‘Beefy Hands Slapping Camouflaged Backs’

Dennis Perrin:

The plane lands at Reagan National. The steward says to stay in our seats, it’s safe to use cells and so on. His voice rises a few octaves. “And to those military personnel aboard, we thank you for your sacrifice and patriotism.” Passengers erupt in applause and cheers.

Other than an in-flight drink, I rarely fly altered. The Homeland drones are bad enough; fast food employees with badges. Surly overfed passengers push it to another level. Granted, my aversion to the public has gotten worse. I increasingly view fellow Americans through Grosz/Steadman eyes. My problem, my madness. I admit it. Still, the notion of psychoactive engagement is too horrifying to consider. Empty chatter, expanding waistlines, addiction to flashing toys would be an intolerable visual swirl. Overpriced cocktails provide a safer filter.

Applauding the military while taxiing to the gate is a new spectacle. Beefy hands slapping camouflaged backs. Expressions of gratitude and support. Whether or not these guys have seen or will see action is beside the point. Their uniforms alone merit adulation. If we were under siege from invading armies laying waste to cities and suburbs, I could see it. Military/civilian distinctions would evaporate. We’d all be part of the resistance.

But the opposite is reality. We’re the invaders decimating occupied people. In deluded moments we pose as selfless liberators. When honesty emerges we boast of our destructive power — the Fuck Yeah! approach. Those passengers weren’t cheering necessary sacrifice. They were celebrating charred Afghan civilians. Deformed Iraqi children. Extrajudicial assassination. They probably give more thought to the TruGreen on their lawns than to depleted uranium in Fallujah’s soil and water.

(Thanks PVC)

6 Comments

  1. Except those camouflaged backs don’t make the policies that have us in three wars.

    They simply have volunteered everything – up to and including their lives – in service of this country. Can you say the same, Mr. Blogger-Slash-Comic-Writer Dude?

    1. They don’t make the policies but they execute them (in every sense of the word.) And they aren’t drafted into it either.

  2. And in any case, note that the essay mainly spits venom at the comfortable civvie backslappers whose approval has a lot more to do with displaced aggression, mindless nationalism and racism than it does for the soldiers themselves.

  3. He has a point. A uniform doesn’t make you a hero. Dying in a war doesn’t make you a hero either. Only heroic actions do that.

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