Good enough to kill and die
People bonded pretty quickly in basic training, and the only thing that mattered was the quality of your character, to coin a phrase. This sounds kind of trite, but it was literally true. We were all in the same boat, and depended on each other for support and encouragement. The only people who didn't get along were jerks - hotheads, hotshots, slackers, and the barracks thief. There were a few guys in the company who were most likely "gay," but it was never an issue. The training was so latently "homosexual" anyway that the drill sergeants were the ones who were sexually intimidating, yelling things like "I want to see every swingin' dick out of that barracks in two minutes." And such like. "Swingin' dick" was a term that was said often, and we all thought it was pretty weird. Variations included "dickhead" and "dick." As we have learned in recent years, sexual humiliation, or attempts at same, are integral parts of military culture.
The reason I bring this up is because I heard on the news that Fort Leonard Wood discharged more homosexuals, 60, then any other Army base last year. In looking for sites with information on the issue, I found that there is a thriving "gay" "community" in the Fort Leonard Wood area. Click here to find out more.
In reminiscing about my basic training days I pondered the question of why there was no open prejudice against "gays," and why the subject never came up. I came to the conclusion that there were a number of reasons. 1968 was during the thick of the Vietnam war, opposition to it, the "Black power" phase of the civil rights movement, and the liberalization of the country during the Eisenhower - Kennedy - Johnson presidential eras (with considerable credit going to the "Earl Warren Supreme Court"). The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago happened while I was in basic training. Two of the drill sergeants in my company, including the head drill sergeant, were "African Americans." The draft was still in effect, and the Army needed bodies for the war.
Also, "homosexuality" wasn't much of an issue in those days. "Gays" pretty much stayed in the "closet," and were widely tolerated. When I worked in the Command Building in USAREUR Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, the personal secretary to the Commander in Chief, General James H. Polk, was a "gay" "queen" sergeant first class. He was pretty openly "gay." There also was a pair of twins who were clerks in General Polk's office who were "gay." I never saw them in the barracks, so they must have had some kind of deal where they could live off-post.
This type of practice is consistent with indigenous practices worldwide. Were I a diligent historical researcher, I would reference historical evidence, but I have neither the time nor resources. Suffice it to say that in "Native American" tribes, "gays" were not shunned, but given specific jobs. Throughout the indigenous tribes of "North America," "homosexuals" were known as "Berdache," or "Two spirit people," and were seen as more complete, often possessing great spiritual gifts and wisdom.
Similarly, in pre-colonial Hawaii, the aikane tradition gave homosexuals a respected place in society.
In pondering the subject further, I found myself in disagreement with the whole Western way of looking at "sexuality." I thought about the soldier in the picture, and his pretty obvious "gay" persona, or "vibe." I had to ask myself, "Is there a 'gay' way of throwing a grenade?" The guy kind of looks like Rudolf Nureyev, except I think better. It's kind of like performance art, like a dancer.
But we tend to think of "homosexuality" in terms of the acts, which I think can be described as variations of two forms: oral and anal. So when a "homosexual" is not engaging in these acts, what is it about him (or her) that is "gay?"
This is not a meaningless question. I think the problem lies in our whole Western way of looking at sexuality as something dichotomous, as a part of a person's character or behavior that is separate from the rest of us. It's not. We are sexual beings at all times. It cannot be separated from the rest of our nature(s).
In this age of "conservatism," the difference from when I was young is that politicians, preachers, and pundits have found great success in fomenting hatred, division, and fear. All the clamor about "homosexuality" is not about anything real, but about the ego needs of the hate mongerers. They have found a great hook with which to snare the dull, the emotionally weak, and the sociopathic. It's always easier to go lower than to go higher. Going higher, whether ethically, morally, intellectually, or spiritually is going into uncharted territory. The great masses, the mob, the rabble, will tend to be fair game for manipulation into lower states.
We are now in a similar situation to 1968. We have an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and great social discord. There aren't "movements" like the Civil Rights Movement or a huge antiwar movement, but something more fundamental is going on. Because the Bush regime is so openly criminal, so openly in service to the worst people in the country - the rich, the fanatically religious, the power-mad, the "racist" and xenophobic, and the criminally opportunistic - the genuine mainstream of "American" society is finding itself threatened and marginalized. A great awakening is now taking place.
As far as the Bush crime family is concerned, all that is necessary is to pull a lot of tricks to steal this fall's election, get another Supreme Court appointment or two, and voila, they are immune from accountability, and will be free to start more wars and violations of the Constitution.
But not so fast there, Bush crime family. Elections are only the most outward, civic expressions of the will of the people. Steal the election(s) and you just delay the inevitable. Had the BCF submitted to the will of the people in 2000, their comeuppance would be slight compared to what is coming their way. Bush and his crime family members go back a long way, including his father and grandfather. But there was nothing so blatant as the Iraq invasion and occupation, the excesses of Halliburton, Bechtel, the Carlyle Group, and other war profiteers, and the deluded imperial zeal of the Project for the New American Century. There was nothing so heinous as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Camp Bukka, Camp Cropper, Bagram, and the practice of extraordinary rendition. There was nothing so criminally negligent as the preludes and aftermaths of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
We would have to be a true nation of saps to put up with this kind of criminality indefinitely. No matter how much support the Bush crime family has from the military high command, the corporate superstructure, the law enforcement agencies, and the news media - the tide of revulsion, anger, and desire for change will not be stopped.
And, as I have said in this blog many times, the Achilles heel of the Bush crime family is its very criminality. If you look at every last thing this regime has done over the past six years, it has been to plan and perpetrate criminal actions, to commit further criminal acts in order to cover its tracks, stonewall, create diversions, and buy time until the next scheme is ready for unleashing.
And therein lies the rub. "Liberals," "leftists," "progressives," and "centrists" all bemoan the "bad policies" of the Bush crime family, but refuse to look at the regime as a criminal organization. Bush himself is seen as a bungler, incompetent, arrogant, imperious, stupid, callous, intemperate, in violation of the Constitution and international law, and destructive of "America's" position in the world.
But not as a sociopathic criminal, which he is, and which is the rest of his gang. If you look at them as a misguided public servants you have missed the point completely, and will not know how to defeat them. Treat them as a criminal gang and their actions become completely predictable and thus easy to overcome.
Just one example demonstrates clearly the nature of the Bush regime as a criminal gang. Donald Rumsfeld, the completely lawless and incompetent Secretary of Defense, remains in his position in spite of his total unsuitability for that or any other office. Yet Bush will not fire him. Why? Because Rumsfeld is part of the gang, he knows too much, and he can only be replaced by someone else inside the Bush crime family. The gang would become smaller and more vulnerable to scrutiny.
As the bungled complicity in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon has shown, this nation cannot afford much more of the Bush crime family's megalomania. Treat them as misguided public servants at your peril. This gang will destroy the country before they are through.
And likely as not, our last words will be "God hates fags!"