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Training Killers in the Classroom

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Headlined to H1 6/20/12

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June Terpstra and Husayn Al-Kurdi

"If they would rather die, said Scrooge, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

The militarization of public schools is a subject concerning the life and death of the young people of this country and those millions across the globe they will be trained to kill, torture, and invade.   To speak of this is to challenge the intense economic, social and cultural campaigns conducted to convince populations that wars benefiting the rich are wars guaranteeing freedom.   The increasing need for young people to voluntarily join the US military to fight the wars for the enforcement of global capitalism as it expands its markets poses a challenge for radical educators to provide alternative scenarios.   This article examines this agenda for militarization and provides strategies for counter-campaigns to end militarization in the public schools and the culture at large.  

The educational system in the USA has from its inception been a site of struggle between the owning and possessing classes and those who serve them and abide by their bidding.    Schools are the breeding grounds in which competing fantasies, fears, hopes and desires held by individuals and social groups crystallize.   Public schooling is used to promote the militarization of young people whose class, racial and gender perspectives represent various competing ideological and economic claims.   Unsuspecting young people are unaware that this militarized education will lead to train the individual to more readily kill and commit war crimes such as those committed by U.S. troops in Iraq, such as the brutality exhibited at Abu-Ghraib or in Mahmoudiya, where soldiers gang-raped a teen-age Iraqi girl and burned her body to destroy the evidence.

As Kenneth Saltman explains in Education as Enforcement:

Military generals running schools, students in uniforms, metal detectors, police presence, high-tech ID card dog tags, real time Internet-based surveillance cameras, mobile hidden surveillance cameras, security consultants, chainlink fences, surprise searches"--are all part of the investment the military industrial complex is embedding in U.S. public schools as they increasingly resemble the military and prisons. Militarism and the promotion of violence as virtue pervade foreign and domestic policy, popular culture, educational discourse, and language.   In addition to promoting recruitment, military education plays a central role in fostering a social focus on discipline. In short, to speak of militarized schooling in the United States context it is inadequate to identify the ways that schools increasingly resemble the military and prisons. This phenomenon needs to be understood as part of the militarization of civil society exemplified by the rise of militarized policing, increased police powers for search and seizure, anti-public gathering laws, "zero tolerance" policies, and the transformation of welfare into punishing workfare programs.

The process of molding recruits into serviceable troops is based on indoctrinating them in the dehumanization of designated enemies.   In the present US-led wars of terror these "enemies" are people who pose no threat to the individual or country but whose resources are coveted by the corporations.   Additionally, the killing fields of the present US wars target people who mean nothing to capitalism's obedient generals but a playground in which to use up old weapons and military equipment and experiment with new weapons and technologies.     The public school military agenda offers the first steps to train young people to overcome any fear or prejudice against killing that the culture has not already dispelled via video games and films where the military is portrayed in ads as an adventure and a way to gain skills and a future education (providing one does not get killed).    The heroism of service is consistently morphed with the concept of freedom along with an understated promotion of the excitement of killing bad guys.   Ads, films and TV shows suggest that to be in the military is to be in respected and powerful elite.   The main themes stress tangible rewards such as educational opportunities, high-tech skills training, and managerial expertise, which can later translate into cash in the corporate sector.  

Chicago is one of the most militarized zones in need of de-militarization.    There are five military academies affiliated with the Army, Navy, or Marines in the Windy City. Along with required attendance in the Junior ROTC program cadets must wear full military costumes to school and undergo daily uniform inspections, take a daily ROTC course focusing on military history, map reading and navigation, drug prevention, and the branches of the Department of Defense.   Cadets can be seen marching on an academy's drill team, learning the proper way to fire a weapon and shoot to kill.   Military commandants from the U.S. armed services teach alongside math and music teachers in each academy. Three of these military academies were created in part with Department of Defense appropriations, funds secured by Illinois lawmakers.  CPS is the only public school system in the country with Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps high school academies. In 2000, the armed services Chiefs of Staff testified before The House Armed Services Committee that 30%-50% of all Junior ROTC cadets later enlist in the military. Organizations opposing the military's growing presence in public schools insist that it's no coincidence that the number of military academies in Chicago is on the rise at a time when the U.S. military has had difficulty meeting its recruitment targets while fighting unpopular wars of aggression.

A militarized society from which to draw human cannon fodder is crucial to imperialist global control.   The military is one of the most important sites of struggle for educators and researchers.   Militarized schooling should be resisted at the local level as in organizations such as the Military Out of our Schools campaign that seeks to eject JROTC programs from public schools.   Beyond this, an aggressive campaign that counters the cultural, social and economic program of the military is needed.     We must provide an educational curriculum which facilitates the development of critical awareness of the student's social, political and cultural conditions and conditionings.  

  

Wikipedia image of child soldiers in China  

 

juneterpstra.com

June Scorza Terpstra, Ph.D. is an activist educator and university lecturer in Justice Studies, Criminal Justice and Sociology. She has founded numerous programs for homeless, abused, youth and oppressed people in the USA. She is presently teaching (more...)
 
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This total militarization went into hyper drive af... by 911TRUTH on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 10:58:19 AM
The propoganda script does not change much from wa... by June Terpstra on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 9:57:39 PM
year program, since the 1920's, to Manufacture Con... by bogi666 on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 6:54:47 AM
what would that be? "Just say No, Sir!" ?... by lwarman on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 12:06:28 PM
Sir, No sir!... by June Terpstra on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 9:58:43 PM
Who is this person? what is this about? I may be o... by Leslie Piper on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 12:49:13 PM
School is where the cult of bureaucracy and 'order... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 7:14:35 AM
Many young people enter the military through the... by June Terpstra on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:22:54 AM
Don't blame the poor souls trying to get a job for... by Shankari Kali on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 3:22:54 PM
I am appalled at all the pro-military support from... by Richard Pietrasz on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 5:22:05 PM
We agree, Richard.  Spot on.  ... by June Terpstra on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 10:01:18 PM
"I believe that Gandhi's views were the most ... by mrk * on Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 at 9:01:20 PM
Not only must we teach them they have a ch but cho... by June Terpstra on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:24:31 AM
I'm glad someone finally touched on this and frank... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 1:10:43 PM
that new TV show, "Person of Interest" that depict... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 1:32:48 PM
Thank you for this revealing article.  This s... by Arianna Marie Cigolini on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:52:38 PM