Simpsons Stamps Rouse Ire

Posted May 8, 2009 at 3:31pm

D’oh!

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) is not exactly delighted about seeing Homer Simpson and his family in the stamps that the U.S. Postal Service released last week.

Now in its 20th year, “The Simpsons— is the longest-running comedy in television history. Featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson, this animated sitcom created by Matt Groening is a satirical parody of middle-class America.

That’s not good enough for Honda. “I’m concerned to see the prioritization of a stamp honoring a cartoon while other causes, like a stamp that I pushed USPS to issue … get sidelined,— Honda said in an e-mail.

Honda wants the Postal Service to issue stamps honoring the estimated 20,000 Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans, who enlisted with the U.S. Army during World War II.

“The Nisei veterans fought honorably for our nation during a time when Japanese Americans were put behind bars in internment camps — a unique sacrifice that merits recognition by USPS,— said Honda, whose father was a Nisei veteran.

But the Postal Service said the stamp proposal that Honda submitted did not meet the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee’s approval.

While Nisei veterans certainly deserve to be recognized for their historic and heroic contribution to the United States during World War II, “our guidelines said we don’t honor a specific military unit,— said David Failor, executive director of stamp services. “To honor one group of veterans over the other is not the right thing to do.—

Failor, who has been with the USPS since 1983, said the guidelines that were issued in 1994 stated that because of the large number of individual units within the military services, stamps will not be issued to honor individual sub-branches, units or divisions.

The Postal Service issued the guidelines after it featured stamps honoring the Buffalo Soldiers in 1994. Since then, the USPS has been bombarded with requests from military groups to be also featured in stamps.

On Jan. 16, 2008, Honda and 39 other Congressmen signed a letter recommending the issuance of a Nisei veterans commemorative stamp. This will “motivate and inspire young Americans to become active participants in our society,— the letter stated.

“But the committee does not let politics influence its decision,— Failor said. He said the USPS wanted its stamps to be a “mix of the contemporary … and a reflection of our culture.—

Hence, “The Simpsons— stamps.

“We expect The Simpsons’ stamps to be a sellout,— said Roy Betts, USPS community relations manager. The Postal Service has printed 1 billion 44-cent “Simpsons— stamps — the new price for a first-class stamp, starting today — featuring each member of the Simpsons family. The Postal Service would continue selling these philatelic items until supplies run out.

Failor clarified, though, that the USPS is not featuring “The Simpsons— for monetary reasons. “The show has a significant role in telling the history of our nation, and the stamps raise awareness about the show,— Failor said.

Incidentally, one of the Simpsons — Bart — is a stamp collector himself. Issuing Simpsons stamps, Failor said, would be “a great opportunity to interest youngsters in stamp collecting.—

But Honda does not seem to be convinced. “The Simpsons are undoubtedly a part of popular culture, but I question the direction USPS is headed when it pays homage to Homer Simpson over the sacrifice of our venerable Nisei veterans,— he said.