More than two and a half years ago, I wrote the first part of a planned two-part series on the continuing tragedy of the My Lai Massacre. In Part 1, I discussed that a number of soldiers involved in the killing do not take responsibility for their actions even if I grant that it was not necessarily their faults for being thrust into their situation. They fall back on the cover of “I was just following orders” to push the blame elsewhere.
If it were not bad enough that many of the soldiers of yesterday and today still take this position, it’s the approach of the general culture and mood of the country that allows these excuses to continue. It’s so bad that polite society will not even allow these issues to be discussed.
Look at way Chelsea (Bradley) Manning has been viewed by the general population. Most of the people I know don’t even know what was released in the information dump. To them, American lives were put in danger and it was a slap in the face of the United States military. What the videos, called Collateral Murder, showed were civilians getting killed by the American military—rather nonchalantly. This is absolutely something Americans should know about their military and we should be thanking Manning for releasing the videos. Instead, far too many Americans call Manning a traitor and wish terrible things on the person who performed an important service at great personal peril.
Do you think an environment like this will produce soldiers willing to say no to evil orders or, better yet, people who just say no to joining the war machine that is the United States military industrial complex?
What makes it even worse is that the United States government is propagandizing the military almost comically (to the trained eye) through the NFL. They have ceremonies and commercials before and during the games where soldiers are basically worshipped. Do you dare say something that doesn’t ogle the military and the soldiers? How dare you disrespect the soldiers who fight for your freedom. But bring up anything like the My Lai Massacre or Collateral Murder or any other black eye worn by American foreign policy and you can expect no acknowledgement that maybe these wars have resulted in some bad outcomes.
Whether you agree with what they’re protesting or not, look at how the conversation has turned surrounding NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. Since when does the national anthem intimately represent the military? The protests are supposed to be about the police, so why is the NFL having players meet and discuss issues with soldiers in the military?
It’s all a method to control the conversation and narratives surrounding the military. It’s a way to make people afraid to speak up about the murderous atrocities and scared to stay seated when they show a soldier on the jumbotron. How am I supposed to know whether that guy did anything heroic or if he raped and murdered during his tour? Does the fact that he wears an American flag on his uniform absolve him of anything and everything that he did?
It’s a sad state of affairs. If people swell with religious pride every time they see something related to the military, how will they ever question what is going on? With all the pressure to join in on the pomp and circumstance, who is going to be willing to absorb the vicious attacks for having a view that goes against the politically correct standard even if their reasons are for minimizing human suffering? The country seems to be in no better position today than it was during the Vietnam War to create an environment of accountability where wartime massacres can be identified and dealt with so that they don’t happen again.
There is simply no general appetite for acknowledging that these terrible events could happen let alone do happen. And that is why the My Lai Massacre is a continuing tragedy.
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