A re-post from a couple of years ago that I hope, some day, never needs to be said again.
Nope. No freedom being defended here.
So it’s Veterans Day, which means that the US is awash with mostly obligatory tributes to military personnel.
I hate this shit.
I didn’t fight for your freedoms. In the six years I was in, I never once defended your right to vote, or to carry a gun, or to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure (that one doesn’t really apply anymore, anyway), or any of the other things you enjoy as a citizen of this country. I just didn’t. Neither did anyone who went to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam. It’s all bullshit. It’s a fucking lie that we tell ourselves and each other so that we don’t have to think about why we send young men and women to serve, suffer, and die for old men’s vainglorious ideas and profit margins.
I passed through Burlington, WI on Saturday to visit their annual chocolate festival. Who could say no to that, right? Well, while there (this being Wisconsin), I got myself a beer. To do so, you had to put up with the shitty metal cover band in the beer tent. There’s a 45-year-old lead singer acting a fool–pouring beer on his own goddamned head, making dumb-ass sexist remarks, saying stupid shit about his teen-aged daughter, etc. Since that wasn’t reprehensible enough, he then proceeded to thank all the veterans in the crowd, specifically pointing out one man whose–well, I’ll just quote this asshole.
I wanna thank all of our veterans for what they do for us. Every guy in the band, our fathers were all in the military. My dad was in Korea! This guy right here in front–his son is in Iraq right now. He’s over there FIGHTIN’ FOR OUR RIGHT TO PARTY!
I wanted to rush the stage and strangle that fuck with a microphone cord.
It’s all bullshit, folks. We don’t do anything for anyone’s freedom. The military hasn’t actually deployed en masse to defend your freedom in a long, long time. Unless you call rich people fucking over the world’s poor and powerless a form of freedom. As you may have guessed, I don’t. It’s bullshit. And it needs to stop.
I don’t mind honoring sacrifice, but the military doesn’t have a monopoly on that, now does it? I also don’t mind remembering military dead and wounded. But we do it all wrong. We just fetishize the suffering (like good Catholics, no?) without wondering why it ever happened in the first place. Remembrance and memorial, it would seem, also involve reflection and assessment. Just because someone died or was wounded doesn’t automatically validate how he or she came to be in that state. We send our young people overseas to be bored, pull duty, sometimes get shot at, and occasionally get hit. Then we never ask why they’re over there in the first fucking place, because doing so, apparently, does them a disservice. What kind of jack shit is that?
A real Veterans/Remembrance Day would involve commitments to cease sacrifices that don’t actually, you know, do anything in the name of freedom. Losing your legs so that Chevron can see higher profit margins is not noble. It’s a god damned shame. Dying in the service of defense contractors doesn’t bestow sainthood on the deceased. It just means that a life got snuffed out for no good reason. Reflexive military worship is a cancer on society. Unscrupulous people use it to justify their actions and avoid any criticism. That shit makes the act of asking why we should send young people to absorb bullets and get blown to pieces into some kind of subversion and/or sedition. How fucking ridiculous is that? Wondering if someone’s death was worth the cost doesn’t dishonor the person. I don’t know how we’ve confused evaluating the motives and actions of leaders with spitting on corpses, but we have. And until we can untangle those things, we’re just well and truly fucked when it comes to international affairs.
So this Veterans Day, take a minute to actually reflect on the acts and deeds of people in uniform. But that involves critical thought instead of blind acceptance of the rightness of our leaders’ actions. Honor the dead and care for the living, but don’t think that people in uniform today are actually standing between you and tyranny.