In the popular culture of the day, few of us remember that
the subtitle of Kurt Vonnegut's major work, Slaughterhouse
Five, was The Children's Crusade.
By that, I think that Vonnegut meant to convey that all
wars are conducted largely by our children. We send our young
to kill the young of other nations for suspect, but ostensibly
In Iraq, we have most recently seen the effects of sending
our young to fight the wars envisioned by the elderly and
feeble of our generation - the Perles, the Wolfowitzes, the
Bushes, the Rices, the Feiths, the Powells, the Boltons of
The reasons for the animosity of these people are still
clouded in propaganda and the language of ill-will disguised
as democracy. Their benefactors, their hosts, are bent on
world domination, often for the purposes of personal enrichment.
They use our young for their own purposes, but almost never
commit their own children to the task. The rich evade the
horrors of war. The rich have connections.
Our current president evaded the horrors of the war against
Viet Nam, and now commits horrors against the ordinary people
of Afghanistan, Iraq, and, perhaps, the people of Iran and
Syria and North Korea, if his "axis of evil" rhetoric is a
foreshadowing of this perverted man's intentions. He commits
these horrors in the name of god. The stupid and venal in
our country think he's been anointed by that same god to carry
out simple, absolute horror in that god's name, and thereby
define their stupidity and venality.
George W. Bush believes he's been appointed by god, and,
in the process, has come to believe he is god, no less
righteous than the archangel Michael. Vengeance is mine, sayeth
the lord, and George W. Bush has become, in his mind, the
lord's archangel, carrying out the terror of the Old Testament,
but burying the "C-word," crusade, for purely political purposes.
Let us be plain here. George W. Bush, in his administration
of this country's affairs, has shown himself to be crazier
than a shithouse rat. He does not read, does not think, and
prefers to make decisions "from his gut." He guides this nation
by the most perverse set of political rules imaginable - whatever
is thought to ensure his re-election is permissible.
In the past week, amidst the shameful revelations of Americans
torturing and abusing all manner of Iraqi prisoners, Bush
repeated his political mantra during a Republican fundraiser,
saying that the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein were banished
forever. Ordinary, sensible people of this country, or any
other, might think that such protestations in the face of
recent news were an indication of insanity. They would be
Bush is determined to carry out his crusade. The victims
of his crusade are Muslims, in the same way as previous crusades,
and, as well, the victims are our young people, those called
upon to carry out Bush's wishes.
We try to make excuses for their behavior, but we cannot.
Their actions are too abhorrent to accept, and yet, they are
our own - flesh of our flesh, borne of us, nurtured by us.
We are faced, finally, with the awful conundrum of war - how
can those kind, decent young men and women we raised to be
good people commit such abominations?
The answer is, of course, that our leaders encouraged them
to do so. Every person in the Bush administration, every member
of Congress, every person in power who let this happen through
inaction and by failure of will is complicit in their crimes.
In a most fundamental way, war is simple, absolute terror
visited upon innocent people for the purpose of carrying out
the goals of a few people. In the case of the United States,
those people are well-known to the public and to the government
- they are the ones braying mightily about our rights, as
they conceive them. Killing is our right. Torture is our right.
To hell with our Constitution and our concept of the rule
of law. That imagined and ephemeral security is of greater
importance than our laws and our children, whom we set upon
a crusade ultimately intended to re-elect the very worst of
We are the damned. Make no mistake about that. We are the
damned. We live in an age of enlightenment, and yet hear nothing,
feel nothing, see little, and think not at all. Our leaders
encourage stupidity, xenophobia and militarism, and we blindly
follow. Our children are the victims of our own stupidity.
They are not defending us. They are killing others to protect
the profits of the wealthy among us. Our children have become
what we let them become. We taught them respect for war, for
crusades, for the death and destruction of any and all we
designated our enemy.
We could have taught them about peace and how to achieve
it. We didn't. We could have taught them to think for themselves.
We didn't. We could have engendered in them a vision of a
better, more peaceful world. We didn't. Instead, we created
a society where the poor amongst them could only get an education
and have good prospects for the future by becoming soldiers,
and, in some cases, killers. Some of them also became, at
our insistence, the torturers of innocents.
We have sent our children on a crusade of dubious value
and purpose. We instructed them in who to kill and gave them
reasons to do so, specious as those reasons may have been.
We encouraged them to devalue the lives of others for purely
political purposes. We helped teach them how to do these things
of which we are now so ashamed and paid for those miseries
with our taxes. We let our President and our Congress make
criminals of our children because we were too cowardly to
resist these contemptible ideologues, too complacent to throw
the evil bastards out before they had the chance to corrupt
our sons and daughters, before these despicable specimens
of humanity currently controlling our government used our
children, our future, for their own greedy and inhuman purposes.
punpirate is a New Mexico writer.