Who doesn’t recall exactly where they were on September 11, 2001 on that brilliant, sunny day in New York City? My wife and I were at a local gym after taking our three children to school. Our children were 14, 13, and 10. Those images and the immediate barrage of news telling us that a bunch of cave dwelling, Arab terrorists did it were indelibly seared into their brains as well as hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide. Osama bin Laden’s picture was everywhere as the mastermind behind this horrendous attack on America. Hardly a soul believed at the time that it was all a hoax.
Bush II, the arrogant, ignorant cowboy and his puppet master Dick Cheney immediately declared war on terrorism.The United States responded by launching the War on Terror and invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had harbored al-Qaeda and bin Laden. Bush promised immediate justice be brought to those behind the attacks. Americans were bloodthirsty and wanted revenge.
Then, in March of 2003, my kids were 16, 15, and 12 when Bush and Cheney unleashed “Shock and Awe” on Saddam Hussein in Iraq, who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. We watched as Wolf Blitzer and CNN beat the drums of war 24/7. We watched Colin Powell lie to the world at the UN that Iraq had WMDs and held up a little vile of what was supposed to be Anthrax. They were preparing America and the world for war. They had their “Pearl Harbor” false flag.
Many of us older folks had begun to disbelieve the “official story” about 9/11, and protested in the streets against the imminent invasion of Iraq. Then, as a family, like millions of other Americans, we watched in shock and awe as unprecedented violence was unleashed on Iraq…in real time, 24/7. And who doesn’t remember the arrogant, little cowboy on a carrier deck in the Mediterranean declaring victory? Well, how long did that last?
It is now 2017 and Iraq has been completely reduced to rubble, literally bombed back to the Stone Age. Thousands of American kids gave their lives and limbs for this nefarious lie called Enduring Freedom and the War on Terror. From Iraq, America completely destroyed one of the most advanced and wealthy countries in the world: Libya. Then came Syria, all the while still fighting in Afghanistan. Untold trillions of dollars have been spent “fighting terror.”
I began this post remembering these episodes because these horrific events have shaped our children’s’ world and how they see it. Unlike those of us who remember Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Haiti and countless military incursions into dozens of other countries around the world, our kids don’t even know they took place.
Since the American war in Vietnam, the Department of War has spent billions of dollars sanitizing that war, as did Ken Burn’s recent documentary. The generals and military industrial complex would never let their failure in Vietnam happen again. Only select journalists would be allowed to observe our subsequent wars, “embedded” with carefully chosen troops. Reporting was meticulously planned and orchestrated unlike the daily, live reporting during the height of the War in Vietnam. We saw that war up close and personal in our living rooms, including the caskets returning home every night on the national news.
But, the war planners went further than just censoring and writing the news.
Since that time, violence has completely saturated our entire culture with movies, TV shows, and video games glorifying wars and the hero warriors who fight them. The War Department spends billions every year “supporting the troops” in athletic venues with gigantic flags, flyovers, uniforms colored in battle fatigues, and recognizing our many, brave veterans before and during games. Heck, Wheel of Fortune’s theme for this very week is Support the Troops with contestants all being veterans. TV recruiting commercials remind us that the military is a force for good around the world. The myths are powerful. The lies and the propaganda shape innocent minds with ease.
I am quite well known as an anti-war and peace activist. My films and blogs all expose the lies and myths about American “exceptionalism,” protecting our freedoms and spreading freedom and Democracy around the world. So, I am always asked, “How is it that two of your kids have joined the military?”
My answer is they answered the call to defend America just as their grandparents did in 1941. They believed they were being patriotic and called to put their lives on the line for our freedom, the freedom of oppressed people, and against evil tyrants. But, unlike their grandparents, these young people have spent their entire lives exposed to violence everywhere and they have been exposed to a complex and comprehensive propaganda barrage like never before.
Nobody really dies in a video game, in a movie, or on TV. They become desensitized to the reality of the killing and the destruction of war. All of us become numb and desensitized to the senseless, mass killings taking place with clocklike regularity here in America and around the world. It isn’t very hard to believe that the “War on Terror” is real, when in fact it is a total fabrication as anyone familiar with George Orwell’s prophetic vision, 1984, understands.
There are two other important factors that influence our kids to join the military. The first are the school recruitment programs in high schools and colleges….heck, they are even now in grade schools. Recruiters are even athletic coaches and counselors. The second reason goes hand in hand with the first: the military is the only job in town. Recruiters know this and promise our kids an education, health benefits, a high tech skill, the GI Bill, and a rewarding career that “let’s you be all you can be,” and “a force for good in the world.”
This is why I think our kids join and believe they are serving their country. As I have written many times before, myths are powerful and not easily shattered. Myths shape who we are and what our world is. The United States military has spent billions and billions of dollars creating those myths and has used every possible means to do it…and they have succeeded. All that’s left are disconnected splinter groups and old folks protesting war, recruitment, nuclear war, and the destruction of our planet. Nothing like the massive anti Vietnam protests of the 70’s.
Am I proud and supportive of my sons? I have always been supportive of them and their responsibility for their own life choices. I’m proud of what they have accomplished and become. But I will disagree with my dying breath what their government and generals command them to do. I also pray they return not broken, morally injured, or dead. There’s a reason why twenty-two veterans take their lives every day in this country. There’s a reason why thousands end up living on our streets and in our jails abandoned by the country that sent them to kill.
As Pete Seager memorialized in his song, Bring ’em Home, “support the troops, bring ’em home.” Even though composed during the anti-Vietnam War protests, this song has more relevance and importance today than ever. So, I support my sons and the troops and I say bring them all home NOW.