The Daily Show uses Iwo Jima image to spoof Occupy Wall Street


So I was watching The Daily Show last night, and on came a clip spoofing the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. That’s no surprise.

The twist came when host Jon Stewart noted that the movement had vowed to take over the park, “if only to erect a monument to what was perhaps the occupiers’ biggest challenge.”

That fictional monument looked like this:

The "monument" that The Daily Show says the Occupy Wall Street movement erected in New York City. ( screen grab)

The bit got a good laugh, playing on the perceived messiness of the “facilities” at the park, where protesters have demonstrated against the state of the economy, corporate greed, unemployment and other social ills.

“They truly were,” Stewart said, “the least toileted generation.”

Five U.S. Marines and a Navy Corpsman raise the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. This photograph, taken during the heart of World War II, is one of the most iconic U.S. photographs of all time. (Joe Rosenthal/Associated Press)

Plenty of people have mocked the Occupy movement, but I’ll be the fuddy duddy who asks: Did The Daily Show go too far by using the famous image of the U.S. flag-raising on Mount Suribachi?

Every few years, the iconic World War II image of five Marines and a Navy corpsman erecting the flag on Iwo Jima is altered for another purpose. Typically, doing so is blasted by veterans groups and many Marines, whose own Marine Corps War Memorial near the Pentagon replicates it.

In 2008, for example, Time magazine came under fire after it doctored the image to replace the U.S. flag with a tree for an issue about global warming.

Last year, a British Airways employees union sparked outrage by altering the photograph to promote their cause during a labor strike.

And earlier this year, a cultural group in New Jersey apologized after veterans complained about them altering the Iwo image to promote a parade honoring Indian heritage. The Indian flag was super-imposed over the American flag in that image.

Those are just a few examples. The Daily Show wasn’t promoting anything specific with their version of the image, but it certainly had an edge to it. It’s a freakin’ toilet swapped in for the American flag, after all.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. …you can do this sort of over the edge humor here…but God…or should I say Allah for’freakin’bid our boys in Afghanistan pee towards Mecca… strange doesn’t even fit

  2. I don’t see any thing funny in this;;I don’t care about the protesters because now they are going over board,,Why didn’t they have some of their own lifting a out house…these BOZO’s hit a nerve with me…The IWO JIMA monument is my part of my pride,,being a U S MARINE

  3. A. Kirchenberg on

    Rodriguez, it’s not a real monument. It’s a photoshopped image the daily show used to show how over-the-top and sensational the ows protests have become. It’s a parody of likening something heroic and great to something that isn’t and the commedy comes from saying they are “equal” when they aren’t.

    It’s no different than a person saying they are dying of thirst or starving to death when in reality, they just are hungry for lunch. Exaggeration as parody.

  4. This is not parody. To even try to compare what happened on Iwo to a bunch of unemployed slobs who couldn’t do what they are doing if they weren’t living off of Mommy and Daddy’s money is a travesty.

  5. There is nothing funny about this Jordan. Whoever made this is disrespecting the Marines that sacrificed their lives so that we can live in a democratic nation. Unfortunately it’s mainly my generation that is “occupying wall street” and protesting about matters that they do not fully understand. This monument is an insult to our Corps. Never disrespect what others have given for this nation.

  6. This struck a chord with me. I think that it’s kind of sad that people are often arrogant enough relate their causes to the sacrif

  7. Raymond Nelson on

    Seriously? They’re clearly mocking the protesters, not the Marine Corps. I was not aware the Corps had become so touchy/feely since I left. If anything it says a lot about what that generation went through compared to what these protesters are crying about.

  8. @maki: What?

    Are you comparing Iwo Jima with the f*cking holocaust? Talk about a disrespectful comparison. Let’s not put the sufferings of powerless victims of mass murder next to the sufferings of soldiers. It is not *that* bad being in a war. Many of soldier that liberated the prisoners got serious mental issues from just vitnessing the results of the holocaust, imagine being in it.


    That marines would not be less of whimps than that they can take a joke, that’s just pathetic.

    I would also like to remind the dear marines in this thread that the marines a Ivo Jima endured far worse conditions than most of you have ever known.

    Hence, and this is important: It is not YOUR f*cking monument, it belongs to the people that were there. It belongs to them and the families that sacrificed their sons for the good of the nation.

    It does not automatically belong to every marine that has gone through boot camp. That would be highly disrespectful to the people that were at Iwo Jima.

    And it is not disrespectful the least, that’s just crap from people that dislike Stewart’s political views.

    The only thing that it is disrespectful of is the OWS-people.

    It is there to put the valor of the OWS-crowd in context!

  9. Pride_in_the_Corps on


    It isn’t that Marines can’t take a joke, it is a matter of OUR traditions, OUR pride, and OUR history, that is what makes the United States Marine Corps.

    If someone were to go out and deface the MLK monument, it would be considered an act of hate or racism. If someone were to go out and place swastikas around the holocaust memorial, again an act of hate.

    All memorials should be given their respect, no matter one’s beliefs or opinions.

    Last but not least… is OUR monument. We share the same brotherhood of the Corps and constantly remember OUR brothers and sisters who fought and died for OUR Marine Corps. It is their legacy that we strive to uphold.

    PS – Next time you see a Marine, tell him or her, thank you for continuing the legacy.

  10. I’ll take that image to mean that the Marine Corps, and the military rank and file in general, are in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as they are unitedly moving a Port-a-Potty into an encampment.

  11. Robert Richardson on

    this really pisses me off. Especially as a proud U.S. Marine. I don’t appreciate ANY political party, movement etc.. using or mocking the sacrifices of all our military. Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest chapters In Marine Corps history 6,000+ good men died in the battle!!!!

  12. You bet they went too far. In San Diego, cops have confiscated 2 US flags from Occupiers for excessive flagpole thickness. One confiscation was from a Marine Iraqi vet. Flagpoles must be no more than 1/4 inch thick, which I estimate is the size of the mayors pecker. I’m not a vet (4F) but I and many others are furious. I am also a total smartass, but I know when not to laugh. And Smedley is one of my heroes.

  13. My uncle is a Marine & was part of the initial assault as a machine gunner in the 5th Marines. He lasted 13 days until he took it in the face. Fortunaty he survived.

    He’s 87 yrs old & he has my deepest respect for his service.

    I’m a Marine from peace times & could never imagine what these heros went thru.

    Today I visited him & asked if he had a desire to return to the place he was wounded & where he lost so many of his fellow Marines. As his eyes watered he said “I have always wanted to go back there but I have no living buddies left to travel with. To go by myself just wouldn’t be right.”

    At that point he said “wait a minute, I have something to show you”. He left & came back with a small jar that had about 3 oz’s of Iwo volcanic sand. He opened it & said ” this is the courses sand you will ever feel”.

    I could imagine his face buried in that sand ducking as he tried to fire his 20 mm machine gun.

    If anyone knows how I can get Alger Jennings back to Iwo I would really appreciate it.

    Also if anyone knows of any living Iwo survivers from the 5th Marines that I could contact to go back with him let me know.

    My dream is his dream to get him back before it’s too late.

    Any help would be appreciated.


    For God, Country & Corps!

  14. Marines make the most insensitive jokes all the time. “Filthiest minds…. lowest morals” comes to mind. The people who are offended by this are either annoying motards or uptight hypocrites. How dare they disrespect what I hold dear! Probably the same people who defend the Marines peeing on dead bodies. Get over a small funny joke against OWS, not Marines.

  15. Patrick Fleming on

    Well Jon,

    I’ve enjoyed your humor and you show for quite sometime. While I don’t agree with everything you bring up, I can see and enjoy the humor and it is relaxing to just laugh at, with or about the subjects presented. Sorry to say you crossed a line with me this time by using my memorial in this distasteful, disrespectful manner. My memorial you ask? Yes mine. After 20 some years of the better part of my adult life given to this country and to my Corps, it is mine. It is mine and it belongs to me and to any other man or woman who has earned the right to be called Marine, past, present or future. It also belongs to the families of those Marines, because they gave so much of themselves in support of their Marine. Jon, have a good life – I know I will and I’ll also not be watching anything from you again……. and Shawn, you have no freakin idea.

    A retired Marine.

  16. My father landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. He was carried off on March 2, 1945. Based on my conversations with other Iwo veterans, that was a pretty long time to last before being wounded or killed. I remember one old vet who held up two fingers when I asked him at an Iwo reunion how long he’d lasted.

    “Two days? That’s pretty good,” I remarked.

    He said, “No, two hours.”

    Iwo Jima was a bloody hell for the Marines. Yes, they, the Navy, and the Army eventually secured that stinking little island, but it was the only battle in Marine Corps’ history where Marine casualties exceeded enemy casualties. “Awful” couldn’t begin to describe it.

    In 2000, my brother and I accompanied my father on a return trip to Iwo Jima. (And yes, the island really does stink — Suribachi is still venting the sulfur fumes for which the island was named.) There’s one event that I remember that I think applies to the Jon Stewart attempt at humor.

    After touring the island, we waited in a hangar for our flight to leave. There were two Japanese military men who were loading small Japanese trucks with pallets. I’m not sure what was on the pallets because the contents were either in boxes or draped with a canvas or another type of protective covering. The Japanese men used a forklift to load the pallets onto their rather light-looking trucks.

    But the Marines in the hangar also had pallets to load. Their pallets were larger and looked much more substantial than what the Japanese were loading, and the Marines were loading their pallets into military 5-ton trucks which had a much higher load floor. What did the Marines use to load their pallets? Um, Marines.

    I got a real sense of “can do” spirit from the Marines on that trip. Whether it was slogging through that miserable black sand on the beaches to take one of the most fortified islands in the Pacific Campaign of WW II, or it was loading heavy pallets on a truck in 2000 without the aid of a cutsey-wootsey little fork lift, the Marines could handle it.

    Everybody sees things differently. I’m sure my father, who died in 2009, would have taken offense at the Jon Stewart “memorial,” but I don’t. The Marines can do it all.

    “Super Storm” Sandy hit last week. Could I picture the Marines delivering food to the devastated areas? You bet I can. Could I picture them delivering water? You bet I can. And if there was a need for porta potties in an impossible to get to location, could the Marines get them delivered? There’s not a doubt in my mind.

    Trust me. Jon Stewart is not capable of diminishing the image of the U.S. Marines. The only thing he did was remind me what a capable and noble organization they are, and how proud I am of my father for having been one.

    Gary Kerr

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