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July 13, 2006

Will No One Rid Me Of This Troublesome Work?

I've sadly had to spend a great deal of this week doing actual work, rather than frittering my life away here. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is the greatest injustice any human being has ever experienced.

However, Dennis Perrin has been picking up the slack with some particularly interesting stuff. For instance:

While there may be a higher rate of racists and gangbangers in today's military (though how you accurately measure this escapes me), the fact that they are in uniform is nothing new. I experienced this reality in my first days of boot camp, where white kids from the sticks or sheltered suburbs were thrust into close contact with black kids from urban areas and brown kids from the barrio. Insults and fights were common early on, which were immediately broken up by our Drill Sergeants, who put the fear of raging Christ into some of these punks. Our DS's saw combat in Vietnam, so dealing with domestic knuckleheads was nothing to them...

One DS in particular, who was maybe 5'7" in his boots, but served two tours of 'Nam with the 82nd Airborne, invited a bigger, racially obnoxious trainee to take a swing at him. The rest of us stood at parade rest in front of our bunks while the DS removed his rank from his collar and taunted this thug, who clearly felt the pressure to act, but remained frozen, unsure of what would happen if he did. It was perhaps the first time in his young life that he failed to react to such a challenge, because the look on his face as he backed down revealed a mix of fresh confusion and fear. The kid may not have liked black people, but he sure as fuck wasn't gonna push his hatred to the point of having a smaller man whip his ass all over the barracks. Our DS probably didn't change that kid's racist mind, but he kept him honest, and forced him to march with, run with, and clean M-16s with trainees of darker complexions. A hardass version of sensitivity training.

The rest, including Dennis' encounters with white supremacists and black nationalists, is here.

Also, don't miss this post about the latest iteration in the ongoing Israel/Palestine/Mideast nightmare.

Posted at July 13, 2006 12:17 PM | TrackBack

I, too, want my cheese!

Posted by: blondie at July 13, 2006 04:11 PM

Sometimes I have to sit back and actual work part of my job description? In each instance I decide it isn't.

Thanx for the post of Dennis' item. Saved me the time of getting to it. And I was able to cross post it to my site. Wow! Two effort savings at once. That's great for a lazy blogger like me.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEBâ„¢ at July 13, 2006 08:09 PM


The Dennis Perrin post brings to mind losing friends who went off to that nasty little Southeast Asian war. These friends of mine were not killed in action, but started out as tolerant happy-go-lucky souls who returned from the war's military training as hate-filled racist killing machines. Hatred is very powerful tool to use in training killers and this present war proves that some things never change. The military mindset has never been very friendly.

Regarding this current war against Lebanon, I might be mistaken, but aren't soldiers 'captured and taken as prisoners of war' and not 'kidnapped and held for ransom' as all media outlets seem to be reporting right now? Perhaps this is just another matter of semantics!

Posted by: americanintifada at July 14, 2006 01:32 AM

I was in the army from 1971 to 73. The war was falling apart, all the big civil rights leaders had been gunned down in the streets, and the army stateside was a seething mess. There were plenty of racists who would adorn company headquarters on the weekends with despicable racist charicatures, and there were lots of young blacks and Hispanics who were ready to fuck with whoever tried to fuck with them.

I was asked to be a race relations instructor, and it actually was a positive move. The army actually acknowledged all sorts of racial injustice in the U.S. generally and the military specifically. We had a program that used a Bill Cosby video specific for the program. I gave a little speech about, of all things, the Japanese internment during WWII. The staff took turns running "rap sessions." When we were sent to smaller installations off-post (I was stationed in New England) we'd be teamed up in pairs, a black and a white.

Of course, the big problem is that after the three-day class the guys would go back out and jog in formation singing, "I wanna go to Vietnam. I wanna kill me a Charlie Cong." If you are training to devalue other people to easier kill them, and making racial identifications for the that purpose, you end up with a bunch of racist killers. A three-day seminar with a few rap sessions and a few hours of Bill Cosby on a TV aren't going to change the nature of war.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at July 14, 2006 09:05 AM