I recently received an e-mail from a correspondent who, like many Americans today, believes he is 100 percent pro-American, pro-life, and thoroughly Christian, though there is little, if any, evidence that he has yet given thought Number One to any of these things.
He sent me something called "A Marine’s Response," which was supposedly written by a Marine in Iraq who has been fighting terrorists or anyone else who gets in the way of the progress that grows, like power, from the barrel of a gun. The Marine, or whoever wrote the diatribe, has a chip on his shoulder about people who question and even condemn some of the actions of some of our fighting men who may be killing people needlessly when they are no longer a threat — if they ever were — to the lives and safety of our men and women who are in Iraq, defending you and me from people who, for the most part, were not attacking Americans until Americans invaded and occupied their country. The writer is clearly fed-up with that nit-picking and is firing back, this time with words instead of bullets.
It’s not your butt or mine on the line, after all, it’s his and those of his fellow Marines and soldiers, sailors, airmen, etc. He describes a battle in which his unit was taking fire from people inside a mosque. When the battle was over, the Marines entered the mosque and found some people lying there, apparently wounded. The response, which this letter writer defends, is something he calls "double tapping."
The apparently dead or wounded could be "playing possum," after all. Go over to one to find out and he might pull the pin on a grenade, sending himself and anyone near him straight to Allah. Or he might be wired to an explosive device. Why take chances? Better to simply put a bullet in his head and make sure. "You clear the space, dump the chumps and move on.org," the young man writes.
"It’s a safety issue, pure and simple," he contends. But to really gain some insight into this writer’s thinking, you have to appreciate that safety is not his only concern. This fighting man is obviously a fiscal conservative, serving in a war of choice that will almost certainly cost his country trillions before it’s over. "Hey, Libs…worried about the defense budget?" he writes. "Well, it would be waste, fraud and abuse for a Corpsman to expend one man-minute or a battle dressing on a terrorist. It’s much cheaper to just spend the $.02 on a 5.56mm FMJ."
Well there you have it. It’s not enough to claim that we’re in Iraq to defend ourselves against terrorist attacks that would not be occurring were we not there as the occupying force. No, that might be fraud. We’re there to balance the budget, for God’s sake. Think of all the money we are saving by not wasting corpsmen’s time and battle dressings on the wounded. I guess we always knew that, given world enough and wars enough and time, George W. Bush and the legions at his command would find a way to save the taxpayers money. ‘Cause you can’t do everything with school prayer and a Defense of Marriage Act.
Now, sometimes, you’ve got to "kick a little ass" as the president’s father said about Geraldine Ferraro and the dictator in Panama and the dictator in Iraq. Our wars are always with the dictators (and Democrats), of course. We never mean any harm to the people we kill along the way. And they probably shouldn’t be there, anyway, getting in the way of our righteous and liberating bullets, bombs and shrapnel. Because we are over there to fight terrorists, so whomever we kill must be terrorists — by definition. And if God didn’t want circular arguments, he wouldn’t have made the world round, so there!
There are some troubling questions that arise over this kind of letter from a Marine in Iraq, assuming that’s what it actually is. I wonder for example, what this Marine, or whoever wrote the letter, learned in school about America’s role in the world and when we were and when we were not justified in going to war and about the killing of innocent civilians, and so on. What should he have learned? You can make the case, and many do, that we should not have public schools. But we do have them and as long as we do, we the people have not only the right, but the duty, to ask, "What the hell are they teaching these kids?"
It’s difficult to know if you are not there. And the professional educators might just as soon not have you there and not knowing. Some might think you wouldn’t understand if you did know. Are they elitists? Snobs? Perhaps. But perhaps no more so then the Marine who thinks you have no business judging how they kill people in your name and with your money in Iraq because you’re not over there, you’re not under fire, so you don’t know. You don’t understand.
Okay, so it is beyond me, it is "above my pay grade," to judge the Marine and how he reacts under fire. Besides, it is not so much what he has done, but his rationalization for it afterward, when he is writing a letter and presumably not under fire, that is so disturbing. Even more disturbing, however, is the tacit endorsement of that rationalization by the gentleman who forwarded it to me. He is no closer than I am to the field of battle. I don’t know if he has ever been near a field of battle. But he makes an outstanding conservative armchair warrior, defending "our boys" (and "our girls," of course) who are defending us in a far-off land so we won’t have to fight the terrorists here. And if you haven’t seen a jihadist in your neighborhood since 9-11, you can thank the Marines and President Bush. And don’t forget to thank God that it wasn’t that pinko "Ozone Man" Al Gore who was in the White House when the terrorists struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center or we’d all be dead by now.
Because, you see, my correspondent understands the world far better than I. He understands that God put Iraqi insurgents ("terrorists") in the world that Americans might have target practice.
And if bullets are cheaper than battle dressings and graves cheaper than prison cells, then there’s no point going against the economic laws of the universe, right?
Ah, but here’s the real kick in the head. My correspondent is "pro-life." He is fiercely opposed to abortion. As I have told him, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. But like Matthew Brady in "Inherit the Wind," he does not think about the things he does not think about. And the things he does not think about include nearly everything he speaks and writes about. So he does not think about them.
Otherwise, he might recognize the contradiction between his opposition to the killing of defenseless life in the womb and his celebration of the killing of wounded and defenseless Iraqi "terrorists." He doesn’t even see the contradiction in referring to the wounded Iraqis, as he often does, as "suicide bombers." Obviously if they had been suicide bombers, they would not have been alive and around to be killed by our heroic Marine and his comrades. Suicide bombers don’t have multiple missions.
And as a Catholic, I report with mixed feelings that my correspondent is a Catholic, who appears not to trouble his conscience with questions about what Jesus might do. "Whom would Jesus bomb?" Or "double tap"? Remember how he commended the Good Samaritan who came to the aid of the victim on the side of the road on the way to Jericho?
I believe it was not until the early part of the 20th Century that the Catholic Church officially stopped designating the United States as a mission field. The Catholic and other churches used to send missionaries to the Native Americans (Indians) to convert the pagans. Today the pagans in America are mostly college-educated Caucasians who speak English fluently and without an accent and who are in the pews at their respective churches every weekend. Many send checks to either the Democratic or Republican National Committee.
The Indians in their wildest, most hair-raising, scalp-lifting days may have been nearer to the heart of God.
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.