Friday, January 20, 2012
As The Cookie Crumbles: Corpses
Whenever there's some new revelation or fresh evidence of human stupidity, depravity, intolerance and/or other ugliness--especially if it's our countryfolk who appear to have committed it, there are veritable GALES of messages desperately, beseechingly wailing "Aren't we better than this?"
To even a novice student of history such as I, the answer, based on our record--which includes atrocities of varying scope and scale as far back as the colonization of the continent--obviously is "No. We are NOT "better than this," our vaunted exceptionality notwithstanding.
But NO ONE is.
This discussion became germane last week, in view of the flurry of emotion and outrage unleashed with the fotos of some Marines pissing on the corpses of Afghans they'd recently killed. The howls were as loud as they were predictable. How can we descend to "their" level, the plaintive cries demand? We're AMERICANS, they proclaim, exceptionally. We are better than that...
I want to ask, "better than what?" USer soldiers have committed far worse atrocities than merely urinating on the bodies of the fallen. Col. Chivington's Colorado militia cut the breasts off living Cheyenne women after raping and murdering their children.
More recently, nearly 60 percent of the remains of Japanese soldiers repatriated after the war from the battle zones in the Marianna Islands--Guadalcanal is one of them--were returned withOUT skulls. The war in the Pacific was fought almost entirely under the unspoken order to take no prisoners; only one in about 50 combat vets of the period report having killed prisoners, but more than 60 percent reported having witnessed it.
In Vietnam, US troops pretty routinely took ears off their kills; also, fingers. Some took penises, I've been told. We all heard about My Lai, and the massacre there. It was NOT an isolated or a unique incident, by the accounts I've heard.
You gotta understand. In war, there is no "better" way; there are no rules. And soldiers have desecrated the corpses of their fallen enemies as long there have been victorious soldiers and fallen enemy corpses to defile. Warfare REQUIRES soldiers to dehumanize their enemies. You can't get fired u enough if there is a shred of their humanity still to be considered.
Though I'm a vet, I served only on the periphery of the Vietnam war. I was never in a combat situation--"in the SHIT" as they called it... My 'evidence' is all hear-say, but the way I heard folks tell it who have been, when the guy or guys trying to kill YOU, lies dead at your feet, and you killed him instead, you wanna dance on his face, cut off his head and shit in his throat. That's how it was described to me.
It's NOT 'un-natural,' except to the extent that WAR itself is unnatrural. It's primal. Why do you think Achilles dragged poor, dead Hector around the walls of Troy? Homer wasn't just making shit up to make his poem spicier or more popular with the Greeks. He was describing a common, existential fact.
Only the names of the killers and their victims change.
What you should be upset about is that the guys doing the pissing were there doing the KILLING in the first place, and they were doing it in YOUR and OUR names. Still, after 10 years.
How can citizens demand extraordinary compassion of our soldiers when we do not extend it to our own citizens?
We are not a "civilized" nation, and will NEVER be, as long as the State encourages taking private profit from the immiseration (the imprisonment, illness, injury, disability or death) of its citizens.
When we cannot or will not take proper care of our own, will not protect the most vulnerable from the predations of profit in their darkest and weakest hours, where do we get the chutzpah to complain when OUR soldiers behave inhumanely to their adversaries corpses?
They did no more to those corpses than our own gummint does to the weakest of us, pissing on us when we're down...
[This post is my most visited, so far, on the Worldwide Hippies YouTube page. Last time I looked, there were more than 200 hits! Woohoo!]