Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Supporting Our Soldiers

Once upon a time I joined a list serve, founded by Code Pink, that was keeping folks abreast of anti-war organizing taking place around the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Once the invasions took place and the wars in full swing, the focus of the list serve changed to combating the use of unmanned drones that have made some egregious errors costing many civilians their lives. The focus switch of the list serve happened and folks weren't asked to opt in.

For the most part, I never read anything on the list over the last several years. Until this morning when an email caught my eye that said that all soldiers are cowards, followed up by an angry U.S. resident of Afghan descent that, when facing folks pushing back against the statement that all soldiers are cowards, said, "Enough with making excuses for soldiers aka guns-for-hire. ENOUGH!"

That pushed me over the edge. Here is my verbatim response:

Message flagged
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:13 AM
Can someone let me know how to remove myself from this list? The straight up ignorance around the poverty draft and other intentionally socially engineered policies that create real situations where many young people of color and rural poor whites see or actually have only the military as an option to escape cyclical poverty, the drug war, or urban violence is really too much. And it smacks of some serious unexamined privilege. Let's talk about the root causes of why the overwhelming majority of recruits join the service. It has nothing to do with privateering and patriotism, it has to do with a paycheck and a way out of wherever they came from. Those aren't excuses those are the reality of this capitalist corporate state. How about this, Fatima, you go into the hoods and counties where these children are drafted and cut them a check, pay for their education, give then a home, and remove them from the violence and poverty of the places you find them in. Support their families as well. Until you can do that while also eradicating the systemic oppression that created their circumstances, you are just as much a part of the problem as they end up being.

To denounce folks for taking what appears to be their only option to have a better life at the risk of their own lives, no matter how misguided the choice may have been, is an act of cowardice. Especially from behind a computer screen.

I am no fan of the military industrial complex. I do not believe in the United States' hegemonic neocolonialist policies. I despise the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the secret invasions that we stage all the time. But I also know that when my little brother and little sister joined the military it wasn't for some love of having to go to war against people that look like them. Neither did my Father or my Uncle or my Great-Uncle who fought in Korea and WWII. They joined because they felt it was the best option to get them to the place in life they wanted to be and whether from rural Minnesota or rural West Virginia, the options were limited. My great-great Uncle Lieutenant Colonel William Harrison Carey was a friend of Teddy Roosevelt's and rode with him during the colonization of Puerto Rico. Another relative of mine was with General Eisenhower in France and was the mapmaker that laid the literal plans and map of the D-Day invasion. Am I proud that one of my relatives participated in the colonization of Puerto Rico? No. Am I proud that another helped set the stage for the liberation of France and the fall of Hitler. Hell yes.

I support my family. My sister Shannon was named NCO Officer of the Year for the United States Army last year. My little brother has lost handfuls of friends to the war in Afghanistan and struggles with that on a regular basis. These are not mercenaries...these are my family. I may not support the military as an institution, but I support and love these human beings that have been my friends, allies, and loved me through some hard shit. I am proud of my family and the service they have given.

And anyone that calls them a coward to my face is likely to get my foot placed squarely in their ass. Check your fucking privilege...I am so done with arm chair activists hiding behind computer screens making broad declarations about shit they know nothing about.

Get up. Get out. And do the work necessary so that not a single one of our beloved family members and friends ever have to choose between poverty and violence and the risk of going to war in order to live a better life. Dismantle capitalism...erase racism....and abolish poverty....and then come talk to me about folks that join up. Until then. Shut the fuck up.

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