War Time Slurs; Rambo 4

Two stupid wars and no new racial slurs; no caricature of our enemies to destroy reluctantly, decisively, with a passing smile of satisfaction; no black toothed turban wearing Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish amalgam, a bomb belt so naturally on his waist it looks fashionable, to scare our children with; no super bad leader for only the most perverted boy to play during backyard battle reenactments; no one for the cab driver of yore to curse. Another George Bush failure? Of course my imperialist Yankee satanist reader. By taking on terror! instead of a peoples, our strain of retarded president has robbed the English language of the easily siphoned and spread froth at the top of war time rhetoric that makes killing other humans easy to accept.

Seussjap1I have heard, never convincingly, “towel head”, “a-rab”, the significantly more insulting to our own intelligence “sand coon”. None fits as snuggly, gives that reassuring condom-just-on snap of our earlier enemies: the japs and krauts, charlie and the evil empire, the almost fifty years of reds, commies and the effeminate pinkos. In 2002, left uncomfortable by the wet kiss on the cheek of a plea to humanism we took on France, the easiest target of all. In New York, normally a tan-o-rama of liberal rays, I witnessed adults pouring French wine into a sewer grate across the street from the Guggenheim (fine looking stuff too, and my baster at my mother’s). Back then my job took me to the courts downtown and few clerks’ yellow walls did not have the New York Post cover with Osama bin Laden’s picture bracketed in old Western style font by “wanted dead or alive” the “alive” forever sharpied out.

Osama bin Laden, bearded, making pronouncements and mixtapes from caves, himself the entire cassette tape market, shuffled out of a comic book, the best bad guy since Hitler and, of course, we did not catch him and probably never will and he might be dead and lives on anyway like the lifelong scar from a drunken fight we should have won and do not want to talk about. Moktada al-Sadr is even more painless to make a caricature of. His teeth are very nasty. He is turbaned and has his own evil private army. Where bin Laden is musing and sedated, al-Sadr is angry and brutish. But, al-Sadr is a weight watchers slice in the shit pie eating contest for one we were dared into. We cannot point Sadrphpto him anymore than we can the ambulance chasers and salesmen types of the Iraqi government or the faceless heads of terrorist splinter groups.

Six years of fighting abstraction has also robbed us of the geography lesson war previously afforded, the latitudinal lines and cities with strange names that become part of our language. We have no new glorious history lesson in the making pulling at the rope through our national identity, coated in victories, taught with measured rightness.

We ignore the din increasing in size and volume: Muslims pointing to baroque Zionist conspiracies, Israelis certain of genetic Arab flaws, Russians kicking Uzbek produce vendors out of Moscow, the 700,000 Mugabe displaced out of Zimbabwe’s capitol to “drive out trash”, every new academic who really believes that the holocaust did not happen, the thousand other caricatures that make what almost all deplore bearable to societies, all united by one image of Americans as belligerent fools, destructively and begrudgingly on their way out.

Talking to people of different opinions is nice, but equally essential to a democracy is the right to stand across from people you disagree with and scream at them and call them names with few repercussions beyond a bruise to the ego from a well placed quip, and with the expectation that one’s earnest screaming, if loud and persuasive enough, can have an impact. Most Americans are privileged enough that the majority of their opinions are formed from hypothetical scenarios. (My opposition to the death penalty does not answer the question supporters of it often ask, “if someone killed your family, wouldn’t you want that person to be killed too?” because no one in my family, or most Americans families, has been murdered.) With all the post 9/11 flags and pro-USA graffiti on overpasses, I figured a couple of years of self-assured slurring was inevitable. Few protests have stopped the start of a war, but at least I could assume my place across from the kind of aggression I believe foolish to passionately bleed my heart out, to yell and try to swing the rightness in question of the war in my direction.

Warmongering months passed. I had less and less to say. The flag waving reached a stasis. A war that cannot be won or stopped, that is not engaging or inspiring, hatched, fledged and flown by crazy men, has robbed all sides of meaningful convictions (this essay too has a place in the heap of irrelevance). Walmart sized generalizations about Muslims only muddle and distract. Soldiers and soldiers’ families suffer. We stare at inkblots of our own silhouettes, saying, “I don’t know. A dinghy? You tell me.”

A side point, connected. Please watch the following trailer for the upcoming fourth installment of Rambo. A quick synopsis for those who cannot watch the clip follows.

John Rambo is living on his own in Bangkok (good place to typecast a 16-year-old boy, girl or ladyboy into the imagination), monk-like, salvaging PT boats and tanks to turn to scrap metal. A missionary group he escorts up river, which includes a hot blond, is heading into Burma to save the Karen people from genocide. The missionary group is captured by Burmese soldiers. Rambo goes in to save them and kills a whole lot, I mean seriously a whole lot, of Burmese because, as he puts it, “when your pushed, killing’s as easy as breathing.” For those who are unsure from the clip he does not punch that guy’s head off, he has a knife, but it looks like he punches the head off. Rambo and the blond are the only ones to make it out, end of story.

The movie, despite youtube member skinheadben’s assertion that, “this is what America needs . . . knife decapitating action [to] put a little steal in hippies spine,” begs the question valtheon asks, “what’s Rambo doing all the way over there? He should be in Iraq”. He adds, I am not sure what he means, “lol”. Aoenflux67, a prolific Amazon reviewer of ancient historical fantasy books, answers, “too politically incorrect for Hollywood wussies to consider Iraq now. Burma only scrapes in because no one cares about it.” Too true, Mr. or Ms. Flux67. Even Rambo, long disturbing PSA for war time PTSD, who went into Vietnam to save POWs and to Afghanistan to help the same men who became the Taliban, would not know who to fight, whose throat to rip with his hands, which men to turn to sauce from the close range of a 50-something caliber machine gun. Too bad, some could have used him.

(The movie, in a nod to the times we live in, does feature a mercenary who was a marine that completed three tours of Iraq. He is black and dies swiftly.)