American hypocrisy, oh let me count the ways
They came here seeking freedom and they end up owning slaves
Justified it using what Christianity would say
Religion don’t mean shit, there’s too much ego in the way
That’s why ISIS is a crisis
But in reality this country do the same shit
Take a life and call it righteous
Remember when Bin Laden got killed, supposedly
In a hotel lobby after a show
Was noticing these white ladies watching CNN
Covering the action
They read the headline and then they all started clapping
As if Lebron has just scored a basket at the buzzer
I stood there for a second watch them high five each other
For real? I though this was thou shalt not kill
But police still letting off on niggas in the Ville
Claiming that he reached for a gun
-J. Cole – High For Hours
My intuition has been telling me lately to give up electronic devices completely, to free my mind of them. The cell phone enslaves me to a physical tick, the craving, the urgent need to click the thing in my pocket all day long. The media makes more money when there is a terrorist attack. If I stop reading the newspaper and watching the news, what will happen? I will gain more clarity and become less prone to nihilistic conclusions about the state of the world. The victims in the London and Barcelona and Paris terrorist attacks won’t be any less dead because I gave it two hours of attention or made some empty gesture of sympathy to a friend. I don’t know these people, so tweeting ‘Love and Prayers to Manchester’, is about as useful as saying ‘Love and prayers to Abraham Lincoln’.
Is there any area of life that the media hasn’t turned into a commercial product to be manipulated for profit? Death of innocents? Let’s sell some articles. Terror sells. It gets clicks. Prison is big business in the U.S. A black guy getting shot in the Bronx is not news. An attractive white girl that killed herself, that sells papers. We have actually been trained by the media to value white lives over all others, I can’t speak for minority populations but psychology experiments have shown that black, Hispanic, and Asians children are capable of this white=good, white=best association.
Even the feature stories the media will do on the “heroes” in the face of terror attacks, is at its foundation, profiting from death. Leaders of news networks are parasites of human suffering. They would not have the power and influence if our society didn’t relish the feeling of being paranoid and looking at the next atrocity to distract them from their mundane lives.
“Did you hear about the London terrorist attacks? I can’t believe it.”
“People kill each other. Has there been a day where there isn’t a murder that you can find on the internet?”
Do we care about the thousands of children killed in Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of American military strikes? Nope. The media doesn’t give a shit when that happens. So don’t tell me I should suddenly care about 20 dead people in London. You can’t have it both ways, media, you can’t tell me one life has more importance than another. Just more infantilizing of the American mind by the mass media.
I am strongly and ethically opposed to war, but in terms of my hypothetical service in a war, I think the stronger overriding force is that I am scared of getting shot in the face, or the stomach, or the balls. My cowardice and fear of war significantly outweighs my supposed “moral stance” and posturing. I claim to have a strong anti-war stance but that is kept afloat by the luxury of not being put in a position to fight for my own life or my family’s survival, such as is the case with people in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq. Sons of men and women killed by American bombs are doing something logical and in line with human nature, justified, in taking up arms against the United States. Yet, according to the American government, bombing and occupation is the answer. The problem is that the creation of ISIS has reached critical mass. There is nothing stopping the imminent quest for world order that they will embark on. American weapons manufacturers have reached a comfortable cruising altitude of consistent profit for the foreseeable future. Can you remember a time when America was not occupying another country to exploit their resources or control their government in the last 100 years? I cannot.
I think now I understand soldiers need to put themselves in the line of fire, because it is the most pure expression of love and courage one can engage in. I understand why men volunteer by the thousands and millions to go risk death in the attempt to mitigate evil in this world. Because for some people, anything less than giving of 100% and giving of your very life, is just not enough. I understand this as much as I possibly can without being a person who would join the military and put my life on the line, so still, my understanding is limited.
James Foley, the American journalist cared deeply, it touched him and he felt a calling. That calling led him to return to Syria as a combat journalist after being captured and held in captivity for several months in his first trip there. His second time in captivity ended with him being beheaded with a butcher’s knife in a video released to the world via the internet. I could never understand the commitment and bravery of people like James. When he returned home to the U.S. after being captured, it wasn’t enough for him to sit on the sidelines, he needed to be doing everything in his power to help people learn about the crisis and injustices in Syria.
Another guy I think of frequently, if only because he grew up on Long Island, where I grew up, is Michael Murphy, a lieutenant Navy Seal who gave his life in Afghanistan and was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Navy’s Highest honor. I am fascinated with these men because they have something that I doubt I could ever have, but I want it. Part of it is that envy/jealousy that people feel towards pop culture celebrities, I admit that and that is vain, but I genuinely aspire to be a person like Michael. Although I feel like a complete amateur, even attempting to digest the level of his love and sacrifice. I want to be so committed and devout in my love of something or someone that I would be willing to give my life for it, but I’m not there.
Wealthy leaders send poor men to war that are literally dying to transcend physical form and fulfill what our conception of a hero is in this culture: going out in a blaze or bloody mess of glory. The last time Americans thought critically or took action regarding a war were when 18 year-olds were being sent into a meat grinder in Vietnam where one could flip a coin to accurately estimate their chance of being killed. The round-the-clock propaganda starts in kindergarten when we are forced to sing an anthem and put a hand over our hearts:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”—should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans may render the military salute in the manner provided for persons in uniform.
Sounds vaguely familiar to a genocidal dictator’s instruction in the 1940’s. Why should I stand and put my hand over my heart when all my tax dollars go towards manufacturing weapons and a quest for geopolitical world domination? I am working with a baseline level of nationalistic programming that I need to continually try to negate and regprogram. The Department of Defense pays millions of dollars a year on the massive flag presentations that cover the football field before the game. A sucker in born every minute and even (as we already have) America descends into imperialism and compulsive occupation of less powerful countries, it will always be rationalized as “America is the Greatest Country in the World.”
Blind patriotism, is always the underlying message of the advertisements on TV that do well in the Superbowl. Budweiser-(proud sponsor of wife beating NFL players and dead alcoholics worldwide) shows soldiers in their ads, oh such a compassionate company they are. Congressmen can’t survive on their government salary alone. They need the hefty sums paid by the NRA, the sugar lobby, the meat lobby, the arms manufacturers. Government is about keeping the public ignorant and the continual pounding in of the message that we are the good guys. Murder of civilians is murder, accidental or not, its negligence. Negligent homicide is what you might charge a person with a DWI (Driving while Intoxicated): he got drunk, he didn’t intend to crash and kill the three people in the other car. He is well aware of the impairment induced by alcohol. Our president and military commanders know what bombs do, they know what bombs do when in close proximity to villages and civilians, they do it anyway.
The comedian Bill Hicks proposed that instead of going on vacations, Americans could eat psilocybin mushrooms with their kids and spouses and stay home, for a trip into unity and divine love. That advice is more appropriate than ever in these days of global terror.
“How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? Now that you know who you are. What do you want to be? And have you traveled very far? Far as the eye can see.
How often have you been there? Often enough to know. What did you see when you were there? Nothing that doesn’t show.
You keep all your money in a big brown bag, inside a zoo, Baby you’re a rich man, too.
–Baby You’re a Rich Man, The Beatles
I have traveled far and wide, but what do I have to show for it? I’m not sure. I am from wealthy family, do I have nothing that doesn’t show? A hard exterior that belies nothing of an inner life?