The Guardian Unlimited ran a story today about the Haditha massacre. It called the Marines who slaughtered two dozen civilians “rogues.” The bad apple defense is back.
We need a new legal precedent that disallows this defense; but then again we need to put the whole war and the system that spawned it in the dock.
We take a bunch of boys and raise them to believe that their sexuality is associated with the ability to menace in order to get respect. We sit them in front of television and films to see how killing resolves problems and guns attract adoring erotically objectified women. We send them to school to learn American Origin Myths about the glory of genocide. We encourage Boy Scouts where they can learn military discipline. We segregate them into a youth culture where gender policing kills their empathy. And when they haven’t been specially prepared by Daddy’s net worth for law school or medicine or management where they can sublimate all that aggression, we give them the option to work at Mickey-D’s or join the fucking Marine Corps — where, by the way, they will learn to fight dragons (you saw that ad, didn’t you) and wear spiffy uniforms. Then we get them in Basic Training or Boot Camp, where during bayonet training they learn to holler “Kill, kill, kill!” Or “Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow!” Instead of merti badges like they got if there were Scouts, they can earn new badges. Then we prepare them to fight a war for lies; and prepare them with intelligence briefings and cultural indoctrination that are racist drivel, delivered often as not by a Staff Sergeant with a pickled brain who watches “Cops” in his off time. When they get to the war, there really are people who are trying to shoot them (they have just set foot on these other people’s land with guns, fercrissake… what would WE do?). So they arrive with aggression trained for a lifetime, surrounded by masculnity police (their peers) to ensure when the time comes they show no mercy, then add fear and shake well. Their job is to beat down this population. They know it. The population knows it. it is apparent they are enemies, and since all of these people are hostile to the Marines, and the Marines have alreay learned to typify them with the term hajji (something one step down from a Homo sapien), and presto bingo alakazam! Race war. Then one of the ungrateful Arabs detonates a roadside bomb, killing one of these people who have been given the mission to beat down the same Arabs. He, of course, is long gone. That’s how a mechanical ambush works. Duh.
These Marines have already been — collectively — slaughtering civilians at an alarming rate, often in ones and twos, but in Fallujah they did so by the bushels, often as they lay abed or cowered in corners trying to hide.
So someone will have to explain to me why, after this mechanical ambush killed one Marine, there was something out of the ordinary enough to be categorized as “rogue” when these de-empathized, militaristic boys from an imperial society, freshly trained to holler “Kill, kill, kill!” leapt out and shot down 24 “hajjis,” male and female, all ages.
I’ll tell you what the rogue aspect of this was. Someone got the pictures. Just like Abu Ghraib. Anyone who thinks this was a single instance of the intentional killing of civilians, I have beachfront property to sell you in Odessa, Texas.
The one Marine who was killed will now be among the congealed and faceless mass of idealized war dead to be celebrated for their willingness to kill and die for the empire this weekend. There will be no day for the dead of Katrina. There is no day for those lost on The Middle Passage. There is no day for Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears. There is no day for the 9-11 of women killed each year by men in the US, mostly those who claim to love them. And there will be no day to celebrate or remember the lives of those lost at My Lai or Haditha.
This day that in yet another way confers such immense and often unearned public esteem on those who bear arms for the state is part of the reason that those boys were raised the way they were, and led inexorably to them behaving the way they did. And they were not rogues. They were us.