Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Primitive Joys
of Viciousness
One of the few television programs that I watch anymore is "Saving Grace" on TNT, in which Holly Hunter plays a police detective in the Oklahoma City Police Depeartment. Her team has a ritual whenever a convict is about to be executed in State Prison; they gather at a bar with full mugs of beer, and they draw some of the beverage up into hypodermic syringes. When the television announcement comes that the execution has been finalized, they discharge streams of beer into the air while whooping in celebration.

I know people like this. Not just common citizens, but professionals including police and military personnel. People who have indeed been trained to be prepared to kill in the line of duty, a still unfortunate component of our primitive state of "civilization." That being said, their eagerness to 'kick butt, take names, crack some heads together, and put a bullet through the (add dehumanizing slur here)' disturbs me.

These are supposed to be our defenders. But their caveman joy in anticipation of conducting violence bothers me. In fact, it makes me feel vaguely threatened.

I remember when Afghanistan was identified as the state habouring those who attacked us on September 11, 2001. In particular I remember a "weather report" posted on the Net that displayed a map of Afghanistan, dotted with little mushroom clouds. The temperature today, it reported, was hot as the surface of the sun, and the extended forecast was for pain and suffering for all eternity. Obviously, the fact that there were Afghanis who were uninvolved with al-Qaeda or the Taliban was irrelevent; as the saying goes, "Kill 'em all, and let God sort 'em out."

I periodically participate in on-line discussions in groups hosted by Newsvine, which utilize news clippings as "seeds" for discussion. In a thread this week in which the posted questioned whether it had really been necessary for the Navy SEALS to kill the three Somali pirates that were holding Captain Richard Phillips, I opined:

We DO need to break the back of the pirate operations, and force will be necessary.

That being said, I am always amazed by the yahoo bloodsport self-righteous enthusiasm so many display, the "Kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out" mentality. I'm sure those of you having your military-action tailgate parties will just excuse the deaths of innocent hostages as 'unfortunate collateral damage' although I suspect their families might feel a little different about them.

Strategy counts, and wanting to minimize deaths all around does not make one a wuss (although I'm sure that those pumped up on testosterone are sure to disagree).

Despite what I consider a fairly moderate and balanced tone, I received the following response:

Let me tell you something about "collateral damage" 99.9% of the time it is caused by them, not us, damn right SEAL's are ready, willing and able, but no SEAL is blood thursty, or self righteous, and none of us want to see an innocent die, but when the dirty, get you hands bloody and be a killer jobs come, there are none better, nor more willing to step up and do what ever has to be done.

YOU do not have the right to slam bast any American service personal who are willing to lay their life on the line for another American, until YOU have been there and seen it and done it, keep your two cents to your self.

People like you only want us around when the @!$%# hits the fan, then when we do out job, and do it better than anyone else I might ad, you want to crap all over us with you bleeding heart bull @!$%#.... HOOYAH, any more trash to take out!!!!!

The fellow posted similar comments to anyone else who appeared to be temperate in their perspectives; bloodlust appears to be something some nationalistically-inclined actively celebrate as if it were a sporting event, as long as it's a win for our team. Remember "U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!" ?

Lest I be accused of being a "Blame America First" Liberal, let me note that this sort of thing appears to be part of the caveman emotional mentality that still holds sway over much of humanity. I well recall Bosnians dancing joyfully on the wreckage of an American fighter jet, Iraquis celebrating about the burned bodies of American mercenaries in Fallujah in 2004, on and on, back through the bread and circus spectacles of Roman executions... but it's 2000 years later. You would hope that we would have made more progress, but, alas...

I think that Sun Tzu got it right in "The Art of War" written around the 3rd Century B.C.E. :
When forced to fight, fight to win, but do not rejoice after winning; treat winning a war as undertaking a funeral.

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