Thursday, April 25, 2013

Militarized Children of the Empire

Photo credit: Mike Hastie, veteran. Taken at K-Mart in Portland, Oregon.

Easter, as you may know, is the spring time celebration of the return of life personified by the resurrection of Jesus. This holiday adopted many of the pre-Christian symbols associated with fertility such as eggs, early blossoming flowers, baby chicks and lambs. It is considered a much more important holiday in Christian tradition than is Christmas. 

In the U.S. this holiday used to be celebrated by everyone in the family getting new dress-up clothes. Easter traditions included coloring eggs, hiding them, and eating bunny-shaped chocolate. A basket was used to collect eggs found where the Easter bunny had allegedly hidden them. Over time the basket evolved into more of a Christmas stocking-type tradition, found by children when they woke up in the morning filled with rabbit-shaped chocolates and egg-shaped candy.

Health-minded mothers like me would often substitute gifts for candy. Baseball batting gloves were a favorite of my boys in the spring. Once when I sent them dress shirts and ties as teenagers they were mystified -- the dressing up tradition had fallen by the wayside in the years since my sisters and I wore scratchy new dresses and patent leather mary janes on Easter.

Now comes the 21st century with its militarization of children and its churches built by confused followers of an eminently peaceful teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.

This is the sign in front of a local church, the one my husband calls "The Church of the Concealed Carry." Its priorities are pretty clear.

Everyday when I go to school I see students and several staff members wearing t-shirts with large machine guns printed on them and slogans like "Machine Gun Mafia" and "God bless our troops." Some people have complained about the promotion of violence but the local farmer who operates a machine gun training course on his property has a lot of clout with school officials and they have made an exception to the general rule banning clothing that promotes violence.

This is entirely consistent with bringing in the National Guard to set up an obstacle course on "Wellness" day, and taking students to the armory so soldiers can help them wrap and deliver Christmas presents to low-income families.

My property taxes go to support the infrastructure that gives military recruiters access to youngsters in the guise of education. I complain about this to school administration, I contact my school board reps, and I write letters to the editor. But the militarization of U.S. children and their schools continues to grow.

We'll probably never know what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers set off homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon this year. Since at least one of them was in contact with the FBI -- years before the incident -- the story is likely to remain quite murky. Perhaps they were tools of the FBI, allowed to create a crisis useful to demonstrate "the Homeland as a Battlefield." Were the brothers angry about U.S. wars on Muslims as some allege? Or were they more like the Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School shooters, less political than simply crazed on a steady diet of hyperviolent digital games, "entertainment" and "news"? 

Violence sells, and children are just another market. Once war has become completely mechanized the empire won't even need cannon fodder anymore.
The now infamous Maisto drone toy, whose reader reviews on Amazon 
should have been read aloud at this week's Senate hearings on drone warfare. 

Codepink activist Tighe Barry was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for speaking out after the Senate hearing had concluded on April 23, 2013. He asked the question that no senator dared to or cared to ask: "What about the children that are being killed by so-called targeted drone strikes?"

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