The Iraq War: I Think I Finally Get It
Could it be that my brain has been deceiving me? Call it a protective filter of denial, but there's some level of my conscious thought that still doesn't believe any of this is really happening. That's what these years seem like. They are so much like a nightmare that I'm running with it.
Somewhere in this cavernous skull of mine, a message keeps going out not to be too upset. It's a whisper that argues persistently, saying, "If it's this much like a nightmare, maybe it really is a nightmare. You never know." Hey, you can't fault the brain for trying to lessen the anxiety level. The whispers continue, "Just go on sleeping and eventually you will wake up and the Iraq War will be over. You'll kick yourself and laugh at how upset you were, when it was only a bad dream." A bad dream that's now lasted 4 years.
The Anti-War March yesterday was a deeply sobering and sad occasion. I filmed the marchers walking by and it took something like 46 minutes - 46 minutes of banners and signs and all types of people, and in the end, I couldn't pretend anymore. Not in the darkest recesses of my head could there be any doubt. The Iraq War is very real - a living breathing nightmare that seems to become more tragic by the second.
I've seen Portland for years including during many protests when I was working at a hotel downtown. It was downright unsettling to see this many people winding through the streets. It seemed extremely dire, as if I was watching a funeral procession - an angry, sad funeral procession. Even the light hopeful moments were drenched in the overwhelming knowledge that something horrible is happening and we can't seem to make it stop. There is no alarm clock that will snap us out of this.
By around 4 o'clock yesterday, I think I got what this is really all about. I felt it. This is about the State's ability to kill someone - a citizen who hasn't done anything to anyone else. Not just to ask politely to kill them, but to entice them into a situation with all manner of noble talk, to deceive them as to the real reasons why, and then to turn around and get them brutally killed. And if along the way they become onto it, to keep sending them back over and over again, as virtually permanent government wards who can't go home. That's what we have here right now. That's the nightmare we're living in.
Yes, we all know there are extreme circumstances when young people are called upon to defend our country. We all know that. But what is it when the State tells them that's what they are doing, and then sends them to die unnecessarily in something else? That has to be a crime, doesn't it? I mean what's manslaughter? What's murder? Is the State so big and powerful that it can do things that would be crimes for anyone else?
No, or at least it shouldn't be, which means we are living in a time when the United States government's leaders are criminals. They shouldn't be allowed to take a 19-year-old boy and blow his limbs off and then let him die on the side of the road in a place that wasn't threatening us.
Of course they said it was threatening us, because they had to say that. This should only happen when our country is being threatened, so that is what they said. Don't you see this as the proof? The State can only be allowed to do this if it is a matter of national security - defending the country. That's the threshold that makes this behavior not a crime. Self defense is not a crime. This was not self defense.
What was their point? That if we didn't respond, these same streets this march went down in Portland could have been taken by the Iraqi Republican Guard? It was ridiculous when they first said it, but it just seems tragic now. It is obvious that it was a marketing job - it was not the truth. The State lied and took some of our young people and killed them. That cannot be legal.
What worries me most are the millions of people out there who are okay with it. They see something about their lives as being so important that a certain percentage of the lesser ones should be asked to die for an errand. For a mere whim. If the leaders just feel that it's a good idea that could lead to a beneficial result, than that is enough to kill a young person.
What I realized yesterday is that it isn't enough. Oh, I knew it already, but it came into greater focus. First, the idea behind America is that there are no lesser ones. And the State doesn't exist as something so great that it can ask someone to die carrying out some mere agenda. It has to be absolutely necessary. It has to be a matter of life and death already. Iraq wasn't. The President has sent young people to die for a vision, a hunch.
Who cares if it was about oil or what it was about? It wasn't about defending America from an actual attack - there was none from Iraq - so the reasons we did this are not good enough. You can't kill young people over something like this. In fact, what our leaders have done is a crime. Sure, it feels like a nightmare, but in the final analysis, it's a crime.