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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/10/09

The Weight of Visions

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Already, before the blood has even dried and before the tears have stopped and the corpses have grown cold, the finger pointing has begun.

Fox News- Sen. Joe Lieberman announced Sunday that he intends to lead a congressional investigation into the mass shooting at Fort Hood, saying the attack could qualify as a "terrorist act" rooted in Islamic radicalism -- the worst since 9/11.

"'The enemy,' retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, 'is anyone who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart.'" Catch 22

When Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers, it wasn't Islamic radicalism; it was a crime of war. A crime of a mind pushed over a bridge too far, in WWII one in seven discharged were for battle fatigue. My own uncle refought his battles in the Pacific almost every night for the rest of his life. The sounds, the images, the gore and the horror, which the brain of a nineteen-year-old could never ever reconcile, even with a lifetime of trying.

I've known Vietnam vets that break out in a cold sweat when they hear the sound of a helicopter. There are some who don't want to go hunting; they don't want to camp out in the woods they don't want to be around guns. These things are intrinsically connected with an unspeakable horror that they must carry and have carefully packed away.

Soldiers in combat are, for all intents and purposes, insane. This sense of insanity is fostered by the military as a callous behind which the soldiers can exhibit a macho bravado. It is an emotional dam to hide away the lifetime of religious and societal teachings that are replaced by the warrior mentality. The warrior who kills today and prays and who will ask God almighty to spare his life so that he may kill again tomorrow.

Sooner or later the darkness falls and the dam breaks, and the warrior is alone in his own head trying to make sense of it all. After living successfully in the world of the insane it becomes difficult to live again successfully in the world of the sane.

"I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another." Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front

Major Hasan was a sin eater; he worked with men who had lived through the gore and the horror. He was assigned to help these young service people carry their burdens and to make sense of something that made no sense and of which no sense could ever be made. It is impossible to determine if his job drove him deeper into his religious life or his religious life drove the contradictions of his job to the brink and past the brink of madness.

The true crime are those who will seek to profit from a mental illness, who will politicize this calamity for their own ends and wave the flag for ever more war. Those who will call for more gore and more violence while they stand in their church, mosque or synagogue and say, "Thy will be done."

"The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy. Katczinsky said that was a result of their upbringing. It made them stupid. And what Kat said, he had thought about." Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front.

Like almost every aspect of the Bush-Cheney era, we have been lied to, the costs are hidden, the photos of caskets were not allowed. These so-called wars on terror have followed our children home and the terror haunts them still. The new president can greet all the returning caskets he likes, but it will not exempt him from the crimes of the aircraft which depart from here fully loaded, loaded with those new victims who could be saved!

"Our thoughts are clay, they are moulded with the changes of the days;--when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without." Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front.

A couple of other headlines: Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife, and Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings. These veterans committed the same crime that Hasan is accused of, but because they are not Muslims so no one has ever asked if their actions were a "terrorist act."The thought is not even considered.

Lance Cpl. Walter Smith was a squeaky clean Mormon; he served in Iraq and the intensity of his service tour made him take up drinking and question his own belief in God. When Smith returned he was assigned by the Marines to a position as marksmanship instructor. But as he fired his gun on the target range, the paper targets became flesh and blood again and the twenty-two-year-old Marine began to cry tears of mortal anguish.

Tears of pain and frustration, tears of rage and of emotional disintegration. Picking up his weapon and firing it again brought back all the images and the horror and the bodies and the gore, and Lance Cpl. Walter Smith began to unravel emotionally like an old sweater. He was discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Marines sent him to seek help from veterans hospitals where he would no doubt speak with someone like Major Hasan.

"We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war." Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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