How many I don’t know. Could be a lot, a high percentage, but only if you think about it. And, don’t do that. Wouldn’t be prudent. You might be uncomfortable indiscriminately mouthing even the politically correct liberal “thank you for your service.” Seriously, the reality-based record is vast and unsightly if you dare look at it. See ‘Why No Openly Gay U.S. Heroes Killing Afghan Peasants’ w/ Explanation & Photos, or Ex-Troops: Criticize the Troops, Inform the Non-Troops. A comment from Bruce Dixon at the latter:

a share of responsibility
By brucedixon on Sun, 01/03/2010 – 2:40pm

does go to the ordinary people who carry out the policy. We may deny it from a distance, but they know.

Back in the fall of 1967 we were organizing black high school students to get the first African American studies programs in Chicago. Up till that time we were pretty much totally absent from the histories we were taught. We got in touch with some returned SNCC vets, who hooked us up with some brothers fresh back from Vietnam.

They told us the most awful stories about calling artillery and air strikes against undefended villages, about officially endorsed mass killings and rapes of civilians in “free fire zones”, about burning villages, cutting off ears and all the usual gory stuff. A couple said that when other members of their unit fired at innocent kids and civilians they would shoot high and wide, but felt they needed to shoot so as not to marked out from the rest.

They told us these stories, they said, because they could not sleep at night, or face children and people here stateside after what they had done over there. The only way to begin to lift the weight off their souls for what they had done, or what they had witnessed and not been able to stop was to tell it to young folks like us high school seniors who, if we didn’t do something, would be draft-eligible in the next few months.

The guys we talked to were very clear about moral responsibility for all this. The big criminals were the ones who gave the orders. But those who commit crimes on the ground are not innocent either. They knew it, and told us so. They challenged us to not be victimized and used in the way that they had been, the way Uncle Sam is still using people in uniform.

We did the best to help them and ourselves out, taking these vets on a tour of South and West side high schools. Back then you didn’t need to pass a metal detector or be body searched to get into a public school. We made sure they talked to lots of high school students that winter. And around the end of january 1968, as I recall, Tet happened.

I guess I am saying that we are all supposed to be grownups and morally responsible for our actions. Even if we are just following orders.

“If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding” Zora Neale Hurston, from Moses, Man of the Mountain

Bruce Dixon

Following in the footsteps of those Vietnam War era veterans are Iraq and Afghan war veterans. I suggest, despite your politically correct and entirely reasonable fears, at least watching the following video: What Really Goes On In Iraq – Iraq Veterans Against The War. A comment there:

Before being a soldier you are a human being. You can walk out. I did. My future has the stigma of my discharge on paper as a citizen. My mind has the peace of knowing I realized my choice and made the right one. It became obvious to me this was a contractors war. I love this country. Not money, not the corporations, but the rights that we supposed to have. The military and government has been hijacked by mega companies. They DO NOT care about you or the blood you shed for them.


My poem from last year revised (where I attempt to honor the non-troops, the mostly high school kids who had the right moral misgivings and gave up a lot because of them):

Hero Slingin’ Fries

Coulda been one of the heroes honored at half-time.

But gotta get this guy his a.m. coffee.

Coulda been one of the GIs the talk show guy jokes with.

Bee-eep the fries’re ready.

Why did I feel torn up and sh!tty about enlisting?

Stupid thinking killing those people was wrong.

Nobody ever says that, nobody even talks about it.

Want fries with that muthafuckah? (Did I just say that?)

And some of them sorta maybe did cause 9/11.

And the whole country loves our troops no matter what.

F*ck this, this apron, this grease, where’s recruitment?

Yeah some bu!!shit Afghans or Arabs are gonna hate me or die.

So what?