May 31, 2010

Against the Blood-Dimmed Tide

Essays written on the occasion of past Memorial Day observances:

Against Annihilation of the Spirit: Let Us All Become Cowards

No, I Do Not Support "The Troops"

I remain very pleased with both these articles. And "Let Us All Become Cowards" is still among my handful of favorites of all the pieces I've written over the last several years. Among other subjects, that article discusses the astonishing film, The Americanization of Emily; the genuinely remarkable and brilliant screenplay was written by Paddy Chayefsky.

The following were my concluding paragraphs. As was only to be expected, these observations are as relevant today as they were three years ago:
So the myths prevail. Our wars are always noble, fought for the purest of motives. Our warriors are similarly noble, engaged in a high-minded crusade. They butcher and slaughter, and are butchered and slaughtered themselves, so that "civilization" might be preserved. Never mind that many of the warriors themselves would not agree. Never mind that the front-line soldiers know that war is insanity, and only insanity. Never mind the overwhelming, senseless, futile, endless horror of what actually happens in combat, and the details that never reach the public.

Chayefsky rejects the myths in their totality. He implores us to embrace cowardice. I beg you to follow his advice. You can be certain the cries for war will rise again, if not against Iran, then against North Korea, or in ten years' time against China, or against a country not now in the news, but which will fill the role required by the vast machinery of war. And when those cries overwhelm all facts and make reasonable argument impossible, and when they are amplified once again by an ever-compliant, always docile and obedient media, plead cowardice. If you value the sanctity of a single life, it is the only sane course to take, and the bravest.