly display" in the room of his ten year old daughter. The real Hitler said it best, "Give me the first seven years of a child's life...." The same old arguments against war toys still exist: they encourage violence and teach kids to resolve problems by fighting. But what is it about these particular toys that make them even more dangerous? Desert Storm war play accompanies the patriotism that can be seen on buildings and tress all across the country. Kids are being bathed in nationalism and taught to take pride in soldiering as a profession. School systems around the country did what they could to support the war effort from piped in bugle music to letters to the troops. In most schools support for the war was unequivocal and not even seen as a political position. Desert Storm buttons and T- shirts were worn by students and teachers. Many students were unaware of opposition to the war. When patriotism is viewed only as supporting the war, and toys are sold to children glamorizing the weapons of destruction, the long-lasting effects of the war could be irreversible. Many Vietnam war vets talk about how the John Wayne movies they viewed as children led them to unquestioningly support the military. I'm afraid Operation Desert Storm will be with us for many years to come. Bush and the Pentagon won more than one war. Children, unhip to the realities of what really happened, see war as an honorable and successful venture. Please write Topps Company, Inc., 401 York Ave., Duryea, PA 18642 or call at 717-457-6761 and complain about there new Desert Storm trading cards.

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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank