Victims of war are everywhere. Last week, a female police officer in the Wauwatosa, WI – the city I grew up in – was shot and killed while on duty. She was shot twice in the back of the head with a 9mm weapon belonging to the shooter, and then four times with her own .40 caliber service weapon. The shooter was a Marine who had served in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 and then another tour in 2004 where he was wounded. In 2010 he posted a YouTube video for a Christian Men’s group (don’t get me started on those groups) in which he said that they train Marines to kill, but don’t train them to deal with the aftermath. He had killed a child in self-defense and seen fifty of his fellow Marines killed during his tours of duty. Why did he choose this officer as his victim? He was jealous, and she was his wife. Last week, she became another casualty of war.
There’s no small irony that we decry violence in our cities, we have gang task forces designed to find the children and young men and women on our streets who shoot one another while at the same time we select some of those young men and women to go shoot people on the streets and in the fields of other countries and call them heroes. The violence on our streets is rightly characterized as an inappropriate rite of passage while at the same time we talk about how our sons joining the military will make them “real men,” by which we apparently mean psychopathic killers. Social networking sites are full of proud parents of street thugs given uniforms and sent to act out in other countries who, in their next post, decry street violence.
I know this post will offend some people and I will get some hate mail from people who believe I am somehow being disloyal to the troops and, honestly, I just don’t care. For generations the voices of dissent have been silenced by accusations of a lack of patriotism, being disloyal to the troops, and a host of other nonsense designed to enforce conformity. I cannot be silent any longer.
You see, Pookie shoots Ray Ray and nobody cares. Some even are callous enough to call it “thinning the herd,” as if urban youths were animals and not human beings. Paco and Pedro get into a fight and only one walks away and the media ignore it. A high-ranking General – I believe it was Tommy Franks – once said that the military has many jobs, some of which require a thick neck and a certain amount of asocial behavior. Their asocial behavior is lauded by many because it occurs while wearing a uniform, but when the asocial actor is wearing a uniform of colors it is criticized. The truth is that both need to end.
Oh, but we have a volunteer military? No thinking person really believes that racist and classist fiction. We ended the draft after Vietnam because some wealthy white people weren’t clever enough to get a deferment like George W. Bush did. If our military was really a volunteer force, it wouldn’t be able to pay wages below the poverty level and still fill its ranks. Make no mistake about it, the “all-volunteer” force is heavily laden with impoverished men and women who have no other options because they live in the urban areas of our cities where employment opportunities simply don’t exist because white business owners have moved them to the suburbs where urban folk can’t get to them. Who among us would put our lives on the line for far less than $24,000 per year unless there were no other options?
Then, after serving, our troops come home to a country that doesn’t require debriefing and ongoing therapy prior to discharge. At this point, our veterans are treated no differently that Pookie or Paco – they are forgotten. When the horror of their experience finally eats through all denial, they shoot their wives in police cars and nobody makes the connection for fear of being criticized. Well, as I mention, I just don’t care about criticism.
It has been said that terrorism is an impoverished person’s was and war is a wealthy person’s terrorism. Let’s take it one step further. Street Gangs are an impoverished person’s military, and the military is a wealthy person’s street gangs. We need to see the truth of that and act accordingly. We cannot prosecute gang violence while allowing our government to create its own gangs and send them overseas with impunity. It has to end.