Tag Archives: Politics

Starfish Taliban

A parable

One day a schoolteacher was walking through the streets of Kandahar. Smoke billowed from burning buildings, darkening the sun. Screams and gunshots rang out in all directions. The schoolteacher turned a corner and found an American soldier standing in the middle of the street. Before the soldier was a single Afghan man in a black turban shrieking “Allahu akbar!” and waving a blood-soaked knife. A woman in a burkha, sobbing, ran from the black turbaned man, past the schoolteacher, and disappeared into the smoke. At the turbaned man’s feet lay another woman’s body, robes lifted and askew. She lay among three other black turbaned men, all shot dead. As the schoolteacher watched, the American soldier put two rounds into the turbaned man’s chest and he fell, joining his brothers. All around, down the many streets, men shouted and screamed. The schoolteacher looked closely at the American soldier. He was bloody from wounds, flesh darkened from dirt and smoke, and his eyes were tired. The soldier raised a hand to his chest and pressed his radio, “I’m at the intersection of blue and willow. Where to next?” The schoolteacher could not hear it but the soldier got a reply and began moving deeper into the smoke. Before he disappeared the schoolteacher asked, “Why are you still here? There are thousands of them. You can never kill them all. They will go on raping and murdering long after you are gone. Why?” The soldier paused and gestured to the men on the ground. “Those won’t.” Then he turned and disappeared into the smoke.

The Hurt Locker

The thrust of The Hurt Locker story is the character.  The team sergeant who is reckless and who goes back to the war again and again when he doesn’t have to. That’s compelling, it’s a true character trait. I could relate. It let me examine things about myself and about soldiers in general that do need examining.

But while pursuing this central story, the writer tossed in either lie after lie, or mistake after mistake, that betrays a basic perception on his part that soldiers generally are casual murderers and liars. (Also that AK47s can hit accurately at more than 300 yards, EOD guys are all sniper qualified, EOD guys regularly run around the countryside completely alone and so forth.) He’s in good company. Hollywood has been promulgating this line of propaganda since at least VietNam.

On the whole, I liked The Hurt Locker.  The good part of the story, the character arc, could easily have been told without the lies and/or mistakes though.

A tragedy

Drunk woman waving a sword
Drunk woman waving a sword

Seriously, we have advocated the use of swords in conflict resolution and personal defense for many years. We were finally making some progress. At long last the whole debate was making its way into the mainstream and getting the serious consideration it deserved.

Now, in one fell swoop, it’s been reduced, again, to the status of a crazy drunk woman waving her sword in public and threatening to “cut” people.

I weep for what we have lost.