Inspection- Commercialized Death

ken carman's picture

 

  This is about one of those, “What the hell is wrong with humanity?” moments.

    The other night I was up at 3am watching TV, only because I need a new home computer. Usually I’m on the net, editing, reading, exploring.

   I go through spats: waking up at some ungodly hour; needing to do anything other than try to go back to sleep for an hour or two. You see if you stay in bed when this happens it just lasts longer. I’m told it’s not uncommon for older people to go through this.

   I wish to hell I had slept through an ad they played over and over again in the wee AM hours.

   Ad starts: flaming, smoking towers. Voiceover: serious, mournful: all about how horrible that day was. Then start with the George W. clips. Voiceover cheerily brags about how we, essentially, “took it to them.” Of course no corpses of the innocent, broken families, or fleeing citizens dare apply for a single mention. No talk of how the Taliban promised to give up bin Laden… how we let him escape at Tora Bora, or how we might have been able to skip 99.9% of the whole death and destruction part of this horrific gig… or how this was all used as an excuse to make more widows, motherless and fatherless children, in Iraq. Iraq: a country that didn’t have a damn thing to do with 9/11.

   The truth just gets in the way when you’re trying to make money off of death and the misery of others, I suppose.

   Then the ad segued to the “proud” moment we took out bin Laden, offering Barack clips and seal team animation. By now the voiceover is positively pumped up with patriotism over a moment that may or may not have been necessary to begin with, may or may not have been as reported. Odd how the evidence was literally dumped overboard. Odd how claims this was due to Muslim tradition were used to justify that dumping of evidence while, at the same time, Muslims were protesting that this was not according to tradition.

   Stupid Muslims. What do they know about, um, Muslim tradition?

   When we have to “take someone out” it’s certainly not a moment to be proud of, no matter how necessary. Just like executing someone is not something we should cheer. There are some unfortunate, sometimes beyond brutal, things we do we feel we must do. But cheering death and destruction is what evil people do, not civilized folk.

   Yet, all in all, this isn’t about what may or may have been a patriotic moment, or what was one of the saddest moments in American history, or even about questionable war, or wars. Not about Barack, George or Tora Bora.

   This is about the sick mentality of those who commercialize these moments to the point of obscene and absurd, or act as if these moments should be reenacted.

   This is about taking all this and turning it into a gold and silver coin set with certificates, pictures glorifying death and death devices; like widow making, child killing, planes and other weapons of war.

   This is about us treating such moments like they were holy: even repeating them in exacting detail, honoring humanity during humanity’s worst moments. …minus, of course, the blood, the “proud” image of Tora Bora and bin Laden sneaking out the back door while we pulled back to invade and conquer Iraq. Without the mocking of soldiers dying to find fictional WMD. No images of showers built by Dick Cheney’s company in one of their bigger “oops” moment: electrocuting soldiers. Or armless, legless, parent-less children.

   And I repeat…

  "What the hell is wrong with humanity?"

   The day before I saw these ads I had been at a downtown Nashville motorcycle dealer when suddenly the building shook with several booms. “What the hell is that?” “Oh, Civil War reenactors.” The cannon fire continued.

   On the way back home I commented to my wife, “Why do we repeat these moments? They are the worst moments in human history. I’m not saying no one was brave, or there were no heroes. I’m saying wars aren’t ‘glorious.’ They’re an example of failure of civilized society, no matter how necessary they may be, or how heroic and patriotic some individuals might have been…”

   Note: my wife rarely contradicts me when I’m on such philosophical rants. Maybe because she hopes they won’t last as long if she just lets me vent?

   Smart woman.

   Instead of reenacting humanity’s proudest moments, we repeat over and over the times we shred each other, rip each other apart, bomb babies and mothers along with the enemy… times we decide to allow what otherwise we condemn as the worst act a human can do.

   Why is it some view abortion as an evil to be banned, but a bombed fetus plus mother “collateral damage?” Why? Because when it comes to war we go out of our way to redefine murder in an attempt to justify the mass murder stench of it all.

   Yet I know of no one issuing collectible coins to celebrate abortions. I admit, there are times we must make unfortunate, hard, decisions.

   But when it comes to war we commercialize it, celebrate it, act as if it’s wonderful. Put out collectable coins; sometimes in a relic-like sense, where supposed bones of saints, parts of the cross, or some “magical” cup were have been used. An attempt to magically cure our collective mental disorder called war: as if they can change bloodshed into something wonderful. Just like relics were used to supposedly cure diseases. Or the Ark wins wars. The Cup has magical powers.

   Our worship of war is religious in nature, and has all the markings sometimes of Jim Jones. I’m waiting for that glorious time when some believers reenact Jonestown, like we reenact an atrocity every Easter.

   I’m sure Civil War reenactors believe rolling back the metaphorical video tape in exacting fashion with actors, but without the actual gore, is a “teaching moment.” As if getting exactly where and when Johnny Reb, or Yankovic the Yank, fell really teaches something of value. Hell, despite 150 years ago when they actually fell with all the blood and gore; considering Jim Crow, murdered civil rights workers, lynchings and the ongoing state’s rights fight, we still have pretty much learned didley squat from the whole wretched, meat market, experience.

   Except one thing we have learned is to sanitize it all and then… celebrate! Fall again and again exactly where we fell before. Repeat the same mistakes as if the mistakes themselves were glorious. What’s next, reenacting “firemen” going into collapsing towers while reenacting jumpers jump? Will they get postmortem demerits if they splat in the wrong spot?

   Wrong reading of any message any conflict, or any attack, may have sent. Very “wrong” message.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw.

-T.S. Elliot from The Hollow Men

   The fancy dancy coin package you get when you call the number and hand out cash, give credit card, shipped to you looks impressive. If only it were splattered with the blood of the innocent and the guilty, maybe it might be a marginally similar and realistic representation.

   Do you think this actually “honors” the dead?

   Vultures.

   History has taught us these kind of money changers are vultures. They sell us on the magic power of saint bones, or some cup sipped from: deliberately avoiding the horrific, worrisome, message any such event, war or death actually sent. We revel in ritual rather than learn from our mistakes.

“You too can buy a piece of the cross in equal payments of the total blood content of each and every one of your loved ones.”

   Ironic: the actual offer I'm referring to is being made while we do the opposite of honoring those who fell, those who died, and the actual heroes who survived. Many who watched their fellow heroes die horrifically. Those left behind are treated worse than slime. You see we have decided that firemen must give up benefits so the rich can have their damn tax breaks. Our talking heads berate widows and widowers as "whiners" with little outrage or reaction. Those who air such things do nothing except rake in the cash for any controversy created by nasty bile spewed.

Have any efforts been made for far less important "offenses," to make them apologize on air or lose their jobs? Not a damn one I know of. Therefore I think those who air such intentionally dishonor those who died, were left behind, and were real heroes, on 9/11... for the sake of financial gain.

   It is the rhetorical equivalence of urinating on their graves, on camera: as is this offer.

   Products like this defile our memories.

   So I finally shut the damn thing off because they kept playing that damn ad over, and over again.

   My apologies in advance. If they ever get to doing “reenactments” for the last decade… people jumping, firemen entering towers at the exact time, rescue workers wearing no breathing equipment because they were told it was safe… I won’t be attending, just like I would give out 30 pieces of silver, or any money, for any product that speaks glowingly of a rather horrific decade.

   It’s an insult to the memory of those who died on 9/11, of those who survived, and anything remotely resembling decency.

                                             -30-

   Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions

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