Militarism is bigotry
I recently came across this statement by 20th-century anarchist Karl Hess: “Whenever you put your faith in big government for any reason, sooner or later you wind up an apologist for mass murder.”
Well, there will be a lot of mass-murder apologists lining up to vote next month in the midterm elections. It will be a referendum on the Trump Presidency. Republicans will defend his record, and Democrats will attack his record, rhetoric, and personality.
What candidates and voters of either party don’t seem to care about, however, is the seven wars the United States is currently fighting, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
They don’t care that the legal justification for these wars, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to go after those who executed the 9/11 attacks, is patently absurd.
They don’t care about the destroyed lives of foreign combatants and civilians alike, none of whom had a quarrel with us and had no means of attacking us even if they did.
They don’t care about the $674 billion Defense budget. Only five Democrats vote against it in the House, no Senate Democrat opposed it unless you count Bernie Sanders. They don’t care that the U.S. military is the largest polluter in the world.
They don’t care that the U.S. spends more on Defense than the next seven biggest-spending nations combined. That it spends the fourth-most of all countries per capita on Defense, even though no other country has an interest in attacking us.
They don’t care about the relentless, bipartisan demonization of Russians and Chinese. Or on-again, off-again cold wars with Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. They don’t care about the 80 bases the U.S. military has around the world, which don’t protect American people and land but rather serve as launching points for attacks.
The American people are robbed to fund the murdering of foreign people. And I’ve been wondering since at least the invasion of Iraq in 2003: why are people okay with this? How is this “just one issue?” How is it that “reasonable people can disagree?”
It’s the cultural heritage of militarism. Because we were “undefeated” in wars through World War II and ultimately “won” the Cold War, we’ve viewed the military in a superhero role, playing a flawed but “necessary” role in world affairs. And few dare question the narrative. Few stand up and say the only threats to American freedoms and way of life have come from our own government, not from outside. To say such things is to invite the accusation of being “unpatriotic.” That’s not just a conversation-stopper, but often a career-ender.
But militarism is a form of bigotry, one that is socially acceptable to indoctrinate in our children. While most forms of bigotry, such as sexiism, racism, and homophobia, are about hating one’s neighbors, the militarist views the lives of people in foreign lands with contempt. If our government has a conflict with another country’s government, we view the people in that country as at least partly at fault. When our drones fly and they die, in a way we’re saddened, but not too saddened; they should have overthrown their government before we did.
The bigotry of militarism comes down to: it’s better that foreigners die than we question the justice of our wars or the character of our military.
We often view elderly people who have bigoted views as “products of their times” and “set in their ways.” But militarists are of all ages; many if not most are not set in their ways. Their minds can change. And they can refuse to support any politician who continues to support the wars and bloated Defense budget.