It can be difficult, and often seemingly illogical, to sympathize with the American people. We are probably no more ignorant than the great majority of the world’s population, but ours is a darker, more destructive ignorance because its consequences are exceptionally tragic. As we fiddle with our cell phones, studying the details of the lives of athletes, our imperialist government prepares its unspeakable agenda, the thrust of which is to inflict brutally violent chaos all over the world. Our military executes the orders for this grisly mayhem, orders which the engineers of popular culture will praise without question, no matter how repulsive those actions may be.
Lest this point be lost, our government has littered our calendar with fictitious dates on which we must venerate our empire’s gruesome history. Thursday is Independence Day, the most prominent of these phony holidays, but they are plenty of others, too: Memorial Day, Columbus Day, even President’s Day compels us to look upon our government in the sunniest of lights. The government doesn’t forcibly remove us from our homes and force us to participate in their senseless demonstrations—not yet, anyway—but we can’t spare ourselves from the relentless onslaught of promotional propaganda preceding any one of these pageants. A few of us see through the inanity of it all, but only the most select of the few; meanwhile, the overwhelmingly majority of Americans actually swallow the pap of the state, accepting the government’s revisionist history and applauding the spectacle of a holiday such as the Fourth of July.
Hence my frustration with the American people: unlike the inhabitants of any number of other countries, we have immediate access to all of the information you could ever want, more information than one could ever even read, on our nation’s truly shocking history—and yet, we disregard it. What is our excuse, our rationalization for our irrationality? Until we overcome our shameful intellectual sloth, our government will continue to bank on our obedience, pliance, and support—and quite rightly so: even if you force us to look upon the grim reality of our empire, we will reject the truth as something irrelevant, and maybe something worse.
Enter Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL whose military career, criminal trial, and inevitable exoneration represent the worst of American morality—and if not, then we can shudder to think what is, in fact, the worst. Gallagher, lovingly nicknamed “Blade” by his buddies, boasts one of the most prolific records of killing in recent military history: according to a shocking expose in The New York Times, he has killed hundreds of Arabs in two decades, including young Afghan girls. His penchant for violence is reminiscent of the awful story of Chris Kyle, but then again, I don’t remember anyone accusing Kyle of attempting to kill one of his own colleagues. We can only hope that Gallagher’s bloodlust is, in fact, a truly uncommon problem, but if a man so disturbed was permitted to run amok for as long as he did, then that raises several very unsettling questions about our military’s process of psychological screening.
Unfortunately, Gallagher wasn’t charged with any of the aforementioned crimes. If only he had; then I probably wouldn’t be writing to you today, because he hopefully wouldn’t have had the opportunity to commit the crime for which he did eventually stand trial. He stood trial because he stabbed a teenage boy to death during a mission overseas. Such, at least, was the contention of the prosecution; meanwhile, according to one witness for the defendant, the boy was brought so close to death that another solider decided to perform a mercy killing by way of suffocation, rather than force the boy to live a life of incessant, hellish pain. In any case, Gallagher stabbed the boy many, many times, only to be cleared of any wrongdoing by a jury of his peers.
The victim was allegedly a member of ISIS, but we will never know if this claim has any basis in reality. Even if it does, everyone is in agreement that the boy had been captured, and therefore, he posed no threat to anyone, least of all to an armed Navy SEAL. There is reason to believe that Gallagher was of unsound mind—not because he committed such a gruesome and pusillanimous act, but because he had been taking so many steroids and painkillers that it’s hard to imagine him thinking clearly. Presumably, this would explain why he decided to pose for a picture with his victim’s corpse, for surely one would have to be incurably insane in order to wish to pull such a stunt.
If there is any solace to take in this story, it is that one of Gallagher’s colleagues, someone with fundamental moral integrity, reported him to the authorities. He spent nine months in custody, during which time, he undoubtedly received much better treatment than the low-level drug offenders currently locked away in state prison. He also enjoyed plenty of support from the usual assortment of military apologists, not the least of which being the President of the United States, who delivered his own premature, though ultimately prescient, verdict of “not guilty” via Twitter.
Today, Gallagher was cleared of almost ever charge and released to the public. Of course, is completely unrepentant; what’s more, he is visibly proud of his violent history, and he is smugly satisfied with his exoneration. His sentiments are echoed by his wife, who can be seen grinning brainlessly by her hubby’s side. Their pleasures are unlikely to be short-lived, as Gallagher is scheduled to appear on Fox & Friends tomorrow morning, where I have no doubt he will continue to stand in defiance of every call for elemental decency.
This story would probably be less offensive if it didn’t come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the people who have been kidnapped and imprisoned at Gitmo without trial for years are not entitled to a fair and speedy trial. This development should be disconcerting to anyone who expects proper treatment under the law, especially since the Trump Administration is preparing to prosecute Julian Assange, a journalist who has published only factual information, and who will be rewarded for informing the public by being sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement.
Happy Fourth of July.
P.S.: Tara McKelvey, a reporter for the BBC, proved that she has no spine at all when she wrote a pathetic bit of analysis wherein she all but said that Gallagher’s actions ought to be forgiven as the reasonable excesses of a poor soul who has been wrongly “transformed” by the grim realities of “combat”. When I see Gallagher take on an Afghan in a fistfight, then I’ll call what he did “combat”. Killing people from hundreds of yards away by remote control isn’t combat, honey.