Classic set-up emotionalism so typical of Oprah, and American television in general.
Somewhere in between watching emotional scenes of reunions, children hanging onto fathers and mothers who have been away, and loving embraces between loved ones, I felt a certain resentment.
My resentment was first directed at Oprah. I thought "damn why is she making a nationalistic statement about troops and their families?"
Well I knew the answer almost immediately. It sells. And Oprah is a salesperson first. She is playing to the glossed-over majority mindset in America that mostly excuses the troops from their vicious role. The "I Support our Troops" and their families so bring them home from that war 'over there' mentality is profitable in these terms.
The troops in this sense are not held responsible for their actions. They are rather seen as victims of what is now an unpopular war. If there is brutality to be recognized, well then the excuse is that they are merely carrying out orders.
It is here that my greater sense of resentment was directed. I could barely watch the service men and women embrace their families without thinking about the mass terror and murders their voluntary service has enabled.
Brown, Black, and white troops. Poor and patriotic. I needed to be careful about throwing all these into one bucket of resentment. But I found myself not caring anyway.
Who speaks for the suffering of Iraqi's and Afghans? The senseless murder of innocents. The rape and prostitution forced on a people in the name of democracy.
Well not Oprah, of course. Not one word was spoken, not one tear was shed, for the millions who cannot reunite with their families or loved ones on Oprah's stage.
The humanity of the slaughtered was ignored. Erased. The troops are heroes. Oprah said so. And every dumb f*ck who proclaims this evil war in the name of democracy while holding a sign or a one dimensional piece of cloth s/he is supposedly willing to die for.
Iraqis and Afghans will remain nameless. And Oprah, the richest woman in the world, and the most liked Black woman ever, is selling that brutality. She is part of the empire that cares more about its self-involved navel than about the lives it destroys and snuffs out daily.
And so when I hear some around me talk about the troops as if they are just a benign extension of the evil mongers in DC, I am more than just skeptical. I am downright resentful.
They are not benign. They are not my person of the year. Any year.
For this reason I want to post the following paragraphs written by Phil Rockstroh on "the troops" for us to chew on. He says more than I can, better than I can, and he is an American.
" ... this puerile glorification of American servicemen and women is a view of human nature that is every bit as naive as the hash-pipe dreams of Sixties idealists involving peace, love and flower power — and one that can’t be blamed on a communal use of L.S.D. Excuse me, but why should the military establishment and its foot soldiers hold a position of being beyond scrutiny or even reproach? The last I looked, “our troops” were being used as mindless instruments of our country’s imperialist aggression. Moreover, the perpetually pimp-slapped and habitually on-their-knees before Bush’s macho-narcissistic bluster congressional Democrats, who gained a legislative majority on the strength of the anti-war vote, are up to their lickspittle lips in the legalized mass murder being perpetrated in the name of our nation. It is time to see through and reject the right-wing propaganda and liberal paternalism of viewing the soldiers of the US military as victims … Oh cry me a river of Iraqi blood … When the truth is: We are a nation of people possessed of Bronze Age minds, who are armed with 21st Century weapons. Ergo, our soldiers are the delivery system of said weaponry.I am aware that some soldiers have chosen not to be instruments of this imperial war on the innocents. How many others refused to enlist out of principle we will never know. My wish is that there were more. Thousands more. Humans who would stand for the dignity of humanity and the sacredness of life.
This is the reason the American military machine exists on such a massive scale: Our leaders wish to establish, by force, if necessary, global hegemony. Accordingly, what do platitudes such as, “I support the troops” translate to when those troops are engaged in an illegal and immoral occupation of a foreign land, invaded under false pretenses? Where is the line to be drawn between having empathy for an army comprised to a large degree of economic conscripts and giving tacit approval to the war crimes they commit? Since the enacting of the Nuremberg Laws, the claim of “I was only following orders” has been ruled an inadmissible defense. Shouldn’t the plea of “I couldn’t get a good job after high school, so I joined the military, was shipped off to Iraq, where I grew so scared, frustrated and angry that every once in a while, I lit-up a few Haji civilians with my M16, turning them into twitching jellyfish” be regarded as equally inadmissible?
To bestow unquestioning and unilateral support for the soldiers of a ruthless empire’s immoral invasion of a sovereign nation is a recipe for war crimes and atrocities. Soldiers represent a cross-section of a nation’s population, evincing a mix of human traits and characteristics, some admirable and worthy of support and others reprehensible and deserving of condemnation and contempt. Accordingly, many soldiers are not heroes and all heroes need not be soldiers. Resistance and the refusal to fight immoral wars constitutes bravery as well."
I expect that some will be offended by my audacity here. There may even be the usual "go live in your own country" directive. After 23 plus years of living in America, occupied as it is, I have heard and seen it all.
But I won't bow. Ever.
I will never support the murdering machine that is the US military and all its government appendages. This includes the troops and their sympathizers.
I do so as a Muslim who upholds the principle of universal humanity. A Muslim who will not reduce my religion, and my political principles, to appear moderate or fearful of watching and revengeful eyes.
Nor will I apologize to anyone for what happened on 9/11. I am only a Muslim. Just like the millions of innocent Iraqis and Afghans under American occupation, I had nothing to do with the war between elites in the Bush and Bin Laden families.
My religion is not at war with America. But America is at war with humanity.