Now we must dispense with all false sentiment, all self-administered mystification. Otherwise we defeat ourselves in the profoundest way possible in our own mind and spirit without the Empire's having to raise a finger.
When we hear of "gang bangers" getting themselves killed in drive-by shootings, as fellow humans we may feel a degree of regret at the irreplaceable lives thereby wasted but unless we are blinded by false sentiment we understand that no one conscripted those youngsters into their gang. They joined with eyes wide open and of their own free choice. They armed themselves to the teeth and went looking for trouble. It is hard, indeed, for us to think that they are victims of anything but their own self-chosen recklessness and evil.
If we innocent bystanders survive the crossfire, when the smoke clears it is natural for us to conclude that notwithstanding the "human tragedy" we are in fact better off safer, less subject to being hit by future crossfire in battles that have nothing to do with us. Certainly those who fell in the fusillade won't be doing any more shooting. Nor will they be strutting about the neighborhood any longer, brandishing their guns, terrorizing the innocent, and stirring up trouble.
We must see the attack on the U.S. warship Cole in Yemen with the same unblinkered eyes. That is not to say we will see exactly the same picture. We will recognize some differences. First and foremost, we will understand that those Americans killed and injured in the ship bombing weren't members of some unofficial penny-ante gang in Los Angeles or Chicago. They were members of the most powerful, most arrogant, and most murderous criminal gang in the world.
We will recognize, too, that no self-respecting chief of an unofficial urban gang would describe a desperate suicide attack on his forces as "cowardly," as the figurehead of the Empire's criminal gang did today. To Bill Clinton, it is "cowardly" when brave enemies of his Empire lay down their lives in a cause they consider just. He demonstrates again that he is not just a moral pervert: he is a perfect moral invert. Yet he is not the first imperial figurehead to practice that particular inversion. The desperate suicide attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut was similarly described by imperial officials in 1983. Our folklore has always represented Xerxes, invader of Greece, as a villain; but we cannot imagine Xerxes describing Leonidas and his Spartans as "cowards" in their desperate suicidal defense of Thermopylae. Even the black villain Franklin Roosevelt, master of deceit that he was, did not dare describe Japanese kamikaze pilots as cowards.
There is yet another difference in the picture we will see. What were members of an armed American criminal gang doing in far-distant Yemen? They were not innocent tourists or peaceful businessmen. Unlike some urban gang bangers who, when they aren't shooting each other, restrict themselves to victimless crimes such as selling drugs, the gang bangers killed in Yemen were setting out to commit crimes that would be very victimful indeed. The news nets say the U.S.S. Cole, laden with rockets, bombs, and missiles, was on its way to bolster naval forces in the Persian Gulf the very forces that are administering the Empire's child-murdering policies in Iraq. Now it will be a long time before the warship Cole helps murder any children. The bombing of the Cole, far from risking the lives of any innocent bystanders, will help protect the innocent.
That, of course, is assuming that the master criminals in Washington and New York will not order mass retaliation against civilians in the Mideast. They have done that before. But that would be their chosen evil. We cannot destroy the human wolves who rule us and who seek to rule the world. We cannot keep them from committing future evil. But we can and, I think, we must celebrate when enemies of their Empire succeed in striking a blow.
Traditional national-statists always celebrate when the forces they support win a battle. They celebrated the success of the Normandy Invasion despite the fact that many mother's sons on both sides would not be coming home. The more thoughtful among the national-statists refrain from breaking out champagne and confetti when their forces defeat the enemy; if they retain any moral imagination they are able to put themselves in the place, sympathetically, of those maimed and killed on both sides. If they are not utter moral monsters, they must hope that the fallen foe, in his falling, had a moment to feel regret and yearn for redemption. That makes for the most sober kind of celebration.
But it is a celebration, and one that must be open not only to national-statists imagining their innumerable "good wars" but also to us patriots of freedom. The attack on the warship Cole proves that the super-advanced, super-tech, super-roboticized super-military of the world's only superpower is not, after all, invulnerable. That demonstration comes to us as a breath of fresh air to prisoners in a stifling cell. It is the breath of a future freedom, a freedom that we may not see that we almost certainly won't see but it is invigorating nonetheless.
To the loved ones of those who have fallen in the evil cause of Empire, I plead: In the name of all that's holy, see to it that no more of your sons and daughters sacrifice themselves on that stinking altar.
To the criminal minions who survived the attack on the Cole, I plead: Strip off those gang colors, lay down your weapons, flee your criminal conspiracy, abandon your gang lords to the justice of their victims, pursue your honor in honorable places. Redemption is possible, even for murderers.
And to those freedom-lovers who still cherish dreams of a virtuous Republic, I say: If such a thing ever existed, it perished long before we were born. Until we recognize the insignia of empire as the gang colors they are, crusted with filth and gore, we will see things as our rulers would have us see them and not as they are.
October 12, 2000
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