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A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

On the Seventh Column

by RICHARD OXMAN

Call me Slothrop.

By now everyone knows about the 122mm rocket that slammed into the near-Mosul mess tent, ripping through the ceiling…"in the deadliest single attack against Americans in Iraq since the start of the war." No near-miss, this. Spot on target.

But will the responses from the so-called progressive community be…on the mark? I doubt it.

Everyone’s on automatic these days. It’ll be time for torture…as the soldiers get payback. And it’ll be time for tears…as all "good citizens" will be called upon to shed up…like good Patriot pups.

Not me. I don’t like seeing anyone killed or maimed…or even shocked out of their shrapnelic insensitivity. Nevertheless, it’s quite a stretch for me to contemplate the devastation in any other light than what I would be seeing…if the Third Reich’s Headquarters had had their heads handed to them.

When Emilio Mola Vidal moved on Madrid with four army columns in 1936, he referred to his (Nationalist) militant supporters within the capital as his "fifth column." The phrase, coined during the Spanish Civil War, alludes to a group within a given country…at war…who are sympathetic to its enemies (or sometimes working for them).

Well, that’s not me. And that’s certainly not the vast majority of the left on these shores. Even with a stretch on the word "sympathy."

But an awful lot of what’s left of the left veers toward the increasingly unpopular view that the so-called Iraqi insurgents deserve more understanding, different treatment. That’s not quite cutting the mustard for classification as a Fifth Columnist –albeit many would argue otherwise– and, so, I pigeonhole those protesting souls as part of our Sixth Column.

The Seventh Column? That would include those who see our Occupying Troops –dead, alive or maimed– as Stormtroopers. Sturm Abteilung…with an edge.

Well, okay, they’re not wearin’ brown shirts.

But do you want to get rid of them? I’m afraid so.

And that’s the question that faces all would-be progressives this morning. Are they gonna treat the fallen figures as some kind of faithful followers of the founding fathers? Y’know, go through the obligatory moist fandango. Like so many did with the demise of Reagan.

I’m sorry. But, I’m sorry, no respects should be paid…unless you want to line up as a "little Eichmann" yourself.

All kinds of branches extending from the blast will be explored. But amidst the hushed tones, the wringing of hands, etc. not many words will be mouthed about our monstrous men in uniform. I’m not talkin’ ’bout criticism of our machinations; that you’ll hear.

There are no good soldiers. I don’t need them. I’d rather be vulnerable, die…than commit the Sin of Omission of not saying so.

Place me in the Seventh Column. I’m gonna re-read Gravity’s Rainbow.

RICHARD OXMAN is looking for Thomas Pynchon in Los Gatos, California. He can be reached at dueleft@yahoo.com, and he’s offering a reward for anyone who can set up a meeting with TP.