Monday, May 25, 2009

Musings: Because We Care

The morning was quiet, in the way that only holiday mornings are, and the remnants of last night’s rain dripped from the eaves, when Koko and I set out walking. Venus glowed through a thin veil of white and all the mountains were clear, but not defined, in the dim pre-dawn light.

Day officially began as a few pink puka in a mass of gray, then all of a sudden the sun popped out, a sphere of hot pink, and just as suddenly it was gone again, swallowed up by thick clouds, leaving a golden-pink cumulus tower and a band of light on the summit of Waialeale as proof of its existence.

As we walked, we passed numerous dead chickens and other birds in various states of decay smashed on the road and lying alongside it. Although I’m not a big fan of the wild chickens, a friend and I both agreed, as we were driving around dodging carcasses the other day, that we don’t like seeing all the dead chickens on the road. It’s an indication of two things that do not bode well for our community: people are driving too fast, and they just don’t care.

Of course, some folks can take the pretext of caring to troubling extremes, with the state Board of Education set to vote tomorrow on rule changes that are supposed to make schools "safer," while trashing privacy rights in the process. You can learn more about the rules, and how to submit testimony, at the ACLU website.

In UH law professor Jon Van Dyke’s critique of the proposed rules, he notes:

Allowing school officials to open lockers and to allow dogs to sniff these lockers, without any particularized suspicion that an individual student has violated any school rule, would send a totally inappropriate message to the students that they have no privacy rights and that our school officials have no respect for the constitutional rights that our predecessors have fought and died for.

But it’s an entirely appropriate message if you want to effectively train kids to be mindless, GNP-boosting zombies who haven’t a clue about their rights and the government’s ongoing efforts to usurp them using the highly effective propaganda tool that its repressive actions are being done in the interest of safety and security — or in other words, because it cares about its citizenry. You’ve got to start killing their spirits early if you want them to be sufficiently brain dead by adult hood.

Otherwise, how are you going to convince them to carry out your senseless wars? As testimony delivered to Congress by U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan indicates, the belief that government knows best and is acting in their best interest is very deeply ingrained in the troops. Unfortunately, they're often in for a rude shock when they find out it`s bullshit. Consider this account from former Marine sniper, Sergio Kochergin:

My second deployment was in the city of Husaybah in Al Anbar province in Al Qaim region on the Syrian border. First thing I want to talk about is the drop weapons. Drop weapons are the weapons that are given to us by our chain of command in case we kill somebody without any weapons, and so that we would not get into trouble. We would carry an AK-47, and if the person that was shot did not have the weapon, an AK-47 would be placed at his corpse, and when the unit would come back to the base, they would turn it in to identify the shot man as the enemy combatant. The weapons could not come from anywhere else but the higher chain of command, because after the raid, all weapons were turned in into the armory and should have been recorded.

Two months into deployment, our rules of engagement changed to a personnel with having a bag and a shovel at the intersection or on the roads, that they were suspicious. This gave us a bigger window on who we can engage. Looking at the situation, this point of view, a lot of enemy combatants that we shot were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were tired, mad, angry, and we just wanted to go home and stop this killing of our brothers. One of our intelligence officers told us that they received a call from one of the sources in the city telling them that there are fliers posted all over the town that says that there are unknown snipers in the city, they kill the insurgents and the civilians. We did not take into consideration that the innocent people are being killed by us, because every time we sent the pictures to the command post through the interlink system, we would receive an approval to kill people with shovels and the bags.

Now, I know that it wasn’t right to do that, but when you trust those who act like they care for you, you listen to them and follow their orders, because you don’t want to let your friends down. “What if?” was used as a propaganda and a way to relieve our minds from the actions we have partaken in and make it easier on us.

Or this account from former Army Captain Luis Montalvan, who worked extensively for General David Petraeus and somehow found the courage to do what was right, despite getting orders to the contrary:

In Iraq, I witnessed many disturbing things. I witnessed waterboarding. I was given unlawful orders by superiors to not offer humanitarian assistance to refugees caught between Syrian and Iraqi borders. I disobeyed those orders.

Perhaps Adam Kokesh, who joined the Marines in 1999 because he felt “a responsibility to take part in the national defense in some way,” says it best:

I would only hope that anyone considering joining the military today for those reasons of which I am very proud of realize that they have a higher calling than serving their country: to restore faith in our system of governance, before they make themselves ready to fight and kill and die in the United States of America, knowing that they may end up dying for a lie.

You do not have to have served to see how recent pressures on the military are making us weaker as a country. You do not have to have witnessed the occupation firsthand to see its absurdity. And you do not have to be an expert on international relations to see the disastrous effects of our foreign policy. Ignorance, propaganda and distraction have made up the last refuge of those Americans who would rather remain in denial about our current state of affairs. Now that we are facing the truth and the majority of America is at least nominally against the occupation of Iraq, what fate will we claim for our nation? For some, their silence will be their hypocrisy, and their inaction will be their complicity with the destruction of our great union.

Just a little something to think about on this Memorial Day, from those who have seen our government and its agents at their worst, yet still care enough to speak out in an effort to rectify those wrongs.

And on a totally different note, a story in today's Maui News on a surge in meth sales and use on that island noted:

The Maui police had "intel" that drug traffickers were using the Hawaii Superferry to transport meth from Honolulu to Maui, before the ferry service shut down, he added. That presented an especially difficult channel to block, because Maui police didn't have jurisdiction over activities on the high seas, he [police officer Ken Doyle] said.

Do you suppose the folks at HSF knew — or cared?


Andy Parx said...

Adam Kokesh: I would only hope that anyone considering joining the military today for those reasons of which I am very proud..., know.. that they may end up dying for a lie.

There’s your problem- ALL dead soldiers end up “dying for a lie” so what is there to be “very proud” of?

Anonymous said...

How bout WW II?

darwin_was_pretty_smart said...

"without any particularized suspicion that an individual student has violated any school rule"

-- probable cause ='s reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. cant have one w/o the other fyi

"But it’s an entirely appropriate message if you want to [tread on some constitutional rights per a heavy handed effort to curb teen drug use]"

otherwise, for every negative "democracy now" cut-and-paste, one could just as easily provide a positive cite to a "good" activity or development per a US military / foreign policy activity (unless one, for emotional and/or political reasons, will not....and not so doing is just as intellectually dishonest, jaded and/or lazy as simply citing "WWII" as a catch-all counter example)

nowondertheyhateus said...

Why did it take so many hearings to educate legislators that HSF did not have the deterrents that airlines have when it comes to drug contraband?

And guess what ? They still werenʻt educated and still do not realize the threat that was being emphasized in opposition to HSF because of the drug factor.

Next question. How do these ignorant vapid people continue to be elected?

No wonder things are so fukked up and no wonder they hate us...for all we do and what we are.

I was wondering what Amy Goodman would do to ʻhonorʻ memorial day. It was a great tribute; the Winter Soldierʻs testimonies.
Any of the foamy mouthed know-it-alls that wank on this blog should listen to it. Because these blog wankers havenʻt been to battle and do little other than beat off at their computers or molest their daughters. Wow. Why should they have a say on anything. Even a vote. Pity.

nowondertheyhateus said...

By the way, thank you Joan for highlighting the Winter Soldier today.

Joan Conrow said...

You're welcome. While the military has its own highly effective and well-funded PR/propaganda arm continually touting (often falsely) its virtues, the voices of the disenchanted and/or screwed-over soldiers are so rarely heard.

charley foster said...

For legal wonks, I argue that Jon Van Dyke mistates the meaning of the 9th Circuit school search case, B.C. v. Plumas Unified School District, here. I'm glad to see the article is available online.

Anonymous said...

Plumas also relied Horton v. Goose Creek Independent School Dist., 690 F.2d 470 5th Cir.1982), which held "that the dogs' sniffing of cars and lockers does not constitute a search within the purview of the fourth amendment." So kiddies, stash your jays in your pockets, or better yet, don't waste your buzz on school. It's enough of a trip.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me that Andy's a Holocaust denier!