President Donald Trump has stated that he plans to pardon numerous soldiers convicted of war crimes on Memorial Day this year. For those of you outside the US (and in many ways this piece is meant to provide you folks with some insight into just what has happened to the idea of America that was once the envy of nearly every other nation in the world), this national holiday used to be a celebration of the sacrifices brave soldiers have made defending our nation–defending the very notion of liberty and far too often giving their own lives in the name of the vague notion of freedom.
Our military, while certainly never perfect, used to be the definition of discipline and patriotism. But this is less the case today. It is not the fault of the soldiers themselves (outside of the handful of psychopaths who see military service as a way to literally get away with murder). But there has always been an understanding about what going too far meant. There have always been military prisons, convictions for war crimes and punishments that sometimes go so far as death.
But Trump, an insincere fool who understands nothing of sacrifice (except, that is, the sacrifice of those loyal to him in his own interest), is merely using the soldiers as pawns in his propaganda game to get his craven follower, who have also never served (and those handful of others who did who for some reason believe anything goes is how armies are supposed to operate), to celebrate torture and cold-blooded murder. Let’s have a quick rundown on who these horrible people are that the President plans to publically state what they did were not only not crimes, but were in fact heroic:
This is Edward Gallagher, a special operations chief navy seal. He had been a highly decorated soldier earlier in his life. Know what he did? He randomly gunned down a young woman and an old man wandering in the war torn streets of Iraq, both dazed and terrified. Then–and this is the crime without any forced justification like some people will inevitably attempt regarding the first two–then this supposedly honorable man tortured a fifteen year old with a knife, laughing, eventually slitting their throat and winning a bet he had made with an amused audience. The President of the United States wants to tell this man and the rest of the world that this is okay.
Mathew Golsteyn. He had a habit of picking off unarmed Afghanis on his off-time. The number he killed is unknown. He was finally convicted of what passes for first degree murder in the military for shooting one. Trump calls him, too, a hero.
This is real. No matter how just in a war the killing of the individuals on the ground (Taliban fighters), these guys are dead, their threat ended. Within an institution once considered the best of the best, the most noble soldiers in the world, these jackasses, snipers who gunned the twelve Taliban down, decided that it was the right thing to do to urinate on their corpses, laughing and high-fiving. These guys were savagely condemned by the Army higher-ups, referred to as disgraces to the very nation they were supposed to defend. The President, however, their commander in chief, thinks that this is funny. He says they did nothing wrong. Trump has even encouraged other soliders to loosen up and piss on a few more corpses. I kid you not.
See these guys? These are perhaps the worst of the people President Trump plans on pardoning this Memorial day. They aren’t even soldiers, but Blackwater contractors, which is really nothing more than paid mercenaries–soldiers for hire. Know what these worthless pieces of filth did? In states of joy they open fired on crowds, gunning down countless people–women, children, even infants. They were almost immediately convicted of their crimes in 2007. Yet the President (whose Secretary of Education’s brother is the CEO of Blackwater Contractors) has actually called these petty monsters–people who committed acts that in any other circumstance we would call terrorism–he actually called them “true American heroes.”
This is the broken and meaningless patriotism the United States suffers from in the age of Donald Trump. I have no idea if this is due to a lack of understanding, simple cruelty, or from much darker, violent, video-game inspired urges that find joy in murder and laugh through the torture of innocent souls.
Shortly after Donald Trump was elected to office I made a vow to myself and to the nation I love (and I do love America–I love her, for all her flaws perhaps even more). I do not perform the Pledge of Allegiance, will not stand for the National Anthem, and refuse to wear anything with an American flag for as long as Donald Trump is in office. This, to me, is true patriotism, declaring Trump invalid as president not because he didn’t win the election (he did), but because he understands and upholds nothing that was ever believed to be the meaning of the United States of America. I declared that we were not even any longer the America of our founders ideals (we are not). I watched the people of this nation roil and fight and break apart over stupid issues and noticed how the president, instead of tampering the flames, simply poured more gasoline on the raging fires and then sat back on his throne, laughing and laughing and laughing. In ancient times he would be referred to as a “mad king.” Today, to about the third of the nation, he is considered a true patriot.
What happens when a president justifies the torture and random murder of people in other nations? Does our outrage when this happens to our soldiers therefore cease, because it is only what they have earned? If we think this way, generalizing all the people in the world as those deserving of suffering, how can we condemn anyone else for feeling the same way about us?