Tuesday, March 19, 2013

10 Years And A Million Dead And I Didn't Even Get A Lousy T-Shirt

So today marks the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. There's been a lot written about it today, some of which has been really good, but I'm assuming anyone reading this has already seen most of the good stuff. The saddest/funniest, though, would be this collection of cheerleading quotes from media and Bush administration officials in the first few months after the war when everything was going to be roses, "flowers and sweets*," and sunshine everywhere.

Of course, none of that happened. Basically every prediction the Left had for the war came out correct, a fact I pointed out over 8 years ago, and in fact, these arguments have only become more correct over those intervening years (quagmire, anyone?).

But just because we were right that the war was a terrible idea, would be meet with fierce resistance, and would not accomplish anything, doesn't make this a time to gloat. You know, because of those million or so dead people.

I'd normally go on a rant about how fucked up the run-up to war was, and how obvious it was the Bush administration was blatantly lying to get the war they wanted. But I won't, both because that has gone from accusation to widely-accepted fact, but mostly because I now know far too many Iraqis and Americans who have lost loved ones to that fucking lie.

Rather, I think it's best to leave it to uncle Kurt, who wrote one of the best passages on how I feel about remembering such military campaigns. You should really go read the whole of Cat's Cradle for the full speech (and because it'll be one of the best books you've ever read), but the relevant part is this:

“Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.” 

Today I really feel like rolling in the mud and grunting like a pig...

*Funny story about that phrase -- remember how Cheney and Rumsfeld used it repeatedly to sell the war? That many Iraqis had assured them they would be greeted with "flowers and sweets?" Well, after spending a god deal of time in Iraq, I've learned this is actually a common Iraqi saying that's basically like saying "it was nice to meet you." One of the main justifications for this whole fucking bullshit war was that Bush administration officials couldn't tell the difference between a nicety and a policy statement. That about sums up the whole thing for me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

When The Germans Are More Thoughtful Than You, You Got Yourself A Problem

To paraphrase Community: "All this time, we thought the Germans were the Germans, but it turns out we're the Germans."

So background: both America and the Axis of WWII have committed genocides. America has actually committed two, but let's just focus on the one we're more "proud" of. And I use the term pride there intentionally, because I'm talking about slavery and the continued "pride" of certain segments of society in the Confederacy.

These two cases give us a very interesting contrast on how to respond to your country doing something really, really fucked up. The former Axis nations, for instance, have pretty much banned all things associated with the Nazi/Mussolini regimes, outside of historical education. For instance, there was a midfielder in Greece recently given a lifetime ban from the Greek futbol association for throwing up a Heil Hitler salute after scoring a goal.

This is a debatable punishment in its extent (though I for one have no problem with it), but it's at least a clear rejoinder to folks who express Nazi ideology. And that clear rejoinder is this: "Hey asshole, we tried that and it went really, really fucking wrong. Knock that shit off." It seems as if the former fascist genocidal nations have realized that genocide is something to be remorseful about. Seems simple enough.

Now contrast that with how America remembers one of our genocides (we just ignore/erase from history the other one). In plenty of places, school children are taught there was never really a genocide and that the South and North were fighting over how big the Federal government should be. We have plenty of people who still fly the flag of the genocidal regime under the aegis of "pride." Fuck, the state fucking capitol in South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag. What's the message here? Well, it sure looks like it's "Remorse? Fuck you, we ain't remorseful about genocide. in fact, we're fucking proud of it."

Now this is the point where a Confederate genocide defender will say the South was about much more than slavery, and while slavery was maybe regretful, there's still so much to celebrate.

Fuck you, if you're trying to make that argument.

Because let's apply that logic to Germany. Sure, the whole Holocaust thing was bad, but there was so much to celebrate in Nazi Germany. After all, it's not celebrating the Holocaust, it's merely taking pride in the past! That's why we still fly the flag of the Third Reich over the capitol building; it has nothing to do with racism and how dare you imply that!

Sound pretty horrible? Good, you've passed the test of being a human being. If you think it's unfair to compare the two cases, my condolences, for you've failed the test of being a human being.