Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crimson Haze

Robert Bales' murder spree in Afghanistan was perfectly normal. Standard procedure. Afghans barely register as humans in the US, if they register at all. Wiping them out has become ambient noise. Something you might notice before clicking to TMZ.

It's too soon to know if Bales will join William Calley in retail terror's Hall of Fame. Calley's body count was higher, but he had substantial backing. Bales went Hendrix at Woodstock, soloing his Star Spangled Banner into the sleeping bodies of families with children. What was good for the Apache is fine for the Afghan. They are not like us. We must show them why.

Imperial leaders hate this kind of bloodletting. Certainly since the advent of mass media, most especially in this social media age. Instant communication makes massacres PR nightmares. When you feed the populace self-righteous bullshit, the skull beneath the skin must be well wrapped lest people succumb to natural urges.

Bales saw the skull and reacted accordingly. His honest hatred for those he was sent to kill fucks with smiley face narratives.

Since his arrest, Bales' saga has been spun by corporate outlets seeking to "understand" his puzzling actions. James Dao of The New York Times put in the heaviest work, providing deep background and military anecdotes. Typical mainstream fare, stern in areas, forgiving in others. A troubled kid who wanted to serve his country. Surprised reactions from family and friends. The basic plot line.

Yet in something so bland about behavior so awful, one usually finds some giveaway, a revelation of larger pathologies. Dao provided this when trying to explain Bales' attitude toward Iraqis.

After learning that the US sought to buy off resisting Shiites, Bales wrote to himself, "Giving money to Hagji instead of bullets just don’t seem right." Dao added that Bales "apparently [misspelled] Hajji, a term used by soldiers, often pejoratively, in referring to Arab people."

Right. And in what case is Hajji used non-pejoratively by soldiers? I can only imagine Dao writing the same thing about someone who "apparently misspelled Gook, a term used by soldiers, often pejoratively, in referring to the Vietnamese people." Or substitute your color of choice for hours of racist fun.

Polls and headlines tell us that Americans are war weary. Maybe so. Consumers tend to get bored with old products, and Afghanistan lost its springtime freshness long ago. But most Americans won't protest it, much less resist in radical ways. They simply flick to another channel, click to a different site. If they don't watch, does war really exist?

Meantime, new killing fields are being market-tested while militarized police crack down at home. Endless war, here and abroad, remains our chief Reality programming. Beauty is, you don't have to be aware of war for it to stay in production. Ratings are meaningless. Obedience to or ignorance of war is the true measure of success. Meta-marketing for the next murder cycle.