War fetish 

War fetish

First up let me give a great big thank-you out to your regular columnist, Gene Lyons, for his excellent article "Trigger warnings" (May 22). And, especially for his more than apt admonishment to those bleating "check your privilege" that they kiss his — well, you know. It is in that spirit of kiss my — you know, that I want to offer some thoughts about our recently passed Memorial Day and some preparatory fire for our next opportunity to wax apoplectically about our very own bloated, big (you know) military.

We just about love us some dead soldiers more than a big ol' Frito chili pie, don't we? A clean and sanitized flag-draped casket or some newly dug dirt with a cluster of little clean flags stuck in it gets our inner faucets overflowing every time. Well, we don't actually call them dead soldiers, we like to say they are "fallen" as if somehow that makes it all right and they're still really alive and unemployed and only missing a few unseeable body parts and trying to get help from the mean ol' VA and, God forbid, not one of those "trigger warnings."

Anyway, we blew the drums and beat the horns or the other way around, and wept and cheered, and got all warm when we saw old Colin Powell, one of the good — um, people, without his United Nations WMD clothes on, and wanted to go all Putin on those Obamacare-loving liberals. Bang, bang went the fireworks and we strapped on the kids and hugged our guns and stretched up on our tiptoes and thumped our Bibles on the hoods of our pickup trucks, which are a whole lot bigger than yours — you know what I'm saying. And here we are in the afterglow, full of love for the dead and wanting to see some blood from that VA administrator with the unpronounceable, funny name.

How about we try doing something else? Instead of continuing to make a fetish of uniforms and bombs and planes and all the other adolescent props that divert our attention from the real world, why don't we take all the wasted resources we pour into perpetuating our death fantasies and spend it on education, and job training, and repairing or replacing our outdated, rotting infrastructure, and decreasing the speed of climate change, and housing, and feeding our hungry children just for starters? While we're about change, what if we turn all the VA hospitals and their massive budgets, as well as their negotiating power over, to the medical schools in every state where one exists? Maybe it would be possible to maintain a reasonable level of national oversight and purchasing power while giving the state institutions administrative and operational authority. Open the doors to all seeking health care. A bonus would be getting rid of the current federal government-run (socialized medicine) system we have now for military veterans. How much of a scandal would that be?

As a final insult to our perpetual struggle at maintaining our childhood, what if we stop creating dead soldiers or military veterans? Can we give up our fantasy of a "good" war with everyone who isn't us and work toward peace instead? What if our children really do learn from the behavior we show them? Yeah, yeah, I know: carrots and sticks. The problem there is that when you're out of carrots, are sticks what you want to be looking for?

David Steadman


Bigger picture

Dozens of preachers, mainly black, gathered at the Arkansas state capital today to protest gay marriage. We haven't seen this type of "ecumenical" protest since the '60s civil rights movement!



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