The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #58447   Message #925887
Posted By: Mark Cohen
04-Apr-03 - 03:45 AM
Thread Name: BS: WAR:- Why the fuss when soldiers die
Subject: RE: BS: WAR:- Why the fuss when soldiers die
Is it true that some American people -- probably the pro-war ones -- believe that American lives are worth more than the lives of other nations?

Of course. So do some Iraqis. So do some English. So do some Chinese. (About their own country, that is.) The concept of "enemy" is hard-wired into our brains (it's an archetype, to use the Jungian phrase), and is most strongly expressed in adolescent males, which is why we use them as soldiers. It made sense, millions of years ago, to try to fight off and kill an invading male who was trying to mate with the females of your group and thus perpetuate his genes at the expense of your own. The remnant of that neural circuit is triggered by jingoistic slogans about patriotism and glory, but especially by those posters that are trotted out year after year, war after war, that show mean nasty ugly guys doing mean nasty ugly things, often to women; and by NCO's who know how to whip up that hate reflex in their troops. But it's actually more than "believing X lives are worth more than Y lives"'s a process of dehumanizing the enemy, so you think of them as menacing and subhuman. (Kind of like the way we in Hawaii think of those 6-inch-long centipedes that sometimes skitter across the floor of our houses. When I saw one of those suckers, I would smash it, over and over, 5, 10, 25 times, until it was nothing but goo, my face red and my heart pounding the whole time.)

On the old album "Tom Paxton Live", Tom tells a story about his experience in basic training, when a sergeant got up and gave his platoon a lecture on the history and use of the bayonet. He got the troops whipped into a frenzy, talking about battles and stabbing the enemy in hand-to-hand combat and blood spurting everywhere. Pretty soon lots of the guys were bobbing up and down, salivating, pawing at the ground, pounding their fists into their hands or their buddy's shoulder, as the sergeant grew more and more animated and strident. Finally, Tom says, at the very peak of emotion and blood lust,

'He held his weapon above his head and shouted:

"What is the purpose of the bayonet?"

And we all shouted back, "To KILL! To KILL!" And we KILLED HIM!'