Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
Revenge is the psychological engine of war. Victims are the blood currency. Their corpses are used to sanctify acts of indiscriminant murder. Those defined as the enemy and targeted for slaughter are rendered inhuman. They are not worthy of empathy or justice. Pity and grief are felt exclusively for our own. We vow to eradicate a dehumanized mass that embodies absolute evil. The maimed and dead in Brussels or Paris and the maimed and dead in Raqqa or Sirte perpetuate the same dark lusts. We all are Islamic State[….]
The tit-for-tat game of killing will not end until exhaustion, until the culture of death breaks us emotionally and physically. We use our drones, warplanes, missiles and artillery to rip apart walls and ceilings, blow out windows and kill or wound those inside. Our enemies pack peroxide-based explosives in suitcases or suicide vests and walk into airport terminals, concert halls, cafes or subways and blow us up, often along with themselves. If they had our technology of death they would do it more efficiently. But they do not. Their tactics are cruder, but morally they are the same as us[….]
The Christian religion embraces the concept of “holy war” as fanatically as Islam does. Our Crusades are matched by the concept of jihad. Once religion is used to sanctify murder there are no rules. It is a battle between light and dark, good and evil, Satan and God. Rational discourse is banished. And “the sleep of reason,” as Goya said, “brings forth monsters.”
Flags, patriotic songs, a deification of the warrior and sentimental drivel drown out reality. We communicate in empty clichés and mindless, patriotic absurdities. Mass culture is used to reinforce the lie that we are the true victims. It re-creates the past to conform to the national heroic myth. We alone are said to possess virtue and courage. We alone have the right to revenge. We are hypnotized into a communal somnolence, a state-induced blindness.
Those we fight, lacking our industrial machines of death, kill up close. But killing remotely does not make us less morally deformed. Long-distance killing, epitomized by drone operators at Air Force bases within the United States who go home for dinner, is as depraved. These technicians make the vast machinery of death operate with a terrifying clinical sterility. They depersonalize industrial war. They are the “little Eichmanns.” This organized bureaucracy of killing is the most enduring legacy of the Holocaust[….]
We torture kidnapped captives, many held for years, in black sites. We carry out “targeted assassinations” of so-called high-value targets. We abolish civil liberties. We drive millions of families from their homes. Those who oppose us do the same. They torture and behead—replicating the execution style of the Christian Crusaders—with their own brand of savagery. They rule as despots. Pain for pain. Blood for blood. Horror for horror. There is a fearsome symmetry to the madness. It is justified by the same religious perversion. It is the same abandonment of what it means to be humane and just. [read complete article]
Copyright 2016 Chris Hedges. First published in TruthDig.
Police in riot gear protect one of the memorials to the victims of the recent Brussels attacks as right-wing demonstrators protest near the Place de la Bourse in Brussels on Sunday. (Alastair Grant / AP)