Friday, March 28, 2003

It gives me great relief to know that the youth of today aren't as ignorant as they are often portrayed -- usually in interviews. Here's an example of how there is hope for the new generation.
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Gen Y Goes to War
MTV viewers support Iraq's liberation.

Friday, March 28, 2003 12:01 a.m.

It's not quite man-bites-dog. But the day we have something nice to say about MTV sure comes close. And that day looks like today.
While surfing through the news section of MTV's Web site, we happened to stumble across its "At War With Iraq" link, and it sure belies the cable network's spoiled, Generation Y image. For example, in an MTV poll attempting to distinguish between its viewers' support for the war and their support for the troops, the results were pretty amazing. An overwhelming 60% reported that they supported both the troops and the war. Some 37% answered that they opposed the war but nonetheless supported the troops. That left only a tiny 3% who oppose the troops as well as the war.

Granted, no one's going to bet the house on online polling. And yes, the news stories that MTV offers up on its site include such gems as "War Inspires Jewel To Go Electronic On Next LP" and "U2's Bono Discusses The Situation In Iraq And The War On Terrorism." But it also includes a wealth of other information, the most striking of which has to be a section called "e-mail from the front." These are letters from and pictures of young Americans in uniform who have been deployed overseas, ranging from a ferociously tattooed ex-L.A. gang member turned Marine to a sailor aboard the USS Kearsarge who says that he's into "techno" music.

For the most part these young men and women simply explain where they come from, what their job entails and what the war looks like from where they sit. Take Airman Brandy Kown, a graduate of Henry County High School in Georgia, who helps maintain the state-of-the-art communications systems used by coalition forces in the Arabian Gulf.

"We sit deep in the desert watching like guardian angels," she writes. "The skills that each person brings to this table and the equipment that we have built to help us give us the ability to watch over all the Marines and soldiers on the ground, sailors from the sea, and all the airmen in the sky. We take care of them as they take care of all of you reading this letter."

Airman Kown ends her note saying that she respects the right of other Americans to protest this war, adding that the whole reason that she's there is to help "make sure they keep that right." Remember, this is not Donald Rumsfeld. This is a 19-year-old who could be the kid next door. Pretty hard to picture our troops as baby-killers when you look at Brandy Kown.

Not that MTV has suddenly gone Pentagon. Though it offers links to military sites, it also provides links to such antiwar groups as International A.N.S.W.E.R. and the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. But the interesting thing is that MTV is putting real faces on the young airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines who constitute our armed forces. Whatever else it may be, this is clearly not your father's protest generation.

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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