Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crying about soldiers' remains going in the landfill

The US public is treated to an endless litany of heartbreaking disclosures involving practically every item of admiration and affection. Today it reaches to the sacred realm of the remains of dead soldiers, which we learn were disposed of in a most disrespectful and callous manner:
Air Force chief questioned over war dead's remains | Reuters: ""I'm deeply troubled by the reports about what's happened at the mortuary at the Dover Air Force Base. And I'm sure you would agree with me, this is outrageous that remains of our soldiers would be put in a landfill," said Senator Kelly Ayotte.

The Washington Post, which first reported those details, quoted one widow saying she was "appalled and disgusted" to learn what happened to her husband's remains in a letter from the Air Force earlier this year. He died in Iraq in 2006.

"My only peace of mind in losing my husband was that he was taken to Dover and that he was handled with dignity, love, respect and honor," Gari-Lynn Smith told the Post. "That was completely shattered for me when I was told that he was thrown in the trash.""
The tear-jerking mechanism thus received many vigorous exertions as the story of how our military establishment deals with these inconvenient detritus. Since the bulk of the remains had already been delivered to families, the military simply disposed of additional matter located subsequently in the most efficient manner available.

While it is the least the nation can do to treat these remains with respect, is all the hand wringing and complaining really accomplishing anything for these people, who for the most part died in needless and illegal wars having nothing to do with national defense, and everything to do with perpetuating the business of perpetual warfare in which the US now wages on behalf of its corporate masters?

Rather than suffering paroxysms of grief over their mismanaged remnants, shouldn't we save the outrage and demands for a change in procedure to the actual cause of these peoples' deaths, an out-of-control militaristic culture that consumes lives like so much raw material in an infernal killing machine?

The US media-molded culture has elevated the "troops" to a higher level of being than ordinary people, but along with this near-veneration we strip them of their plain humanity. We venerate them in some abstract sense, without reckoning the loss of their lives, or the loss of lives of those they ended abroad, consigning them to the consumerist version of Valhalla that lies beyond the reach of any moral calculus. Their death is an abstraction, just like the nature of their adversaries or the alleged object of the wars themselves.

This is a perversion and a travesty, being perpetuated by a media machine that can examine any irrelevancy or tangential issue in endless detail, while glossing over and completely missing the main point. It's not a few carelessly handled body parts we should be livid about, but the waste of these young lives for such a demented purpose.

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