This post is rated NC-17 for strong language.
I’ve been more ignorant of the news recently, choosing to listen to audiobooks on my drive than NPR (the only news source I can stomach besides Daily Show and Colbert Report). Mostly this started because I discovered just how much a treasure trove my local libraries are. But as ISIS (and whatever else the American Devil is calling them) becomes more and more active and word spreads of terrorist cells and attacks on American soil, I find that I am less inclined to shut off my book (currently Dexter’s Final Cut => yes, I would rather listen to a book about a serial killer than listen to the violence in the news) and catch up on recent events.
Before you start crying “isolationism won’t make it go away,” know that I am perfectly aware of this fact. Even without basic history to demonstrate this, I’m married to the Army. Can’t really pretend things don’t exist when they’re knocking at your door with a reminder that soldiers don’t exist for peacetime. It’s getting serious again so something has to be done and the rumors are already flying about who is up to bat first. Isolationism isn’t my goal at all. The problem is that if I’m this angry all the time, my health is going to suffer. You know, ulcers, headaches, insomnia. And the jail time for all those murders isn’t going to help anything. It’s just hard not to be angry when you hear all that craziness. Especially spouting from the mouths of normally rational people.
“It may be time to take the proactive approach and start rounding them up and putting them in camps or deporting them. Otherwise, they will be doing it to us Christians and Jews.” – Facebook
” These terrorists want to kill us, plain and simple. We have to kill them first. It’s better on their soil than ours.” – NPR interview of retired cop.
I suppose what sets me off first, besides the ignorance of such statements, is the obvious errors in grammar. You see, they both use anonymous, 2nd and 3rd person pronouns. They, them, their, we, us, ours. But that’s not what is meant, of course. When they say we, what they mean is “someone-not-me.” I recommend to anyone spewing blanket statements of this sort to make slight changes to their pronouns and see if the message still holds. “I must start rounding Troy up and putting him in a camp before he does it to me. Because, well, Troy’s a nice guy and a killer bass player, and he was in the Army a while and deployed with my husband. But he’s a Muslim and I just can’t trust him.” Doesn’t sound right once I replace the impersonal pronoun and it becomes my responsibility. Now, you may not personally know a Muslim, so imagination may be your fist step in this process. I wish I could compare this sort of “proactive” response to the “camps” set up for the Jews (and sundry) in Germany or the Japanese in America, since that would be instantly understood by everyone. But that isn’t exactly right because those atrocities have a slightly different flavor to them and someone could bring up a valid counter-argument. The Jews weren’t terrorists and the Japanese weren’t “relocated” because of their religion. Fair point. So how about the Protestant burnings of England during the Reformation? They were also terrorists, a threat to the State trying to bring down the Apocalypse upon the Empire. Maybe the Hugoenots are more your style? Or the Catholics? Do you remember the outcry against JFK because he was a Catholic and his presidency would open the door for the Pope to take over?
There is a lot of pressure out there to sacrifice our freedoms to gain greater safety, but I cannot, will not give up the freedom of religion. The minute we start rounding up (hear how dehumanizing that phrase is?) Americans based on their religious beliefs and not their actual criminal activity, we lose in every way. I shouldn’t have to explain this. Religious freedom means for all, not just those beliefs you like. If you don’t care for Islam for religious reasons, it isn’t your government’s job to do something. Get your Bible/Torah/Watch Tower, etc, and start evangelizing. It is their right to believe and your right to attempt conversion. It is not your right to imprison someone because an extremist thousands of miles away is committing a murderous rampage, even if that extremist is in this country. That is all I’m going to say about that.
That second statement needs some changes, too. “I have to kill them first” works better for me. But that’s not how it works, is it? No, when people say “we” in this case, they don’t intend to rush off to the recruiter the next day to join the good fight. Their “we” actually means “you.” As in, “You need to send soldiers into an knuckle-dragging game of hunt-and-peck against an enemy that doesn’t play by conventional rules of war, and can’t even be classified as one coherent enemy, while I sit at home, stroking my hunting rifle and telling my buddies about how if I was only twenty years younger, I’d give those terrorists what-for.” Sorry for the redneck stereotyping here. I did say I was angry.
They never mean “I’m going to leave my family for a pointless war we don’t know how to fight.” “I’m going to risk my life, my health, my sanity, while guys in fancy suits bicker over who has the most patriotic lapel pin.” “I’m going to come home after a frustrating struggle with no guarantee that I’ll have a job or retirement benefits because some people need to make sure their kids have sufficient trust funds.” “I have to pray that I don’t suffer injury because there’s no telling whether I’ll have health benefits to cover my medical costs when I’m no longer fit for service because the people getting those benefits are too worried about the long-term side effects of sitting on their *sses and b*tching about how the other side are a bunch of chai-drinking nancies who are too scared of war to send my friends and family to die for their personal jet and thousand-dollar shoes.”
In case you were wondering, YES, I AM PRETTY F*CKING ANGRY. While those f*ckers are out there saying we should do something, it’s us or them, why don’t they just send in the troops already, I hear something completely different. Their impersonal pronouns don’t exist for me. The troops aren’t just vague camo-dressed extras in the back of the glorious war movie. They’re my friends, my family, closer to me in many ways than my blood-relatives can ever be. If I was still in, I would still make an uproar, I’m sure, but at least I’d be there with them. I’d know they were okay, I’d share the daily frustrations and irritations and that vague worry that maybe today the IDF won’t land harmlessly in some open desert space. But I’m out and those f*cking civilians are demanding that my husband fixes this sh*t-storm when I know perfectly well that he’ll just be another anonymous cog in the war machine waiting to be forgotten just as soon as they get war-weary.
War-weary. That’s a funny term. Americans wanted out of Iraq and Afghanistan because they were war-weary. They didn’t want to do anything in Syria because they were war-weary. They want to pay ransoms to terrorists because they’re war-weary. (Note my heavy-handed use of 3rd-person pronouns. Pisses you off when people generalize, doesn’t it?) Less than a percent of the US population is in the military and yet everyone is war-weary. Tired of hearing about it in the news, tired of their hard-earned tax dollars being spent on it, tired because it just doesn’t seem to matter to their everyday lives. I think the term everyone is looking for is war-bored. You can’t get weary of something you don’t experience, don’t see the effects of each day. You can’t get weary when it isn’t you ripped from your family or your spouse is left alone with a new baby. Or when you deploy just as you start reconnecting with your 8-year-old daughter who hasn’t forgiven you for the last deployment when she was 5. When you have sat day after day, breathing toxins from burn pits, checking your boots every day for vermin, eating and sleeping and working out because you don’t have a mission and your job is to be there and then go home and shut up until the next time. When you have sat impotent while your friends went without you and you have wondered if the randomness of this conflict will take out someone you know this time, if maybe that safety you felt when you were there was just complacency and you were only lucky, after all. Come to me then and tell me of your deep-boned weariness. Maybe I’ll believe you.
I don’t know what to do about ISIS. I’m not a war strategist. I’m not even good at chess. I don’t think sending in ground troops is going to be effective at this juncture, but I’m not in a position, nor do I have the full scope of the situation, to make that decision. I just have to hope that the powers-that-be will actually take the time to develop a strategy before they start chucking soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen at this problem. It is horrific what is happening out there, yes. But this is not the time for simple solutions like “kill them before they kill us.” War is not, can never be a simple solution.
What I ask is that you, my individual readers out there, think before you make grandiose statements about this problem. If you follow my guidelines and become a liar with a simple adjustment to 1st-person pronouns, maybe you should rethink posting it on the Facebook. If the boots on the ground aren’t going to be your boots, then shut the f*ck up.