Sunday, September 21, 2014

Washington DC pastor comments today on the unique danger in the international area now; Australian plot among the most grotesque ever

Today,  at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, Dr. Stan Hastey delivered a sermon “A New Standard of Unity,” where he started by explaining how America got drawn into World War I, and how Woodrow Wilson had to refocus his idealism to the point that he eventually had to promote the military draft aggressively, at great sacrifice to ordinary Americans. It's relatively rare these days for pastors to remind congregations that we have had conscription in our history.  Twenty years later, psychopathic evil of the relatively few would again cause enormous suffering and loss to ordinary people in WWII. At the end of the service, Hastey offered a special prayer for the leadership in the administration  and Congress for leadership in what he obviously sees as a new and remarkably dangerous threat to ordinary Americans, even beyond the rhetoric that was common after 9/11.
For civilians to be greatly affected by war and aggression has always happened throughout history.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of conquest.  Sometimes it is targeting a known “group” of people.  The Nazis did both.  Sometimes there is more focus on the supposed political or social crimes of individuals, as Communists sometimes did (as when the North Vietnamese targeted various civilians as they invaded and conquered the entire country in 1975).  The current rhetoric of radical Islam, ISIS and others, seems to be a mixture of all of these, only some of it personal.  
As I grew up during the Cold War, “duck and cover” represented what could happen to all of us (as with the film “The Atomic Café”) and civilization came to the brink in October 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis.  (OK, Truman used the atom bomb himself on Japanese civilians to end WWII, saving the lives of American soldiers.)   I have covered my unusual personal circumstances (as an “M.P. who could burden the survival of the group) during that period here before.  Later, I would negotiate the world of the military draft, student deferments, and sheltering MOS’s.  Young men owed their society their share in the risk of defending the country.  That idea had been around since the tribal existence of Biblical times, when the long term survival of the tribe or nation really did seem to depend on what every person did.
Soldiers, however, are usually ordinary people, who are conscripted or who join out of a need to provide for a family, or out of a genuine desire to serve, or some kind of combination.  Soldiers have sometimes been singled out randomly in civilian places and assassinated by “terrorists” or enemies.  A shocking crime like this happened in London in early 2013 (story).  But this actually sometimes happened even during the Vietnam war.  Two marines were shot in a bar in Georgetown in Washington DC sometime after the Tet Offensive, when I was in Basic Training myself, in early 1968.  That incident actually shows up in my first novel manuscript, “The Proles” and is mentioned in an excerpt from it in my DADT III book.  And the idea that civilians could be targeted at home by extreme Left wing radicals was well known in the early 1970s.  I actually overheard such plans suggested myself in 1972.  The possibility that war could start that way was known, even if not widely discussed, as was not so easy in pre-Internet days.  My 1981 novel manuscript uses that idea (Wordpress reference. ).
There have, of course, occurred a number of “lone wolf” rampages in this country, stimulating the gun control debate, usually connected to psychopathy and “mental illness”.  But the Mohammed-Mlvo sniper shootings in 2002 were somewhat a “political” or “religious” terror attack on individuals, as were at least four recent shootings by a man recently attested and charged in both New Jersey and Washington State. 
Like everyone else, I am particularly galled by the story from Australia of a plot that would target random civilians.  Frida Ghitis on CNN analyses the speculation that such a plot could happen in the US, as here.) Imagination of what could happen is endless, and there is no need for gratuitous enumeration of the grotesque scenarios that could occur.  I did say after the service today to De. Hastey that this sort of thing, that such an event eliminates the idea of “victims” in a world where everyone is presumed a combatant enemy, and that memorializing anyone in a typical funeral service no longer could make sense.  Sometimes, if we are too insular, the heart of our lives is taken from us.  There may be justice, even revenge, to follow, but without forgiveness, there is no more life, maybe not even eternal life. We, as one door-to-door salesman once threatened, all start over, in the same place.

Of course, the idea of targeting civilians is by definition a war crime, even if goes on everyday in the Middle East right now.  As I’ve noted that before, we were taught that in Army Basic Combat Training in 1968 at Fort Jackson, SC;  I think there was a question on this point in the written portion (on the Geneva Convention) in the BCT “final exam” during the last week.  Those who accept the invitation to be recruited into ISIS overseas are in fact, in a legal sense, joining a conspiracy to commit war crimes.

It’s hard to see what this has to do with “religion”. 

No comments: