I had words with an Army recruiter last week. He called for my 18-year-old daughter. I knew very well what he wanted, and I told him he could speak to her “over my dead body.”
“Enjoy your freedom,” he replied snidely.
I think I will. Not the first volley of words to be exchanged with military recruiters over my children, it is unlikely to be the last.
I do love my country. I would sacrifice my own life, or even that of my child to defend my country and to make it possible for Americans to continue to enjoy their freedom, but the situation in Iraq is another thing entirely.
The neo-cons have a way with words that really bothers me. Their talent lies in calling things something other than what they are, and then convincing the public that the sow’s ear in its hand is really a silk purse. The purposefulness of their distortions is nothing short of diabolical. Most distressing of all is the American public’s willingness to swallow whatever they say.
The Army sergeant who told me to enjoy my freedom honestly believes that he recruits soldiers to defend it. He hears that the war defends freedom, and cannot or will not see it for the expeditionary excursion it is.
At the Independence Day celebration I attended, one of the emcees announced a tribute to our armed forces, and told the audience to “Thank them for defending us.” Defending? I am grateful that there are men and women willing to risk life and limb to protect me. I have nothing against the armed forces. They are merely a tool. Unfortunately, the tool is being misused, with the result that we become less safe by the day.
Every soldier who dies or suffers grave injury is one less protecting us. Every soldier who goes overseas and does Bush’s bidding makes us enemies in the Arab world with each non-combatant he or she kills, mistreats, or injures. Death and injury are the stock and trade of war. Participation in war injures the spirit in such ways that soldiers come to mistreat those seen as “others”. The consequences are inevitable. More enemies plus fewer defenders equals less safe, a case of simple arithmetic.
Then we have the young people who return from the grimness of war so spiritually wounded that they no longer have any ability to know right from wrong, who become predatory, violent people with little to check their antisocial impulses. These are not theoretical people. They are not maybes. They came home from Vietnam and Korea and World War II, and they come home today from Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans’ Administration hospitals will be busy with them for decades.
Poor kids are dying for the right of rich kids’ moms to drive them around in Hummers. Poor kids are paying for their education with their blood and with body parts. No children of legislators are in harm’s way, depend upon it. No matter how much they sing their praises and proclaim the heroism of the dead, they continue to be dead, and their deaths continue to have been wasted.
Am I unwilling to sacrifice my child for the “American way of life”? You bet your ass I’m unwilling. My children were not born to die so that corporate tyrants can let their CEOs live like kings. My children will not give their lives so that I can drive around for $1 a gallon in an SUV that passes everything but the gas station. My children will not die in some trumped-up excuse of a war that is nothing more than a grab for petroleum-rich land, even if I have to die or go to prison to prevent it.
The American way of life has become so corrupted by political collusion with corporate greed that my grandmother would not recognize it. She risked her son to stop the spread of fascism. Bush is not doing the same with our children; rather he ensures the spread of terrorism with their lives. It is time to ask if this is an appropriate use of our children’s blood.
- ► 2006 (15)