My efforts to this point have apparently been in vain. Today’s obscene Concert for Valor, co-sponsored by Chase, the bank that brought you the near-collapse of the American economy in 2008, will apparently go ahead as planned, with artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, and Eminem saying thank you to our heroes in uniform with their beautiful music — or, in Eminem’s case, rhythmic bloviating.
The prospective recruit of the American War Machine, on the other hand, is told he or she will be Defending Our Way of Life. A great many return from their tours of duty in the Middle East without having lost a limb, or their eyes, or their soul, and even those who do are likely to be bumped up to First Class if they wear their uniform onto the plane, and to be accorded standing ovations at any ball games to which they accept free tickets for courtside seats. Complete strangers are likely to murmur, “Thank you for your service,” at them in line at the bank. Sometimes there will be tears of gratitude running down their cheeks as they do so. Often everyone in line will let the Young Hero go before them.
All of which, the War Machine knows, is likely to look sufficiently terrific to a 19-year-old without prospects to make him forget about being maimed beyond recognition just to keep the War Machine humming along profitably.
Damned good thing that we whom the jihadists hate for our freedom, as that exemplary patriot George W. Bush saw it, wouldn’t dream of stooping to the jihadists’ underhandedness.
When I was a teenager, a square-jawed, blue-eyed guy in a dashing uniform came to my high school to tell us that anyone who didn’t sign up for the War Machine’s noble adventure in Vietnam was a country-betraying coward with definite homosexual tendencies, although the last part was only implicit. Nowadays, they accentuate the positive — the parades and standing ovations and getting to cut in line at the bank —but the message is essentially identical, and identically vile.
Do you suppose having blood on your hands will make it easier to play your iconic Telecaster, Bruce? My guess is much harder, but I’m only a drummer.
But what glorious opportunities you have to redeem yourself! When you come on stage, before you play a single note, announce that your performance is dedicated to the ideals of universal brotherhood and peace, and to America’s conscientious objectors. Then, as you perform, have the word DESERT! displayed prominently on the video monitors behind you, or “Imagine there’s no countries — John Lennon”. Then, at concert’s end, bring all your fellow artists back on stage with you, join hands with them, and together sing Buffy St. Marie’s eloquent condemnation of militarism “Universal Soldier.”
Do it, Bruce. Unbreak our hearts. Show us you’re not just the pawn in their game you seem to have become.