FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Inspired by Pat Tillman?

by MICKEY Z.

 

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”

Here’s how the New York Times described Pat Tillman: “A graduate of Arizona State University, Tillman, a safety, played for four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. But as an unrestricted free agent in 2002, he turned town a three-year, $3.6 million contract offer from the Cardinals and enlisted in the Army.”

Thus, when Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan last week, the predictable platitudes followed.

For example, former teammate Corey Sears said: “All the guys that complain about it being too hot or they don’t have enough money, that’s not real life. A real life thing is he died for what he believed in.”

There was no mention if Sears views Iraqis or Afghanis dying for what they believe in to be “a real life thing” or if that experience if reserved exclusively for Americans. There are a lot of people, like Sears, speaking for Tillman since his death but none have elaborated upon what it was he “believed in” enough to die for..except bland statements about “defending freedom” or “giving something back.” Here is a brief sampling:

* Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis said Tillman “represented all that was good in sports” and “proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling.”

* “Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL,” said commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

* “Where do we get such men as these? Where to we find these people willing to stand up for America?” asked Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Arizona. “He chose action rather than words. He just wanted to serve his country. He was a remarkable person. He lived the American dream, and he fought to preserve the American dream and our way of life.”

We’ve all heard this kind of talk before (Does the space shuttle crash ring a bell?) but it does little except soothe Americans who want to believe in heroes. Talk of “best values,” “a greater calling,” and “the American dream” roll off the tongues of the average citizen but how would that same citizen react if a “war hero” came home sick from exposure to depleted uranium and decided to speak out against the U.S. government and its crimes? Would he/she still be revered for “preserving our way of life” if s/he organized protests and boycotts and reached out in solidarity across international borders to those who have suffered from U.S. foreign policy?

We all know the answer to that last question, don’t we? Tillman (or someone like him) could’ve chosen to “serve their country” by challenging the corporate-mandated status quo…but that’s not how things work around here, is it?

Instead we get endless talk about preserving freedom and defending our way of life and standing up for America. Such cliches are designed to discourage critical thought but the questions must be asked: Which freedoms? What way of life? Standing up for whom and why?

Are those men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq in agreement with, say, for-profit health care for the few or pre-emptive wars or corporate welfare or the death penalty or maybe unelected presidents? Are they fighting to defend strip malls, SUVs, or cell phones…or maybe the right to vote for the next “American Idol”? I’d just like some clarification.

Is it really a “greater calling” for an ex-NFL player to hunt down CIA-created Taliban fighters in Afghanistan (with much “collateral damage,” of course) in a misguided, myopic attempt to avenge 9/11?

What values is NFL commissioner Tagliabue referring to…the values canonized in our history texts (but ignored in reality) or the values of militarism and greed this nation has lived by for over 200 years?

Which America was Tillman standing up for…the bosses at Halliburton or the homeless guy I see every day on the subway steps? The country personified by war criminals like Bush and Kerry? The country defined by corporate pirates? Indeed, soldiers like Tillman aren’t serving the 2 million behind bars or the 2 million locked in nursing homes against their will. The actions they chose over words don’t make our air or water cleaner or stop the suburban sprawl. If anything, they have the exactly opposite effect.

What American dream are Tillman’s eulogizers talking about? The dreams of Wal-Mart, Nike, and The Gap? Whose way of life…Wall Street speculators, professional athletes, and digitally- or surgically-enhanced celebrities? I certainly didn’t ask him (or anyone) to kill for me and he sure wasn’t protecting anything I hold dear. Soldiers like Pat Tillman, to me, seem like heavily-conditioned American males…the spawn of decades of corporate conditioning and State-sponsored patriotism.

I know many will say Tillman was defending my right to voice dissenting opinions: “In other countries, you can’t write this kind of stuff.” But none of those critics will ever explain how Pat Tillman’s actions or his death impacts on anyone’s freedom to write an article in America. That question is left unasked…as if the answer were obvious.

But yet again, the opposite is true. As Arundhati Roy explains, “The organizations that control the world todayÐthe WTO, the IMF, the World BankÐoperate in complete secrecy.” This nefarious system guarantees that the Tillmans of the world will be revered as heroes…while the beat goes on.

Pat Tillman walking away from millions to “fight for his country” (by becoming a mercenary for Corporate America) does not awe me as much as the dangerous skill to manipulate humans into consistently acting against their interests and the interests of the entire planet.

“People often are conscripted into armies, but sometimes they enlist with gusto,” explains Steven Pinker, director of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Jingoism,” Pinker declares, “is alarmingly easy to evoke.”

“War itself is venal, dirty, confusing and perhaps the most potent narcotic invented by humankind,” says New York Times columnist Chris Hedges. “It allows us to suspend individual conscience, maybe even consciousness, for the cause. And few of us are immune… The contagion of war, of the siren call of the nation, is so strong that most cannot resist.”

But resist we must…and unless we in America create powerful and urgent ways to resist, we cannot expect the victims of our indifference and ineptitude not to hold each of us accountable.

“[T]he brown-skinned folks dying in the millions in order to maintain this way of life…[can’t] wait forever for those who purport to be the opposition here to find some personally comfortable and pure manner of affecting the kind of transformation that brings not just lethal but genocidal processes to a halt,” explains Ward Churchill in a recent interview.

Churchill warns ominously that those “brown-skinned folks dying in the millions” have “no obligation-moral, ethical, legal or otherwise-to sit on their thumbs while the opposition here dithers about doing anything to change the system.”

The world doesn’t need any more “heroes” like Pat Tillman. It doesn’t need young men and womenÐheads filled with noble aspirations sent off to die to defend corporate profit. The world needs the American people to snap out of their propaganda-induced fog ASAP and seek a “greater calling” in the truest sense.

MICKEY Z. is the author of two upcoming books: “A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense” (Prime Books/Library Empyreal) and “The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda” (Common Courage Press). He can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail