On #MemorialDay I generally feel two things: sadness and anger.
I am sad, in remembering the deaths of so many service members, that many of them died over lies. They were fed propaganda, that so-and-so country was a ‘national security threat’ or ‘threatens our national interests,’ when the reality was that the alleged country was far from us and couldn’t truly do us harm if they wanted to. It is sad that so many people who would have otherwise been loving and vibrant human beings had their lives cut short or tragically altered.
However, it saddens me even more to see that the populace is time and time again led to support sending young men and women off to fight because of the same lies and deceit. The politicians urge that people “rally around the troops” and “support the troops,” however, for some reason, that means not questioning the underlying assumptions as to why they are going to war in the first place. Rather, the people should be content to let their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, nieces and nephews go off to a far-away land and risk life and limb while the most important action one can take is to buy and display a “Support The Troops” bumper sticker.
On #MemorialDay, we remember the death of fallen servicemen and women; however, we don’t remember other deaths on multiple levels. We view their deaths as something purely physical, but in doing so we also lose sight of the emotional deaths that take place in the surviving family members. Each time someone is lost, a significant part of the family dies with them, never to return. Also ignored are the spiritual deaths that take place when a person becomes so distraught by the horrors and tragedies of war that they take their own life. In order for someone to do that, their spirit, their will to live, must first die.
I feel anger as well. I am angry at the politicians, generals, and defense contractors that encourage these wars and, in many ways, benefit directly from them while having to deal with none of the pain, suffering, and grief. Their children to not get sent off to war, they don’t themselves fight in wars, rather they sit quietly as they send poor and working-class people, en masse, to fight. It reminds me of the quote attributed to Jay Gould, a 19th century robber baron who said, “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” That is exactly what is happening, but on a global scale. The (mainly) poor people who make up the US military are sent out to kill other poor people all over the world.
I am angry that the people don’t seem to wake up to the lies and deception. We continue to be led into war after war, whether it be called a war or a ‘humanitarian intervention,’ whether we quickly go into a conflict or slowly but surely ramp up our footprint and engage in “mission creep.”
In order to stop this madness, we have to ask some serious questions such as “What are the real reasons we are going to war?” and “Who benefits from these wars?” However, one of the most important questions we can ask is this: “Why do they always send the poor?” Because when we ask that, we will begin to see that there is not just a political or economic problem, but that war is a class problem that we must confront from an intersectional, class-based analysis. Only then will we be able to break free from the inter-linked chains of racism, imperialism, colonialism, patriarchy, and classism that make up war.