The Origins of “Monsters to Destroy”

M2D Newsletter (5/3/18)

I hope you’re enjoying the blessed arrival of spring. A quick reminder: get your tickets to M2D in New York on June 1st! It will be even springier then, and I promise, subways will be working smoothly…
…which, startlingly, wasn’t the case this week.
One central, unspoken theme of M2D is the forever nature of the War on Terror. Like everyone who spent 16 more hours than expected underground the last two days because the A-train isn’t running at night, the war has been on my mind, as has this reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David that you can find in Flatbush:
If you look closely, it’s not hard to trace the trajectory of the War on Terror from invading Iraq and Afghanistan to our decision to (mostly) keep out refugees, all in the name of national security. Scott Cooper, a retired marine now working at Human Rights First, and I discussed that trajectory at length in an interview last July.
What you’ll see of Scott in M2D serves as the moral backbone of the talk, but I thought back to our other 57 minutes of musings that didn’t make the final cut when reading a profile of Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer who joined the agency in the dark, early days of the War on Terror and later took a $100,000 pay cut to become a police officer in Savannah, GA.
Through Skinner’s worldview, author Ben Taub ties together the War on Terror, militarized policing in the States, and how America’s approach to both is, how do you say, Frigged. “We have to stop treating people like we’re in Fallujah,” Skinner says. “It doesn’t work. Just look what happened in Fallujah.”
Toward the end of my conversation with Scott, we discussed the unforgiving consequences of forever wars. I read him a Reagan quote, aiming to imply that the golden days of justhaving a war on drugs were over. The layering of complex subjects went as smoothly as the A-train last night, but in a testament to Scott’s civility and insight, through his response, the title of “Monsters to Destroy” was born.
Luckily for you, Scott (and David from Flatbush) will be at M2D in New York, so get tickets while you can!
Best,
Ben