Maybe (see my last post) I’m looking in the wrong place for the American fascism that matters most. I went to one of my local city Recreation Centers to shoot some baskets and swim yesterday. On the way out I noticed a United States Army Recruiting flyer posted in the glass door entrance. It read:
"AMERICAN FREEDOM IS UNDER ATTACK"
"THERE IS NO HIGHER CALLING THAN TO SERVE YOUR NATION"
I won’t even bother much with the “freedom” line. Yes, the Army is not defending United States (much less “American”) “freedom” from anyone. Yes, it would be accurate to say that our “freedom” is under attack from corporations, the Bush administration, the prison industrial complex, the bipartisan imperial plutocracy, and indeed from the militarism that drives and reflects the power of the U.S. Armed Forces. We’ve been through all that.
The line that gets me is the second one. Damn but that’s one helluva statement. The first statement is merely irritating and stupid compared to the second one, which has a positively Third Reich feel about it: “serve” your Nation State, subject!
No “higher calling than to serve your nation?” How about healing the sick? Ending world poverty? How about just ending child poverty at home? Ending the AIDS/HIV scourge? Achieving world peace? Saving a livable ecology? Advancing social justice and its twin democracy? Ending racism? The United Nations Millennium Goals, including the halving of the number of people living in world poverty and the provision of basic primary education and clean water to children and households the world over?
Funny, but all of these and numerous other laudable and genuinely noble callings and quests are fundamentally opposed to militarism and nationalism. They are especially opposed to the powerful and world changing nationalism-militarism-imperialism of the United States.
When I was an undergraduate history student in another millennium, I had a Soviet History professor who was talking about John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s incredibly reckless conduct before and during the Cuban Missile Crisis. At some point he happened to read JFK’s famous Inaugural statement: “ask not what your country can do for you but rather what you can do for your country” (I paraphrase). He paused and looked at us and pointed to the class and said, “now that is a fascist slogan.”
He was right. to some extent. Fascism welds corporate rule, imperial violence and (typically) racist sentiments to the authoritarian elevation of the militaristic nation state over and above egalitarian and democratic ideals and the broader human collectivity.
Where the Army is more advanced than the white nationalist e-mailer I presented in the last post is in black-white relations. It’s actually one of the most (if not the most) racially integrated institutions in American life. This is for interesting historical reasons and perhaps somewhat to be applauded but it does not mean that the Armed Forces (Army included) are not deeply racist. The unusually high levels of black-white integration that are achieved in the U.S. military are forged in officially shared and imposed racism against other non-white groups: SE Asian “gooks” in the Sixties and Arab “ragheads” in the 1990s and 2000s.
And militarism assaults black life in the imperial homeland in numerous ways, some of which are marvelously captured in an astonishingly good rap CD I just heard: Paris’ Sonic Jihad. The album's tune/rap “AWOL” goes like this:
I remember how it started, remember the time
I was watchin' Rap City 'bout a quarter to nine
Commercial said the military givin' money for school
Caught the bus up to my campus – they was signin' recruits
And met this dude named Diablo, was some kinda vet
He explained the situation, told me what to expect
He said, "We'll help you pay for college – and train you for work"
Said I could take computer classes and could quit if I want
But best of all was the fact I'd – have my own shit
I'd have my own space and have my own place to kick it
On top of that I'd travel – and visit the world
Hell, Diablo said the women overseas was the pearl
Didn't even call my girl – let's get it on fo' sho'
Signed my name, took some tests and I was outta the door
A true soldier for America – ready to go
On the road – a vacation'll be good for the soul Don't mind what they sayin', no
They lie in what they say fa' sho
They don't play when it come to war
Ya know they get down, they get down, they get down I showed up at basic training, but what a mistake
cause this motherfuckas yellin' at me all in my face
In this dirty-ass latrine, fifty men in a room
Runnin' laps up in the mud at 4 o clock in the mornin'
Was scrubbin' toilets, doin' laundry, and feelin' the pain
If I didn't know no better I'd think "Boy" was my name
Same bullshit line – so many bit 'fore me
Got a nigga twisted up in this illusion of freedom
Fuck this shit – I'm out tomorrow, made up my mind
Everything Diablo said I'm findin' out was a lie
That's when my unit got the call, the Commander in Chief
Wanted ground troop assignments keepin' peace in the East
What a relief, I'm thinkin' finally something new
Shipped us off and twenty hours later we was en route
Touched down around eleven – the desert was brutal
Then the ground split and caught us by surprise from the shootin' Don't mind what they sayin', no
They lie in what they say fa' sho
They don't play when it come to war
Ya know they get down, they get down, they get down
It was all surreal, seen em blow the spine out his back
In a mine field, we was reelin' from the attack
Seen the MO's hand upon the receiver, still attached
With no arm in it – set off the beacon, then I mashed
To the first truck, blood and guts splashin'' my face
Cuttin' kids down, couldn't have been no older than 8
What the fuck is goin' on? Who we fightin' and why?
Killin' kids killin' killers, who the fuck is supplyin'?
I'm cryin' out for protection, but none of it came
So I dumped in all directions 'til the heater was drained
But that night vision shit, wasn't helpin' us win
Caught a round of friendly fire but it wasn't so friendly
We simply got lucky – headed back to the base
Seen a soldier rape a woman, shot her dead in the face
Guts stuck to my clothes, body parts galore
If this a peace-keepin' mission, I ain't ready for war
And now I'm back home bitter, and sick and contagious
And knowin' we some bullies, that's why everyone hates us
Still broke than a motherfucka, niggas is starvin'
And that job trainin' shit is only good for the Army
I guess I shoulda been a C.O., and kept up a file
Shoulda listened when my homie said we murder for oil
Now I'm fuckin' with this wheelchair, ain't nothin' the same
And I'm knowin' confrontations more than video games
War is pain
The rap “Sheep to the Slaughter” goes like this:
Easily I approach, the microphone, in this land of jokes
Can't leave it alone, cause ya know, I could see right though
Corrupt plans and these bullshit scams and untruths
We livin' in a maze, different days and times
The world is a stage, most truth is a lie
In this propaganda matrix, the sheep just die
For these murderous conservatives with corporate ties
Deny knowledge of the truth, ignorin' the poor
They just human ammunition for these capital wars
Just human ammunition and collateral d
That's why millions of us holla risin' up in the streets
And when ya see me understand I'm representin' a voice
The majority would feel if ever given a choice
I don't need this seedy media they only annoy
Cause the only ones that wanna scrap ain't never deployed
Who do the fightin' for these rich white folks, and they wars
No it ain't Drew Carey, Dennis Miller or stars
Fox News, Mike Savage, Bruce Willis or Rush
Won't be MSNBC, CNN or a Bush
Never Toby Keith, Hannity, O'Reilly or Clint
Ain't ClearChannel – know they ain't supportin' dissent
Ain't Blair, Kid Rock, or Tom Cruise or vows
Of James Woods, Rob Lowe, Tom Selleck or Powell
Not Arnold Schwarzenegger, he ain't gonna shoot, or
Ted Nuget cause in war the targets got weapons too
Ain't Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton or Ridge
Or Ann Coulter, or Joseph Lieberman or the rich
Or any bitch up in congress, they just make laws
When it comes to fightin' – we the ones that end up in gauze
So when you say "support that murderer," I have no applause
Even if he got his jumpsuit on – we pay the cost.
I generally segregate the political and the artistic, oddly enough. I don’t care about a rock artists’ politics all that much and even tend to think trying to be political can screw up music more often than positively shape it. But this stuff is good politics and good art at one and the same time, though you have to hear it to really know that; the words without the background and the rhythm and the pacing do not do it justice. You want to listen to it in a car in my opinion.
Long story short, I highly recommend this album out of Guerilla Funk Recordings. It is some very serious anti-fascist anti-imperialist shit; had me driving around in my car more than I usually like just to take it in.