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A Death in the Family?

Crank Call


Published June 14, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

Hey, don't blame me. All I do is comment on the news -- I don't actually make it up. Sometimes, true, I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm awake and that the nightmares I'm having are only dreams. Dreams as in "The American Dream," which used to be kind of fun, as I recall, but which now has become a perfect horror. "And I mean perfect," as Groucho Marx said: "When Americans do it wrong, they really do it right."

I'm referring, of course, to the murder in Iraq last week of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a purported "terrorist mastermind" and a leader -- maybe -- of the evil al-Qaeda network, a collection of mainly unidentified people who "hate our freedom" and are prepared to die for it, so long as it gets in the news. According to "American intelligence," which I read faithfully, al-Qaeda's actual purported mastermind, Osama bin Laden, has had no recent dealings with the late Mr. What's-His-Name, and he still can't be found in that cave in Afghanistan, even though he needs kidney dialysis three times a week and has his acolytes drop off evil videos of his evil speeches at every evil television station in the evil Arab world, always in tune with the polls.

Whew! Don't tell me you can pronounce "al-Zarqawi," either, because you can't. "American intelligence" is worth bag-all in the end. I thought we learned this in Vietnam, but I guess not. I'm still smarting from that disaster. I was quite young at the time, and suddenly found myself first in line for the draft. Yes, there was a draft, a kind of national bingo game ("Please play responsibly!"), and my number came up low, very low. You wanted a high number, not a low number, because a high number meant that they wouldn't be permitted to kill you -- if you came in, say, at 275 or 300, instead of 60, which is where I landed. My brother, God bless him, offered to sacrifice himself in my place, but I thought that was extravagant and instead became a conscientious objector. As I still am, on every front of every war except the personal ones.

Anyway, things were very different then from today's "modern" army, which draws its dead bodies almost exclusively from the lower classes. Sorry -- that was another term we used to use, because we didn't know how insulting it was. One thing about Vietnam, though -- you never saw girls from West Virginia torturing anybody at officially sanctioned prisons in Saigon. I mean, maybe they did it, but we didn't see it -- we were horrified enough by the slaughter.

An incredible legend has since been devised to justify the Vietnam experience, which holds that "our troops" didn't get the parade they needed when they finally straggled back, that they were "spat on" and so forth, even though there's not a shred of evidence that any Vietnam veteran was ever spat on by anyone but a bum in the street, where they were left by their own government to handle "post-traumatic stress." I'll be damned if any one of us who fought against that war ever "dissed" a person who fought in it. We didn't. What we did was end it, and we did that on our feet.

Nothing like this is going on now, of course -- no, nothing like it. I'd say the Busheviks or their successors have another four or five years of murder in them before the body count gets high enough to drive the people, not "the troops," into the road. You'll notice that the Vietnamese are now among our best friends, and that the "domino theory" wasn't true. We knew that at the time and said so, and marched, and won by marching. We beat the bastards, and they weren't little "gooks" with "slant eyes," or "rag-heads" with brown skin. They were rich, white, American men with bombs, and we put them out of office. We knew our own power then and we used it.

We can do that again, I think. I say think, because I often wonder if we haven't let it go too far -- not the war, specifically, but the system. The technology. The cellphones and running shoes and instant messaging and tooth whiteners and self-help books. For all the talk about "faith" and "Jesus" in this country, money alone rules the land. It wins every time. It steals elections. It's the only God we've got. In the Vietnam era, we weren't urged to sacrifice for our country by shopping a little harder. The bloodstained moron currently occupying the White House actually tells us that we should look away from horror and focus on the family, provided it's the "right" kind of family, with credit cards. "One man, one woman" and their deranged children, living in little boxes right next to each other but knowing no one, fearing everyone, grumping about gas prices and worrying about the power of their "personal hygiene products." I'm here to tell all of you reading this that it spells death for the race. That is exactly what it spells.

Enough? OK. It was a hard week. A friend of mine died and I'm taking it out on you. But you'd accept such a lecture from your local preacher or pastor, wouldn't you? Yes, you would. And then ignore it.

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