Celebrating The War Racket (Memorial Day 2021 Edition)
1. Colloquially, jingoism is excessive bias in judging one’s own country as superior to others — an extreme type of nationalism.
2. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
Happy Jingoism Days Are Here Again
In the United States of America the fountains of mass-media will once again gush forth with Jingoism-flavored Kool-Aid. This happens three times a year.
Politicians will make grandiloquent speeches. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbolts will tear up the sky to dazzle with war technology, while the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team demonstrates invasion methods.
There will be fireworks and barbecues, parades and sales.
Groupthink is being served.
I am taking my portion—and flushing it! This is me pulling the handle.
Think of me as the kid who interrups the dignified bourgeois formalities of the funeral to scream—because the murderer is getting away.
[Oh, and please stop bloating the empire and exposing your lack of world perspective when you use the singlular “America”.]
Fourth Of July
For this one the key bait-word is “Independence”. A good day to pull the Freedom Card from the bottom of the deck since that word gets emotions going. Just visit Twitter to see how that word can be bastardized—up to and including wearing masks during a pandemic.
The Declaration of Independence was a long time ago. You’ve seen the paintings — they wore breeches and waistcoats and powdered wigs.
But there are certainly enough dashing movie images of that era created by Hollywood to round out the popular imagination. It was all heroic and wonderful—like superheroes with less CGI. It was great stuff to feed elemetary school fantasies about the origins of the nation. It can help with later indoctrination and application of patriarchal regulations.
Think Adam & Eve, but political.
[During this portion of the program we ask that you stay in your seats and hold onto those popcorn buckets.
We especially request that you refrain from standing up and applauding any independence movements which may be arising in our present day.
Since women and people of color and the LGBTQ community and Indigenous People have all achieved full equality—and the police are here to enforce it—we would not like to see any unnecessary protest and rowdiness in the streets.]
Much like Memorial Day except it includes those in the Armed Forces who are still alive. More parades, less barbecues. Give ’em a holiday so maybe they won’t question what lies they were told to put their lives on the line for. What lies they killed other humans for.
“It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.” — Howard Zinn
Luckily, amidst the trumpeting din of jingoism, there are individuals who speak out.
Journalists who have looked inside the halls of power. Historians who can report on the trail of continuing treachery and hypocrisy.
And those who have witnessed first-hand the resulting brutality of the War Racket. Whistleblowers choosing not to glow in pride or brave actions, but acknowledging that the carnage of the battlefield serves not the grandiose rhetoric suggested in political speeches but the greedy demands of the military-industrial bottom line.
And groups like the Veterans for Peace who use these events to speak out against the madness.
In many small ways our culture teaches us that war is noble.
Public events honoring veterans tend to be a platform to venerate war and spread militarism. We seek to honor the dead by telling the horrible truth about war in an effort to protect the living.” — Veterans For Peace
Fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches, pompous ceremonies, and big sales events (let’s remember to shop to honor our war dead!)—all intended to distract any critical thinking — pay no attention to what is behind that red-white-blue curtain!
And yet there it is—a huge Elephant in the Room. It is covered with the endless revelations of the backroom-created deceptions and power manipulations that fuel the absurd political theater in which all wars are played out. Yes, yes—even the “good war”.
Somehow people are convinced to put on the rose-colored glasses of sentimentality and comfortably luxuriate in public displays of grief—constricting the dead into symbols of honor rather than the endless victims of power.
Sharing forceful reactions of disgust at the continuation of this human racket—raging anger that demands this shit to stop—is not done in polite society.
On the internet you can now go listen or read every president’s Memorial Day speech-spin going back to Nixon and beyond.
SOS—both as a signal of emergency in allowing this nonsense to continue being spun, and as an abbreviation for Same Old Shit.
With all its greeting card cheap emotion, its quaint Americana veneer, and its trite patriotic fantasy—the narrative is almost inescapably being injected into the lifeblood of the populace. Oozing out of TV sets.
As Frank Zappa noted decades ago regarding the purpose of the Idiot Box.
“I’m the tool of the Government/ And industry too
For I am destined to rule/ And regulate you.”
This is the day when we get to see to what amazing levels the propaganda has captured the multitudes. Consent to the patriotic tribal scenario is on full display—total submission that even Xmas would be envious of.
The TV will be bullhorning red-white-and blue—and yes, as with all holidays in the U.S., it’s a shopping holiday. You can bet all the advertisers are ready to join the festivities. (Although I do like to think that most working class people are just glad to get another day off the grind.)
Do whatever you like to do with the free time—you’ve seen the checklist for the unimaginative group-thinkers (it’s the one with charcoal)—but remember: shopping is the ideal USofA way of expressing the freedom which soldiers have been dying for so you can enjoy.
“Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.” — Howard Zinn
That Manipulative Support The Troops Bromide
I certainly do “support the troops”.
But not by spewing platitudes from my comfy chair. I don’t kiss the flag. But by exposing the distortions of that cliche stating that troops (humans) should never be used as cannon fodder to serve the bottom line of Wall Street greed.
It is Orwellian Newspeak to call these young people— who were sent to do the bloody murderous criminal work in these wars by their representatives—heroes.
They are victims. Victims of greed, victims of power.
Victims of . . .
The War Racket
Detailed images of murder (what else would you call it?) — paid for with the viewers’ taxes— are not suitable for the living room comforts of TV news. Much better to let the movie industry dramatically fabricate it with fake blood. Some John Wayne or Tom Hanks will always love the opportunity to wallow in this maudlin sentimentalizing mud.
Good guys, bad guys. It worked with cowboys and indians. Always make sure to erase the humanity of the opposition, never reveal that they’re also some mother’s son.
This thrilling action drama on the screen, with properly aligned emotion soundtrack, will give the young boys in the audience their first injections of the excitement of violent military adrenalin. Girls too. This will come in handy in getting them to the Army recruiters’ office. It’ll seem perfectly normal.
Vietnam was an invasion that killed millions of civilians and 58000 U.S. troops. It is far enough away that the fact that it was criminal and illegal is harder to deny.
Iraq — obviously a deception to millions at the time — and now, finally, acknowledged as an orchestrated and manipulative lie by most. As always, nationalism, fueled by deceptions (in this case using the emotional power of 9/11) rallied the hypnotized populace and sent young men and women to kill and be killed. A million bad guys and a few thousand US troops — but they always add: body counts are unreliable.
The leaders who perpetrated all of this — Cheney Rowe Powell et al — are all enjoying a lifestyle beyond most U.S. citizens.
George Bush has transformed into a portrait painter.
“Now all the criminals in their suits and ties are free to drink martinis and watch the sunrise.” — Bob Dylan
When the war racket is in motion the difference between the parties—Democrat/Republican—becomes even more amorphous. It is about Empire and resources and greed and Wall Street.
For the Invasion of Iraq our current president stood with those who supported it. He continues tap dancing around his justifications. Remember that when you see him speak.
[In case you wonder how this kind of thinking is at work in our world today consider this same gentleman’s take, on June 5, 1986, on Israel:
“It’s about time we stop apologising for our support for Israel. It is the best $3 billion investment we make. If there weren’t an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.”]
Any use of the words freedom and democracy are merely lubrication to keep the machine going, to keep the populace supportive of getting into the conflicts and then later to stand along the parade routes waving flags.
Giving the pawns a bit of pride in their moves in the game—to kill or die to protect the king and queen. The offspring of royalty get to start off at rook. And of course the bishops, the sky pilots, have a grand part in dressing death up in glory in all these the proceedings.
Speaking of Memorial Day parades.
Here the band They Might be Giants does a great rendition of the Phil Ochs masterpiece.
I wish to express my freedom of speech by throwing up in disgust all over this annual recycling of cheap and dangerously blinding red-white-and-blue Sentimentality!
My stand on these issues hasn’t changed much in the past 5+ decades. If anything, living through ever new reboots of the War Racket franchise, has over time better exposed how the propaganda works. The internet has been shown to be a fantastic tool for gathering information, but not necessarily for finding the truth. The War Racket—with its tentacles emerging from Washington, D.C. and Wall Street—seems to be able to keep a firm control on the narratives.
Take it away Buffy . . .
“And that’s how it’s done war after war
You old feudal parasites just sacrifice the poor
You’ve got the cutting edge weapons
But your scam’s still the same as it’s been since the Romans
It’s the patriot game/ It’s the war racket.”
© AleXander Hirka 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Similarly . . .