Posts Tagged jingoism
Calls for supporting our troops and honoring veterans and military personnel are ubiquitous and loud and it has become one of those concepts people take for granted and unanimously agree on and rarely ever question, the assumption being that these men and women have “served” our country and deserve our respect, veneration and support.
Everything is “support the troops.” It has become a punctuation mark on nearly every advertising campaign and seemingly every sporting event. “Support The Troops” and “God Bless America”; you can hear those phrases repeated at anything from a car lot commercial to an NFL or even our local minor league hockey games.
Stating that you do not support our troops and the military is seen as sacrilege; as a heinous and cold hearted thing to do, next to kicking puppy dogs and toddlers. In some parts of the country, not blindly accepting the alleged War On Terror is seen as unpatriotic.
I often read that whether one agrees with the reasoning for engaging in war, no one deserves our respect more than the people who served, fought, died or were seriously wounded as a result of war. I read a comment once stating that “regardless of what the intention is, good or bad, giving yourself up for your nation’s ambitions is pretty respectful.”
Intention matters. Our nation’s ambitions matter. Why one joins the military and why one’s military engages in armed conflict matter very much. In fact, I would argue that this is one instance where intentions and motives should matter the most. Joining an armed organization that has massive firepower capabilities with deadly consequences for other human beings, especially civilians, should not be taken lightly. It is a big fucking deal and it matters.
If the reasons as to why do not and should not matter, then we had no business prosecuting SS officers back in Nuremberg after WWII. But we did becasue we believed that blindly following orders and not asking why was neither a valid excuse nor acceptable.
More importantly, I disagree with this notion that our troops deserve our support no matter what. Supporting troops is an endorsement of war and armed conflict. Such seemingly innocuous endorsements in turn set a bad example for the citizenry and especially children, because they teach them that violence and armed conflict are not only necessary and needed but also heroic and admirable, ultimately normalizing and glorifying war as something inevitable.
“Support Our Troops” or war in general are not something that should be romanticized and worshipped. Dying is not glorious. Being maimed and traumatized for life is not grand and heroic. Coming back an emotional, physical and spiritual wreck becasue you fought wars of choice and opportunity to further someone else’s agenda or fill their pocket books, as has been the case for all of the wars this country has fought over the past half a century, are not grand things. They are not admirable and laudable. They are contemptible.
War is bloody, devastating and brutal and everyone loses, one way or another. Even the “winners.”
Casualties and collateral damage and thus the loss of human life are not acceptable. They should never be taken as just a normal thing one must live with.
It’s easy to stand for a few moments and chant “USA! USA! USA!” and put a yellow ribbon sticker on your vehicle, than it is to try to understand the horrors of combat and the lasting traumas our troops have to endure, not to mention those whom our troops end up injuring, maiming and killing in the line of duty.
When I hear someone say those troops performed a service to our country, I have to ask: what service? And for whom? For me? Killing and displacing people or adding fuel to internal feuding wars while bankrupting us internally are not a service performed for us. They do not do us any good.I am not benefiting from a fiscally bankrupting US military involvement all around the world. Involvement and meddling that gave rise to Islamic extremism in the Middle East and such things as the Islamic State Group. Those are not things that I consider benefits brought to me by our military. Those are devastating disasters I distance myself from and that I do not like committed in my name and with my taxes. I am most certainly not thankful for them or the military or the fucking troops.
Now I understand the need for military action at some point. I am not naive to believe we never, ever need it. But wars should be fought for defense only, instead of employed strategically in order to wear down and threaten those who do not agree with us or who pose potential threats or in order to change the balance of power in a region to our favor etc.
Fighting countries hardly even capable of mounting a defense, never mind a real attack on our country, is not heroic and bold. It is cowardly and cruel. Adding fuel to internal conflicts, arming and training rebels to serve our cause regardless of the long-term consequences are not things I support about our military and, by extension, about our troops.
Take the Iraq war, for example, and calls to support our troops there:
First of all, the Iraq war was not a draft, those men who went, joined voluntarily. No one made them.
Secondly, the Iraq war was a fraudulent war to begin with. We had no business being there. It was a war sold to us via lies and manipulation, still is, and the troops are hailed as heroes when what they mostly did is engage in the indiscriminate killing of locals and various other war crimes, ultimately leading to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men and women. Men and women who were victims of the regimes that oppressed them and for whom US invasion and intervention brought nothing but more chaos, instability and death.
US troops are being ordered to commit atrocities so vile that the only way many of them can cope with the horror of what they have done is by killing themselves.
Examples of atrocities aided directly or indirectly by US troops in Iraq include;
– Orders to slaughter “all military age men” during some operations;
– Torturing detainees – many of whom had never engaged in combat and were totally innocent – at grisly prison camps across the country;
– Raping and torturing children at the infamous Abu Ghraib detention facility while they shrieked in terror. Women forced to watch later begged to be killed.
– Sodomizing detainees with chemical lights and broom sticks;
– Indiscriminately firing upon and killing journalists and children from the air;
– Massacring entire groups of unarmed Iraqis, including children and the elderly in Hadith.
“This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing,” wrote Daniel Somers, an Iraq war veteran who committed suicide following an arduous battle with PTSD that was caused by his role in committing “crimes against humanity,” according to the soldier’s suicide note – adding that him living “any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand.”
Our military involvements for the past forty to fifty years (i.e since the end of Vietnam) have been voluntary recruitment, not drafts. In case of a draft, I cannot blame people for going. They had no choice. But when there is no draft and you join the fucking military voluntarily, then that makes you an accomplice in the devastating and bankrupting war machine .
Of course, I am not surprised that the war machine and the powers that be and which profit from endless war would send such, almost subliminal, messages to people, trying their hardest to normalize war and gain support for what is really a futile, dangerous and devastating endeavour.
And in a way they have to, right? And with they I mean the politicians, warmongers and the highly profitable military industrial complex. In order to convince people to join a military organisation and give their life for whatever dubious cause, you have to embellish and romanticize, obfuscate and blur the lines. You have to say you support and honor the troops and praise them as heroes performing a service to our country. You have to tell them they are doing it for a grander cause. Who doesn’t want to be a hero? Who doesn’t want to believe they did something for a grander cause?
By creating a romantic appeal for war and by hailing those the war machine uses to fight those wars, as heroes who are “fighting for our freedoms”, the military industrial complex and the war mongering politicians who do their bidding, create public support for a war machine that has been devastating on many levels.
The last legitimate war the US fought was WWII. All wars after that have been wars of choice and opportunity; of political posturing; from Korea to Vietnam to the Gulf War, to Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, Eastern Europe: all fraudulent wars of choice and opportunity aimed at enhancing our dominance in the world. Gaining allies here or starting wars there for political gain and so we can come out on top; so we can keep militaries and defense contractors funded at the expense of everyone else.
Heck we have taken the manipulation so far that we are now calling the War Department euphemistically the “Defense Department.”
The individuals who go to war and die or who are alive but have come back damaged and broken, aren’t heroes. They are pawns at best; fools who were duped and manipulated by the war mongers and defense contractors to believe that war is good and that dying for oil or political dominance or strategic advancement, was a good thing.
At worst, they are trigger nervous thugs, miscreants and losers who are looking for an outlet to live out their murder-lust and sociopathy (see Chris Kyle) while at the same time sticking it to what they perceive to be Muslim scum, as payback for 9/11.
Our troops and veterans don’t exist and are funded in a vacuum. They exist and are funded within the context of our foreign policy objectives and our military actions. To say that the reasons for wars should not matter when it comes to supporting our troops is short-sighted and harmful.
The truth is, our troops are not heroes. They are not doing this country and its citizen a great service. Killing, raping, pillaging and displacing thousands of innocent people for every one bad guy, is hardly a heroic act.
All the Memorial Day crap and “Support Our Troops” slogans are a way for the government and the military industrial complex that it is beholden to, to not only create a culture of war but to also normalize war as inevitable, needed, and heroic with the ultimate goal of creating support for it. And that is something I, as pacifist who opposes military action unless strictly for defensive purposes, oppose.
I do not support our troops because I do not support our wars. And one cannot be divorced from the other.
War is horrible, devastating and harmful and at the end of the day, we will not be able to solve out problems with tanks, drones and via war fare. We will, however, be able to do so via diplomacy, cooperation and thus peaceful means. Those are also the avenues and channels we must explore and exhaust before a call to arms.
By supporting our troops, who at this point are nothing more than glorified contract killers if you ask me, we become accomplices in their crimes. Not to mention that if we were to really support our troops, we would first have to see how they live and what they are going through; something that is not particularly compatible with all the feel-good, romanticised notions everyone has about war.
I think it was about time we took a step back and asked ourselves whether supporting the troops, and thus war, is the kind of culture and society we want to have.
Remember how during the last Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his phony wife went around telling everyone what a stand up guy he is with ethics, integrity and a love of god? That they should not have to apologize for being “hard working” and “successful” and that it was, in fact, hard work and Romney’s relentless honesty and integrity as a man, humanitarian and entrepreneur that had lead him to his success as a one percenter riding car elevators?
Remember the infamous 47% speech in which Romney, behind seemingly closed doors, declared and dismissed nearly half the US population as nothing but lazy, unmotivated free-loaders who lack both work ethics and a desire to lead better lives and instead are just waiting to get handouts from crooks like him? Remember how he refused to release his tax returns of the past decade because he did not feel that he should have to apologize for his “hard work” and “success”? Remember how he thought that paying 15% in taxes on a $100 million dollar income a year was him being just like the rest of us, doing his share?
Well, I guess if you consider conning people out of their jobs, benefits and retirements hard work, Romney certainly has a point. At any rate, the man who believed himself to be the epitome of the American Dream and hard work and bootstraps narratives is currently being sued in federal court for criminal racketeering.
Steven “Laser” Haas is the owner and sole shareholder of Collateral Logistics Inc. (CLI) the firm which was retained to oversee the liquidation of assets in the bankruptcy of eToys in 2001.
During the process of liquidating the company Haas came across irregularities, unethical practices and outright criminal acts originating from the top at Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s asset management firm), Goldman Sachs, Kay Bee Toys and Stage Stores, all of which were involved in the machinations to sell eToys for mere pennies to Bain through its interest in Kay Bee […] Haas alleged in his affidavit to the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 3, 2012 that after he had uncovered numerous irregularities, he had been offered $850,000 by Bain to keep silent about what he had discovered. When he attempted to report the bribe, he was told that since he had not accepted it, he didn’t have a case. Bain of course denies that the offer was ever made.
The American Dream (and Jesus and Joseph Smith) hard at work. Well it is a good thing that Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, atheists and community organizers are a threat to this country and not someone like Mitt Romney.
Yahoo news displayed this intriguing headline today:
How the world’s newspapers covered Colorado theater massacre on their front pages
After you click on it, the following pictures and snippets of various headlines around the “world” are seen:
I know the United States considers itself the alpha and omega of the world – probably the universe – holding a privileged position among all other nations, cultures and mortals, but since when do various cities across North America constitute the whole world? Journalism at its best I guess.
Ever since I posted the above, Yahoo! News went ahead and corrected the headline to say
How newspapers covered Colorado theater massacre on their front pages
But here ‘s a screenshot of the original screen anyway:
Having no inhibitions to benefit from a tragedy, such as the shooting in Colorado last night that left 12 people dead and more than fifty wounded, Representative Louie Gohmert from Texas used this opportunity to push his agenda of gun wielding religiosity on everyone by stating that the shootings were a result of “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”
“You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place,” Gohmert said.
He also questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter:
“It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”
He went on to say that “some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters. We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.”
He concluded that the shooting in Colorado was a “a terrorist act” that could have been avoided if the country placed a higher value on God.
Did I miss something? Was there a part omitted in the Bible that says “And the Christ did whippeth out his gat and did just righteously blow Judas awayeth”?
If a loving, forgiving Christian with a gun would have stood up and blown him away with the all loving god guiding the bullet through his Kevlar, that would have been divine intervention? Really?
Religious people never fail to amaze me with their capacity for unsurpassed, shameless hypocrisy. Especially in this country, I have never encountered such a truly callous group of cowards. In my opinion, evangelical Christians are just about the worst human kind has to offer.
The Founding Fathers did not say that we ought to protect our freedoms as laid out in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence with guns and violence. If they wanted people to walk around armed to the teeth, they didn’t need to write the Constitution of the people, by the people, for the people; they could have just declared martial law.
Secondly, one does not guarantee and secure the kinds of freedoms the Founders talked about with guns and violence. That was the whole point of the revolution and of walking away from the yokes of tyranny and oppression in Europe. America is an idea, a dream, a vision and it never included gun wielding jingoists with nervous trigger fingers running the country.
Moreover, Jesus never advocated violence: he was a peaceful man who believed in forgiveness and turning the other cheek. He did not believe or even preach in walking around with deadly weapons to take down opponents and threats. I am stunned this man claims to be a Christian since there is nothing Christ like in anything he utters.
Finally, does he or anyone really think that if everyone in that dark room had a gun, the outcome would have been better? It would have been a shoot-out of epic proportions with lots of innocents in the cross-fire, and the perpetrator probably would have been missed.
It is also ironic that he would say that more god in everyone’s life would have prevented such a tragedy, generally leading to a peaceful society, when in fact more people have died in the name of religion, with Judeo-Christianity taking a lead, than in the name of any other ideology. From the Crusades, to chasing of “heretics”, witch hunting and burning, religious wars for the past two thousand years, antisemitism, the killing of Native peoples, to various events in the twentieth and twenty first century, including the massacre in Rwanda, the occupation of Palestine, 9/11 and suicide bombers. This is in addition to policies enacted (covert violence as opposed to overt violence) that are informed primarily by religious doctrine, such as halting stem cell research that could save millions of lives, to defunding of Planned Parenthood whose primary work consists of disease prevention and health screenings and not, as the religious Right has been telling, abortion. For Gohmert to say that more god and religion would be better for everyone is beyond ignorant and intellectually comatose.
America: A Culture Obsessed with Violence
The truth is that America has an infatuation, an obsession, a fascination with violence, the culture of violence, the instruments of violence and war; all to to a degree that vastly exceeds that of any other developed country; actually any country. We love executing, we love going to wars, the DOD is overfunded, our gut reaction to any international incidence is bomb them to the ground, ask questions later. That is why on one talks about guns being bad. This is something not even Obama dared to tackle. And why? Because it is off limits, a taboo. God forbid, pun not intended, anyone limits the ability of Americans to own an arsenal of weapons and ammu to defend “freedom.”
Ironically, those Americans who are the most vocal “Christians” are the ones who have the greatest infatuation and obsession with the aforementioned. And Louis Gohmert believes that embracing this American Christian culture of violence worship will prevent massacres like this?
I say, fuck you Representative Gohmert. I’m not a Christian or religious so your comments mean absolutely nothing to me you political hack. Stop trying to profit from this tragedy by once again infesting the public with your backwards religious, “Judeo-Christian” beliefs – which you shouldn’t be doing anyway because your bony, bigot ass is paid for by tax payer dollars.
And for those of you who are unfortunate enough to be religious or Christian, I say: if you believe in a god, know that he’s telling you to stay the hell away from people like Gohmert. He supports guns, guns, and more guns. There is nothing intelligent, divine or Christ-like in what this guy says. He is part of the problem. There always has been and will always be the mentally ill who will murderously go off the deep end with little or no warning. The question is why does this society make it easier for them to accumulate an assault weapon arsenal than to own a car and get a drivers license. If that’s the way we want it, then this is what will, from time to time, happen.