Friday, August 19, 2016

This Election, The Clintons, & What is Evil

There have been several enjoyable moments during this campaign season. One was the fact that a reality show star decided to come out and  take advantage of the inherent weaknesses of the process of choosing a candidate. A process which some cheerleaders of neoliberalism, such as The Economist, have continuously hailed as the best democratic show in the world. Well, they had one word right. Said reality show star came forth and out-maneuvered everyone and made it out of the primaries.

Meanwhile, we got such beauties as Bernie mocking Hillary's relationship with Kissinger and Madeleine—I think the death of 500,000 children is worth it—Albright saying that a special place in hell was reserved for women who don't help each other. Presumably, she doesn't mean darkies, or poor darkies (to include women) subject to her policies. That's fine, I'm sure that she sleeps well at night and thinks those deaths as nothing more than ants.

I, however, have been thinking about my role in all this, my time served in Iraq, and how that makes us veterans complicit [1] in continuing those actions. I just watched a short documentary on an organization, Voices in the Wilderness, [2] breaking the embargo of the 1990s and getting medicine to the Iraqi people who were under siege. 

I'm thinking back on that time because it's often overlooked today when we think about Iraq. The war and subsequent occupation of that country is talked about to this day, but the disaster before that is not. Let me put aside the policy itself and simply speak of the reactions of us citizens... because sooner or later we will have to answer to the next generation as to why we stood by so silently.

And I'm not sure why. I know I heard it all, but the air of everyone around me, back then in the roaring 90s, was that it was not an issue, or that it was Saddam's fault (I think I heard that one several times) or that this was how geo-politics was carried out. Such easy excuses always at our lips. And that, as a middle class teenager, was how I came into the world. Interesting to think that for such an evil act to happen, we as a nation merely shrugged. 

I do remember one kid in our high school who actually cared and was thus ostracized. He called the siege on Iraq, and the convenient bombing raids that Clinton carried out, what they were: murder of women and children. I think I shrugged at that, as only a teenager who was not quite used to his environment could. I also think I shamelessly spouted the official lines and the newspapers' opinion pieces verbatim. Perhaps I thought they signified my independence. Actually, I'm sure I did. 

Who knows what goes through a teenager's mind. Hard to look back at oneself and see much else but an absorptive brain working as a function of all input at home and in school. Combine that with the thought of breaking free from the bonds and it only meant that I said such unoriginal lines with the certainty of being original. 

This kid, now looking back, seems to have been the only one with moral courage. His mistake was to speak out and say something to the effect of if Clinton were standing next to him, he would not hesitate to hurt him for killing those children. Of course, the twittering classes that made up our middle class school were up in arms. Police were called in, as were the Secret Service. Of course it was nothing, but my classmates also tried to have him removed from the National Honor Society.

I was part of this idiotic organization, and I removed myself from it, not wanting to be with such clutch-my-pearls teens. Of course, I look back now and wonder why I didn't do more. Why I didn't ask more questions. Read books on the issue that caused the ruckus. 

It can only be said that I lacked moral courage. That middle class blood can cause one to obey a little too easily. But now, of course, it all seems like performance art of some other world filled with ignorant people—to include myself. To be honest, even watching the world today does.

This isn't an attempt to cry or whine. It's merely me trying to think through how to fight complacency when one's government is doing so much wrong. And the 90s is certainly an example of this.

[1] To say nothing of our role vis a vis the civilians we face once we get out, and their seemingly simplistic reactions to us. 

[2] It takes a lot of moral courage to do so, and I applaud their efforts there. Apparently a federal judge made them pay a fine for this transgression. Ah, simply another sign of our justice system with one set of laws for the powerful and another for the rest of us—especially those doing good.

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