God, modern war is weird.
I know I’m about 10 years late with this take — the Arab Spring uprisings are generally considered the first social-media wars — but there’s something about this one that hits different. Between the social media AND the propaganda AND the weeks-long buildup AND the real-time video and punditry and all the rest of it, it’s like watching a very strange movie with a participatory element.
I have not added a blue-and-yellow flag to my various avatars. Here’s my contribution: A week or so before this started, I bought four spots at a dining pop-up for us and another couple. The co-chef is a former student of mine and a talented journalist of Ukrainian lineage, who immigrated here as a boy, in fact. The original theme was Russia (I and the other couple are Russophiles, and have been talking about a trip there for a while) but after the invasion, it was changed to a tribute to Ukraine, a couple of courses changed, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to relief organizations. So now, instead of beef stroganoff for the main course, we’re having chicken Kiev, and if you suspect I am embarrassed to write that sentence, you are correct. We all do our parts. This is mine. And it feels very much of a piece with the strangeness of this war: Admire me, world, for I have posted a meme. Also, what’s your corkage fee?
I found this Twitter thread interesting:
Why has Ukraine been so successful at information warfare/propaganda vs the supposed Russian masters of it?
A thread 🧵 of 10 persuasion messaging themes working for them:
— Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) February 28, 2022
A couple days ago I found a tweet that showed Ukrainian soldiers cuddling cats, allegedly rescued from the streets, wreckage, whatever. Two of the soldiers were women, and both were wearing makeup. Here’s one.
— Observatorio de Violencia hacia los Animales (@ViolenciaObs) February 27, 2022
Maybe I don’t understand modern warfare, but I’d think a soldier doesn’t have time to worry about makeup when bombs are falling. Maybe they do. I’m not a veteran; maybe someone could explain.
I also want to talk about “Attica,” which I watched my last night on the road, when I had Showtime on my hotel TV. I checked in around 5 p.m. and by the time I turned out the light, I’d watched three-fourths of the Cosby series and “Attica,” although I was getting woozy toward the end and watched it again last night. Jesus Christ, what a difficult experience, but a searing one. I knew the basic outlines of the story, but not many of the details, and had never seen the photos, which were ghastly. It ain’t a Pixar flick, but if you are interested in racism and justice, it’s essential. Find a way to see it.
OK, then. Here comes Wednesday, and probably more cats-in-wartime photos.