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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Waking up to World War III


The youth response to U.S.-Iran relations

Two weeks ago when U.S. forces killed Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, social media was flooded with many memes about a potential World War III.

I was asleep when the news first broke, so I was a little shocked when I woke to my Twitter feed with jokes about getting drafted and how we’re all going to die soon. I don’t mean that in a pretentious way—I did genuinely find the jokes and memes funny.

Obviously, I don’t think war is a funny matter, but some of the TikToks and tweets did make me laugh, like the one with the Farmer’s Insurance slogan that says, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two,” when referring to Japan warning Iran not to start a war with the U.S.

Funny for sure, but also messed up and overall wrong when it comes to the order of attacks. As a cadet in Army ROTC at Drexel University, one of the most frequent jokes that we say in our program is how we need to be prepared to graduate early to fight Iran.

A recent NBC article explained why there were so many memes about WWIII: memes are Generation Zer’s response to being scared of an actual war. This is ridiculous because I don’t know if it’s a coping mechanism unique to our generation, nor do I think anyone was actually nervous that they would be drafted.

For me, there were two main sources for my meme feed: regular Twitter and Instagram memes that most people are exposed to and the Facebook page “ROTC Memes for Depressed Teens.” While often ahead of the times with the memes, those posted in the Facebook group were slightly more politically and militarily charged—which makes sense—but also more obnoxious.

Obviously none of the memes were all that accurate. But, what gets me is while the ROTC memes make fun of drafting memes for being inaccurate, they also say Iran needs to be careful about starting a war with the U.S. when we literally shot their top military leader.

Older generations also sometimes deem the memes and jokes we make as the sole response to any type of event in order to diminish what we actually think. They don’t respect our opinions on current events. But I suppose that’s a topic for another time.

Our opinions on Iranian and U.S. relations should be encouraged and developed so that we can maintain interest in current events. And while there were a good amount of jokes about getting drafted on my Twitter feed after Jan. 3, there were also a fair amount of people who had legitimate concerns about the assassination, which they should because it has since caused many problems.

Soleimani was thought of as a hero in Iran and the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called him a “living martyr of the revolution.”

The Department of Defense released a statement justifying his assassination by stating Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq.” The U.S. has also accused Soleimani of providing armor-penetrating bombs to Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq war, critically and fatally wounding thousands of American soldiers, which Iranian officials have denied.

The U.S. relationship with Soleimani is obviously a contentious relationship, but so are most relationships when it comes to U.S. and Iran.

This is probably the biggest difference between regular Instagram and Twitter memes and and the ROTC Facebook page: the memes on the Facebook page were not necessarily celebrating Soleimani’s death, but also not not celebrating his death, while regular memes were just saying how attractive Soleimani was. In this case, I preferred the “civilian” memes, if you will.

The implications that have arisen out of Soleimani’s assassination beg the question of whether his death was truly justified.[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#cecece” txt_color=”#000000″]“Our opinions on Iranian and U.S. relations should be encouraged and developed so that we can maintain interest in current events.”[/mks_pullquote]

The two subsequent missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq show that Iran is not afraid to retaliate, but even worse were the 176 people killed in the Ukranian airplane shot down by Iran. Iran says that the airplane was shot down by human error, but that ‘human error’ killed 176 innocent people who have absolutely nothing to do with the killing of Soleimani.

Attacks on both sides seem to have come to a close as of now, but the Iranian nuclear deal is still off, and 176 people have died for unsettled reasons—nothing that would be appropriate if made into a meme.

But, maybe the youth’s WWIII and draft memes are appropriate because they are just as ridiculous as the U.S. and Iran are. Maybe the jokes that our generation makes are providing the world with a sense of humor while everything else seems to be failing around us. Maybe, the memes are what will fix any problems between Iran and the U.S. and will prevent any wars in the future.

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