Friday, March 16, 2007

Keeping Our Demons at Bay

Keeping Our Demons at Bay:
We should not have been in Vietnam. The Vietnamese didn’t want us there. That’s why we lost the war. We should not be in Iraq. The Iraqis don’t want us there. That’s why we lost the war.
That’s not to say that the Iraqis aren’t there [in David Finkel’s "hagiography" of battalion commander Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich], in every line of text, in every paragraph, in every turn of phrase. They are there ... as the backdrop on the stage, as the amorphous danger against which these young men must undergo their rite of passage into the death-cult of imperial masculinity. And because this othering of the Iraqis is so consistent, so perfectly fitted to existing cultural and entertainment conventions, there is little doubt that Finkel used the Iraqis in exactly this way —as a racialized reduction, as expendable extras on his set.

For this reason, I accuse. David Finkel, no less so than Judith Miller during her apprenticeship under Ahmad Chalabi, is not merely a journalist. He has become part of the war machine. There is blood on his hands, and just as with Judith Miller, Finkel will have to bear that Macbethian stain.

Articles like this are one reason why I think Postmodernism really matters.

I suspect too that our own soldiers are being just as "othered", just as marginalized, as the Iraqi people. They are the "troops", not individual human beings, honored not for their individuality but for the exact opposite: their willingness to abandon everything individual and human, and then tossed aside when they are no longer useful.

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