Jan 222016
 

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by Jerome Grapel…….

(This essay was written at a time when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was making its way into the world’s consciousness. More than a decade later, the horrifying chaos now prevailing in the region is sickening proof of the colossal blunder the American invasion was.)

(5/04)

As I write this essay, the second Bush Oil War has become the fiasco it always deserved to be. The latest piece of firewood thrown onto the flames of this madness is the graphic international diffusion of the inhuman treatment of Iraqi prisoners. The few days it has taken me to digest and turn this material into some kind of life giving substance has produced the following thoughts: War is bad. War dehumanizes. War is the single most aberration man has ever conceived of. War should only be entered into after the most exhausting efforts are made to avoid it … and even then, don’t we all know that something has gone terribly wrong, that we’ve failed miserably, that we’ve let ourselves down, that the idea of good guys and bad guys, in a real war, becomes less and less relevant until everyone involved is reduced to a brute animal state that should have been exorcized from the human condition long ago?

The acts of gross humiliation perpetrated against the Iraqi prisoners seem hardly abnormal when one considers the venue they took place in. War is madness. War is a breathing organism of squizophrenic behavior. The unacceptable becomes routine in such an environment. Everything we’ve ever been told to respect and hold dear is not just ignored, but reversed. Any nation that does not try to avoid war with every fiber of its being, is committing the ultimate act of immorality.

Although it generally goes unnoticed or overlooked, there has never been a war anywhere where this kind of bestiality has not taken place. Why all this fuss for the normal behavior of such an abnormal setting?

For those Americans who have not traveled abroad lately, I will grossly understate the case by saying that this war is not looked upon favorably outside the “homeland”. (Ever since 9/11, Americans seem to have discovered this word. Doesn’t it have a Nazi-like ring to it?) Even in the one place it is given some veneer of legitimacy — the United States — a substantial part of its population finds this conflict repugnant. Everywhere else, even within the ranks of the countries that make up the “coalition”, the rank and file almost unanimously revile and repudiate it. This war is so universally despised, that any opportunity to further chastise it is seized upon with the same zeal a gossip columnist might break a story about Brittany Spear copulating with a horse. Further sweetening the pot is the hypocrisy of America’s rhetoric: democracy, freedom, human rights, the “liberation” of the Iraqi people, and other such lumpy porridge put forth to justify this war. One has to wonder what the Iraqis may have been subjected to if we had not come as their “friends”.

My indignation for these unfortunate acts of sub-human behavior is not directed at those who carried them out. I feel more pity than hate for these people, whose negative celebrity has now been circulated around the globe. They are the scapegoats, the guinea pigs, the little people who will have to take the rap for the monstrous vileness of their leaders. There is one image in particular that sticks in my mind: an attractive young lady informally clothed in military attire is smiling brightly, as if she were adding a photo to her vacation album, as she humiliates a bent over Iraqi prisoner. There is a Marquis de Sade quality to it all, a jovial kind of erotic perversion that might be seen in a porno flic. But it is not a porno flic …

This young woman has descended to a level of consciousness that she never knew was within her. It was sucked out from the deepest, most hidden recesses of her being, like the oil so deeply encased beneath the parched sands of the Iraqi desert. It was not easy to reach this hidden layer of her emotional make up. It took an extraordinarily vitiated atmosphere to do so. Under almost any other circumstance, this black spot in her almost sub conscience — a black spot we all must have somewhere — would have lain buried and forgotten, far from the light of day. Undoubtedly, if you worked with her from 9 to 5; if you met her in a bar on Saturday night; if you interacted with her in a reasonable setting, she’d seem no different from the great mass of humanity going about their lives as best they can — working, eating, playing, loving. I’m sure many would find her attractive and could even fall in love with her. But the hurricane she found herself in was so confusing, so neurotic, so disorienting …

No … my indignation is not directed at her. My indignation, my scorn, my repulsion goes straight towards those who sent her into such a perverted environment, for those who created it.

Perhaps the intense conflict the idea of war wages with our more typical behavior can best be put into focus by emphasizing our normal reactions to pain, suffering and death.

Not long ago, I was standing by the tennis courts of our local park, waiting my turn to play. Like many public parks in America, the shadowy presence of that strombotic class of people known as the “homeless” is well represented. It might even be said it is their park and the rest of us are just passing through. Their presence has a phantasmal quality as they shuck and shuffle along in the background, like pieces of furniture or props in a real life play.

So there I was, waiting to play, when I heard a thud behind me like a sack of potatoes dropped from a window. I turned and saw a middle-aged man lying face up on the ground just under a telephone booth. He was probably trying to use the phone when the precarity of his physical condition could no longer maintain a standing position.

From about 20 feet away I stood and gazed at him for about 15 seconds. He was not moving. I approached slowly, as if he were a wounded enemy I did not trust. There was an ugly gash running from just within his dirt-encrusted hairline to just above the bridge of his nose. I noticed a smear of blood on the sharp metal edge of the phone booth. He must have fallen head first into it, slicing his forehead in two.

By now his head had tilted slightly to his left. His face was covered in dirt and the blood began to make its way down his forehead like a red river between its brown banks. It then started to drip steadily off the bridge of his nose, passing before his left eye before splatting to the ground beside his face. His eyes were wide open. I bent down to get a bit closer. Sometimes we say stupid things. “Are you OK?” His cracked lips seemed to be trying to form a smile. A few guttural sounds escaped his mouth.

This man not only meant nothing to me, he meant nothing to anybody, not even himself. His absence from the earth would probably go unnoticed. He was little more than an alcohol fetted piece of flesh with no value to anyone. He was a barely living organism that had still not passed from existence. An ant had more relevance to life on this planet than he did.

I then asked another stupid question, stupid because this man was beyond making decisions. “Do you want some help?” His eyes remained open. Did they see anything?

It was up to the rest of us, embodied in me in this particular instance, to make the choice for him. I walked back to the tennis courts, picked up a cell phone and did what almost all of us would do, even that young lady now famous for her sadistic treatment of Iraqi prisoners: I called 911.

I don’t know if doing such a thing is taught to us, or culturally induced, or is simply a part of our genetic make up by now, millions of years into our evolutionary journey. This is what humans do. This is what makes us “humane”. We don’t just let people agonize, suffer or die if we can help it. This is called compassion, and we are the only animals that possess it.

I could never be described as a “bleeding heart”. I lose no sleep over the fact that thousands of people have no roof to sleep under. I don’t sponsor starving children in Africa or South America. I give no money to panhandlers. These situations are stains on the human condition that denigrate us all, that individual acts of kindness do little to eradicate. My commitment is a more universal attempt to change our ideology so as to make these sordid instances of human degradation less prevalent.

But I don’t let people bleed to death on the sidewalk, no matter how little their worth in the cosmic scheme of things might be. And neither would you.

And that is why war is such a bad thing. It is a complete negation of everything we’ve striven to be since we’ve begun to have consciousness of ourselves. It brings out everything we’ve been trying to flee from since the dawn of time. These horrible pictures of our young men and women reduced to an animal state are frightening proof that no one ever “wins” a war. Even if it had been easy and we had installed our puppet government and secured the cheap fuel necessary to continue with this drunken spree of bigger SUV’s, and the latest Nike sneakers, and the ephemeral joy we might receive from the next DVD, in the long run, everyone has lost again. All we’ve done is perpetrate an ancient form of barbarism that degrades us all — “conquerors” and “conquered” alike — until someday we will be the ball and somebody else will be the bat, still hopelessly trapped in a stagnant orbit of fear and violence, wasting our specie’s remarkable talents in an endless spiral of regressive death and destruction.

When a small cadre of people, for their own selfish reasons, go out of their way to create a war, they have done the greatest disservice possible to humanity. They have retarded our emotional and spiritual growth. They have created an unbearable psychic tension on those forced to participate in the fray, because such an environment is in a pure state of conflict with their normal impulses. It has created a cerebral short circuit …

… but I don’t blame these unfortunate young men and women. One has to go way further up the chain of command, back down the Persian Gulf, through the Suez and out Gibraltar, all the way back to the Potomac and Pennsylvania Avenue to find the real culprits. These people have degraded us all.

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Jerome Grapel

Jerome Grapel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1945 and raised in the New York City area in what could be called a vintage middle class upbringing. He attended Temple University in Philadelphia where he played baseball and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1967. With a “noticeable lack of vocation for anything, and not knowing what else to do,” he continued at Temple Law School, graduating in 1970.

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 January 22, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am Essays from Post Consumer Man, Issue #150  Add comments

  13 Responses to “Why War is Bad”

  1. Jerome,

    “This young woman has descended to a level of consciousness that she never knew was within her”.

    Such is the emotionally numbness reached by many ordinary citizen soldiers trained for war, and engaged in a steady stream of killing on the battlefield.

    Difference being in her case, she was relatively safe in a rear echelon position, far from the front lines.

    One can be cruel and inhumane in any type of environment. Using unarmed ‘prisoners of war’ for sport, sadism and torture; are serious war crimes and violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    As I recall, a number of soldiers involved in this criminal behavior were prosecuted and found guilty.

    What was always very troubling to me, is the fact that the female commanding officer of the ‘prison’, where these offenses occurred, was never held accountable nor charged with any type of crime.

    Another cogent and well-written article. Thank you…

  2. Jerome, once again I see that we are kindred souls and I am proud to be with you, Your analysis every early in the Iraq and torture horror was way ahead of all those who safely came later. I too was horrified and wrote a piece to an Albany NY paper–others would not take the OPED of course. Thanks for hitting and hitting hard with your sophisticated analysis.
    Here’s my OPED, 2002 http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=print&p_docid=0F285F29C2105DF5

  3. I am with you on everything, except the notion humans are the only critters with compassion. There is evidence to the contrary…That being said, I posted a link to a metal band that expresses my thoughts on war and a link to WW1 Major General Smedley Butler’s anti-war pamphlet, “War Is A Racket” Love your stuff, Jerome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chqsvGJGKIM

    http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

  4. John, Knowing who you are, I was hoping to hear from you on this one. Obviously, you know more about the war crime thing than I do and your point is very well taken. In my estimation, the greatest war crimes were committed by those back on Pennsylvania Ave … but they are all still out there, still in a position to do the same immoral, idiotic things. Gosh John, it is so horrible. How can we have come to this? Thanks man, Jerome

  5. I am with you on nothing. Every person is 100% responsible for their actions. Period. End of discussion.

    I would also like to add that I am deeply offended by your comments concerning the man you encountered on the sidewalk. How dare you pass such judgement on an individual you know nothing about?

  6. Martha, Having your attention is always a great compliment for me. I believe you raise the most important issue in this whole fandango when you talk about how many mainstream sources of media would not take your OPED. With regard to W.’s Iraqi war, our sources of information failed us in every way. The difference between what I read in Europe at that time, and what I read in America, is very revealing. American media is a big part of the problem. Thanks Martha, Jerome

  7. Alex, You are the man Alex. When I decided to submit this piece I noticed the line about animals and such as well, and was going to delete it because I no longer believe that. But I decided to keep it in, just to see if anyone else felt that way. You’re a beautiful person Alex, thanks for pointing that out, not just to me, but to everyone. When will we hear from you again in this publication? ciao, Jerome

  8. Sister, I agree a little bit on the first point, but to not accept the reality of environmental influences is simply putting your head in the sand. Period. End of discussion. As for the second comment … it has merit. I did not feel completely comfortable saying those things, but I do believe in a general sense it has enough truth to be pertinent. There is a truth there that can’t be ignored, even if there are exceptions to the rule. In any event, regardless of his situation, I felt it necessary to do what I did. That is the point. Thanks, Jerome

  9. To not accept the reality that every individual is 100% responsible for their actions is simply putting YOUR head in the sand…and sums up the problem humanity faces in one short sentence. Period.

  10. Sister, OK, being that your world view is so simple minded on this point, I’ll take the time to be a bit more nuanced. I’m not saying that people who commit anti-social acts, regardless of the environment they come from, should not be punished. If someone from the Hood robs someone and those soldiers in Abu Ghraib did what they did, they should be punished. However, beyond that point we should, as a society, be trying to understand the causes of such behavior and what we can do to lessen it as much as possible. If, as you seem to suggest, there are no mitigating factors, how do you explain the general state of being of people of color in our society? With your mind set, you can only believe it is because they are an inferior strain of humanity, something I can easily believe you think, judging from the general state of your comments. Thanks for reading my stuff, ciao, Jerome

    • There are many, many causes for evil behavior, mainly stemming from the lies of the mind control perpetrated on society through all forms of media and government schooling.

      The solution is to stop believing lies and understand that every individual is 100% responsible for their actions.

      I have known and have been friends with quite a few people of color in my life. I cannot lump them into a “general state”.

      In grade school I had quite a few Jamaican friends who were intelligent and loving.

      There were also quite a few African Americans in my classes who seemed to be full of hatred for Whitey and because I lived closer to them than the rich white kids who were bussed in for “integration”, I had the pleasure of being threatened with physical harm practically daily on my walk home. One girl managed to harass me for about 8 or 9 years. She actually stuck a needle in my back during English class in 9th grade. Guess who got in trouble for yelling out the B word?

      In college, I roomed with an African American girl for a year and a half. We got along great. She was an awesome artist, very talented.

      I have many neighbors of color as we speak. No problem at all.

      I work in a manufacturing setting where we all need to pitch in and clean up the common areas at the end of the day. The only one who never seems to help and only cleans her area is an African American woman, a cousin of Jimmy Hendrix btw.

      If the crime statistics state that there is more black on white crime then vice versa, it is not due to my prejudice, it may just be the truth.

      Assholes and Lie Believers come in all makes and models.

  11. Sister, I’m glad to hear your civilized response, this is the only way we can get somewhere. You do not convince me with your comments. The old “some of my best friends are blacks, gays, Latinos, Jews, pick a group”, is not very convincing. It is easy to be anecdotal with regard to the sociology of all this. Sister, it is obvious, the lower you go on the social lamination, the more anti-social behavior there will be. You talk about black on white crime, but omit that black on black crime is far more prevalent. This is the result of the historical DNA of a group who has had a rough go of it in America. The task before us is to try and diminish these kinds of dysfunctional environments, a task that has to use some kind of social manipulation. I ask you once again, if you do not accept this kind of thinking, then how do you explain the situation our communities of color now find themselves in? Thanks for the comments, Jerome

  12. Once again Jerome, I agree with nothing you’ve written here.

    First, I gave you an assessment of my experience in this forced multicultural world we live in and you dismiss it as a cliché. This tells me that you are not truly interested in discourse but are merely trying to shout “See, see she’s a racist!”.

    Second, I wholeheartedly disagree that “the lower you go on the social lamination, the more anti-social behavior there will be.” What is “obvious” to me is that those in the higher echelons of society have done far more damage to all rungs beneath them than any other group. They are in fact the ones engineering the “social manipulation” you seem to hold as a solution to the problem. I am 100% sure that all forms of scientific testing has been done on all of the different races on this planet and facts have been determined as to what exactly the differences are both physical and mental, but we will never know about them because this is exactly the information they use to manipulate and divide us. This “society” you speak of so frequently as being the problem is nothing more than a deliberately engineered matrix to keep the 99.9% enslaved.

    What about the black on black violence in Africa? Is that also due to the “rough go” they had of it in America? I have read studies that blacks generally produce more testosterone than other races. Could this be the cause for their more aggressive behavior coupled with their ancestral cultural differences and the engineered social manipulation via music, tv, movies, and the incessant victimhood portrayal which may make it very difficult for them to assimilate into a predominately European culture.

    I have stated before on this site that I have read that previous to “feminism” and “integration,” black families were doing much better in their communities. Very low divorce rates and they held businesses in their own communities and helped one another. Your precious social engineers f’d it all up on purpose.