One of the slogans of the sixties was "make love, not war." We've recently had examples of a confused attempt at realizing that idea, followed by the system's counter-attack glorifying war and the death wish. Bless the '90s.
Initially, we had a woman striving to be the first female pilot of a B-52 bomber. She was scandalized for having love affairs, committing adultery and disobeying orders. Society found nothing wrong with a woman aspiring to be a patriotic murderer, ready to drop bombs on evil occupants of enemy dwelling units. Nope, she goofed by having sex with one or two men, against orders and maybe even pulling rank. Bad, bad. Can't have our warriors enjoying sex, especially-shudder-with people they haven't married.
We also had several cases of military men using their rank to coerce women into having sex with them. A very serious matter, but strangely, all the suspects were black and all the victims white. Hm. Are we to believe that only black men would force white women to have sex? Yes, if we're racist morons. When several women claimed they were pressured to make such charges, and that they had willingly engaged in sexual relations without regard to considerations of race or rank, the stories moved closer to the back pages.
Then we had a military leader being denied command because he'd been an adulterer in the past. Apparently, being guilty of that biblical crime has no affect on one's ability to serve at the White House, but we insist on sexual purity for those who serve at the Slaughter House. Confusing?
The debate over mixing men, women and gays in the military is conducted with more verbal than sexual passion. The real fear among the warheads in our leadership is that sexual attraction will take people's minds off the business at hand-butchering the demonic enemy of the moment-and instead preoccupy them with glandular, hormonal and other more human concerns. Corporate America's profit margin cannot be defended if our trained killers are thinking about kissy-sex. The system was in danger.
Not to worry. Just when it seemed we might be closer to affirming sanity over madness, the death wish saved the day. The Oklahoma City bombing trial saw Tim McVeigh, anti-climactically and according to script, found guilty, and according to the same script, sentenced to death. National mind managers vented spleen over his terrible deed, pointing out that such evil deserved death and good riddance. The morally self-righteous, and a sense of national revenge, ruled .
Given the complexities of our legal business, it may take awhile before McVeigh is actually murdered by the state, but it won't be soon enough for the armchair killers among our cultural leadership.
And thanks to those brave senators in congress who went out on a limb and made a new law, homeless veterans who have to sleep on the street can do so with peace of mind, knowing that if they die in poverty, at least they won't be buried with McVeigh. It is understandable that relatives of the victims of that tragedy might want vengeance, at least in the early stages of their pain and suffering. But the orchestrated praise for this death sentence was sickening, coming from sources that would have given McVeigh a medal if he'd bombed 168 Iraqis to death during the Gulf War. This decorated soldier performed admirably, we were told during the trial, in that slaughter of innocents that was so ecstatically lauded, the nation was brought to the point of a patriotic orgasm while it was taking place. McVeigh was one of our better warriors, respected as a model soldier who'd follow any order and do his duty for God and country. Where did he go wrong? Or where did we?
His sentence was received with the tired clichˇ, "the system works". Sure. It works for anyone who wants to buy weapons , rent trucks, or believe that the individual values of the market are more important to freedom than the social values of democracy. In truth, the system is becoming more perverse, and its double standards and contradictions are driving more of its subjects over the edge.
The tax dollars that financed McVeigh's military training-to follow orders and kill on command-also paid millions for his defense, and will finance his murder. The value system that rewards a woman for breaking sexist barriers and becoming a bomber pilot would also reward her if she slaughtered innocent humans on command. It penalized her for falling in love, or simply for having sex with someone she found attractive. That last really drives Puritans crazy.
If we maintain an economic system that rewards avarice and inhumanity, no amount of moralizing rhetoric will make us a better society. The long overdue national discussion on race called for by the president will amount to little, unless it is accompanied by one on economics and class and their connection to all our troubles, especially racism.
As long as the meaning of life can be summed up in a profit and loss statement, we'll produce people who would rather follow orders and kill than be independent and love. As long as we teach children to memorize principles of honesty, but live a reality of deceit, we'll create troubled humans with a warped sense of right and wrong. They may grow up thinking it is right to keep and use weapons, follow orders, repress their sexuality, feel contempt for other races and hate their government. Not necessarily in that order.