Lying Media Bastards

February 16, 2006

We Will Fight the Heathens

I’m currently reading Kurt Vonnegut’s latest, maybe final, book, “A Man Without a Country”. It’s not good, really, (plenty of good bits, of course) just assorted rants from a grumpy, brilliant old man. He seems to have passed that point as a writer where you talk about social reality and human nature, and just mutter that the whole world is crazy.

The thing is that these mutterings are true. Vonnegut is horrified by man’s inhumanity to man and our seeming inability to notice that we’re rapidly annihilating the planet we live on. He writes our epitaph, saying “The good Earth- we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.” And he cringes at war, but he is right to. War is insane! War is the exact opposite of life; we spend our lives trying to build friendships and families and homes and happiness. War is about tearing all those things to bits, murdering loved ones, vaporizing relationships, demolishing homes.

(A crazy guy on a bus once told me that “war is the opposite of music”. I think he might be right, too)

But somehow, we let ourselves get spun around so badly that this suicide seems reasonable. Death gets hair extensions and a boob job and we take it to the prom. We ought to know better. We do know better. We all know that war is one of the worst things imaginable. Maybe we ought to try to cut down a little then.

Which has got me thinking. It’s looking like the Iraq war, when it’s all said and done, might end up costing about $2 trillion. What if that kind of money was used to try to prevent war instead of wage it? (yes, I’m well aware that the US government had no interest in averting war) What if that money was spent to remind people how utterly horrific war was so that no one would want it? Wave after wave of blockbuster films about it, Will Smith grieving over the bomb-mangled Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks killed in a hail of bullets, Jennifer Anniston and Rene Russo crying over the twisted frames of their maimed husbands and sons. Better living through pathos.

I’ll end with Vonnegut, quoting a then-pacifist Abraham Lincoln bashing the war president of the time (James K. Polk, during the Mexican-American war):

Trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory– that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood, that serpent’s eye that charms to destroy– he plunged into war.

Maybe we should set all politicians to poetry like that. Sure, most of their works would suck, but I’d rather live in a world of shitty poets than one filled with skilled warmongers. Sadly, I get both (but I’d settle for neither).

Posted by Jake on February 16, 2006 12:30 am

3 Comments »

  1. Was the guy on the bus really crazy? Was the basis of your assessment this statement?

    I remember hearing that there are 12 million Iraqis (maybe this is wrong, but I’m lazy enough not to check. But anyway, maybe the US regime should just have split the money amongst them and given them a year to get out, then the US would own Iraq, and all the Iraqis would be living it up on the French Rivieria and it would have all been over a coupls of years ago. 2 Trill / 12 million people = 160 grand each. I think I’d piss off to another country if my wife, my two kids and I all got $160k, especially if the alternative was getting totally fucked over (am I allowed to swear?).

    Comment by Nic — February 16, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

  2. Vonnegut has always made me feel. He’s made me laugh and cry. I haven’t read his latest book, but I want to very badly. I’ve walked a life on a different path from his in shoes very similar. I understand his motives and the way he feels. And so it goes.

    I’m going to reference your blog on my journal sometime in the future. You’ve made me cry. The man on the bus wasn’t crazy. He just knew the futility of it all and stepped off the path. There is no abnormal pathos in that.

    Comment by tik2roo — February 17, 2006 @ 4:59 am

  3. slaughterhouse five did it for me. just the fact that we leveled dresden when it wasnt even necessary. but then…the same thing happened in japan.

    it seems to go on and on. the stories are the same, over and over. lately ive been reading about latin america…chile, argentina, peru. dictators, colonial legacies, coup’s left and right. and the stories in latin america sound so much like iraq, with saddam-esque leaders who help power by military rule…same thing in nicaragua, guatemala, and others. the worst part of the story is hearing about how the US supported, or at least accepted, the rule of the likes of pinochet in chile, somoza in nicaragua. and then we wonder why radical, violent revolutions occur.

    and one of the major issues that the US has continually had in latin america is with leaders who tried to give land back to the people that actually lived in the country (as opposed to entities like United Fruit, for example). dont get in the way of business and the expropriation of resources.

    sickening. iraq is the same thing. the official line is that we’re there to promote democracy, and to save the iraqi people. and we all know that the line has changed over time, but many americans buy it and feel that the mission is just, right, noble, good.

    but really, its all about stabilizing access to resouces, so that we can all keep going into wall-mart and buying cheap socks and shit like that.

    fuck.

    Comment by ryan anderson — February 17, 2006 @ 11:23 am

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