There’s no script for this.

The wonderful Chloe Angyal has a piece at Jezebel about what a civilian can say to a wounded soldier (answer: not a lot). I would recommend avoiding the comments, unless you want to read a ridiculous parody of liberalism-gone-heartless.

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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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183 Responses

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin October 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

    I’m a Quaker, a member of a historic peace church. Those with whom I attend Meeting for Worship are involved with many pacifist endeavors. Some assist soldiers in attaining honorable discharges. Some servicemen and women come to regret their service and want out for moral reasons. We have our own beliefs, but do not foist them upon others unless they reach out to us first.

    At times, I see a kind of latent hostility towards the armed forces, though most Quakers try to separate human beings from the military-industrial complex.

    My father was never especially gung-ho about the military. He, plus two of my uncles found ways to evade the draft. My father entered law enforcement to avoid being sent to Vietnam. For my uncles, palms were greased at the local draft board to ensure that they would never see active duty.

    As may have always been the case, the old truism of “rich man’s war and poor man’s fight” is still relevant.

    Like the wounded veteran of this story, it bothers me to hear college students of obvious privilege on the bus or around the neighborhood. The economic hierarchies that govern us are still very much in force. I myself lucked out in that the nature of my disability disqualified me from service. But it also kept me out of the Peace Corps, so it wasn’t all roses.

    My response is to view war once more as destructive, senseless, and brutal. For anyone brave enough to be in harm’s way, I wish them health and healing upon their return from the battlefield.

  2. chava
    chava October 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

    I am from a military family, and the only ‘script’ we have for it is to listen and say thank you. Unless you yourself have been in combat, people usually don’t want to talk to you about it, and they certainly don’t want you to push them. The reporter sounds like she was a good friend.

    Clueless things not to say (that I’ve heard IRL):

    1) How many people have you killed/have you ever killed anyone?
    2) Were you scared?
    3) You’re such a hero.
    4) Would you do it again?
    5) You should really talk about it/I understand how you must feel.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan October 23, 2012 at 11:29 am |

      May I ask, what are you thanking them for?

      1. chava
        chava October 23, 2012 at 11:41 am |

        Traditionally, for their service to their country and their sacrifice. Or just for trusting you enough to talk about their experience with you. (Oh wait, you knew that and were snarking that there’s nothing to thank them for because they’re all morally bankrupt murderers, right?)

        Yes, there are serious caveats to the sentiment, and some vets will just find it irritating. I feel profoundly ambivalent about it myself. But it’s generally a decent place to start.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan October 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

          No, I literally meant to ask what you are thanking them for. 9_9

      2. Joe from an alternate universe
        Joe from an alternate universe October 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

        Ask the French people who maintain the American cemetary in Normandy.

    2. TomSims
      TomSims October 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |

      ” Unless you yourself have been in combat, people usually don’t want to talk to you about it”

      Very true.

    3. TomSims
      TomSims October 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

      “1) How many people have you killed/have you ever killed anyone?”

      Those of us who fought in Vietnam heard it another way “How many women and children did you murder?”

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah October 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

        That’s an awful thing to say to a vet. [shaking my head] As if those kinds of blaming and nasty questions make anything any better? I don’t understand that at all.

      2. im
        im October 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

        Yeah, nasty both ways especially as unless you were, say, a German soldier in specifically the right place and right time anybody you were killing was at least ambiguously going to try to kill you.

        I don’t support mandatory honor for soldiers, but I do respect not treating people like they haven’t made a moral judgement at all, even after what they had to do/ had to see.

  3. jimbeam
    jimbeam October 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

    Yeah if you’re gonna say derailing comments are wrong, comments like “what about Afghan and Iraqi civilians” oughta qualify.

  4. DP
    DP October 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

    What’s wrong with the comments? The top linked one makes a very good point – no one put a gun to Anthony’s head to make him cross the world and step on an IED. It’s very sad for him and his loved ones that he lost a leg but he could have avoided the whole thing by not choosing to become a soldier.

    Bringing up Afghan civilians who have no choice about whether they live in a war zone is entirely appropriate.

    1. king ten butts
      king ten butts October 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

      with that comment i hope you’re prepared to get endlessly strawmanned & likened to hitler.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L October 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

        with that comment i hope you’re prepared to get endlessly strawmanned & likened to hitler.

        Right, because commenters here liken people they disagree with to Hitler every day. Do you actually have any idea where you are? Have you ever even commented here before? If you’re really as much of an asshole as you appear to be, I’m not looking forward to seeing much more from you.

        1. king ten butts
          king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

          that you only contested my claim that he would get likened to hitler is actually kinda funny.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L October 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm |

          I don’t think he’s been strawmanned, either. Still an asshole, I see!

        3. king ten butts
          king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

          not in this thread (at least not until AFTER you posted this) but his sentiment has been strawmanned in separate threads.
          i don’t know why you feel the need to defend feministe’s comments section, though, of all things. there is plenty of transphobia & racism to get pissed off about if strawmen don’t do it for you.

    2. Angel H.
      Angel H. October 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

      Both of you can just go fuck yourselves and your victim-blaming.

      1. DP
        DP October 24, 2012 at 10:18 am |

        Are people who lose their life racing motorcycles or BASE-jumping ‘victims?’

        I mean, it’s tragic – I cried when my favorite racecar driver died. But I also knew that the daily risk of death was something he signed up for….

        I know soldiers. It’s tragic when they are hurt and injured. But unlike, say, your friend dying in a car accident – it’s also fairly unsurprising.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl October 24, 2012 at 10:52 am |

          Oh, Jill, we ladies are just supposed to keep our legs crossed so as to not get knocked up in the first place. Else it’s all our fault too if we die in childbirth.

          /Snark

          Seriously though, this whole discussion about soldiers of whether soldiers are deserving of sympathy or compassion for their injuries/death, is pretty jaw-dropping. I thought it was just the Repubs who loved bootstrappy, you get what you deserve, finger wagging. It’s disgusting to see if coming from supposedly liberal types.

        2. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date October 24, 2012 at 11:10 am |

          Seriously though, this whole discussion about soldiers of whether soldiers are deserving of sympathy or compassion for their injuries/death, is pretty jaw-dropping.

          Me too. I had been thinking that surely nobody would truly, actually, say to an injured soldier (or a soldier’s survivor), “Ho hum, you imperialist murderer(‘s family member), what did you expect anyway?”

          But evidently somebody would. I’m sorry.

        3. DP
          DP October 24, 2012 at 11:19 am |

          Well, I guess I don’t agree about not deserving less sympathy. I wouldn’t argue that soldiers deserve no sympathy, but I have more sympathy for other people.

          Would you agree it’s fair to say that the average American has more sympathy for a wounded soldier than the victims of a US drone strike or bombing run?

          I think that any real radical movement has to apply constant pressure against that feeling in order to change the way the issue is framed. On this blog you often talk about the “whataboutthemenz” thing – about why it’s important to keep the focus on the people who suffer MOST from the patriarchy, and that even if men are hurt by it, we need to keep it in perspective.

          The reasoning behind my comments is that the suffering of soldiers, while terrible, needs to be seen in the context of the suffering created by the actions of the US military (at the behest of its civilian commander-in-chief).

          As long as we as a nation care MORE about keeping our soldiers safe (which is still important) than about the justice of the missions they are sent on (which should ALWAYS be the primary concern), we will keep getting better and better weapons to fight worse and worse wars.

    3. miga
      miga October 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm |

      What rubbed me the wrong way about the linked comment was that it assumed that you can’t feel empathy for more than one person at a time, especially if that person’s situation is at odds with another’s situation.

      I’m definitely anti-war, but my grandpa and cousin were servicemen. I didn’t support my cousin’s decision to go to Afghanistan and kill people, just as I didn’t support the country’s decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan- but at the same time I feel empathy for his brothers-in-arms who were wounded or killed. The entire situation sucks, especially for civilians caught in the crossfire, but belittling one person’s pain and trauma? Not ok in my book.

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah October 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

        I completely agree, @miga. That’s exactly how I feel. Its a shitty, fucked up situation and people’s lives are at stake. I can feel sympathy and sadness for soldiers who are wounded (physically and/or emotionally) without saying that I support every war and don’t care about civilian casualties. Of course I care about civilian casualties, but I also care about young people who come home wounded and need support. You can care about more than one thing at a time!

    4. Kasabian
      Kasabian October 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

      Not to reduce all agency in the matter, but you can’t sweep aside the socio-economic factors that make a military life appealing or sometimes even necessary.

      Does a soldier ‘choose’ to go fight an unjust war? In some ways, a gun was to his head; going AWOL has serious repercussions. It’s a shitty reflection on our society when joining the military somehow equates to ‘volunteering’ to go step on a landmine in Iraq, but that’s where Bush got us and I don’t think that’s any soldier’s fault.

      1. DP
        DP October 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

        If you sign up to be a soldier, you sign up to either kill people or, more likely, to aid in the more efficient operation of a machine with one purpose – killing people. What soldier does not know that death is on both sides of the equation for every warrior?

        In addition, joining the US military is without question joining an imperial army. that may be less apparent but it is the truth. And if in the course of war a soldier witnesses or enacts atrocities… well, what’s the excuse?

        1. Angel H.
          Angel H. October 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm |

          You are so full of bullshit that it burns. Most military members don’t even see combat.

          You know why most people enlist? To pay their bills. Not “to kill people”. It’s because they see no other financial prospects except the service.

          But who gives a fuck if they lose a limb or two, right? I mean, you’ve never had to work a shitty job for a shitty company who did shitty things and treated its workers like shit just so you could make ends meet, right?

          But don’t get it twisted, I’m not a fan of the military-industrial complex. I *am* a fan of people like my cousin who’s a single mother and saw it as a way to support her two sons, and my dad who had been laid-off from 2 of his 3 jobs and saw it as a last ditch effort to support his growing family and stay out of a life of crime.

          Stop taking your view of people in the military from the movies and actually get to know some of them.

        2. chava
          chava October 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm |

          This, this is what gives liberals a bad name.

          But fine, go ahead and blame kids who sign up for their college education or a chance to see the world and then end up missing their legs or the eyes or killing themselves or their families because of severe PTSD.

          An 18 year old who joins because he has no other options is not, by and large, aware of what killing people *means.* They aren’t aware of what war will take from them or what they will be asked to do to other. They don’t realize that the military can fucking experiment on them with absolute impunity. Blaming soldiers instead of the system is not just a failure of compassion, but a failure to recognize the larger institutional changes that urgently need to be made.

          And yeah, this is personal for me. This is both my grandfather who joined for a chance at college and a better life. This is my friends who can’t sleep. And this is my 18 year old neighbor who was told he wouldn’t ever be deployed, who started his first week of college, only to be called back the next week and be deployed to Kabul.

          You look his mother in the eye when he comes back broken and tell her there’s “no excuse.”

        3. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm |

          I’m conflicted over it. I feel empathy for the injured/killed and their families, and also I detest the colonizer’s military. I mean, the military was historically used to put my people in graves. I understand the colonizer privilege that erases or glorifies that history, but it makes me physically ill when NA’s join. I just…I just don’t understand why anyone would volunteer to be a part of something that spent the better part of a few hundred years committing genocide. There’s just no way to un-taint that, for me.

        4. doberman
          doberman October 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm |

          Blaming soldiers instead of the system is not just a failure of compassion, but a failure to recognize the larger institutional changes that urgently need to be made.

          First off, I support the American and British militaries completely. I think they do a nasty but necessary job.

          But I have to say I absolutely abhor this way of thinking. “Blame the system!” “Institutional changes!” Etc. Etc. People need to start taking personal responsibility for the change they want to see happen in the world and stop complaining. This is very relevant to feminism too. That means no more talk of “institutionalized sexism” and “internalized misogyny” and such like. Take personal responsiblity for the change you would like to see. Stop pussy-footing around.

        5. chava
          chava October 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

          “Institutionalized sexism” and “internalized misogyny” somehow mean that women should take Personal Responsibility for sexism now? Unless you meant that men should not use the system as an excuse (which I rather doubt).

          These words, Doberman, they do not mean what you think they mean.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 23, 2012 at 1:06 am |

          WTF, doberman. I hate the military and I still wouldn’t say that individual soldiers need to “step up and take responsibility” in the way that you are. For being in (insert hellhole warzone)? Yeah, sure. Not for getting their fucking leg blown off and then being fucked over for treatment or therapy because nobody cares any more. At that point they deserve services. As goddamn citizens, if not soldiers.

        7. matlun
          matlun October 23, 2012 at 6:25 am |

          If you sign up to be a soldier, you sign up to either kill people or, more likely, to aid in the more efficient operation of a machine with one purpose – killing people.

          This is true, and as a soldier you have to own that responsibility. Generally speaking, however, this does not have to be a moral evil. I am not a pacifist and I believe that in some cases using military force is necessary.

          Whether the soldiers have a realistic picture of US foreign policy so that they can make an informed decision about the morality of joining the US military is a question that is much harder to answer. And the answer is much less clearcut than just saying “killing other people is wrong”.

        8. TomSims
          TomSims October 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

          “If you sign up to be a soldier, you sign up to either kill people ”

          In my day, there was a military draft. And in combat, the expressions is “kill or be killed” Also the enemy had a surrender option. In my own experience in Vietnam, those I faced in combat chose the kill or be killed option. Another point is that the vast majority of military personnel are support and never see combat.

        9. matlun
          matlun October 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

          @TomSims: I am not 100% sure you were replying to me, but I want to clarify myself anyway since I believe we are pretty much on the same side.

          The basic purpose of the military is to kill people. There are some limitations to this in that you should do so honorably within the laws of war, but that is its primary function. (Ok, it is also there to act as a deterrent, by just threatening to kill people).

          However, unless you are a pacifist, using this harsh reality to condemn the military and the soldiers is a very dishonest argument. Most people agree that using military force is sometimes justified, and sometimes even a moral imperative. We can debate which exact military operations that are justified, but the principle is there.

          So the military is a necessary part of society, and we should be thankful that there are soldiers willing to put their lives on the line and fill that role.

        10. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan October 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

          TomSims, this isn’t your day. The people who have been signing up for the military during the last 10 years know exactly where they’re going to end up, and they are (ultimately) choosing to go into forcefully-occupied areas and shoot at people. It might not outweigh the other factors that influence their decision, like their need for money or a job, etc., but don’t pretend they’re being drafted into something they know nothing about.

        11. DP
          DP October 24, 2012 at 10:25 am |

          No one fucking listens, jesus. I explicitly said that soldiers don’t always kill, but they are cogs in a very particular machine.

          And people are saying some real condescending bullshit here. Like an 18-year-old recruit doesn’t know he’ll be asked to pull a trigger or drive the truck that carries bullets to the guy who pulls a trigger. Everyone knows what the fucking Army does – it kills the people the C-in-C tells it to kill and defends the land the C-in-C demands it defend. That’s the whole point.

          @TomSims – a draft is a whole other thing. I can’t blame drafted soldiers for the shit that goes down. They didn’t have a (viable) choice.

          I’m talking about grown-ass men and women who volunteer to join an army in the last 9-10 years, after we launched an unjust war of oppression.

          Honestly? I get pissed off when people say the US military is keeping me safe, because right now (not necessarily thanks to its own judgment, but thanks to the places it’s been sent) it’s not. The global effect of the US military machine has been to increase conflict, increase chaos, and increase the likelihood of a terrorist strike on my own city.

          A certain kind of military is necessary to keep a nation safe (Although who are we defending against, Canada? The last time troops set foot on US soil was in the Aleutian Islands in the ’40s). But what is not necessary is a vast imperial machine of occupation with bases in almost every nation in the world.

          And even if the US military keeps me safer, it makes a lot of other people much less safe, and their lives are not worth less than mine.

        12. TomSims
          TomSims October 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |

          “TomSims, this isn’t your day. The people who have been signing up for the military during the last 10 years know exactly where they’re going to end up, and they are (ultimately) choosing to go into forcefully-occupied areas and shoot at people. It might not outweigh the other factors that influence their decision, like their need for money or a job, etc., but don’t pretend they’re being drafted into something they know nothing about.”

          Humankind have been killing each other for centuries. It’s in a the human DNA. Having a strong military acts as a deterant to others who would invade your space. And people that go into the all volunteer military do so for many reasons. And in a combat theater less than 10% sees actual combat.

        13. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan October 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

          Humankind have been killing each other for centuries. It’s in a the human DNA.

          Humankind has been blowing the legs off each other for centuries, too. Does having a long history make something less objectionable? Because then I guess we don’t have to feel bad for vets; terrible war wounds are just in their/our DNA!

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl October 23, 2012 at 9:52 am |

        Not to reduce all agency in the matter, but you can’t sweep aside the socio-economic factors that make a military life appealing or sometimes even necessary.

        No joke.

        It’s no secret that the military goes out of its way to recruit soldiers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In no small part because those are the young people who are most desperate for any opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families.

        I grew up with a whole lot of folks who went into the military right out of H.S. Because there were pretty much no other opportunities for them to go to college or get a decent paying job after graduation. If people here and elsewhere don’t realize how military recruiters can make themselves and the military look like saviors to these kids, and sell them a life in military service then you are seriously clueless. It’s a roof over your head, food for you and your family, a chance to get job skills and college tuition paid after you finish your tours of duty.

        1. miga
          miga October 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

          Yeah, recruiting policies are very shady and purposely misleading, especially amongst poor men (and women) of color. And I’ve heard it over and over from adults, the media, and military personnel themselves that it’s a good tool for “straightening” troubled kids out, teaching them discipline and grit, etc.

        2. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah October 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

          I’m replying here even though I kind of wanted to reply to chava above….I hate that I can’t join the discussion and reply at the “right” point in a discussion. Anyway…I’m really conflicted about this. You can’t neglect to mention that yes, its not always a “choice” for everyone. Very true. But, it is ABSOLUTELY is a choice for many young people. And its paternalizing and, I think, naive, to suggest that people only join up because they don’t have other options or because they are young and don’t know better. Yes, there are TONS of soldiers out there that joined up for those reasons. There are also those soldiers that joined up because they thought it was the ‘right’ thing to do…and that is something that IS debatable. And there are also those like my cousin, who joined up at age 25, after getting a college degree and being told by his parents that they would pay for him to get his Masters. He wanted to join up because (and I AM quoting here), “He wanted to travel and play with guns all day.” He didn’t want “a boring desk job.” Talking to him after he had been in for awhile, he said that it was cool because if you had a disagreement with someone in your platoon, you could fight it out, whereas when you have a disagreement with someone in another job you can’t just punch them in the kidneys. As if punching someone in the kidneys is ever a real good way to solve a problem? But, oookay, whatever works for ya’ll. I had more of a problem when he said that it was awesome that when he had a bad day he got to shoot guns at people and that made it better. Seriously? And he’s a smart guy. And so are a few of the other people that I know that have been in combat and have come back with lots of racist, violent comments to make about the middle east. I can’t know what they are going through and I can’t know what is in their HEARTS about all of this (maybe they don’t want to express their true feelings). But I can certainly say that some of these comments made me feel less like using words like ‘hero.’ That said, my cousin is NOT a bad person. He’s just another dude, like any other, and he DOES NOT deserve to get blown up or hurt in anyway. No one does. In fact, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that there are soldiers (and civilians) that are out there dealing with fear right now. How fucking awful. What a fucking world. Sorry for the language.

          Anyway, I’m conflicted every time I see a service person in uniform. Part of me wants to shake their hand and show my appreciation because I know people who joined the military for reasons that ARE honorable and moral (in my opinion) and when I talk to them about it, they make me feel like I should have joined up, too. But all it takes it a status message like “Get ‘er done!” with a link to an article about deaths in Afghanistan and I come crashing down again. Not all intentions are honorable and sometimes people really are just doing an incredibly risky and awful job that many people don’t want to do. And other people kind of enjoy it even if it is dangerous and risky. I’m torn about how to feel about it and I don’t think that makes me a bad person.

          Also, I object to the original article’s idea that young people today don’t know anyone in the military…who are the young people that don’t know anyone who has been in the military? My grandfathers, uncles, and cousins, as well as lots of friends are in the military…and I’m not old. And I don’t think I’m unusual, either.

        3. DP
          DP October 24, 2012 at 10:27 am |

          This is all true. But everyone knows there’s a potential price to pay. As I said above – it’s terrible when the butcher’s bill comes due. It’s a tragedy for each and every family.

          But I don’t know why anyone is surprised.

        4. chava
          chava October 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |

          Stupid nesting is stupid. Anyway:

          You can’t neglect to mention that yes, its not always a “choice” for everyone. Very true. But, it is ABSOLUTELY is a choice for many young people. And its paternalizing and, I think, naive, to suggest that people only join up because they don’t have other options or because they are young and don’t know better. Yes, there are TONS of soldiers out there that joined up for those reasons. There are also those soldiers that joined up because they thought it was the ‘right’ thing to do…and that is something that IS debatable. And there are also those like my cousin, who joined up at age 25, after getting a college degree and being told by his parents that they would pay for him to get his Masters. He wanted to join up because (and I AM quoting here), “He wanted to travel and play with guns all day.”

          So, I know/have known all three kinds. I’ve gotten into plenty of arguments with the second, and have a few relatives of the third. I do tend to think that the tune of kids in the third tends to change after they actually have to kill someone. Sometimes not, though.

          The people closest to me have been in the first group, so that’s my knee jerk response.

        5. chava
          chava October 24, 2012 at 10:45 am |

          Anyway, I’m conflicted every time I see a service person in uniform. Part of me wants to shake their hand and show my appreciation because I know people who joined the military for reasons that ARE honorable and moral (in my opinion) and when I talk to them about it, they make me feel like I should have joined up, too. But all it takes it a status message like “Get ‘er done!” with a link to an article about deaths in Afghanistan and I come crashing down again. Not all intentions are honorable and sometimes people really are just doing an incredibly risky and awful job that many people don’t want to do. And other people kind of enjoy it even if it is dangerous and risky. I’m torn about how to feel about it and I don’t think that makes me a bad person.

          Ya, that’s pretty much how I feel too.

        6. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl October 24, 2012 at 11:06 am |

          But, it is ABSOLUTELY is a choice for many young people. And its paternalizing and, I think, naive, to suggest that people only join up because they don’t have other options or because they are young and don’t know better. Yes, there are TONS of soldiers out there that joined up for those reasons. There are also those soldiers that joined up because they thought it was the ‘right’ thing to do…and that is something that IS debatable.

          I dunno, Sarah. It’s just that I know at least a dozen kids from my hometown who joined up for the reasons I discussed. It’s not paternalizing to point out that a 17 or 18yo is wise enough to really be able to think through all the implications of enlisting. Especially if they come from desperate circumstances that make it next to impossible to find any other way to make a living for themselves and their families.

          And then they are approached by a military recruiter who blows smoke at them about how honorable it is to serve their country, and how they will be guaranteed an income and a place to live and healthcare. Oh, and hey, if you marry that girlfriend/boyfriend of yours they can come with you and get those benefits as well!

          Sure, some people also enlist because they might think it’s the honorable thing to do. Although most of the military that I’ve met with that sort of pov are actually Officers who went to college and then entered through OCS. Then again, officers are often not in the direct line of fire like enlisted folks are.

        7. chava
          chava October 24, 2012 at 11:10 am |

          Sure, some people also enlist because they might think it’s the honorable thing to do. Although most of the military that I’ve met with that sort of pov are actually Officers who went to college and then entered through OCS. Then again, officers are often not in the direct line of fire like enlisted folks are.

          That’s been my experience as well.

    5. karak
      karak October 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm |

      Yeah, good thing the Afgani and Iraqi people lived in a safe, rational world before the US sent troops there.

      Or maybe they lived in places where insane dictators fed people to tigers and women has acid poured in their faces. Doesn’t make this any more right, but acting like there was nothing fucked up in those regions is just pure fantasy. And, of course, the absolute best time to make shitty comments about soldiers is right after about reading about a guy getting his legs blown off. That commentor is SO BRAVE.

      1. im
        im October 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

        This. Just this. I simply abhor people who theorize and moralize as if they had even more individual control and power to avert evil and institute good than did Stalin, and people who jump to blaming individual soldiers are pretty much the UR-example of this, along with certain anarchists.

    6. Iany
      Iany October 23, 2012 at 6:14 am |

      There are a lot of economic reasons why a person might choose to enter into the military. For a lot of people it’s their best chance of getting paid well and maybe getting a degree. In this economy.

      While there is certainly a lot to be said about the circumstances of people who live in a warzone, the article in question is not about that. It’s about what to say to people who are in the army after they come home. They are sent out told that they are defending their country and when they get hurt, while the civilians at home do not know what to say. This isn’t hypothetical, it’s the very real issue of putting a bridge between civilians and military. Because most may never go to Afghanistan and talk to local people there, but they will meet someone in the military and they will talk to them.

      The writer had a very specific message, and it was about people in the military. She made her point and it had nothing to do with the wars themselves but with how soldiers are perceived by those who have not seen war.

    7. armillaria
      armillaria October 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm |

      Agree.

  5. chava
    chava October 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm |

    edit: “both my grandfatherS” and “do to otherS”

    I can’t do plurals when emotional, apparently.

  6. Glass
    Glass October 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

    So I come here (and foolishly go on Jez) and see statements from a few about how someone who was hurt doing what they believed was right and good somehow brought it upon themselves.

    Then I go to one of my military/public safety forums and read comments there about a reporter who was hurt by a mob but it was her fault because she should have known better than to be there during that incident.

    Seriously, EVERYONE can just fuck off.

    Left, right, has everyone simply lost their ability to empathize with another human being who had something bad happen to them?

    Has everyone completely forgotten that values and ideals can be wildly different about things like the military or journalists or lawyers or even politicians while still being equally valid? And has everyone forgotten that those values are predominantly set by how and by whom we were raised just like religious and political affiliation?

    Seriously, EVERYONE can just fuck off, twice.

    1. Glass
      Glass October 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm |

      And I bet the kid who got blown up was totally dressed like a slut when it happened.

      He was also probably not a vegan either, so, ya know, justice is served. Amirite?

    2. king ten butts
      king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 12:44 am |

      We’re talking about murder, not our favourite colours. The people here that are not getting the sympathy you think they deserve willingly decided it might be a good idea to shoot or bomb someone. The people we are talking about have aided in creating a constant state of terror for nearly every Afghani, Pakistani, and Iraqi. Sorry if some people are not peachy-keen about the whole thing, I guess we just lack empathy.

      1. SlipperyWombat
        SlipperyWombat October 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

        king ten butts:
        We’re talking about murder, not our favourite colours. The people here that are not getting the sympathy you think they deserve willingly decided it might be a good idea to shoot or bomb someone. The people we are talking about have aided in creating a constant state of terror for nearly every Afghani, Pakistani, and Iraqi. Sorry if some people are not peachy-keen about the whole thing, I guess we just lack empathy.

        I think shooting and bombing members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda is a positively excellent idea. I accept the risks inherent in the profession I have chosen and have no particular need or desire for your sympathy.

        You may want to rethink your rhetoric though. Afghans living under a constant state of terror is an especially amusing claim. Cause life was so fucking sweet here under the Taliban and now they suffer under the brutal yoke of U.S. oppression. I mean, we build schools for girls! Hopefully the same brave freedom fighters who throw acid into the faces of those girls will one day reclaim this nation from their foul imperialist oppressors.

        And nearly every Pakistani? 95% of all U.S. strikes within Pakistan have targeted the Waziristan Province which is home to less than 1% of Pakistan’s population? So, no, not even the vaguest correspondence with reality.

        And Iraq? Any terror Iraqis experience today is the product of sectarian violence, not U.S. aggression. And that terror and violence is likely far less than what most of the population experienced under Saddam.

        1. Joe from an alternate universe
          Joe from an alternate universe October 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

          And Iraq? Any terror Iraqis experience today is the product of sectarian violence, not U.S. aggression. And that terror and violence is likely far less than what most of the population experienced under Saddam.

          What you say is true. I support the military and have family serving. But there are bad people everywhere: Hitler, Stalin, Tito, Pol Pot, Milosivic, Saddam, Idi Amin, al-Bashir, Assad. Bad things happen, we are not 911 for the world. Now we have 100 soldiers chasing that nut Kony? The next Mogadishu? Stand by for casualties.

      2. Joe from an alternate universe
        Joe from an alternate universe October 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

        When the Taliban were kicked out of Kabul there was dancing in the streets. But don’t worry, we are leaving, and the Taliban will be back. So the terror will be over. I do support leaving, though.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune October 23, 2012 at 1:00 am |

      Please don’t equate rape/assault victims with wounded soldiers. It’s highly offensive.

      1. chava
        chava October 23, 2012 at 8:43 am |

        I assume you are talking about my comment– I was pointing out the only possible way Dobermans comment could have anything to do with the military, not comparing one to the other.

        HOWEVER, there are many women soldiers. Many of those women soldiers are raped. There is a pretty hefty correlation there. To say they chose to be raped bc they signed up? That’s what’s offensive.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 23, 2012 at 8:48 am |

          Huh? I replied to somebody else’s comment equating that soldier with a journalist wounded by a mob and basically saying they were facing the same victim-blaming. Which, uh, no.

          So no, I wasn’t replying to you. Your comment about rape wasn’t pointing out a comparison, it was pointing out an overlap. And it was addressed at doberman’s obnoxious shit, so justified.

        2. chava
          chava October 23, 2012 at 8:52 am |

          This is what I get when I comment before coffee.

        3. Christina
          Christina October 23, 2012 at 9:05 am |

          Yeah, this argument makes no sense. Women soldiers do not join the military to get raped and being raped in not the very purpose of a soldier. By contrast, killing others is not a common, but very unnecessary and completely unfortunate, side effect of military life, it’s the entire reason a military exists in the first place. Women soldiers are not hired to be raped – but they are however, like their male counterparts, hired to kill and injure and to be killed and injured. This part of their job is not a surprise twist or an expendable element – it’s its essence.

          You’re the only one who drew this parallel and brought up rape and I agree with macavitykitsune: it’s offensive.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 23, 2012 at 9:14 am |

          This is what I get when I comment before coffee.

          Yeah, you might want to keep that in mind before angrily calling people rape-victim-blamers on the internets for no reason whatever.

        5. chava
          chava October 23, 2012 at 9:20 am |

          Ummm, I didn’t? But whatever. If you’re interpreting this as calling you a victim blamer:

          “HOWEVER, there are many women soldiers. Many of those women soldiers are raped. There is a pretty hefty correlation there. To say they chose to be raped bc they signed up? That’s what’s offensive”

          It was directed at Doberman.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 23, 2012 at 9:41 am |

          Argh, I was just coming back to edit that comment, but you’d already replied. Sorry, chava, I misread.

          FWIW my point was simply that the direct equivalent of raped civilians is raped soldiers, not wounded soldiers, and to say that their wounds=rape victims’ pain both erases rape survivors in the military and civilian rape survivors in wartime, who were raped by soldiers. Which was also your point, so I guess we’re in agreement there?

        7. chava
          chava October 23, 2012 at 9:57 am |

          OK, first–We can edit?! Say what now?

          And yea, I think we’re pretty much in agreement. Sorry for the mixup, linked comments defeat my brain.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

          Eek, I said “edit” when I meant “amend”. Fuck my brain was on a blinker yesterday.

      2. Glass
        Glass October 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |

        My point must have been missed so I’ll make it again:

        I’m not saying “sexual violence = wounded in battle” at all. Not even close to my point.

        What I’m saying is people, regardless of how something bad happened to them, are still deserving of our empathy. Even if you don’t agree with why they were there in the first place.

        I was/am frustrated because I come here and see comments about servicepeople being murderers and I go to a pro-military forum and see comments from a few about how the journalist bore some responsibility for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

        Unless someone is hurt while actively trying to harm an innocent person they deserve empathy because of their innate humanity.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan October 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

          Unless someone is hurt while actively trying to harm an innocent person they deserve empathy because of their innate humanity.

          I think the debate is whether this group includes American soldiers, though.

  7. chava
    chava October 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    Oh, and I suppose servicewomen who are regularly raped while performing their duty, and civilian women raped during wars just need to step on up, now. Let’s not talk about changing military culture, naw. Let’s just have those wimmins stop “pussy footing around.”

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve October 23, 2012 at 1:30 am |

      Oh, and I suppose servicewomen who are regularly raped while performing their duty, and civilian women raped during wars just need to step on up, now. Let’s not talk about changing military culture, naw. Let’s just have those wimmins stop “pussy footing around.”

      Though I am not amongst those who are so insensitive to a young man getting his leg blown off, I don’t think the (admittedly horrific at times) consequences of serving in a voluntary wartime army are comparable with any of the things you mentioned. Maybe I’m not understanding your point.

      1. chava
        chava October 23, 2012 at 8:51 am |

        It wasn’t, but I wasn’t clear enough. I was trying to point out the offensive implications of what Doberman said for women in wartime, both civilian and military.

        IIRC, the last time a thread like this popped up, it was about sexual violence in the military, and some lovely people thought it was just dandy to say that the women deserved it, because they chose their choice, and deserved what they got.

        1. TomSims
          TomSims October 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |

          “It wasn’t, but I wasn’t clear enough. I was trying to point out the offensive implications of what Doberman said for women in wartime, both civilian and military.

          IIRC, the last time a thread like this popped up, it was about sexual violence in the military, and some lovely people thought it was just dandy to say that the women deserved it, because they chose their choice, and deserved what they got.”

          Excellent point and very well stated

  8. SlipperyWombat
    SlipperyWombat October 23, 2012 at 12:31 am |

    As someone who is deployed to Afghanistan at the moment, I would strongly urge you to keep your Chomskian regurtitations about imperialism and pipelines to yourself if you ever find yourself interacting with a wounded vet. Although I have never experienced it, I tend to doubt the surgical removal of a prosthesis from your ass is a pain-free process.

    Seriously, you have every right to express your beliefs that service in the U.S. military amounts to willful participation in a colonialist, imperialist, and genocidal endeavor. I’ll just laugh at you and do my best Nicholson “…you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall…” I would just ask that you have a little tact if you are ever in the presence of someone who has made a permanent sacrifice in one of these conflicts.

    1. TomSims
      TomSims October 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

      “Seriously, you have every right to express your beliefs that service in the U.S. military amounts to willful participation in a colonialist, imperialist, and genocidal endeavor. I’ll just laugh at you and do my best Nicholson “…you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall…” I would just ask that you have a little tact if you are ever in the presence of someone who has made a permanent sacrifice in one of these conflicts.”

      I agree 110%. Thanks for your service. I did 2 combat tours in The Republic of South Vietnam, Rung Sat Special Zone.

    2. chava
      chava October 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

      I have been trying to keep myself from typing out that quote since this thread started.

      So, then. “Because they stand on a wall and say nothing is going to hurt you tonight. Not on my watch.”

      1. Sid
        Sid October 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

        Yeah, on occupied land in Cuba.

        1. chava
          chava October 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm |

          not making a larger comment on the movie vs reality. just have not been able to dig the quote out of my brain.

        2. armillaria
          armillaria October 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm |

          correct.

      2. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan October 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

        Yeah, some Iraqi kid was a real threat to my States-residing ass before our brave military went and stomped her good. Thank God the US military does nothing but protect us in legitimate conflicts!

        1. SlipperyWombat
          SlipperyWombat October 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

          Yeah, some Iraqi kid was a real threat to my States-residing ass before our brave military went and stomped her good. Thank God the US military does nothing but protect us in legitimate conflicts!

          Having fun whacking at that strawman?

          No one said anything about protecting you from Iraq – except the Bush administration. I opposed the war in Iraq. As did most of the military. Unfortunately, there is this clause in the oath we take which requires our subservience to civilian authority. Maybe you would prefer we opt for some praetorian guard action?

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan October 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

          I don’t have a problem with soldiers on an individual level; I generally respect how brave they are. They are just doing their dangerous and somewhat shitty job. But they aren’t protecting me from anything by being in the Middle East, and I refuse to pretend they are.

        3. Joe from an alternate universe
          Joe from an alternate universe October 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

          We killed thousands of French and Italian civilians, and 100,000’s of German civilians during WWII. We were wrong to get involved in WWII?

        4. EG
          EG October 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm |

          WW2 is the favorite example, isn’t it, because the Nazis are so clearly more horrific than any other side. But it’s telling that we have go back to WW2 for that example, and it’s not like we haven’t been sending our military around the world in the meantime. WW2 was the exception, not the rule.

          Regardless, what does that have to do with Bagelsan’s comment?

    3. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll October 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm |

      Seriously, you have every right to express your beliefs that service in the U.S. military amounts to willful participation in a colonialist, imperialist, and genocidal endeavor.

      Right. Because the fact that the US (and it’s military) is imperialist, colonialist and genocidal is fucking funny.

      Ongoing genocide. What a knee slapper.

      Taking Indian land for bomb testing. (Pine Ridge) God, how hilarious. To add to the hilarity, that move took the land of a survivor of Wounded Knee and made him homeless at the age of 84. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

      Decades of nuclear testing, weapons testing, chemical weapons storage on our lands..comedy gold, I’m sure.

      But you make up for it by hopping into your Blackhawk and Kiowa helicopters on your way to Operation Geronimo.

      1. SlipperyWombat
        SlipperyWombat October 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

        pheenobarbidoll

        Right. Because the fact that the US (and it’s military) is imperialist, colonialist and genocidal is fucking funny.

        Ongoing genocide. What a knee slapper.

        Taking Indian land for bomb testing. (Pine Ridge) God, how hilarious. To add to the hilarity, that move took the land of a survivor of Wounded Knee and made him homeless at the age of 84. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

        Decades of nuclear testing, weapons testing, chemical weapons storage on our lands..comedy gold, I’m sure.

        But you make up for it by hopping into your Blackhawk and Kiowa helicopters on your way to Operation Geronimo.

        Were you under the impression that the soldiers referenced in the article were those who fought at fucking Wounded Knee?

        Context. It matters.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

          Yeah context matters. Which is why decades of nuclear testing, weapons testing, chemical weapons storage on our lands is a rather CURRENT and ONGOING contribution to genocide. Also- that survivor of Wounded Knee was kicked off his land in 1942. Yanno, for ww2. Not exactly out of context either.

          In August of 2012 the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa raised 70 some odd barrels of toxic shit dumped by the Army in the 60’s.

          The Western Shoshone have been poisoned by nuclear testing and radiation.

          Shoshone and Paiute continued to protest after the beloved US military claimed that land (the land happened to have religious significance to the Shoshone and Paiute) could be wiped off the map and no one would notice.

          Moapa Band of Paiute were close enough to atomic bomb testings the kids could see the mushroom clouds from their SCHOOL YARD.

          China Lake Weapons Center- contaminated soil and groundwater, not to mention destroyed cultural artifacts. Guess the Death Valley Timbasha Shoshone don’t matter, though. No ribbons for them.

          Soldiers in the US military today are a part of a military that is still committing genocide. And yes, the military damn well knows it.

        2. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |

          BTW- what do these terms mean in the US military-

          off the reservation?

          into Indian country?

          Yeah.

      2. SlipperyWombat
        SlipperyWombat October 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

        Which is why decades of nuclear testing, weapons testing, chemical weapons storage on our lands is a rather CURRENT and ONGOING contribution to genocide. Also- that survivor of Wounded Knee was kicked off his land in 1942. Yanno, for ww2. Not exactly out of context either.

        Sorry, but no dice. Shit that happened half a century ago is not relevant to a discussion of wounded soldiers returning from a conflict happening in 2012.

        Soldiers in the US military today are a part of a military that is still committing genocide. And yes, the military damn well knows it.

        You can play semantic gymnastics with the definition of genocide all you like. Many of the soldiers and scientists involved in the Manhattan Project and other weapons programs you reference also suffered and died from radiation poisoning and toxic exposures. That was due to ignorance – and arguably expedience – but it had nothing to do with a concerted effort to exterminate Native Americans.

        It is certainly your right to claim the U.S. government chose the most sparsely populated desert locales it could find for these projects in order to facilitate genocide. That the irony of the proposition practically smacks one in the face may make selling it rather difficult.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

          Sorry, but no dice. Shit that happened half a century ago is not relevant to a discussion of wounded soldiers returning from a conflict happening in 2012.

          Dude, what part of ongoing do you not understand? Indian land is still used TODAY. October fucking 23, 2012. Still being poisoned. Still being dumped on. Still being tested on. Today. Now. Present tense. Shit from decades ago is still being found. The affects from “half a century ago” are still being felt and BEING ADDED TO RIGHT NOW.

          You can play semantic gymnastics with the definition of genocide all you like.

          wow. Race fail.

        2. im
          im October 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

          I intensely dislike both of you.

          On the one hand, we have Racial Word Priority, in which white oppressors always have the wrong definitions of words compared to normal people even though it would be possible to have separate terms for mass murder of a race and for less individually coercive racism that results in a race gradually dying out. Plus I notice that we are never offered any pity by non-scoundrels if we are diffusing and fading On the other hand, we have a racefail with ignoring continuing effects and mocking very real harms. ON the first hand again we have the Eternal History Argument.

          Furthermore, it should be obvious to BOTH of you that both of you have very strong emotional connections, possibly rising to triggerable level, about what has happened to you and yours, and yet you make some of the most ridiculous attacks.

        3. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

          I intensely dislike both of you.

          don’t care, random internet person.

          in which white oppressors always have the wrong definitions of words

          aaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwww

          *sad face*

        4. EG
          EG October 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

          less individually coercive racism that results in a race gradually dying out.

          You’re kidding, right? How, precisely, has US policy to the indigenous people of North America, ever been “less” individually coercive? And who gets to decide how much less?

          And…”gradually”? Gradually? Tell me, what is the official approved-by-white-people rate at which people have to die for it to considered a genocide?

        5. EG
          EG October 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm |

          It is certainly your right to claim the U.S. government chose the most sparsely populated desert locales it could find for these projects in order to facilitate genocide.

          I wonder if there being a sparse population of Native Americans around those sites has anything to do with US policy? Couldn’t be. Couldn’t be that the US deliberately forced Native Americans into certain areas, could it? Usually the least desirable ones? Far from anything white settlers might want? And there’s not so many of them because…because…of traditional methods of birth control?

  9. Henry
    Henry October 23, 2012 at 12:36 am |

    I would recommend avoiding the comments, unless you want to read a ridiculous parody of liberalism-gone-heartless.

    Ditto for some of the comments here too.

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date October 23, 2012 at 8:57 am |

      I guess that compassion is only for people who deserve it. Also, compassion is a limited resource; if you feel compassion for this person, you won’t have enough compassion to feel for that person.

      (This is not actually what I think.)

      1. im
        im October 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

        Pretty much, as well as signalling to their friends.

        Very terrible are those discussions when none urge restraint. And on the internet, much as when seperated by races, cultures, and oceans, you don’t really care so immediately about what you might be doing.

  10. librarygoose
    librarygoose October 23, 2012 at 1:01 am |

    I see no reason to treat a soldier like they deserve their wounds. But then again, I’ve know plenty of kids who went off and joined the military because it might give them a job or pay for their education that they would otherwise never afford. A couple have come home with out limbs, one guy from my year book is dead now. Hell, my sister thought she got off lucky that the explosion that sent her husband home only took most of his hearing. All the other wounds healed fairly well. Sure he had to get help for the moodiness and the nightmares but he’s home to read stories instead of a recording doing it.

    I hate the war, I hate the lies that lead to the war, I am routinely disgusted by the actions that often accompany war, but I will never look at my brother-in-law and say (in his one “good” ear) “Well, fuck you very much.”

  11. Gabrielle
    Gabrielle October 23, 2012 at 5:46 am |

    I by no means believe that those who have served in the military “deserve” their wounds. I can have empathy for the suffering that they now experience.

    But I have no empathy for them as people. They chose to sign up for a job that includes murdering other people as an occupational requirement. These people are rational, thinking beings. I do not believe that they had no understanding that being in the army would require killing other people. That’s the point of the military. They may have been in bad economic circumstances. That does not give them the excuse to kill other people to get by. Someone who robs a bank and hurts people in the process, even if it’s to be able to afford to get an education or feed their family, is doing something wrong. Doing so in a state sanctioned manner is no better.

    I have had to get over the fact that as an LGBT woman some people are always going to believe I’m an evil person. Those who work for the military have to do the same. You don’t have the right to be respected.

    1. king ten butts
      king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 6:10 am |

      You bring up an excellent point I’d like to reiterate; financial obligation may explain an action but it does nothing to excuse it. Joining the army, in my opinion, is no different than becoming a drug dealer or a pimp. These occupations are deserving of a certain kind of sympathy, but the wo/men who occupy these roles are still in a position to cause great harm to other people. And “hate the game, not the player” ceases to become a valid excuse when you start firing off an M4.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca October 23, 2012 at 7:13 am |

        How does being a drug dealer or a pimp “cause great harm to other people?” In my opinion, people have a right to choose what substances they put in their body and whether they have sex with other people for money, and the people who facilitate this, like “pimps” and drug dealers, aren’t necessarily harming anyone.

        Anyway, I agree that joining the military is usually a pretty harmful choice, but I don’t see how this narratives of “soldiers are bad” is helping anyone. It seems to me that a more compelling case against war looks at how both soldiers and civilians are harmed in the process, and how war is harmful both to the citizens of the imperialist nation and the citizens of the subjugated nation. It opposes things like military recruitment, war propaganda, and aggression but also points out how ultimately everyone will be better off if we focus on helping each other rather than killing each other.

        1. EG
          EG October 23, 2012 at 8:38 am |

          A drug dealer who sells crack or angel dust is absolutely doing harm, in the same way that somebody who sells cigarettes is doing harm. People have all kinds of choices, but their right to make choices doesn’t mean that it’s morally acceptable to facilitate self-harm or harm to others.

          And, c’mon, Becca. Pimps don’t just “facilitate” sex work. They exploit and hurt the women who work for them, women who are often not in sex work out of choice.

          I completely agree with your take on the military, though.

        2. king ten butts
          king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

          Exactly what EG said + a clarification for my comments: I know I sound especially unsympathetic to soldiers in these comments but it’s more a springlock reaction than an ideological bent. I do think soldiers deserve our aid when they return, but more than that I would wish no one would become a soldier in the first place, and the uncritical acceptance of war and murder as an inevitable part of these peoples’ lives is extremely unsettling, thus the admittedly harsh reactions at times.

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca October 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

          EG, I agree that someone who sells crack is generally doing harm. . .but the frame of “drug dealers do harm” implies that there’s something inherently more harmful about the drugs that happen to be illegal, which isn’t the case. As you pointed out, people who sell cigarettes (and also many prescription drugs) are doing harm even though they aren’t normally considered drug dealers. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything harmful about people selling marijuana, ecstasy, or psychedelics–even though these people are drug dealers. Furthermore, given the social context of the so-called War on Drugs (which causes much more harm than crack, heroin, angel dust, etc.) I think it’s misleading to allude to the harms of drug dealing, as king ten butts did, without mentioning the reprehensible War on Drugs, which is what’s actually wrecking poor Black and Latino neighborhoods.

          Likewise, there’s plenty of “pimps” who don’t exploit and harm sex workers, if one defines “pimp” to include someone who merely does management or promotional work for a sex worker, which I believe is the definition law enforcement uses. I would say that all pimps who actually employ sex workers are exploiting them, but that’s just because I believe all capitalist employment is exploitation (and is never really a free choice), which normally isn’t what people are talking about when they single out sex work as being uniquely bad. Anything else bad about pimps is an artifact of “prostitution” being illegal, and any other employer would treat their workers similarly reprehensibly if he could get away with it, as history has shown. So, as with the drug dealer example, I think it’s misleading to talk about the harm pimps do (which, yes, can sometimes be very huge and very horrible) without talking about the broader social context. The fact that “prostitution” is illegal and stigmatized causes far more harm than individual pimps.

        4. king ten butts
          king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm |

          Strawman. I said these people are “in a position to cause great harm” by nature of their occupation, not that causing harm is inherent to their existence.

        5. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca October 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

          Strawman. I said these people are “in a position to cause great harm” by nature of their occupation, not that causing harm is inherent to their existence.

          Fair enough. I wasn’t trying to mischaracterize what you were saying. I wasn’t responding to your specific words so much as the overall structure of your argument. And since your opposition to soldiers is pretty apparent, I thought you were similarly opposed to drug dealers and pimps, based off the structure of your analogy. I’m pointing out that soldiers are actually worse than drug dealers or pimps, and drug dealers and pimps are not that much more likely to cause harm than people in a wide variety of other occupations, as I explained. If you agree with this, then that’s fine: it’s all water under the bridge I guess.

          In terms of your lack of sympathy toward soldiers in this thread, thanks for clarifying. I can understand where you’re coming from, too. As someone else very opposed to war, I sometimes have to be careful that I don’t veer into misdirected hostility toward soldiers, who actually I think are largely victims themselves, complicit though they are in a reprehensible system.

  12. EG
    EG October 23, 2012 at 8:42 am |

    I think I’m not sure why it would be so much harder to talk to a veteran about his/her trauma than anybody else.

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date October 23, 2012 at 8:50 am |

      It’s hard to talk to anybody about their trauma, in my experience. But I have more practice talking to people about some traumas than other traumas, and practice can help (also in my experience).

      1. EG
        EG October 23, 2012 at 9:08 am |

        Agreed. I find that in general, depending on how close you are to the person you’re talking to, “I’m so sorry,” and “I don’t want to pry, but if you want to talk about stuff, I can listen” will go far.

        1. stonebiscuit
          stonebiscuit October 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm |

          This. I also think some version of “If there’s anything I can help with, let me know and I’ll do it.” Chores, errands, cooking, avoiding triggers, the enormous amount of paperwork and general bullshit that comes with injury and illness–all these things can be super helpful, to both the injured/ill and their caretakers. But I would stress the importance of asking, of seeking consent/permission before doing things, so as to not remove the agency that remains to the individual.

          My experience comes from caring for freshly disabled grandparents, but I imagine the physical realities of partial paralysis from brain cancer and partial paralysis from an IED wound aren’t so different.

      2. im
        im October 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

        That, and because unlike victims of mundane crime, there are a lot of other complications. I don’t know much about trauma, but I bet that having killed or tried to kill is an additional dimension, as well as being with a whole bunch of other people who were suffering the same way.

      3. im
        im October 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

        That, and because compared to victims of mundane crime, there might be a lot of other complications. I don’t know much about trauma, but I bet that having killed or tried to kill is an additional dimension, as well as being with a whole bunch of other people who were suffering the same way.

        1. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable October 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm |

          It’s times like these that I wished we had a non-gendered swear that packed as much punch as the c-bomb so I could tell you what a non-gendered version of a c-bomb you are.

          Signed,
          A PTSD-suffering victim of a “mundane crime”

          Seriously though, anytime you start out by saying “I don’t know much about x thing” but follow it up by saying something ridiculously offensive, stop. You sound like a fucking idiot.

        2. EG
          EG October 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm |

          Not only are you an ignorant asshole, but what on earth would these “other complications” (because survivors of non-military trauma couldn’t possibly have complications of their own) have to do with how friends and family talk to survivors with them?

        3. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve October 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |

          A PTSD-suffering victim of a “mundane crime”

          Have we agreed on a standard definition of “mundane crimes”? Surely if the victim is suffering PTSD, it’s not a mundane crime. I don’t get this or im’s comment about mundane crimes being ones where no one gets killed.

        4. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable October 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

          FS, my use of the phrase should have been said in the tone of someone in PJs flipping im the bird via my computer. The concept of a crime that’s mundane (short of, say, jaywalking) is frankly ridiculous. Also, the idea that it’s a crime to let someone enlist and do their job as a soldier/marine/etc which apparently is a “spectacularly fantastic crime” or whatever.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune October 23, 2012 at 9:45 am |

      Honestly, I’m…not sure that treating veterans’ trauma as something Different and Specific doesn’t increase their sense of isolation and alienation. And we all know how well that works out for anyone with PTSD.

      I actually think that, if everyone involved wasn’t keen on playing oppression olympics, rape victims, CSA survivors etc would have a lot in common with, and could really help support traumatised veterans. Triggers and symptoms and coping mechanisms might differ, but…they differ between different rape victims, too.

      That said, pretty much everyone I know IRL considers war to be “worse” than rape and any war-related trauma to be muuuuuch more important (because it’s Man Pain (because all soldiers are men, y’know) and so More Important), so maybe my hope of an OO-free conversation between different traumatised groups of people is ridiculous.

      1. samanthab
        samanthab October 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |

        Uh, I’m not interested in playing oppression Olympics, and I really don’t want to seek for “support” for my post-rape trauma with veterans suffering from PTSD. It’s a damn hard thing to openly talk about, and I really don’t want to talk about it with anyone who hasn’t been there. Much of what Chloe has to say suggests that veterans feel the same. Have *you* experienced either one of those traumas? If not, you really shouldn’t be lecturing trauma victims on how they should cope? For that matter, even if you have, you shouldn’t be lecturing trauma victims on how to cope. It doesn’t make me a bad person that I don’t want to share my experiences with veterans. You have no business telling me that this comes out of some kind of narcissism, which is in fact what you’re saying when you point to my supposed interest in “oppression Olympics.”

        1. EG
          EG October 23, 2012 at 10:45 am |

          I read Mac as responding to my comment, about how friends and family think about and treat survivors of trauma, not as an admonition to survivors about how they should handle their trauma.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 24, 2012 at 8:58 am |

          Thank you, EG.

          samanthab: what the fuck? Where was I even addressing victims, as opposed to saying that people are surrounded by survivors of one kind of trauma or another, and so they really should know that there’s a commonality of trauma, if not of symptom/effect, and so people really bloody OUGHT to be taught how not to fuck up dealing with traumatised people?

  13. chava
    chava October 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |

    Since we’re talking about cultural narratives around veterans–I have found it incredibly difficult to budge even a little bit from the narrative I was raised with, even knowing that this very narrative can be harmful to veterans themselves (not to mention hypocritical when the services we provide don’t match the rhetoric).

    But my first, knee jerk reaction is very “last full measure of devotion” and “I have but one life to give for my country,” etc.

  14. amblingalong
    amblingalong October 23, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    God, there’s nothing I love more than listening to well-off white liberals talk about how evil American soldiers are for enlisting.

    1. king ten butts
      king ten butts October 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

      I love the assumption that only well-off white liberals believe murder is deplorable. I suppose the rest of us are just savages, huh?

      1. Anon21
        Anon21 October 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm |

        Sorry, but where is “murder” coming from in this conversation?

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong October 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm |

        The idea that soldiers sign up to kill people is idiotic. Many if not most sign up because they live in a country where that is one of, if not the, only route the have to an education, some form of prosperity, and social respect. The idea that we should criticize these predominantly poor POC instead of the systems which left them with little by way of alternatives is openly racist and classist.

        I love the assumption that only well-off white liberals believe murder is deplorable.

        You’re either stupid or pretending to be. Either way, I don’t see any particular reason to care about your opinions.

        1. SlipperyWombat
          SlipperyWombat October 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

          The idea that soldiers sign up to kill people is idiotic. Many if not most sign up because they live in a country where that is one of, if not the, only route the have to an education, some form of prosperity, and social respect. The idea that we should criticize these predominantly poor POC instead of the systems which left them with little by way of alternatives is openly racist and classist.

          You may want to check your statistics. The poor minority thesis has been a lie repeated since Vietnam – where 85% of U.S. casualties were white. The Army is currently 65% white and mostly middle class. The lowest household income quintile has the lowest representation among Army recruits. It is less than half that of the highest income quintile.

          I believed the “rich white guys send poor black poeple to fight our wars” claims when I dropped out of Berkeley in 2005 to enlist. I can remember the day I shipped to infantry basic and saw that there were a total of *2* black guys in a 240 man infantry company. I thought I must be in some segregation experiment until I noticed that this was true of every combat MOS.

          Our wars are largely fought by middle class white guys. Feel free to obtain the demographic data from the DoD. I know I would never have believed it had I not seen it for myself.

    2. TomSims
      TomSims October 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

      Amen.

    3. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah October 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

      Is everyone on this board white? Nope. And are we all well-off? Not I! You need to check yourself on this.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong October 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm |

        Is everyone on this board white? Nope. And are we all well-off? Not I! You need to check yourself on this.

        If it’s not about you, it’s not about you, Sarah. Get over yourself.

    4. im
      im October 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |

      … I think the point is that everybody thinks murder is bad except for me, but some of the most extremely unempathetic, unthinking anti soldier arguments match a cliche of the hypocritical, disaffected, often but not always white well-off college liberal.

      What percentage of these woeful figures is actually white, I don’t know. But I expect it to be high, even if on an individual level only some of them are white.

  15. TomSims
    TomSims October 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

    “Uh, I’m not interested in playing oppression Olympics, and I really don’t want to seek for “support” for my post-rape trauma with veterans suffering from PTSD. It’s a damn hard thing to openly talk about, and I really don’t want to talk about it with anyone who hasn’t been there. Much of what Chloe has to say suggests that veterans feel the same. Have *you* experienced either one of those traumas? If not, you really shouldn’t be lecturing trauma victims on how they should cope? For that matter, even if you have, you shouldn’t be lecturing trauma victims on how to cope. It doesn’t make me a bad person that I don’t want to share my experiences with veterans. You have no business telling me that this comes out of some kind of narcissism, which is in fact what you’re saying when you point to my supposed interest in “oppression Olympics.” ”

    Amen

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune October 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

      I’m not talking about the trauma victims themselves, though. I’m talking about the fact that family/friends should in fact be able to offer support – not therapy, SUPPORT, as in some basic goddamn decency – to veterans, because they may well have suffered their own trauma and should be able to extrapolate the generalities if not the specifics of how traumatised people should be treated in everyday life. I wasn’t addressing victims at all, I was addressing the people surrounding them and telling them that it’s not that hard to get a goddamn clue, you’re surrounded by traumatised people anyway (even if they don’t talk about it) so you should learn to deal.

      Christfuck, learn to parse a sentence.

      1. TomSims
        TomSims October 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

        I was only agreeing with samanthab

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

          Yes, i know. But samanthab’s reply consisted essentially of dramatically misreading what I said (she replied to my comment), not looking at what I was replying to and pulling some conclusions out of my comment that I can only assume were generated by some part of her digestive system. So, when you requote her and agree, it sounds like you are supporting her argument against me, which annoyed the shit out of me.

          It seems you didn’t realise that’s what the context was, though, so sorry for jumping all over you.

  16. Magpie
    Magpie October 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    I posted this as a response to comments on the post at Jezebel. I felt the need to make essentially the same point here, so I saved myself the time by copy/pasting it here. I hope that is ok.

    You are right in that some people feel that enlisting is the only thing they can do. When you can’t afford college and your life looks to be one long string of dead-end, low-wage jobs, you think less about the big picture, and more about your dwindling bank account. Many people who enlist are in their late teens and early twenties when they sign up, and age at which many people are still really disconnected from the world, so, once again, the big picture isn’t what they are looking at. Then there are the National Guardsmen, many of whom feel strongly about the community support that the Guard offers in the event of floods, fires, tornados etc. There are many reasons why people who sign up don’t look at the big picture and say “Hey, this is a bunch of bullshit”. I know in my case I was waiting tables for $3.09 an hour, living in a tent, and pretty freaking desperate.

    So I am sure your next question would be “So why do you stay?” This is where it gets really complicated. I stay because there are a lot of good people in the military. I stay because there are a lot of stupid people in the military, I don’t want to leave the good ones under the command of the stupid ones. I stay because if the only people who serve in the military are the ones who just want to blow shit up this country is going to go to shit faster than you could ever imagine.

    Soldiers aren’t brave in combat because they feel they are serving some larger mission. We don’t risk our safety for democracy or nobility or because we honestly think that we are keeping our family safe by looking for IEDs in Iraq or Afghanistan. We do it because we care about the people we are out there working with. It’s not about terrorism or foreign policy or “American Exceptionalism” or God and Country. It’s about Spc. Smith, who’s in harms way and has a wife back home who is due any day now, and Sgt. Walker who has one fucking semester left in nursing school, but she had to put it off because we got called up. It’s about our interpreter, who has busted his butt for us, putting his life, and the lives of his family on the line. It’s about the carload of local kids who are going to hit that IED if we dont deal with it first.
    TL;DR We get in for lots of reasons. We stay in for lots of reasons. The politics and the politicians don’t mean much to us.
    Share this discussion

    1. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah October 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

      Thanks for sharing this Magpie.

      We get in for lots of reasons. We stay in for lots of reasons.

      I think this is especially important. And no matter the reasons for getting in and/or staying in, everyone deserves support and compassion when they come home.

    2. TomSims
      TomSims October 31, 2012 at 9:52 am |

      @magpie
      As a combat vet of Vietnam, I can relate completely to what his soldier is talking about.

  17. Taylor
    Taylor October 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    Wow. Some of these comments. No words.

    The article at hand though? I really enjoyed that, and thank you for sharing it. :) I can sympathize with the author about not knowing what to do or say, which can always be rough, especially around friends you care for. In my experience as a military brat, there seems to be a social script for these situations, but usually among veterans and their families, just because they’re in the know, I guess. So it was nice to see a civilian’s perspective on it, at least to realize not everyone shares the same experiences.

  18. Raudya
    Raudya October 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |

    (I’m sorry i posted wrong the first time around)

    After reading the comments….. can’t the symphathy be extended to those who are invaded, occupied? :(

    I may not be an Iraqi, but my country have seen some civil wars, some mass-murders (state-sanctioned ones) and so on. Some of my distant relatives are war victims, and hearing their stories.. it’s not the same as seeing the numbers (1 mil+ died in Iraq now? not to mention the radiations and economic breakdown).

    I mean, Iraq war is wrong. There are some really insensitive comments here… iraqi war ‘sucks’? The soldiers that invaded my relatives’ province…… Some of them may be good people, good teenagers just wanting to feed their family, yes, but the mass-murders that the army committed… that can’t be justifiable. The rapes and tortures… and even when the war’s over, they still commit daily, weekly, monthly human right violations…

    I mean, I can understand the comments in that piece. I may have some sympathy left for the soldiers, but a large piece of that have been spent on the real victims,…. the one invaded, etc :( Obviously there are many differences between the army of america and the army of my country, but I’m not sure it’s too different. They still invade, kill, bomb… whether it’s under orders or not… doesn’t make many difference for the victims.

    And blown-up legs and arms…. I do not have a soldier as family, but one of my friend is a police-soldier of sort in one of the bases near my home. He told me stories of his older friends, and of course as a human being, I sympathyze, but…

    I mean, the iraq war is genocide. Carpet bombing, indiscriminate killings, no they didn’t bomb just the military installations, gods… They brought too many negatives far outweighing the ‘positives’, if it even can be called that. Sorry for the ramblings.

    @Jill :

    Yes, sometimes, state-sanctioned violence and even killing is necessary.

    :(

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong October 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm |

      I mean, the iraq war is genocide.

      Please stop using the term ‘genocide’ as a catch-all term for organized violence you disagree with. It actually has a definition which is powerful, and important, and no matter the depth of suffering of the Iraqi people- which I recognize- your usage isn’t just technically inaccurate, it’s fundamentally appropriative.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L October 24, 2012 at 11:14 am |

        Thank you. The Holocaust was genocide. (I have always believed that calling the Holocaust a “war crime” is a huge mistake; the mass extermination of Jews and Roma was clearly an underlying motive for Germany in the war but had absolutely nothing to do with furthering Germany’s prosecution of the war, and, if anything, was highly counterproductive to any possibility of victory. The treatment of Native Americans (including the people in Central and South America, although I don’t know if it’s proper to use that term for them) over the last 500 years has been genocidal. What happened in Armenia and Rwanda was genocide. There has to be a deliberate “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical [sic], racial or religious group.”

        And that’s just not true of the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of civilians who’ve been killed in Iraq since that war began have died at the hands of other Iraqis, not the USA. As tragic and unnecessary as every single one of those deaths has been, those wars don’t constitute genocide. Just as I don’t think that — no matter the degree of suffering — the German bombing of London (which my mother lived through during her years in England as a German-Jewish child refugee) constituted genocide, or the Russian conquest of Eastern Germany and Berlin, or the US and British bombing of Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, or the forced relocation of several million Germans after the war from the portions of eastern Germany given to Poland. I understand that to certain extent it’s all semantics, and that it doesn’t matter much to people who are killed whether or not you label their killing genocide, but I still agree with amblingalong that the overuse of the term is inappropriate.

      2. Raudya
        Raudya October 25, 2012 at 1:02 am |

        @amblingalong : You’re right, emotion got the best of me. It’s appropriating the word. I just want to say that the Iraq invasion is not just ‘organized violence’ (although technically correct), but something less than that; senseless mass-killings. If I may guess, you don’t believe the iraq invasion as a result of the U.S wanting to save iraqis from their government, right? Not because the WMD or al-qaeda? Just killings, mass-murders? Our army (not U.S) may have invaded our province in the guise of national stability, but it doesn’t matter. People get murdered in large amounts, no matter the reason. My post above doesn’t mean I can’t separate logically the military from the soldiers, but emotionally? The people who got hurt, got killed were my family. Distant family, but still people that I believe when they told their stories to me. I think I rant because there seems to be a distinct lack of empathy from you (general you) to the real victims here, that’s all.

        @DonnaL : Isn’t that victim blaming? Putting aside the fact-checking about casualty,—- let’s take a look at the civil violence.

        Iraq is unstable, to put it really lightly (before the invasion), but who bombed the cities and made a cluster—- of everything? Government, armies, police force, economy, farms… who took the oil fields? Who is inciting the civil violence? Not even mentioning the refugees, breakdown of civil places (education, etc), drop in economy due to many things, etc…. Effects of an invasion is not just the casualties, although it’s one of the most horrifying way to see the effects of war. My (ancestor’s) region is rife with corruption, economic dependence to central, daily violence, and other things that at first glance seemingly unrelated to the invasions quite years ago, but it’s not. It’s related.

        I really really fear that an approximation of the real numbers of casualty would only be possible… much, much later, many years later from now. When there will be different wars, and Iraq will be just another afghanistan, another statistics to be remembered.. it’ll be too late.

  19. Raudya
    Raudya October 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

    After thinking more about this, I realized that the comment on that piece is rough and zero-sum. But maybe she/he is calling that out because in the american media (online at least) there are none-to-next news or conversations about the civilian victims of the occupation… it’s a non-symphatic comment (and still looking at the wrong place : foreign american policy? That sounds wrong)

    But looking at the other commenters on jezebel and over here, there seems to be a lack of sympathy for the victims of the occupations…. and “there’s no news from there, it’s all arabic” is not some reason to be ignorant. There are really a lot of civilian casualty in iraq. That point is not a useless or distracting point, it should be the central focus of much ‘discussions’ on Iraq war. But it’s not. The american media (online at least) don’t talk much about the civilian victims. Over and over the sympathy is for fellow americans…

    Understandable, the mass killings in my place are not ones that the media want to admit (even though it’s quite a long ago, but not an excuse). But I think it’s just a frustation of the.. invader mentality? Of some people that she/he have seen in the internet.

    I’ve read some piece in feministe about native american genocide. If I’m not wrong, it’s considered to be as wrong as possible. The native american people fought back at that time, and if you (general you) live at that time, there would be family and friends who are soldiers too, fighting a ‘war’ against native americans. Is that a fitting comparison/ not?

  20. Henry
    Henry October 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    American Western soldiers are not a Liberal-Approved Group We Are Allowed to Feel Sorry For(TM). Therefore, whatever horrible shit happens to them is just great in the minds of some commentators. They are just spouting the same us versus them, they deserved it bullshit we criticize conservatives for engaging in. They just picked a different “them” that’s all.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan October 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm |

      Sure, ignore the debate above as well as the context in real life.

      1. Henry
        Henry October 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm |

        This is not the place for that debate, there’s plenty of space for that. You don’t tell a wounded soldier, well the war was wrong so you deserved to get fucked up cause it’s your fault the war happened.

    2. im
      im October 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

      frankly, that describes a lot of what seems to happen. The Tumblr Cesspool raises this to an art form, where the Jews in WWII Germany had white privilege and it’s wrong to say that cis men are inhuman because the majority of cis men are black, Asian, or of latin@ descent. However, it’s easy to inadvertently do this esp. out of overzealous anti-derailing.

      When nobody dares urge restraint, you know you’ve got a problem.

      The thing that worries me slightly less than the continuation of Western imperialism is a lack of continuation of Western imperialism.

      1. ch
        ch October 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

        it’s wrong to say that cis men are inhuman because the majority of cis men are black, Asian, or of latin@ descent.

        Um. I’m pretty sure it’s wrong to say cis men are inhuman cause they’re, well, demonstrably members of the species homo sapiens. In other words, they’re by definition human.

        I mean, do you think it’s right to say cis men are inhuman? Cause calling them privileged is one thing, but inhuman… very different.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca October 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm |

          Yeah. That one was a bit of a head scratcher for me, too. But the interpretation I walked away with is this. In im’s opinion, there’s some sort of widespread view among Tumblr progressives that cis men are inhuman. There is, however, another contingent among Tumblr progressives who go: “Wait a minute! Cis men are inhuman?! You can’t say that! Don’t you realize the majority of cis men aren’t white! You racist!”

          I’m guessing that im believes this is silly. im probably thinks that the appropriate response to such anti-cis-male rhetoric is to positively reaffirm the humanity of cis men without reference to race, be colorblind, etc.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong October 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm |

        I mean, social justice on tumblr is generally a cesspit. Anywhere ‘transabled’ and ‘otherkin’ are considered legitimate oppressions is not a good place to be.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong October 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm |

          For example, the ‘otherkin’ believe:

          trans privilege is having sex reassignment surgery be a real thing, while nowhere offers ‘species reassignment surgery’ for otherkin

        2. Jadey
          Jadey October 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

          This isn’t new to me, but I just want to take a moment and say FUCK. THAT.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune October 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

          Fucking seriously? Wow. Fucking…

          transabled

          transabled

          TRANSABLED

          *raging at the computer*

          I don’t know whether that’s more offensive to trans people or disabled people. As for the overlap, I can only offer soothing tea and/or an imaginary discreet gun that fires over the internet.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L October 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm |

          I find all of that sort of thing especially infuriating when it’s clearly intended as a joke to mock trans people — as when cat otherkins complain that putting on whiskers and meowing doesn’t get them accepted into cats’ spaces. So funny!

        5. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca October 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

          I’m not sure if it’s worth saying this. . .but, in any event, here it goes. I’ve done a bit of research on so-called “transabled” people. I get your rage Mac. I agree the term is pretty messed up, and it’s appropriative of transgender people’s lives. I just want to add, however, that the term seems most commonly associated with people who suffer from what’s sometimes been called Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). This means a person feels their body is “off” in its bodily integrity. Most commonly, a person perceives that they have an “extra” arm or a leg that shouldn’t actually be there.

          There’s not been a lot of research on this, but I fully expect that if these feelings are strong and persistent that they result from a neurological issue with one’s body mapping. So I would say such people are actually disabled, not “transabled”. . .and, in fact, “transabled” isn’t a term that most people with BIID use, although some do. But since Body Integrity Identity Disorder is not officially recognized as a psychiatric or medical condition, I suppose I have a little sympathy for why some people high in desperation but low in political awareness would pick an inappropriate term in a bid for people to take their issues seriously. Not to justify using inaccurate, offensive, or appropriative language, of course.

  21. Jadey
    Jadey October 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

    It’s mind-blowing to me that there are so many commenters here who cannot separate a criticism of a government creating and directing a military and the individuals who take the available jobs offered by that establishment. Sorry, individual soldiers (even acting collectively) have absolutely fuck-all to do with what countries get invaded and the overall governance of the military. Individual soldiers might very well be douchebags (see also: military rape statistics; funny enough, also a problem in civilian populations), but the idea that military service people (the ranks of which, as some have already pointed out above, are largely non-combatant) are themselves largely responsible for the horrors of war is absurd. Even the abhorrent military culture which has been observed is more than a product of many douchebags acting together – governments, especially the US government, have put an enormous amount of time and money into cultivating their military to their desired specifications, rewarding some behaviours and condoning others, fostering that culture.

    Personally, I don’t feel that a service person deserves an additional ration of respect from me merely by donning the uniform. Neither do I feel they have earned my immediate disrespect. The governments have chosen to prioritize job creation in the military over job creation in other sectors and I won’t fault people for taking the best employment option available to them. Hell, how many of us in our jobs don’t prop up some horrible, oppressive, racist, sexist, colonialist system? I know I do. The justice system, medical establishment, hallowed halls of academia, resource-extraction industries and manufacturing (can’t forget all the exploitation of labour and decimation of the environment!) and so on – which one of us has a job completely untainted by the more horrific side of our societies? For such jobs that do exist, is it reasonable to expect in our present reality that everyone could have one? War is grotesque (and I am very disinclined to believe it “necessary”, given the amount of political manoeuvring and personal profit implicated in so many wars’ inceptions), but at this point so is civilization, apparently. Let’s work on that, instead of finding convenient, impotent scapegoats for our outwardly-deflected rage. I’m fairly certain that spitting on soldiers, metaphorically or literally, on the basis of their job title alone does little to attain justice for anyone.

    The point is to direct your criticisms where they will matter most, and not taunt, harass, belittle, or condescend to individual service people in order to satisfy your own self-righteousness, particularly when the issue at hand is their injuries. You can support a service person (or at least afford them basic human dignity and respect – no more than that) without condoning military imperialism. But don’t be an asshole to PWD, even if they came by their disabilities through active military service.

    Yeesh.

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca October 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm |

      As usual Jadey, you hit it out of the park.

      Structural problems really require structural solutions. “Fuck you babykiller–I don’t care that you got your leg blown off!” is not a structural solution.

  22. miga
    miga October 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    So the question is: where do we go from here? How do we make it easier for those who have suffered on both sides of the current conflict?

    How do we create healing and increased education for soldiers without demonizing them? How do we learn to empathize with people who kill? With people we are taught to revere (U.S. military) or despise (many middle-easterners/colonized people)? It reminds me a lot of the situation with marginalized people and cops (what are they, anyway, but the army for your everyday life)?

    I highly doubt it’s possible (or even ethical) to flat out leave the places we fucked up (I’m looking at you, England!). Japan*, for instance, relies completely upon the U.S. for military protection- after WW II the U.S. basically forced them to abolish military power forever (something that never seemed to happen to non-white members of the Axis). Now they’ve permanently colonized Okinawa, and even though many people want them out (sexual harassment and general rowdiness being part of the reason) there’s not much that can be done. There’s a nasty dispute going on right now with China that has nothing to do with the U.S., but if China uses force (which it’s hinted at), the U.S. will have to step in on Japan’s behalf.

    All countries, sadly, need armed forces for protection- even the U.S.

    But how do we reduce our military presence, try to heal wounds, and still protect ourselves? What can we as Feministe readers do, aside from arguing with each other on the internet? This is what never gets answered, and very little ideas are thrown around.

    *Not meaning to derail about Japan, but it’s a situation i’m comfortable enough with to use as an example.

    1. miga
      miga October 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

      Oh, also, Comrade Kevin- I really appreciate what the members of your church are doing.

    2. exholt
      exholt October 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm |

      Regarding Japan, the reasons why the US are the main defense of Japan are:

      1. Japan’s militarist and colonialist legacy in East/SE Asia made them hated in the immediate postwar period just as much as how most Europeans occupied by Nazi Germany perceived the Germans after the war.

      While there has been a some efforts to better relations afterwards, this has been hamstrung by Japanese right-wing politicians and organizations which promote BS like visiting Yasukuni shrine* which not only memorializes Japan’s war dead…but also glorifies that legacy and 14 convicted Class-A war criminals…including Tojo and promote historical revisionist history books/narratives which blatantly used discredited propaganda accounts to deny atrocities like the Nanjing Massacre and paint a Disneyfied picture of the Japanese militarist occupation of East Asian/SE Asian nations. If interested, their revisionist texts may be available at your local university library thanks to worldwide donations by those organizations trying to promote their revisionism in the US.

      * This would be the equivalent of modern Germany erecting a large public memorial to the top Nazi leadership and the SS and having its politicians making annual pilgrimages to it.

      While Japanese progressives have tried combating this right-wing narrative, some factions and the greater public have had similar issues as their historical narratives sometimes fit the problematic amnesiac type where Japan is exclusively portrayed as a victim of WWII without much/any mention of how its prior colonialist/militaristic aggression against its neighbors and other nations caused its ultimate “victimization”.

      Note: Japan’s current territorial disputes with China, South Korea, and Russia are all derived from those legacies of pre-1945 Japanese colonial/militaristic policies.

      2. MacArthur’s imposition* of Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution which makes Japan forever renounce war as a policy and some interpret as barring Japan from having military forces. Ha! Actually, the US/Japanese got around that by dubbing them the “Self-Defense Forces” and despite being a tiny percentage of their budget…those forces are well-trained and equipped with weapons/tech comparable to US forces. Did I mention that right-wing politicians in Japan have been trying to find ways to re-interpret and even eliminate Article 9 so Japan can expand their military forces and “be a normal country” in the words of one of those right-wing politicians?

      * MacArthur’s assertion that Article 9 was a Japanese idea in a public speech has been refuted by two associates who worked closely with him in the early days of the American Occupation government of Japan.

      3. Resurgence of Mainland China asserting itself as a major regional geopolitical power after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its phenomenal growth as an economic superpower. This combined with #1 has been making Japan very nervous.

      4. North Korea’s history with launching kidnapping operations, launching rockets over Japan, belligerent rhetoric, possession of nukes, and #1 also makes Japan very nervous.

      1. miga
        miga October 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm |

        Exholt, are you a Hoosier who has been to/is interested in/is part Japanese?

        I bet we know each other IRL, or at least traveled in the same circles. 0.o

        1. exholt
          exholt October 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |

          Not a Hoosier. Never even been to Indiana so I doubt we know each other in IRL.

          Also, am not Japanese. If anything, my parents were old enough to remember fleeing the invading Japanese and an uncle died fighting them in China as a Nationalist Chinese soldier.

          Bringing this back to the OP, the Chinese experience with being colonized by Europe & Japan and bring invaded wholesale by Japan from ’37-’45 has caused the perceived popular lesson among ruling elite, intellectuals, and many in the older generation to be that if one doesn’t have a strong well-equipped modern military and respect soldiers….one will be invaded and colonized by others.

          Granted, some of this had to do with prior Chinese/neo-Confucian practice of socially disdaining soldiers…including officers to the point to the point they drew in were considered the dregs of early-modern Chinese society by their contemporaries and thus…were easy pickings for the European/Japanese colonialists.

        2. miga
          miga October 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm |

          Sorry. Must have confused you with someone in another thread.

          And thanks for the extra info. I definitely agree with you that the current conflict over these islands has way more to do with cultural tensions resulting from Japan’s invasion than the territory itself. And Japan definitely waged a campaign of terror and war on their neighbors, so they are not blameless for the current entanglement- I shouldn’t have skipped that in my OP. I was (ineffectively, I guess) trying to point out that certain situations are entangled such that there’s no easy way out in my mind. I hope the same thing that happened in Japan doesn’t happen anymore- we don’t need to be stuck in anyone else’s country.

      2. Joe from an alternate universe
        Joe from an alternate universe October 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |

        If interested, their revisionist texts may be available at your local university library thanks to worldwide donations by those organizations trying to promote their revisionism in the US.

        Also, don’t forget the “Comfort women”. The Japanese remember them fondly as highly paid courtesans, and not victims of daily gang rape.

    3. Raudya
      Raudya October 25, 2012 at 1:41 am |

      How about more taking responsibility of what happened? Case point, my nation’s army mass-murdered people of other province, and it’s largely not acknowledged by general population that at least a small part of responsibility was in the hands of the general population. In case of U.S, it’s largely the same here : most people just don’t care that their nation’s army mass-murdered people of other region (in the nation). Didn’t at least telling it to their children the atrocity that our army had inflicted, didn’t spare just a little bit of money for.. reconstruction. Didn’t raise general awareness that, hey, our army just destroyed a region of people, and taking the contracts for oil and gas, and stalling the economy of that region by several.. years or more. That’s what happened in my country, the regions where the army had landed their feets on… became backwards in term of economic development and other things.

      I don’t know, can’t you (general you) at least acknowledge that what your army’s (not soldiers) doing is very very harmful? Killed untold number of people, basically wrecked a nation? —> so… maybe you can try raising funds? Your country is advanced in network capabilities and fund transfer, and other things. It’s not an easy task, but at least acknowledgement that your nation’s army had invaded some random dark-skinned people’s country would be at least some improvement from the condition now, where (at least that I’m seeing) there’s little to no attention given to people there. I realized that it’s easier to give attention to people closer to us geographically, but that’s not requirement.

      Fyi, there are several large (if rather underground) fund-raising movement for Iraq in here, the majority of them for reconstruction. It can be done.

  23. Gillian
    Gillian October 24, 2012 at 11:52 am |

    Quick question for the people above who differentiated between draftees and enlisted soldiers. How do you feel about the IDF? the Israeli army is a draftee army – certainly at the level of the soldiers that encounter Palestinians on a daily basis and implement the discriminatory and sometimes criminal policy that comes down from the government and GHQ.

    This is not a gotcha – I am a bleeding heart liberal who is very much against the Occupation, and who, today, would go to prison rather than serve in the IDF. I’m just surprised to see that commenters here are making the distinctiom between draftees and volunteers when it comes to something like going somewhere and shooting civilians, since that is not a distinction I’m used to making.

    1. roymacIII
      roymacIII October 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

      My current mode of thinking is that I generally try to restrict myself to condemning actions, rather than people. People are flawed. We make mistakes. We believe stupid things. We do horrible things for reasons that seem good at the time. We “follow orders” when we don’t think we should because it seems like everyone else is. We’re sometimes ignorant. We have moments of weakness and selfishness and maliciousness.

      Even the best among us do things that would make other people cringe.

      I’m not happy with the way that the military tends to function, but I don’t blame any individual soldier for that, and I’m very sympathetic to the drives and social circumstances that drive some people to turn to military service (I have relatives who see military service as just as much of a duty as voting, and have friends who turned to military service as a way of escaping from poverty or lack of opportunity).

      Some soldiers do what they do because they’re assholes, and some do what they do because they don’t know any better, and some do what they do because they’re afraid to do anything different. I’m content to focus my attention on the actions, rather than lambasting the people–I can (sometimes) tell which actions are “bad”; I don’t really know how to tell which people are bad.

      1. miga
        miga October 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm |

        I feel the same way about the U.S. police force in principal (of course, rape cops and trigger happy-racist cops make it hard to do so)

  24. Omar
    Omar October 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |

    As someone who has served, and has a brother who is currently in Afghanistan, the comments on that Jezebel piece sicken me. The troops have done an unbelievable job in helping liberate Iraq and Afghanistan from the clutches of tyranny, killed the murderous jihadists who threaten our democracy and have done a fantastic job in helping in aid and development.

    It really is astonishing we live in a society where many young people expect free handouts and there are others who selflessly devote their lives to protecting this country often at the expense of their own lives.

    1. EG
      EG October 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |

      It really is astonishing we live in a society where many young people expect free handouts

      What’s even more astonishing is that it’s the rich who get them.

    2. armillaria
      armillaria October 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

      lol, nope.

  25. armillaria
    armillaria October 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

    Liberalism has never had a heart, more a diffuse field of vague incoherent sympathies.

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