Don’t be surprised when you walk down the Easter aisle of your local CVS to find that the company has decided to do its part for America’s war effort. Amongst the usual pastel-colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and bright-yellow chicks, there’s a new egg in town for America’s children to discover during their Easter egg hunts this year: the war egg. For $3.99, you can buy a package of camouflage-colored eggs, with matching green and white armed plastic soldiers—the “toy prizes,” that, just like the jellybeans of Easters past, are, according to CVS, “Perfect for Easter egg hunts.”
Shocking? Perhaps. Surprising? Well, not really, given the increasing militarization of every aspect of American culture and society, and the aggressive ‘targeting’ of young people. What is particularly alarming, however, is that it appears that promoting and normalizing war to high school and middle school-age children is no longer enough; it seems that we have to start reaching out to toddlers, too; or rather, children between the ages of 6-12, especially young boys. While war toys and playing war are nothing new, what is new about this particular toy is that it was manufactured specifically for Easter, a time of year when Christians around the world celebrate life, rebirth and renewal. There is nothing in the Easter story, as far as I remember, that even remotely embraces death, destruction and war—except, that is, for corporate America in 2011, and its war-for-profit version of the story and mass marketing of it.
That the CVS Corporation deemed it appropriate to produce and sell militarized Easter eggs to our nation’s youngest children shows a serious lack of judgment, sensitivity and decency, which would be the generous reading of the situation. What is more likely is that it is yet another example of a laissez-faire corporate mind-set that operates within the (il)logic that anything goes if a company can make a buck. We may never know the truth behind the decision to associate war with Easter (what’s next drone Reindeer?): was it due to the ignorance and insensitivity ‘of a few bad eggs,’ who saw the product as ‘just another cool toy’; or was it, in fact, a more deliberate and informed decision on the part of the higher ups in the company’s chain of command? What we do know, however, is that CVS either lacks, or chooses to ignore, a coherent policy of what is and is not appropriate to sell to children, not to mention a clue about what might, furthermore, be highly offensive to its adult customers. (And while it is true that the chain sells lots of products that are not good for children, this particular item is both dangerous and disturbing for all that it represents,)
It is imperative that CVS be held accountable for its decision to endorse the sale of these “Easter” eggs, which specifically target the youngest, most vulnerable and impressionable members of our citizenry who are growing up in an increasingly militarized and militaristic society.
I, therefore, urge CD readers to go to their local CVS store and ask the manager to pull this insensitive and inappropriate product from the shelves. You can also call CVS’s corporate headquarters and file a complaint with them. If enough of us act, then maybe CVS will get the message, and think twice before it decides to market and sell war to America’s children.
Now, assuming CVS does do the right thing, there are going to be an awful lot of unsold war eggs in warehouses across the country. But I have a solution for that, too: we can give the Obamas a call, and ask if they would be interested in using tax-payer dollars to buy them for the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll. It would even be easy to integrate the new eggs into this year’s theme: all you have to do is change the slogan “Get up and Go!” to “Get up and Go to War!”—which I’m sure the Commander in Chief wouldn’t have a problem with.