Trout Fisting In America #3 – The Military

Because as my good friend Kathy Acker likes to say, ‘When they go low, we…(smiles)..we shove our fist up a defenseless Trout’s asshole.’

One good thing about the inevitable upcoming war in the Middle East and/or China and/or whereever else is it will weed out some of the dumbfuck US soldiers who, by a huge margin, voted for this dumbfuck president. These two deserve each other. I mean, of all the political issues that I, as a hypothetical military member, would care about, I’d think which candidate is least likely to get me killed for no good reason would be at the top of the list.

And yet, and yet…they voted for an impulsive thin-skinned bully with no self-control, who could walk into a fucking Quaker revival and start a fight, who even as i write this is killing the fuck out of innocent people. (Fun trivia facts: the only US President since WWII to not drop bombs on another country? Jimmy Carter. The number of white people since WWII to get US bombs dropped on them? Zero.)

Speaking of thin-skinned bullies picking fights, maybe it’s because I grew up in San Diego, surrounded by military bases both navy and marine and a county-wide unflagging patriotism that despite its unflagging-ness nevertheless involved a hell of a lot of flags, a city where the MLB San Diego Padres wear camouflage uniforms every Sunday to honor the troops, but I don’t think of the military as a bunch of sacred heroes. To me, the word ‘soldier’ conjures up images of guys starting fights in bars, stumbling drunk down the streets of Tijuana, or the strip clubs around the sports arena, shouting racist & homophobic slurs while they’re out looking for whores.

The military is the single biggest cash suck in our government. Trillions of disappeared dollars unaccounted for, but we’re supposed to be outraged at the food stamp recipient for wasting our tax money on soda, or the college kid who wants a good education, or the cancer patient who can’t afford health insurance.

You can tell a lot about a culture by the things it holds sacred. And in 21st century America you can criticize & mock anything except for the police or the military. These are what passes for heroes.

But as definitions of heroism go, killing another person because your boss told you to, doing the exact same thing that every single person around you is also doing, has to rank pretty low on the bravery list. The pointlessness of the ground wars in Vietnam/Iraq/Afghanistan, to say nothing of the amorality of those wars, is pretty much beyond rational debate at this point.

It’s easy to participate in an atrocity when you’re ordered to do so. It’s much harder, and requires a lot more courage, to say no.

I respect the soldiers for doing a shitty job that nobody—especially the fucking people who send them into these wars in the first place—wants to do (and it should be noted how many of these fucking war-mongering tough guy politicians—Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Trump, Bannon, O’Reilly, etc.—were too chickenshit to fight in a war when they had their chance, but have no problem sending other people to do it). There’s something to be said for doing your job. And there’s no job shittier than putting yourself in mortal danger—especially when the necessity of you being in mortal danger is, uh, at best, ambiguous. But not one of these soldiers comes back without being wracked by trauma or guilt. Despite their training, despite the 100% deliberate & thought-out effort that goes into the psychological re-mantling that turns people into soldiers, they’re haunted for the rest of their lives by the things they saw, the things they did, even the things they did that were completely justified.

And as for me, no I never joined the military. Growing up with a dad who fought in Vietnam, whose experiences inspired much of that last paragraph, was enough action for one lifetime, thanks.

Your average US citizen who fellates the military, who puffs up their chest with empty patriotism and insists that war is noble & necessary, is someone who wouldn’t dream of fucking joining. Seriously, the US military is ALWAYS looking for volunteers. You like it so much, go sign up. But then this  military worship we see everywhere, all the magnets & bumper stickers, isn’t actually patriotism. It’s survivor’s guilt.

And don’t talk to me about protecting our freedom. Labor unions, school teachers, political protesters, all of these groups have done more to secure freedom for the people of this country than any military action this country’s undertaken in the past 50 years. If you want to thank someone for their service—and remember plenty of veterans think you’re an asshole when you say that—go thank one of those people.

*****

There’s a personal element to all this. I lost one of my best friends from high school to the military. He’s still alive, as far as I know. But in five years he went from being a kind, thoughtful sweet kid—someone who once hid a tape recorder in the crack of his butt so he could get past security and record a Morrissey concert—to someone who spewed violent hateful jarhead bullshit whenever I saw him.

He accepted an ROTC scholarship from the marines in order to go to the University of Pennsylvania. For a kid from El Cajon whose family life was a mess, who shared a bedroom with his older brother all through high school, I guess the opportunity to go to an Ivy League school was too good to pass up. And if he couldn’t afford to pay for it, he’d do what he had to do.

Once at school, he experienced the typical fish-out-of-water loneliness (new city, new coastline, new peers), but I have to figure his was even worse. It isn’t easy making friends at a school like Penn when your head’s shaved and you wear a military uniform to class. I always figured that a big reason he embraced military life (initially, he just joined for the cash—he wanted to major in history and become a teacher) was the lack of other social options.

I wish I’d talked to him more about it. I wish I’d been a better friend. But then I had my own shit I was dealing with, and El Cajon guys in their early 20’s aren’t known for talking.

Years later, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton and called me up one night to invite me out with his roommates. I got to their house early enough to hear them getting ready for a night out on the town, which involved a lot of shouting about how they were going to fuck shit up, kick some asses, pound some pussy, etc. The night turned out to be go-to-a-bar-in-Oceanside-and-play-pool. I remember a couple of guys squaring up to some townies at one point, but nothing much happened besides a lot of drinking and a lot of noise.

The last time we hung out, he and I went to Tijuana, where he complained bitterly throughout the night about how he thought out mexican cab driver had ripped us off. As he kept trying to tell me about how ‘these people’ were—I’d lived in Tecate for a year-and-a-half at one point, but nothing I said had any effect—the whole thing became too sad for words.

Last I heard, he was living in Tennessee and working as a recruiter. In the wake of 9/11 and its two ensuing wars, I think of him often.

I wish he had become a history professor instead. I wonder if he still listens to The Smiths. I wonder if he’ll read this. I wonder if he’ll think I’m an asshole.

I wonder if someone else will read this. And I wonder if maybe they’ll go work at 7-11 out of high school like I did. Say what you want to about the slow psychic death of working a minimum wage job—you don’t wake up crying when people shoot off fireworks at night.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s