A few days ago I received the newsletter that my son’s kindergarten issues weekly. The tract is clearly not The New Yorker but I read it every time, most likely out of guilt – a powerful emotion in those of us raised as Catholics.
It seems that last week the teachers decided that instead of saying Good Morning they will start every day –and instigate kids to follow suit- saying ‘I love you’. The bloody hippies. What can I expect next? Meat is murder? Give peace a chance? Save the rainforest?
To somehow offset the damage this will do to my son I headed to the local Toys R Us and bought a full gear US Marine costume set for my kid, including helmet, night vision goggles, AR-15 assault rifle and 4 plastic hand grenades.
I had in my hand a couple of picture books from the ‘George the CIA covert teddy bear’ collection (no. 3, George Extracts a Suspect – and no. 5, Everyone Talks to George when Waterboarded) but left them at the till.
My wife promptly objected to the gifts. I assured her that the boy would only operate UN-sanctioned play missions and that I would teach him to pretend to use lethal force only when his pretend enemies pose an immediate pretend risk to himself or his team mates. Still no. Women have no respect for proper rules of engagement.
Long discussion ensued, which of course ended up in the movie “We need to talk about Kevin”, Columbine, Newtown, school shootings in general and all random gun violence.
In a nutshell, she fought the hippie corner: toy guns, video games, movies, and all representations of violence or items that can be used to kill people are bad and must be never shown to children (or to some adults, like me).
I reminded her that the middle ages were pretty violent: war, gruesome torture, rape and murder were ubiquitous, with no TV, games or Tarantino to blame. Same is true of World Wars I and II. Neither made even the smallest dent in her argumentative armour.
So I went for the hippie dilemma: suppose a crazy dictator is killing his own people by the hundreds, kids and all (Syria, maybe Iraq); or suppose two groups of people have decided they will eliminate the other with machetes in some obscure African country (Rwanda) or in Europe, with guns (Sarajevo); furthermore, suppose warlords are withholding food aid while people are starving (Somalia)… is there any of these cases, where the only viable solution to a clear and present humanitarian crisis is to send in some well equipped troops? Hippie had to concede.
The US is at present the only country able to project military power worldwide. This is a fabulous tool. You can be really strong about what you want from others in the knowledge that at the end of diplomacy there is always the 7th Fleet. To make the above a bit more palatable the US has taken on the job of world police, and every now and again they intervene in more worthy causes. Save a few babies in Liberia, and less people will complain when you take over the second largest oil pit in the world.
Most people would defend the homeland if under attack. If you want to project military power however what you need is a big bunch of combat ready troops, who will never question the logic of being deployed in full combat gear in a country they never heard about to shoot whoever they are told to shoot at. You need thousands of people that are familiar with guns. People who think owning and shooting guns is what normal people do, and that shooting guns at other people is part of life.
And this applies not only to the soldiers. You need the general population to accept the normality of handling and using weapons, and of being at war. Swedes do not jump into C-130 transports en route to some African conflict, because they think its nuts to fight wars in other countries, because they think wars are bad and guns are for bad people. They don’t like to use them and the ones who would like to face being ostracised by a community who will think less of them. Sweden can’t project military power, period.
Projecting military power overseas is essential to the US, to their position in the world, their identity, their economy and their survival. They need Americans to own, use and in general be cool with guns. School and random civilian shootings are part of the price to pay, collateral damage if you will. Whatever they say about it, in their actions Americans prove they consider it a fair price to pay...
My wife twisted her head, cleared her throat and told me that my son will project nothing. Soldier outfit is out. The boy salutes all and sundry with ‘I Love You’.