Monday, May 09, 2005

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was 17, oh so many years ago, there were 3 things that I was interested in. Girls, cars, & the means to make enough money to afford both. Nothing else mattered, & this was two short years before I would be slogging through rice paddies in Nam. Politics was the furthest thing from my mind. Have our nations youth changed that much, or is that letter supposedly written by a 17 year old actually written by an adult masquerading as a kid?

Mon May 09, 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

17 is old enough to wear the boots, put on a green suit and pick up an M-16.
After reading this diatribe written in a tongue somewhere between Esperanto and Remulak, it must be assumed that the young man is a prime candidate for cannon fodder. We know one thing, communications isn't his strong suit. And for that matter, neither is critical thinking.
I wonder what his reaction will be when he sees the pictures of GWB French kissing Michael Jackson.
His letter serves as an example why we need a conscripted army.
Most of those who thought we should be in Vietnam never had a chance of being sent there themselves.
Several years ago we had a president from Texas who took office under unusual circumstsnces. He then started a war predicated on a lie.
I fought in that war. It was wrong then and it's wrong today.
Mark Twain once said, "Patriotism means always standing by your country, and your government when it deserves it."
Go on kid. Put down your comic books and pick up a gun;
Gonna be a whole lot of fun.

Mon May 09, 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Yvette said...

My opinion, being the wife of a Conscientious Objector who served during the first Gulf War, there will always be people who speak hatefully. It is until they are actually faced with having to kill someone that they are able to form an opinion worth hearing.
Some veterans of wars will never admit that their experience in war was something they wish they could forget. It's their way of trying to justify what they know (deep in their heart) is wrong.
I feel sorry for the kid. If he ever does enlist, he will have a rude awakening. If he doesn't, he will never know what it means to be a compassionate human.
What we as peacemakers need to do is to listen to what they say, repeat it to them so they know we heard them, and then tell them what we believe and why. Even if it doesn't change their mind, they will know that not everyone believes the way they do - it will give them something to think about.
Yvette Coil

Tue May 10, 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great piece jack! i so look forward to the other parts to be.

it's very sad that this 17 year old is so influenced by those who support this war. it's so obvious in his lines that he has been brainwashed by those who feel war is the answer to peace.

just as the American public has been relieved of the truth about this war, i suppose the students of this land have also in their history/current events classes. this seventeen year old has misconstrued the 9/11 event with this war, as bush, et al wants all students, all peoples to think. he also lacks the facts about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and how it was our own government who created the event, not another nation.

these misconceptions and untruths, imo, are creating this division in America between its peoples, the students, the teachers, the moms and pops, the neighbors, the politicians, and even the soldiers themselves, here and abroad.

somehow we must get the media in America back on track telling the truth. perhaps we need to have the Iraq War on the tvs in every living room and school classroom as the Vietnam War was in the 60's and 70's. perhaps then, kids like this 17 year old could see what war is really like and how senseless this one is. maybe this 17 year old would start writing letters of truth instead of letters filled with misfacts and loathing of an individual he/she never met.

he/she might even become another truthteller such as Jack Dalton. peace, bunkie.

Tue May 10, 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Edward said...

17 years old and this kid is ready to label a combat veteran a coward? That's a goddamn shame. As I grow older it is easy to see how my opinions on so many things in life have changed, with greater respect towards a more peaceful stay on a planet that we only have a very short time to visit. Hate and violence seem like such a waste of those precious moments that will be over all too soon. When I was in the US Marine Corps, I had a very biased view of others and believed it was "us against them" and "might makes right". It was only through the passage of time and the experience of life that I learned the true nature of wars wasteful insanity. War is a business and peace is often brief before another war is "needed" or deemed ncessary for one reason or another. It is very sad to read this unexperienced snot nose calling out names to others when he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. He is merely parroting something he heard or was taught and that too is sad.

One of the true heroes in my life these days is Howard Zinn. He is a gifted writer, teacher and peace activist. Zinn dropped bombs on Europe in WW2 so dare not to call him a coward. He sets a great example through his actions by demonstrating the true blessings of emapthy towards others less fortunate. It is most remarkable to me that the people who have actually tasted the bitterness of armed conflict are most times the most vigorous proponents of peace. I respect those people who speak from experience most of all because it teaches us things that no words can match.

I hope that the majority of Americans still have enough sense to keep an open mind on all subjests before cementing themselves into a biased position based on lies and misinformation. The war in Iraq was started on lies and the dead Americans to date are all just write-offs to political/corporate interests. It smells more and more like Viet nam every day and I grieve for the loss to our nation in both lives and dollars while greedy politicians continue to spew hate and misinformation under the guise of patriotism. Just think of all the positive things that our country could have done to help its own citizens with the hundreds of billions of dollars that are spent on war. When will we ever learn? A true Patriot will always be critical of his government and realizes that politicians are but fallable mortals who make mistakes like every other human.

Lighten up America and learn to walk a mile in others shoes before being so critical of their cause or intentions.

Tue May 10, 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Ed Jack, not to be confused with edward above. I do agree with you though edward and Jack it's a really good piece. Hope the little .............. reads it, though I doubt it would make a dent in his already helmeted head. At least I hope he is at least getting ready to put the helmut on and relieve someone who really deserves to be home. Little bas.....d needs a few months troggin through the bush.

Tue May 10, 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Publisher said...

Really the 17 year old, if he is indeed a kid - should consider watching and reading something accessible to his age. I would reccommend renting the movie, "Born on the Fourth of July." and consider buying the paperback book that has recently been reprinted by Ron Kovic as a purgative for his cliche stuffed brain. He has just been listening to some red, white and blue star scrambled brained low wage conservative who won't admit to being wrong, ever.

Kovic went there as one and writes powerfully of the disillusion and turmoil it caused him to join those against the Vietnam war.

One thing about the system, if you don't learn of it's evil nature, it will teach you over and over again every time you try to return to it. The kid will wise up, better sooner than later, but he will wise up.

Wed May 11, 07:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Alycia A. Barr said...

Was so angered by this 17 yr. old's comments that I wrote a 2 pg. reponce. However, the quotes from 2 very respected American's who both saw military service should cover it.

President John F. Kennedy: "War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestiage as the warrior does today."

Sammuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scroundrel."

This boy should plant firmly in his mind a statement made by Aldolf Hitler, "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep repeating it and eventually they will believe it.", because it's refected in his thinking.

Great work Mr. Dalton, can't wait for the follow up.

Thu May 12, 07:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody can be really compelled to commit war crimes. War crime is always somehow voluntary. To refuse being involved in war crimes, in fact, is exactly the duty of serviceman.
If any difference between a serviceman and a killer has still to exsist, Sgt Kevin Benderman appears to be the best kind of serviceman a Country may hope to recruit.

Thu May 12, 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jack Dalton said...

Believe it or not, I am still trying to finish part 2 of Fools and Fanatics. I keep getting with the issue on the courts and what Bill Frist is trying to do; and then the memos, the "smoking gun" further confirming everything BushCo said leading to the invasion of Iraq was a pack of lies.

At the same time, this still fits in the Fools and Fanatics catagory. A lot of "fools" still believe and follow the lying "fanatics" we know as the "Bush Administration" (as well as the congressional cheerleaders such as Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, et al). And they all fly the same flag of nationalism while calling it by the euphemistic term, "patriotism."

That said, I'll get it up and posted in the next couple of days.

Tue May 17, 08:35:00 PM  

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