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Monday, November 22, 2010

War veteran barred from CCBC campus for frank words on killing

I hate this kind of story.
People are allowed to be where they are at!
Imagine! A veteran who loves to kill! Is this a surprise to anyone? People are different. Some people won't hunt or kill anything after they get back from war. Some people love it. Love what we ask them to do in our name.
The human brain is designed to keep you alive, so when you are fighting for your life and win, your body reacts with joy (See On Killing by Dave Grossman). Your brain is also designed to rapidly adapt to whatever is going on, so the first killing is upsetting, but a few killings later it is just everyday, or maybe even fun.
One of my Vietnam vet friends won an argument with the guys he was with and got to be the one to kill the VC they had caught. That was the best thing that could happen in that day , and isn't that a comment on the reality of war. This is not unusual although it is not talked about much, because most people are ashamed of the pleasure they find in that ultimate win, killing.
Another vet told me that when they went on missions to bomb or drop napalm, and the mission failed, they dropped it anywhere in Vietnam on the way back to the airbase. It was SOP.
General James Mattis got in trouble for saying, “ "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."
Isn't that what you want in a soldier?
Later on, as they get older, some people are horrified by things they did, which seemed normal, everyday stuff to them at the time. They need help, not condemnation.
I notice that Charles Whittington says in his essay that "We train and train for combat, and then when we actually go to war, it is reality and worse than what we have trained for." There is no training that makes you ready for what will happen to you in combat.
Every person who goes through that is changed by it. Charles Whittington is getting help with his reactions and being honest about the cost of war for him. I admire his honesty.
When I was young and Vietnam was going on, I used to think, very self-righteously, that I would never do any of the bad things we were hearing about. Then I talked to a lot of vets when I got older, writing Recovering from the War, and I realized that at 18 or 19, I was a black and white thinker, and I would have killed any one I was told to, and any one who got in my way, or killed my buddies, or didn't warn us about booby traps... It was quite humbling.
Only something like 10 % of people won't follow orders like the German soldiers in WWII or the American soldiers at My Lai, and I was not one of them. Most of us are not.
I hope I am one of those 10% today.

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