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I don't know if younger people today even know what napalm is.  The more educated ones have heard the word, I expect -- the line in Apocalypse Now about the its scent in the morning "smells like victory, for example.  A quick Google Search shows that it seems to be quite current as sort of a kitschy reference -- a band named "Napalm Death" and another named "Napalm Christ," a nutritional supplement called "Muscle Warfare Napalm Extreme Pre-Workout," "Napalm Records" -- I stopped before too long.  For someone who remembers Vietnam War footage, this is the sort of casual exercise in empty creativity that makes one weep for the future of humanity -- not just "of people" but the "of the very quality of being humane" -- but that's being too harsh.  It's more ignorance than evil.  A lot of people just don't really know what napalm is, what it does.  It's just a name for Big Evil, like Cthulhu or Auschwitz or Vlad the Impaler or Joe McCarthy, trotted out to scare.

Some with a little more knowledge may also remember it as the reason for the famous war photo of naked prepubescent Phan Thi Kim Phuc and other Vietnamese children running in agony from a South Vietnamese napalm attack.  (I recommend reading that page, by the way, especially if all you know is the photo there.  Kim Phuc is alive, lecturing, and living in Ontario, Canada.  The one I have always wondered about since first seeing the photo is the boy in the lower left, whose look of pain is about the most honestly godawful facial expression I've have ever seen.)

Napalm is a sort of jellied gasoline, but that description doesn't do it justice.  From the Wikipedia article, also well worth reading:

"Napalm is the most terrible pain you can imagine," said Kim Phúc, a napalm bombing survivor known from a famous Vietnam War photograph. "Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius (212°F). Napalm generates temperatures of 800 (1,500°F) to 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,200°F)."

A US army source, talking about napalm, reported:

‘We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot - if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene - now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorus) so’s to make it burn better. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.’

I don't think that there is any concept quite like napalm in our current discussions of atrocities.  You'd have to combine waterboarding -- if done on a widespread basis -- with drones, with perhaps white phosphorous -- to come near to what people thought about napalm back in the anti-war movement.
The US Air Force and US Navy used napalm with great effect against all kinds of targets to include troops, tanks, buildings, jungles, and even railroad tunnels. The effect was not always purely physical as napalm had tangible psychological effects on the enemy as well. During World War II, the U.S. Marines quickly learned that the Japanese soldiers, when threatened with napalm and other incendiary weapons, would abandon positions in which they would fight to the death against other weapons. During the Korean War, the demoralizing effect napalm had on the enemy became apparent when scores of North Korean and Chinese troops began to surrender to aircraft flying overhead. Pilots noted that they saw surviving enemy troops waving white flags on subsequent passes after dropping napalm. The pilots radioed to ground troops and the enemy combatants were captured. Interviews with enemy prisoners of war determined that napalm was the most feared weapon used against them
Napalm was an unspeakable horror, and one of the worst parts of the horror was how entirely speakable it was.

You would think that this diary is about napalm.  It's not.  It's about something more trivial, the "mock warfare" (with longer term real outcomes) of a general election.  It's about how activists used a prank to do something amazing -- to get people to feel the horror of napalm and of their own reactions to it.

Ultimately, it's about Seamus the Dog -- and why Mitt Romney is doomed.  He's doomed because even though people have gotten it intellectually so far, they haven't gotten the horror of his psychopathic lack of empathy viscerally.  But I think that they will.

This is one of my favorite stories from Vietnam War protests -- better than levitating the Pentagon, better than nominating Pigasus the Pig for President in Chicago 1968.

There may be additional instances of this stunt, but this is the one I found online:  A guy named Bill Arthrell -- now a high school history teacher, but in 1970 a Kent State University student who was among 25 of the 2000 activists arrested following the killing and wounding of more than a dozen students -- decided that he wanted to get through to the American public the enormity (look up that word) of napalming Vietnamese children.  Here's how he did it:

At a demonstration just two weeks earlier, 300 people showed up to see if Bill would really go through with a nebulous threat he’d posted around campus. That week, fliers claimed he was going to napalm a live dog for all to see.

“Guerilla protest. 300 people came out to see us napalm that dog. And they just stood there when we made them think about what they really came to see.”

“We were never going to napalm a dog. I’m a Buddhist for God’s sake. What I said that day was that hundreds of civilians were being napalmed in Vietnam every day, but nobody rushed out to stop that. And napalm wasn’t even legal. Our own government had agreed to that. But yet, there we were, using it every day.”

The point was: you can get people to come out and protest the horrific maltreatment of a dog -- and when they do you can point out that by the same token they really should not accept the horrific maltreatment of many, many children.  (And of adults civilians, too.  Let's not forget them.)

In 1970, no one argued that the napalming of children was anything other than maltreatment; they just thought that it was justified.  In 2012, though, Mitt Romney is arguing that his carrying Seamus in a kennel on top of his car for 12-hours was not only justified, but that it wasn't even maltreatment!

Well -- if it wasn't maltreatment, then no one should care if we do it again, huh?

So here's what I expect to see happen: I expect to see ads on craigslist and elsewhere from people saying that they want people to volunteer their dogs to be given "the ride of a lifetime" -- 6 hours out, 6 hours back.  They will use the same kind of car carrier that Romney used.  THEY'LL LOVE IT -- just like Seamus did!  And to make it worth your while, the lucky winner gets a $50 gift certificate for dog food.  Just sign up to enter your dog in the drawing, show up at your local Wal-Mart parking lot (or whatever) on thus and such a day, bring your dog, and if you're the lucky winner your dog is going on a long, long ride!

A few days before the event, it may be that not a lot of people are entering their dogs.  Why?  This is just good fun for the dog, right?  THE DOG WILL LOVE IT!  Why aren't people entering?  Maybe the prize isn't big enough.   Raise it to $100!  Raise it to $200, if need be!  Someone ought to be willing to volunteer their dog!

And then see who shows up with their dogs, ready to go on top of a station wagon (or modern equivalent) that morning.

My guess is that, with proper publicity, a lot of people will show up.  Few if any, though, will have their dogs.  Sticks, bricks, stones, perhaps -- but not their dogs.

I think what we'd find out is that -- like the napalming of a dog in Kent, Ohio -- people really don't think that this is an OK thing to do to a dog when push comes to shove, just like if someone was asked to apply napalm to a Vietnamese child with a brush rather than from a bomber that might change how they feel about it.

Now from here, one could proceed in two ways.  First, call it off at the last minute by plan, as always intended would with the "napalming a dog" stunt.  The second option, which I find obnoxious because I do not myself agree with Mitt Romney -- although I recognize that for all I know he could be right -- is to be willing to go ahead with it.  Maybe people could be asked to donate the cost of the gift certificate in order to pay off the winner without putting their dog to the test.  The point is: if it's really OK -- unlike the napalming -- then there's no reason not to go through with it.  And maybe the dog will come back OK -- victory for Romney, I suppose.  (Maybe his campaign should be the one to do this.)

But what I suggest instead is that making it real for people would also make it repugnant.  It would point to the real moral of the story -- that Mitt Romney, with his complete lack of empathy -- is the opposite of Bill Clinton at his best and most appealing.

Mitt Romney is the man who cannot "feel your pain."
Promise to take a dog for a long ride this summer and my guess is that people will see that.  And if it's not this stunt, it will be something else.  This scene is too telling of a window into the soul of Mitt Romney for it not to be exploited this summer and fall -- whether we, he, or David Axelrod like it or not.  Romney is out of step with the moral reasoning of the public -- and that is too easily demonstrated.

7:10 PM PT: Here's a graphic that this story prompted me to create:

Photobucket


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Comment Preferences

  •  I post this with some hesitation (19+ / 0-)

    I don't want to see anyone actually go through with this, as I am convinced that, while better than napalm, it would probably be the nadir of any dog's life.  I might even expect local authorities to prohibit it -- i.e., prohibit what Mitt did.  But if Mitt Romney is going to claim that it was just fine, you know that eventually something like this is going to happen.  I'm not the only one who can figure it out.

    Democrats must
    Earn the trust
    Of the 99% --
    That's our intent!

    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

    by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:44:33 PM PDT

  •  Then the GOP will go Obamadogrecipes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psilocynic

    IRL like they did on Twitter the other night.

    •  Let them (4+ / 0-)

      That seems real to people.  This doesn't -- yet.

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:09:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  dogs are stand-ins for humans. (4+ / 0-)

        In some cultures around the world, dogs are workers, and in some places dogs are food, and in some places they are protectors.  

        In our culture they are family members.

        So think for a moment about that phrase, It's a dog-eat-dog world.

        What does it mean, dogs eating dogs?

        How'bout humans eating humans?

        It's a human-eat-human world.

        That's right, cannibalism.

        So next time you hear someone say "it's a dog-eat-dog world," ask them a few questions about that, and see how long it takes for them to understand what they just said.

        And that'll make it real for them.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:26:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I posted the story on the community board (6+ / 0-)

    at my store. It's started some interesting conversations.

    Lo que separa la civilizacion de la anarquia son solo siete comidas.

    by psilocynic on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:00:31 PM PDT

  •  This will help draw a moral line in the sand... (4+ / 0-)

    .... between those who believe that cruelty is acceptable, and those who believe it is not acceptable.  

    That could become a highly useful focal point in the debate between now and November.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:03:20 PM PDT

    •  let us hope so (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane, G2geek, BlackSheep1, JBL55

      it is a debate we should have been having since 2001

    •  Um, cruelty's the point for reactionary minds (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, JBL55, Seneca Doane

      From Corey Robin, author of "The Reactionary Mind"-- a fascinating book recommended by another kossack whose nom de blog escapes me.

      Conservatism is a moral vision in which excellence depends upon hierarchy. Inequality is the means, not the end
      Corey Robin, in NYRB
      Because Burke says that for terror and the sublime to be rejuvenating and reawakening in the way I’ve described, the object of terror has to be at some remove from the self. If it gets too close, it loses those rejuvenating capacities, and becomes simply violent and awful.
      while conservatives can wax rhapsodic over warfare in the abstract – e.g., when it remains a possibility rather than a reality, when they don’t have to fight it, etc. – as soon as it confronts them in its immediacy, it loses all that romance. In the last half-century, as warfare becomes more and more bureaucratized, that romance really disappears, as you point out. One of the most interesting instances of this, in fact, is the war on terror, particularly the use of torture. When conservatives talk about torture, they ascribe to it all these hallowed attributes: transgressive, boundary-pushing, proving one’s mettle, going to ‘the dark side’, in Cheney’s famous words. But as Jane Mayer shows in her book of that title – The Dark Side – torture is not the realm of romantic warriors or transgressive types; it’s actually something that’s run by the lawyers.

      Last two blocks from
      Corey Robin in Naked Capitalism

      "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity" -W.B. Yeats

      by LucyandByron on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 11:39:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like that Romney slogan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, psilocynic, JBL55


    Napalm, along with about a 1000 other unspeakable weapons of destruction,

    should be banned from the face of the earth,
    imo


    What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
    -- Maslow ...... my list.

    by jamess on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:36:55 PM PDT

  •  you're one creative dude.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    I spent about a dozen years in Riverside recently, and often worked in Orange County. I always read your diaries and always rec them, except one time you really blew it. Just kidding.

    Best regards.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson

    by Karl Rover on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:47:37 PM PDT

  •  also don't forget Willie Pete (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, BlackSheep1

    while white phosphorus is old school compared to napalm, it is still a nasty customer on its own.  Once it strikes skin, only by submerging it in water to deprive it of oxygen
    https://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Unlike mustard gas and other WWI atrocities this is still used ostensibly for marking positions and other "nonfatal uses"

  •  I think it's a bad idea. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paintitblue, Kingsmeg

    There are plenty of psychopathic types on the right who would actually do this to 'prove the dog likes it'.  Heck, they might even torture a dog like that for free, in advance, just to post video (probably doctored) on Youtube to 'show' that it's 'not a bad thing'.

    •  I don't want that to happen, of course, but (0+ / 0-)

      if people try to do these "demonstrations" then it seems more likely than not to blow up in Romney's face.  After all, they'd be associated with him.  At some point, if only to prevent that, he has to say "don't do this."  At that point, his argument fails.

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 09:30:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena

    can't really rec this.  The horror of napalm can't really be compared to anything much, except perhaps Shrub's indiscriminate use of White Phosphorus against the people of Iraq.  I can't accept trivializing the suffering of napalmed children to make a  point in a US presidential election.  Napalm use was, and still is, a crime against humanity (as was, obviously, Shrub's use of WP).

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:20:45 PM PDT

    •  My point of the napalm example was to show (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      how they had the problem of people failing to appreciate something horrible in real and concrete terms and how they solved it by threatening to napalm a dog -- without ever intending to do so.  That example is what led me to thinking about how to do the same with Romney's dog carrier escapade.  As I say at the end of the intro, the diary is not about napalm; it's a segue.

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 09:32:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Recently someone got pulled over (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, BlackSheep1

    for having a dog carrier strapped to the roof of their car. many witnesses called the police. Luckily it was only a stuffed dog.

    •  So what Mitt says is just fine for a dog (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greycat, boophus

      is illegal animal cruelty?  Interesting.  I can only echo Dogs Against Romney:

      In a blog post on Tuesday, Dogs Against Romney said the fact that police pulled over the motorist protesting Seamus' treatment "clearly illustrates how blatantly awful, incredibly dangerous, outrageously insensitive -- and even illegal -- Mitt Romney's decision to transport his own dog on the roof of his car was."

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 09:35:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thirty years ago this would not have raised (0+ / 0-)

        eyebrows.  I know how dogs are treated in the country today and if riding on top of a car is bad, you would be really pissed.  Go to a small town and you will see dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks even now.  Heck thirty years ago kids rode in the back, (myself included).  it was a dickish thing for Romney to do, but really we should be focused on more important things.  Him firing a bunch of people for one.

        •  What it speaks to is his lack of empathy (0+ / 0-)

          It's not that he broke a law, or what would now be a law.  It's that he seems to lack any visceral connection to the suffering of other living beings.  If he's genteel and such, it's because he's learned to act that way, not out of fellow-feeling.

          Democrats must
          Earn the trust
          Of the 99% --
          That's our intent!

          "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

          by Seneca Doane on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 06:39:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent post, but I have to take exception with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    one thing:  I'm pretty sure most people who aren't utterly clueless know what napalm is -- sticky flame in a can.  It's not like that vietnam footage has passed completely out of memory -- I can't say how many times I've seen bits and pieces on the history channel and such.

    •  That would be true for very large values of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      "utterly clueless"!  Not that many people watch the History Channel.

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 09:36:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does the History Channel still show history? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Seneca Doane

        Some of the new shows like American Pickers are at best tangential. I think you have to watch the Military Channel or something else to see Vietnam footage. That was once an iconic image but you don't see it too often these days. I wonder why?

  •  It's too sad. (0+ / 0-)

    Your title reminded me that they use live animals to test weapons like napalm and also the "non-lethal weapons", like pepper spray, tasers, rubber bullets

    Why not just put Romney in the title?

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 10:33:39 PM PDT

    •  Because the threatening to "napalm a dog" prank (0+ / 0-)

      is one that I think people should know about -- and it speaks directly to empathy, the lack of which is what strikes me most about Romney.

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 06:41:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  BHO dog story is already playing to the choir (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    The way I think RWers will view the Obama dog story is that it shows that he's exotic and foreign that he ate things (and not just dogs but snakes and grasshopers). All this does is reinforce that Obama is "the other." The people who think already think that are the Republican base.

  •  I remember a film I watched at tech school in USAF (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, Seneca Doane

    They showed a man in a bed in a hospital in Vietnam. I thought he was black... Then they flicked his toe off and we could see he was cooked completely inside. They were preparing us to deal with napalmed victims. My husband was a crew chief on a helicopter and he handled these kinds of injuries...he still has nightmares so bad I have to go stand in the doorway and call to him to wake him so he won't accidently hurt me.

    Napalm is seriously inhumane crap. My son got 3rd degree burns on his thighes and had to have skin grafts... It was hell hearing him scream at 5 years old while they debrided him.  But napalm can give people 5th degree burns... down to the bone burning.  3rd degree is just epidermis gone.

    It is astonishing the levels to which people will sink to feed some perverse needs or cold blooded political or economic goal. They have to work extra hard to feel moral and decent when they do cruel deeds to others including animals.  I do not understand the mentality that seeks to glamorize or turn into entertainment such filth.

    Proud Slut...Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 07:38:46 AM PDT

  •  Link alert (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    I clicked on the link to the Bill Arthrell story you provided (http://www.storyhouse.org/...) and got this:

    404: Page not found
    This error is generated when there was no web page with the name you specified at the web site.

    Troubleshooting suggestions:

    Ensure the page you are linking to exists in the correct folder.

    Check your file name for case sensitivity . Index.htm is not the same as index.htm!

    Temporarily disable any rewrite rules by renaming your .htaccess file if it exists.

    "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

    by JBL55 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 09:38:30 AM PDT

    •  Thanks. Fixed. (0+ / 0-)

      The "l" didn't make it into ".html".

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 08:45:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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