Praise for the glories of war and the futility of peace.
November 11, 2014 2:28 AM   Subscribe

"Here's to words like courage, sacrifice, discipline, glory, maimed, dead. Here's to war." Joe Frank on war.

(excerpted from the 1990 show entitled "I'm Not Crazy")

Happy Veteran's Day.
posted by dancestoblue (31 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks for the post, dancestoblue. I'd kind of forgotten about Joe Frank these past years, though I used to listen to him every chance I got, on NYC radio in the 80s and 90s. Love him.

And I think nations should start declaring peace on one another. Excellent idea, Joe!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:24 AM on November 11, 2014


Here's to the brave men and women who had a chance to kill people, and decided to go a different way. Here's to the negotiators, the conciliators, the bringers of peace. Here's to the people who looked Death in the eye and said "An Eye for an Eye" isn't worth looking at. Here's to compassion, to beauty, to the overwhelming hope that all people can live in a world where all people help one another, to a world where being the best at being human triumphs over any thought of cutting down others who strive for a better life. Here's to a future life, a possible future, where wars are relegated to a forgotten history of childish games, where the limitless creativity of human imagination can flourish, to a future where every morning brings the comfort of conviviality with all living beings.

Happy Veteran's Day. Please no more.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:31 AM on November 11, 2014 [21 favorites]


It is possible to use Veterans Day as an opportunity to say "thank you for your service" without glorifying war. Military personnel serve in wartime and in peacetime and serve a very wide range of functions outside of combat. 80 percent of the jobs in the military are non-combat occupations. 40% of personnel never deploy. Do you like bridges, canals, hydro power, and UN Peacekeepers? Thank a vet!
posted by DarlingBri at 4:50 AM on November 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


The US currently has 1,400,000 frontline troops available and a reserve of 850,000. It has approaching 40 troops on UN peacekeeping duty and another 80 or so people on policing linked to UN peacekeeping.
posted by biffa at 5:30 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is also possible to be tired of the near ubiquitous military fawning that has sprung up. Why exactly do we need a day to thank people who are paid to build bridges, canals and hydro power (perhaps we should)? Do we need to thank bookkeepers and supply clerks? This is not to disrespect all of those people, and if one truly does something heroic there is nothing wrong and everything right with acknowledging that, but to constantly have your face smashed against the reality of support-the-troops is getting oppressive. We don't have a day to thank teaches, or nurses or firefighters or construction workers or disability advocates or.... but give a bunch of government workers a snappy uniform and wrap it in a warrior mythos and OMG THANK YOU!
Do the job, get paid, do something else with your life when done. Like everyone else in life.
posted by edgeways at 5:44 AM on November 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


Last night my sons were asking me about Veteran's Day. (Their uncle was a Marine and on Sunday was telling us about his speech to the students at the school where he works.)

I said that I was proud of the people who sign up to serve, but I wish that they didn't have to. Soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen (and -women) are brave to be willing to go where they are ordered. Heck, the Coast Guard gets some of the worst jobs ad the least public respect!

I would be proud of them if they sign up, but very worried. It's a hard thing.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:51 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was in from '87 to '93 (Iowa National Guard). I used the regular army as my summer job, and took about every "school" they would let me (NBC, PLDC, etc.).

When the first Gulf War came around I realized they might want me to go shoot someone and this idea vexed me. Then, I can to the realization that they might also put me in a situation where I would be around people that wanted to shoot me. I liked this idea even less, so I got out.

I was good at it, but it was a poor fit. If I had it to do over again I wouldn't.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:04 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


...a world where being the best at being human triumphs over any thought of cutting down others who strive for a better life.

Sadly, the real task may be transcending being human.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:07 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I disagree with the notion that there is nearly universal fawning of the military in the United States. The suggestion that veterans get more than lip service is untrue. There are politicians who will fake it, expansive with patriotism while cutting veteran's benefits. Even after "The Good War," World War II, those in the military came home to find jobs and lovers were not waiting for them and that the hero parades vanished overnight. The soldier who learned to kill and Rosie the Riveter discovered their skills were no longer needed and nobody wanted to talk about the experience. In this void we mythologized the soldier in unrealistic war films. (I don't imagine you could make a realistic war film, short of having one that is a year-long.)

Serving in the military is a hazardous task, not just because of the possibility of death or being wounded. It takes a part of a person's soul. No one should be asked to kill another person. If a soldier can't reconcile to the killing, a piece of the soul is lost. If the soldier can reconcile, a different piece is lost. Being a soldier puts one mental facilities in jeopardy as can be seen by those who return and don't adjust well. It rips the face off of the hypocrisy of the world, of the American dream, along with presenting the dissonant notions of war and heroism.

That is a high price to pay. I don't believe our recent war efforts have made America safer, but I don't lay that blame on the soldiers. Regardless of their reasons for joining, they are asked to pay a price more severe than most can imagine. And that deserves respect.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:15 AM on November 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


As a veteran, I found Veterans Day to be more about acknowledging the uniformed services to the state and the reminder that governments require not only the consent of the people, but the labor of the people, too. In my mind, it's less about celebrating Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen in active operations, but rather the thoughtful eye and appreciation of those who are not, who are veterans, either because they are no longer part of that active operation or because they are retired or separated.

Why do we do this for them and not for others? Well, in a self-serving way, the federal government wants to remember those that gave their labor (and sometimes lives) for its existence. While a "Civilian Government Employee Day" would probably go over like a lead balloon because of how villainized government employees are, I wish we could do systematic appreciation for all those that do so. Unfortunately, as a government employee now, I don't wear a uniform, I don't outwardly show where I go that not only do I work for the government, I stand as a representation of the government. The uniform is an important aspect and symbol of the veterans' service. I'm sure that if we had all school teachers in uniforms or had some sort of item of wear (please, no apples), that it would allow the profession to be see as a symbolic unity between the past and present in ways that it is not. It doesn't help that teachers are employed by thousands of different municipalities.

I do receive a free Chili's entree today because of my veterans status. However, as a public school teacher, I once got a free ice cream social with movies that was really fun. So, in either case, thank you.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:24 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


> I don't believe our recent war efforts have made America safer, but I don't lay that blame on the soldiers.

We have a 100% volunteer army. You cannot whitewash away the moral consequence of people's personal decisions.

As a comedian of my acquaintance says, "Being against the war but supporting the troops is like being against vehicular homicide but supporting drunk drivers."

If you are recruited to go off and kill people, or to help others kill people, it is your responsibility to make sure that those people do, indeed, deserve to be killed.

You could equally say, "I don't believe that the Mafia makes our neighborhood safer, but you can't blame their foot soldiers."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:46 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


We have a 100% volunteer army. You cannot whitewash away the moral consequence of people's personal decisions.

If you had the wherewithal to look beyond your community and family influences to see the grand political truths that made a particular war unjustified at the age of eighteen, then I applaud you.

In your friends analogy, the politicians are the drunk drivers. The troops are tied to the bumpers.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:27 AM on November 11, 2014 [3 favorites]




As the son of a retired Navy guy, I have no problem separating the soldier/airman/sailor/Marine from the actual act of going to war. People make choices to join the Armed Forces for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with patriotism or wanting to kill. I was a hairs breath away from signing a contract to join the USMC until my parents intervened. I want to wish every man and woman who put on the uniform a happy Veterans day!
posted by RedShrek at 8:42 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


As a comedian of my acquaintance says, "Being against the war but supporting the troops is like being against vehicular homicide but supporting drunk drivers."

"I'm against tax loopholes for the rich, but I'm supporting IRS workers."
"I'm against the bans on same-sex marriage, but I'm supporting courthouse clerks."
"I'm against the privacy violations of Google and Yahoo, but I'm supporting tech workers."

All of these differ from your given example more as a matter of degree than of kind. We usually do not hold the workers in an organization liable for an organization's faults unless they hold a high position within it. They, of course, are responsible for their direct actions.

However, if you are holding the individual volunteers responsible for participating in the armed forces of the federal government, then I am your enemy, lupus_yonderboy, I and many like me. You are not mine, but if you consider me immoral for my participation, then I certainly must be yours. I'm willing to take that.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:48 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "I'm against tax loopholes for the rich, but I'm supporting IRS workers."
> "I'm against the bans on same-sex marriage, but I'm supporting courthouse clerks."
> "I'm against the privacy violations of Google and Yahoo, but I'm supporting tech workers."

If you buy that argument, then you should be fine with "I'm against the Mafia, but I support their foot soldiers", right?

> All of these differ from your given example more as a matter of degree than of kind.

"Degree" is the difference between a pat on the shoulder, a punch in the chops and a bullet in the head.

There's a huge difference between being spied on by Google, and being killed by the US military.

I'm very much a privacy advocate, but to compare Google's spying or laws against same sex marriage to the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq (not to mention the wholesale destruction of their infrastructure and the trillion or two dollars from the Treasury) is pretty breathtaking.

Google, the IRS and the courts have many roles, most of which are actually beneficial to us as a whole. There are plenty of bad laws, but you'd have to be crazy to say, "We should shut down 90% of the court system".

Compare and contrast to the US "Defense" system - an incredibly large project aimed almost entirely at running foreign wars of choice resulting in huge numbers of deaths and even huger costs.

> However, if you are holding the individual volunteers responsible for participating in the armed forces of the federal government, then I am your enemy, lupus_yonderboy, I and many like me. You are not mine, but if you consider me immoral for my participation, then I certainly must be yours. I'm willing to take that.

I am holding you responsible for your choices and actions. No, I do not believe you get to whitewash the consequences of your own choices and actions on your superiors or the system. Why do you think that is reasonable?

If that makes me "your enemy" (your words), then so be it.

I have many friends who are veterans, and a few combat veterans, but all of them take responsibility for their actions - and all essentially agree that the US military is a great machine for transferring money to the 0.01% on the pretext of killing others, and a machine that needs urgently to be stopped.

Eisenhower said:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
and if you are participating in that, or encourage other to do so, you are part of the problem.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:22 AM on November 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


The gungest-ho kid from my high school JROTC unit joined the Army as soon as he graduated. He returned less than two years later to talk to us about his involvement -- just a few months previous -- in Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama to grab Manuel Noriega in December 1989.

He went from a swaggering blowhard teen to a visibly troubled man. And none of us who had thought him kind of a dick when he was a student would begrudge him whatever help he need to find peace because no one needs that kind of shit.

"Hate the sin, not the sinner" maps pretty well to "support the troops, if not the war" for me.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:23 AM on November 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy, you're not my enemy as I've already said, though I'm fine with being yours and by being "part of the problem". No one embraces "whitewashing" because whitewashing by it's very definition is removing proper accountability and history from a problem, which, of course, I don't believe that I'm doing. My points were about perspective for something as large as participation in the federal service and how it coincides with the individual conscience. I think I've assigned the appropriate amount of responsibility and accountability to my and others' actions, though you're welcome to feel differently.

As said, I may be your enemy, but you will never be mine.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:33 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I disagree with the notion that there is nearly universal fawning of the military in the United States.

Well, ok, perhaps not universal. just on nearly air flight, national baseball game, every politician's lips, two federal holidays, the linking of patriotism to almost exclusively military service, the militarization of domestic police service the MIA/POW cult, war memorials in every city and town of the country, the effing sheer size of our budget that gets set aside for military use ( 1/2 Trillion dollars so far this year), laws written specifically to protect their second job. Yeah, ok not universal. but certainly baked in to a degree we see with no other profession. I want us to celebrate those that empower, enlighten, heal, educate, and make the world a tangible better place.
What we have now is not a defensive military, by and large it does little to protect us except perhaps by existing, and that is a debatable point on itself. It is an offensive facing military. We project our force overseas. And it is a tool to be grown and used by politicians for economic or policy reasons.

I concede wholeheartedly that sometimes, many times, the US military is used for humanitarian reasons, and I would argue that assistance is the brightest and best use we could possible imagine.

Militarily and that is the primary focus of the military after all, yes, it is hazardous for many. I think many/all would acknowledge that. But you do chose to do it, and not always for love of country.
Regardless of their reasons for joining, they are asked to pay a price more severe than most can imagine. And that deserves respect.
I think that deserves a measure of sadness and pity. If those who join end up paying an ultimate price they where unprepared for, if you join when 18, and as some have implied you do not do so with clear eyes, it is not something to encourage and glorify. but we do. As I mentioned elsewhere we separate ourselves into The Protected and The Protectors. And I believe we have conceded too much of our protection to a warrior caste made up of folks with glory in the heads. I think I would support something like a mandatory National Defense Force, or a National Service organization, you serve for four years you get four years of college education or the equivalent in cash. something that de-empathizes the warrior/ protector/elite split that has arisen.

Yeah, also as to the benefits/health care and all the post service care that should happen. Absolutely. Then again, I think all citizens should receive the same.
posted by edgeways at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


As I was told by the owner of a small country hotel in the Scottish Highlands 8 days after 9/11. I am amazed, and disappointed, how quickly the young in Britain forget that if it were not for America they would be living in Germany now. Global denunciations--global praise--glorification of soldiers or aspersions and denigration--all or nothing--really has no place in reasoned discussions about war and soldiers. I was born before WWII and I think I do understand the difference between those wars which needed to be fought and those that we chose to fight or created for out of greed, ineptitude, ideology or who knows why.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:36 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


oh and apropos of nothing else being talking about here I just watched Galaxy Quest the other week... did you all know Joe Frank was the voice of the computer in that movie?
posted by edgeways at 9:42 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is also possible to be tired of the near ubiquitous military fawning that has sprung up.

"near ubiquitous" has not been my experience at all. Most people I see throughout the day don't give one moment's thought that there are so many men and women serving at home and abroad. They aren't talking about it. They aren't saying "thank you for your service" to vets that come into our facility. The only time they think about it is if they happen to see a news story about a flag-covered coffin. Go ask a veteran "Do you feel fawned over?" I sure don't.

but to constantly have your face smashed against the reality of support-the-troops is getting oppressive

Anything that reminds the general public that there are still men and women getting killed abroad is valuable. I think most people need to have their "face smashed against the reality".

lupus_yonderboy, are you saying you honestly think it is realistic to not have a military at all? Would I love to live in a world that don't require military? Do all veterans wish this? Of course. But that is not our world.

So yes, I am grateful for their service. Grateful for the service and sacrifice of those who went before me. And I am grateful that there are still people who are willing to join, try to do a hard job they best way they can, and then forever bear that burden.
posted by Beti at 10:03 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


such lucky men
posted by j_curiouser at 10:13 AM on November 11, 2014


but I don't lay that blame on the soldiers. Regardless of their reasons for joining, they are asked to pay a price more severe than most can imagine. And that deserves respect.

"asked" is the wrong word here and, to my mind, plays to propaganda. Soldiers are ordered to do what they do and yeah, I'm pretty sure that the vast majority have no idea how severe the price is they will have to pay should they see actual combat.

As for deserving respect, I honestly don't know where to go with that. My dad was WW2 veteran, saw a pile of action as a very young man, and though he came out of it unscathed physically, carried emotional scars for the rest of his life. And so, of course, I respect what he did, and always have. And yeah, in less than an hour I'll be shutting up for two minutes and meditating on it all.

But one thing that won't stop haunting me is that the more we respect the sacrifice of the common soldier, the more we guarantee that young men and women will continue to volunteer and thus make such sacrifices. And yeah, sometimes these are necessary sacrifices, but lately, from a North American perspective, I'm just not seeing much of this necessity.

Which gets back to my dad. He always quietly observed the Nov-11th stuff, wore his poppy, went to a gathering, bowed his head in silence. But he also NEVER uttered a word that could be construed as encouraging war. Because he knew from experience (and indeed told me as much) that war was the very worst thing that human beings do.
posted by philip-random at 10:17 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


By the way, I believe the greatest way to respect a veteran is to not get into another stupid war.

When I was kid, (let's say eight years old so give me a break) I asked my father, a veteran, whether he killed anyone (because I thought that would be cool). He said he fired his machine gun at enemy soldiers but didn't know whether he killed anyone, and certainly hoped that he didn't.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


They aren't saying "thank you for your service" to vets that come into our facility. The only time they think about it is if they happen to see a news story about a flag-covered coffin. Go ask a veteran "Do you feel fawned over?" I sure don't.

I think that gets to the heart of the conflict. Any public figure or visible organization that wants to participate in mainstream social or political discourse never misses an opportunity to thank a veteran for their service as long as there's a reporter or microphone in the room. Politicians are of course the most obvious about this. And yet there's no sincere discussion of fixing the VA or ending our futile foreign aggression. They are not really interested in helping veterans; they just want to be seen supporting the military. It's 99% jingoistic patriotism.

Seeing people post pictures on Facebook of their relatives in Vietnam with the caption "Happy Veterans Day!" just confuses me. These were boys, not men, forced to fight and risk their lives for literally nothing. How about No-More-Vererans Day? Or I'm-So-Sorry-And-I-Will-Work-To-Erradicate-Bloodlust-And Xenophobia Day.

It's not about supporting the troops or the war. It's about allowing people to victimize young people for political ends and then leverage that victimization for social clout. Calling these people out – and calling out the pattern itself, as well as the society that supports it – is the only thing I can think of that could genuinely honor our veterans.

I'm not going to thank you for your service. I'm going to apologize.

I'm sorry.
posted by WCWedin at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I do agree that some of the benefits of military service should be extended to all government services. Luckily, with my federal job, I do get some of the benefits accorded with the military, if not the universal respect (well, universal in certain areas). For specific points, I don't think many veterans actually like GBA during the 7th inning, being clapped aboard a flight when in uniform, or being told "thank you for your service". Many vets (both others and me) feel uncomfortable with these types of responses. If anything, if you really want to use words to make a vet feel appreciated (and not actions like overhauling the VA), ask them what they did in the service or how they are doing or anything where it's more about them talking than you pronouncing. The same point goes for huge military expenditures and militarization of police: veterans are just as likely to be doves as hawks, and some of the fiercest critics of the police response in Ferguson came from veteran circles. Although they are certainly used as a prop, they don't tend to be implementers of those policies.

I think the two federal holidays serve their purpose, even if people only use them for barbecuing now. Memorial Day arose out of the most destructive internal conflict this nation has ever known, and whose effects still stretch to the modern day. It's a day to realize that our country—or really any country—can only exist when people are willing to make it exist, and that sometimes the only way that we can do that is to remember their lives and deaths. Veterans Day is a little more pedestrian, reminding us that those that served are among everyone else, that they may be well adjusted or carry terrible scars, but that the US Military must always be one that civilians enter into, and conversely, that at the end of the day, the serviceman or woman must once again become a civilian. In fact, if we owe a veteran anything, it's that we should make that transition and existence as smooth as it can be. Anyway, veteran memorials are nice. They remind us that the past was real and that when a whole lot of people went away and less came back that something happened that's worth knowing. I like them, as they usually are solemn, thoughtful locations to be at.

The provisions in federal law as far as employment goes is super important for the reserves. I don't think people could be both a reservist or a [insert blank] if they knew at any moment of activation, they could lose that second career. In addition, I think the reservist is a vital part of the citizen-soldier (or whatever), which helps prevent the fragmentation of society into Protector and Protected. I'm no fan of praetorianism, and I think reserve service helps diminish it.

Really, I guess, is to realize that as a uniformed service member, they act as stand-in for a variety of things, but in the end, they're just people. The job they do is both the same and different as any other. I don't think the idea of distinction they get is bad, but I also think that distinction also should apply to all those that support a civil society like mail carriers, teachers, court clerks, etc. I would rather extend the distinctive benefits to many than cut them for the few.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:41 AM on November 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


As I'm reading some of the comments here, I'm wondering if it's possible that anyone who listened to Frank go on that diatribe could think that he was being anything other than darkly, even blackly sarcastic, that the entire bit is a sarcasm. War is humanity at its very worst, at its most perverse, war lies in a soul sickness in humanity, in fact it often creates it. War serves the worst, most disgusting scum in a society as they fuck over the vulnerable who believe their lies, who then go off to kill those people -- generally brown people, in my lifetime, or Asian -- who stand in the way of their obscene profiteering. And that whole bit is Frank telling us the dark underbelly of it.

Here is Frank, writing for July 4th 2013, posted on his website (apparently also on his facebook page):
On this July 4th, let us celebrate American businessmen and financiers, transcendentally and obscenely rich, enjoying the fruits of their inexhaustible and unassailable wealth, with their private jets and oceangoing yachts and lavish homes and art collections; some with ill-gotten gains, having left companies bankrupt, thousands of employees cut loose with the loss of medical and retirement plans.

One can’t help wondering how these men will be celebrating this Independence Day evening, what fine restaurants they’ll be dining in, and what delicious and exquisitely-prepared foods and rarest of wines they’ll be savoring, and what enormous limousines will be transporting them from one exclusive function to the next, and what performances or plays or operas they’ll be attending at the Lincoln or the Kennedy Centers, and what galleries will be kept open privately in the after hours for them alone, and what spacious and luxurious bedrooms they’ll be reclining in.

These men, many of whom have never faced physical danger in their lives, yet have felt sanguine about sending other men into battle to protect their privilege, their security, the status quo, which favors them.


Joe Frank is not blind, and he is not stupid, he is wide awake, and tells what he sees.

~~~~~

Serving in the military is a hazardous task, not just because of the possibility of death or being wounded. It takes a part of a person's soul. No one should be asked to kill another person. If a soldier can't reconcile to the killing, a piece of the soul is lost. If the soldier can reconcile, a different piece is lost. Being a soldier puts one mental facilities in jeopardy as can be seen by those who return and don't adjust well. It rips the face off of the hypocrisy of the world, of the American dream, along with presenting the dissonant notions of war and heroism.

That is a high price to pay. I don't believe our recent war efforts have made America safer, but I don't lay that blame on the soldiers. Regardless of their reasons for joining, they are asked to pay a price more severe than most can imagine. And that deserves respect.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:15 AM on November 11


Karl Marlantes writes brilliantly about this in "What It Is Like to Go to War." Anyone who considers any of this owes it to themselves -- and to those that are sent off to kill and to die -- anyone who considers any of this seriously owes it to themselves to read Marlantes. (Marlantes interviewed by Bill Moyers, linked here.) (Here are 13 quotes excerpted from "What It Is Like To Go To War" found on goodreads.com)

~~~~~~

It's purely luck that I didn't join the Marines; if you could get a parent to sign you could join the day you turned 17 and my parents were not wildly sophisticated, probably would have signed, the Marines looked so manly and tough and cool to a poorly educated blue-collar fool kid such that I was; if I had joined then and had I served under fire, it would likely not have been in Vietnam but rather in the uncalled wars across the borders of Vietnam. No telling who I'd have turned out to be, the Marines really do turn people around, and I sure could have used some turning around, but they don't turn people around so that they can go and build bridges or parks, they turn them around so that they will willingly and capably kill whoever falls into their rifle sights before getting killed themselves.

What do I tell anyone now, anyone who has even a shred of interest in the death machine? I tell them flat out that they are signing into a death machine, that a clerk in a death machine still serves a death machine, and while it might look like he/she just has copy toner on their hands that's not the case; there's blood on them, also. I tell them who the death machine serves and how it serves them, and why. I suggest they read Catch 22. I suggest they read it again. I suggest -- strongly -- that they real All Quiet On The Western Front. I suggest they read Dalton Trumbo, that they read Johnny Got His Gun. I tell them straight-up that war is human nature, but it is a piece of human nature* that can be easily sidestepped if they are willing to use their intellect when the masters of war get their talking heads talking their lies.
*When thinking of human frailties, I pretty much always see in my minds eye Katherine Hepburn, her head up, her eyes sharp, telling Bogart, as he snivels on The African Queen that his drinking and other stupidities are human nature, I just always see her telling him "Human nature is what we are here to rise above."

~~~~~

I do thank people who have served in the military; I know that they had no idea what they were signing up for and who they were signing up to actually serve. I will never forget the look on the face of an electrician foreman after I thanked him for his service in Vietnam; no one else had ever thanked him. Not one person. It stopped him in his tracks. He was a good guy, he ran the electricians, I was running the carpenters, we were building a commercial strip center in southwest Houston, a bunch of storefronts anchored by a large grocery store, I'm guessing 1983. He'd been a sergeant and he'd led men in combat, I often wondered if that's where he got his skills in running the guys on his crew -- they respected him totally, he never was a jerk because he never needed to be. And he got on real well with the rest of the trades, too, it was a pleasure to work with him. Great leader. Anyways, I thanked him and I've thanked others, even if they're still caught up in some gung-ho bullshit, I still see them deserving of my thanks. They've got that gung-ho thing from what they went through, and if they're holding onto it I mostly think it's to protect themselves from thinking about wtf really went down.

I also thank cops, even if/when they're giving me a ticket, and I thank them regardless that so many have been treated like shit by cops, and I have been treated like shit by cops; it's real easy for me to remember that scared, punk-ass, cock-bite Barney Fife motherfucker screaming at me, his Glock in my face, then locking my wrists behind my back and shoving me hard into the back of a squad because someone had called in a white pickup truck on a possible jobsite theft in that part of Austin. I hope that little prick dies of cancer and does it slowly, but I still thank cops when I run into them -- they do serve, they see sides of humanity most citizens can scarcely imagine and they see it every day.

~~~~~

If you don't know anything about Joe Frank, you should change that. There's no one else like him, he's creative as hell, often dark, often bizarre, always intelligent, a remarkable lunacy. Great fun. There are excerpts from various shows of his over the years, streamed free, a few off of of PRI, some off of his site. Off PRI is Palestinian Dreaming (3 religions, 3 dreams), two pieces 1 2 on Time (excerpted from the show Time's Arrow). There is a page on Frank's site with freely streaming segments; all of the following are interesting, or funny, or nuts, or all of those: My Date with Arianna Huffington; Ascent to K-2; Existential Journey; I Have Seen God; From Someone Who Cares; Island Solitude; Odd Jobs; Bliss; Telephone Prayer. Telephone Prayer is very popular, totally ludicrous, probably believable. Favorites of mine are Odd Jobs, Bliss, Ascent to K-2; I Have Seen God also lots of fun.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Here is the page on Joe Frank's site with the streaming excerpts I referenced above.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:42 AM on November 11, 2014


from that Marlantes Goodreads link above ...

“Cynicism is no more mature than naïveté. You're no more mature, just more burned.”
― Karl Marlantes, What It is Like to Go to War
posted by philip-random at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have two children, one pursuing an academic career in science and one pursuing a military career. I am immensely proud of both for being thoughtful, engaged people trying to make a positive impact on the world.

Observing my son and his friends, I am continually impressed by their dedication to performing as well as humanly possible, no matter what the challenge. I have also been impressed by the tremendous institutional commitment to personal honor and ethical behavior. Given the gravity of the choices they may make in the future, they are trained to never compromise their own ideals nor to tolerate compromise among anyone else, even their best friends. It is no accident that much of the opposition to torture and legal shenanigans of previous administrations has arisen from members of the military.

There is a great deal that I find admirable in my son's ethics and his chosen career.

It is also important to remember that people in the military are not victims or some group of alien creatures. They are people. Often with opinions different than mine, but worthy of respect and worth debating the appropriate course for the nation to follow.
posted by TheProudAardvark at 5:10 PM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


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