Fools and Fanatics
Fools and Fanatics
By: Jack Dalton
“If it were my say, I’d have him [Sgt Kevin Benderman] gassed, and publicly executed to set the example that America is not a nation of fools.” This is but one sentence in an email sent by a no-nothing 17 year old to Sgt Kevin Benderman (the entire letter is at the end of this commentary). Is the young man that wrote those words to blame for his mindlessness? Or is the blame with an older generation which is teaching this nation’s youth a mindless ideology that preaches nothing but entitlement, hate, and intolerance? Maybe even a little of both, after all, it is members of my own generation that have pushed this nation to the brink of the abyss we now find ourselves looking into.
The level of nationalistic fervor, mistakenly called “patriotism” by many, that has erupted in this nation since Bush & Company have controlled the seat of power is truly astounding, to say the least. I saw nationalism create national hysteria during the heyday of Sen. Joe McCarthy until he was stopped in 1954; I saw the result of nationalistic fervor during the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960’s, when police and federalized troops arrested, gassed, beat and killed fellow American’s on the streets of this nation from California to New York.
It would seem that no matter how much things change they always seem to remain the same. Here we are today, once again with American’s calling other American’s “un-American,” “traitors,” including those that have worn a uniform of this nation; and that have seen the face of war up close and way too personal, myself included.
Over time, I have found it to be pretty much true that those who so easily refer to former combat veterans, that now stand against war, as “cowards” and “un-American traitors, have themselves never served in uniform, let alone seen the face of war in real terms. In fact, statistically, less than 7% of the population of this nation has ever served in uniform, and even less has gone to war.
Case in point (keeping in mind this is not a singular event): Sgt. Kevin Benderman has served this nation honorably in uniform for close to 11 years now, and who has been to Iraq once; and as a direct result has refused to re-deploy to Iraq a second time. Kevin, like so many others that have been to war, learned there are no winners in war, only losers.
After many weeks and months of deep and careful contemplation Kevin filed for conscientious objector status. Now, this Wednesday, May 11th, he will face a General Court-Martial for refusing to participate in this BushCo war of choice in Iraq—or any other war for that matter, as it is war in general, and specifically the illegal war in Iraq, that Kevin stands in opposition to.
Now, today, thanks to the ramped up xenophobia and “nationalism” brought into vogue by BushCo and it’s bevy of cheerleaders, they are now teaching the nation’s youth to be the next generation of non-thinking, history re-writing hate and venom mongers. “What is patriotism? Watching a traitor die at the hands of the nation he betrays, that’s patriotism.” Is this what is being taught the kids in the nation’s schools and by their parents at home? I would not even posit the question if not for the simple fact that what this 17 year old boy has written is almost word for word that which is being articulated by way too many so-called “adults” in this nation we call America--And by members of congress; who I do not consider adults for the most part but just duplicitous greed merchants.
It is not that big a stretch to attribute much of this type of false “hyper-patriotism” to the allowing of military recruiters in this nation’s high schools. In fact “allowing” is incorrect due to the simple fact that the so-called, and grossly under-funded “No Child Left Behind Act” states that any school which receives federal funding is mandated by the “Act” to allow military recruiters, not only full access to all records of students, but make office space available on school grounds.
But then all militaristic empires do the same thing—teach youth to fear and hate all which is outside the empires ideological model. Welcome to the “Bush-Youth.”
I will continue this tomorrow, as I am far from addressing this issue. Initially, when I first read this kids letter I went real, real emotional; absolute rage and anger at this arrogant kid and his mindless venom. The more I sat back and thought about it though, the more I knew that the problem is way bigger than just this 17 year old and that bigger issue is what must be addressed. I will be attempting to do just that over the next few days.
So, I will end “part 1” right here but will pick this up again right where I leave off today. Now, read the kids letter yourself, and if you then think I’m making too much of this…all I can say to that is, you ain’t seen nothing yet as I have not even gotten warmed up about this. One thing you will notice right away is the absolute need for this kid to do some “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic.”
Someone save us from fools and fanatics.
Letter from 17 year old to Sgt Kevin and Monica Benderman
I'm 17 years old, and as I read this story on Sgt. Kevin Benderman's "honorable stand", it made me reflect on things in this day. We have soldiers in Iraq losing their lives, wether they want to be there or not. Their morale drive is that of comming home. These brave men and women, fight night and day. They are left to dig holes at night, to protect themselves from bullets overhead, shrapnel from nearby IED's. Benderman must have been one of those soldiers who don't like sleeping in holes.
Many ignorant people are seeing him as a hero. If the definition of hero were; one who turns his back on his country when called to arms; a deserter; then it feels damn good to be the bad guy. I see this man as the upmost definition of a coward. Being afraid of war is fine...but to use an excuse as some girl with her arm burnt is far beyond fair. Thats like me saying "some kid failed high-school because of a 0 due to cheating. It wasn't his fault, but I'm dropping out because life's not fair." Many a soldier have seen the results of war, wether it were a stray dog, an injured little girl, or even corpses of your fellow comrades lying in piles beside the road. The results of war, are just that. Kevin Bendermen used a result of war as an excuse to run away from battle. In my book, that is treason. That is abandonment. That is the sole example of a yellow-belly.
Soldiers like Bendermen are a sheer disgrace to America's armed forces. I know soldiers that wouldn't think twice of gunning down somebody who won't fight for their country. Bendermen in my eyes, dishonors the word "soldier". His well being spits on the meaning, and the thought of him walking free, causing an uprising against the war is simply outrageous. He walked in the shoes of an American Troop, and facing the enemy, he dropped his weapon and refused to fight. This my friends, is a sheer cause for concern.
Even now, his wife proudly displays a website, celebrating her husband's stupidity as an accomplishment. I know that if I were a soldier in Iraq, Bendermen would be the last ally I would want behind me. I consider his kind, a terrorist in their own league. They bad mouth this country, even though their career is solely to defend it. How could you fly the red, white and blue banner of this nation, yet turn around and complain about how some child got caught in the line of fire. DO YOU NOT REMEMBER THE THOUSANDS OF LIVES LOST ON 9/11? How is it you can feel sympathy for them, when the American Nation was the only one digging up rubble at ground zero?
You bring up Hiroshima, World War II. Have you the slightest clue of what you speak? Do you once again forget, that we were in the crossfire of war, and we lost SOLDIERS, not GIRLS? Pearl Harbor sparked the atom bomb on Hiroshima. 30 Years later, their people are suffering a nuclear hazard. They can blame their anscestors for initiating an incredibly stupid attack on an incredibly great nation.
This goes to anybody who wants to stand along side of Bendermen. If it were my say, I'd have him gased, and publicly executed to set the example that America is not a nation of fools. I would show the world that people like him should not strap black leather boots onto their feet. They shouldn't wield an M16 Carbine Semi-Automatic weapon with no intention on placing a bullet in the enemies chest. They shouldn't stand at attention, saluting a flag of a nation that they despise. What is patriotism? Watching a tratior die at the hands of the nation he betrays, thats patriotism. Bendermen dug his own grave in my eyes. That is my 2 cents.