I look high and low for a sense of outrage at what America is doing in Iraq and see only tepid glimpses. But of course, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
On the day when some 500 people marched for peace in Madison, about 80,000 made it to the Badger game against Minnesota. Bucky triumphed, as did death and destruction in Iraq. We claimed the coveted Axe and hammered Fallujah with 500-pound bombs. Yes, "we." It's being done in your name and in your children's.
A Nov. 9 headline over a Fallujah story: "Rumsfeld: Fight could win over Iraqis." Oh yeah, they were stepping over bodies to gather rose petals from the rubble.
What is this military madness that afflicts us and has for so long?
My daughter in high school is a junior, the year that students start getting some hate mail that should be banned. Sadder yet is that I'm paying for the postage against my will.
"The most important weapon in the war on terrorism. You." That's on the cover of the Army National Guard brochure. Inside: "I am an American soldier. I am a Warrior and a member of a team. ... Come train part-time, so you can always be ready to answer the call. Become a citizen-warrior in the Guard."
The regular Army's big pitch in bold print is money, "Up to $68,000 for college," and "Learn how to overcome obstacles. Like college tuition." She already missed the June 30 deadline to "experience the Marine Corps without having to leave home" with free dog tags (24-inch chain included) and a copy of "Precious Metal."
From a story filed last Sept. 11 by a British reporter in Fallujah: "I got myself a real juicy target," shouted U.S. 1st Infantry Sgt. James Anyett. "I got five (expletive) in a building with weapons. ... Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out. I'm from Alabama."
But instead, Anyett directs a barrage of mortars. Soon he shouts, "Yeah! Battle damage assessment -- nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job."
A dirty job, but somebody's got to do it? No, this is not about freedom on the march. This is about insanity and a human being turned into a killing machine.
Read American papers, including this one, and see how there are no Iraqis fighting us. A wire service example:
"Overnight, insurgents attacked an oil storage tank in the north and set fire to four oil wells. In Mosul, torn by a daring revolt that began last week, guerrillas tried ramming an American patrol and a checkpoint with suicide car bombs, wounding at least five soldiers. The Iraqi interior minister, Falah al-Naqib, said he expected the rebels to mount more ambitious strikes."
In the next story you read, substitute "occupiers" or "invaders" for U.S. troops or forces. That's how most Iraqis see it. Even if they didn't, we've got no business there, except the oil business.
U.S. media endlessly glorify war and "the troops." Why are the peacemakers not blessed with similar respect and coverage? Is it because we are not demanding it?
Bill Moyers recently interviewed Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and National Catholic Reporter columnist:
Moyers: Depending on the sources, Sister Joan, there have been some 37,000 civilians killed in Iraq, or maybe 100,000. Why is abortion a higher moral issue with many American Christians than the invasion of Iraq and the loss of life there?
Chittister: Could I ask you that question? Because that is the moral question that brings me closest to tears. I do not understand that, Bill. You see, I'm absolutely certain that some of the people that we're killing over there are pregnant women. Now what do you do? Now what do you do? That's military abortion.
Moyers: That's what?
Chittister: That's military abortion. Why is that morally acceptable?
Moyers: Somebody said to me the other day that Americans don't behead, but we do drop smart bombs that do it for us.
Chittister: And that are not as smart as we think they are.
Moyers: What do you mean?
Chittister: Well, what is this smart bomb stuff? We've still got an image in our head from 1991 of this little golf ball dropping down a furnace. It's not working that way.
Moyers: So you think more people should get out and protest. Take to the street with this?
Chittister: I think each of us should become part of the conversation any way we can.
That's your cue, Americans. Be skeptical, be conspiracy-minded. Sport your peace sign proudly. Think outside the mainstream U.S. media. Write and call Congress. Boycott businesses that are run counter to your principles. Pay someone's fine who's been arrested at a protest. Money talks loudest of all.
You don't back the troops by slapping a yellow ribbon on your car. That's more for you than it is for them. The best way to show support is to get the military back in civilian clothes.
Bill Dunn writes for the LifeStyle section of The Capital Times. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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