What Hasn’t Gone Away, Colltalers
Here’s something that cannot be blamed on Trump: the state of permanent war. But it’s another obscenity of our era that his administration may aggravate tenfold. There was another reminder of the issue, if hardly a wake up call, on the March 17 U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Iraq.
In one of the worst civilian massacres, over 200 people were killed, another miscalculation on the battle against Daesh. Yes, the Internet is again under fire, the survival of Obamacare was but a single win amid so much already taken, but there’s no reason to forget about the war.
That’s when archaic notions about good and evil lose substance. We’re down to basics of action-reaction here. While assaulting the concept of shared reality undermines democracy, and ultimately individual freedom, the killing of non-armed citizens can only feed the death cycle.
If proponents of the ‘go back to your country’ motto can’t grasp fundamental principles about American pluralism, then the idea that killing innocent people overseas put us all in mortal danger at home is likely lost to them. But it shouldn’t be to everybody else, no matter how busy we all are trying to salvage humanistic values amid the onslaught of xenophobic intolerance. For nothing compares to a rain of bullets.
It’s indeed ironic that as we play catch up with reality – invented or inexorable -, we also get distracted, unsure where to focus on next. We may list, rearrange, and prioritize things, hoping to get a handle on them, and still miss the point of even caring about it in the first place.
When Hannah Arendt covered the 1963 Jerusalem trial of Adolf Eichmann, in her now famous ‘banality of evil’ report, she was warning in part against what many fear about the Trump administration: that its con, packaged with enticing lies, will now be the ‘new normal.’
But what the thick insulation of oblivion against the horrors of war provides to the West is also a variation of that same normalization of evil. Not the one used to excuse soldiers of a dirty war, under the rubric of ‘following orders.’ But one whose complicity
is enhanced by numbing repetition, devoid of emotion and abbreviated to media soundbites, of the ever increasing carnage of women and children in faraway lands.
The sanitizing of war coverage, and its dissociation from most people’s lives, warps everyone’s sense of reality too. It eases the process by which defense contractors and high-hierarchy hawks sell the next chapter of the endless conflict that they manage and profit from.
In any given week, U.S.-led coalition blankets Mosul with bombs, artillery and mortar shells, ground- and drone-launched rockets missiles, according to news reports. But even if these figures were actionable, crystal-clear arguments to arm a powerful reaction against them, most Americans were thrilled instead about the performance of Beauty and the Beast at the box office. Or so the media would lead us to believe.
Yet, even if many may think that they know, in essence, why this war is being waged – ‘to fight Isis,’ they’d say, likely unaware of the ‘Daesh’ acronym, which militants themselves hate -, in an accountable world, no troops should be sent to die under such a vague, deceiving premise.
Among thousands of conflicts being waged right now, the fight in Iraq and Syria are the two most people claim to understand. Not to put anybody down, but they most certainly don’t. Rising anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment currently sweeping the world prove it.
As for the Internet, there’s a month free of cable to anyone who could claim, convincingly, that they didn’t expect big companies to be given carte blanch by Trump’s FCC, to trade without asking, everybody’s browsing history. Bonus installation if you have no problem with it.
Actually, no, but that’s not the point. Double offer (since we’ve heard Mexico is footing the bill) to those who believe Neil Gorsuch won’t make it to the Supreme Court, or that all Democrats will go along on the planned filibuster to his appointment. That’s not to say that every action to be taken by Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, Rex Tillerson, and Betsy DeVos, to name the most notorious, won’t literally make us sick.
Is not that throwing everything – including Trump’s golden throne, pretty please – at the administration’s actions, is wrong or not effective. Or that too many rallies lead to fatigue. But like Judge Judy would put it, ‘let’s not play with each other.’ This is going to be a long run.
Wars, on the other hand, can be started on a whim. We wake up and the country’s at it. Again. And speaking of long run, they’re also terrible to dissenters, as there are so many ways tyrants can manipulate public opinion on their favor, and resources away from citizens’ well being.
Then again, with the clear and present danger of North Korean striking the south, the impossibility for the U.S. to abstain from diving right in, likelihood that China would spring into action, and possibility that Russia, well, should we keep going or your lungs are already filled?
So, yes, it’s worthy fighting to safeguard civil and individual rights, and for at least a resemblance of democracy. But a unifying force that may pack the real punch here is a renewed antiwar movement. Now, before we come to regret not igniting it in time. At last it’s Spring, here comes the sun. WC