Didn't get around to doing the open thread today. But the night has more than compensated.
I have a lot of friends in New Brunswick and I make more on a daily basis. I was sitting out in front of a pizza place in town, the now-famous RU Grill for those of you who read Maxim, and I was talking with my good friend Marcello, a middle-school teacher. We soon began talking to an older man who identified himself as a Vietnam veteran. He was a smart man, well-read and informed on the situation then and now. He was also very, very against the war in Iraq. Seeing as he lived through this insanity once he has little love for a repeat performance. I should add that the preceding statement was directly confirmed by his own words and contains no intuitive linkage between historic events, save the ones that he himself made.
The interesting part came when a young man came up to us, a young man who identified himself as a Marine. He was weak-minded, clearly brainwashed, as his demeanor and righteousness would soon make clear. He challenged our friend on his military record, decrying that he was a fake because he couldn't prove his past military status at 3 in the morning on a Friday night out in front of a pizza place. He called a Vietnam veteran a liar and added:
"I don't like to see you lying to these kids."
Please note that I am 24 and very likely this little shit's senior, both in years and experiences. He was clearly without combat experience or really any experience outside the sheltered bubble of controlled reality. Furthermore, and funny as it was, Marcello is 35 and visibly middle-aged. Yes. We were kids being dogmatized, and we were to be defended by a brainwashed stripling who couldn't face down a man with an ounce of reason. It was truly the most pathetic thing I've seen all week.
I do have to say, though, that Brian (the vet) handled the situation with a candor, patience, and rationale that few can display at any time, let alone under the circumstances. It took Marcello and Brian both to keep me from putting the jarhead into the pavement.
This brings me to brainwashing, which this kid very clearly was. It's a tactic that the military uses, the Marine Corps especially. They break you like a prisoner and build you up again as what they want. Your mind becomes theirs. Your will is no longer your own. You become a machine of the government's will, for good or ill. This is not the way the military is supposed to work. You either have tin soldiers or you have intelligent warriors. Intelligent warriors who fight with a reason are the defenders of a free society. Tin soldiers are the tools of tyrants.
You can see it in the way they resist data, the way they lash out against contrary thought. The most common route is, and please remember this, that they will ask questions and refuse any semblance of a rational answer. They're communicating with their internal programmer, not with the person they're addressing.
Later on, after jarhead stormed off (he refused to give his name, by the way...he'd give his entire division and specialty, but not his name), we had a quick discussion with the audience. I felt it my duty to point out brainwashing and for a group that was mildly inebriated (the buzz usually wears off around this time, as the bars here close at 2) they were suprisingly rational. The fact that he was a Marine didn't seem to surprise anyone. They could all see it for what it was.
A young man approached us. He wasn't very bright and he recently joined the Army. He wants to go career. It's a family thing for him. His father was in the military, narrowly avoiding service in Vietnam. He wants to serve his country. He freely admitted a need for direction in his life. While he was clearly pretty dumb (some people are. It happens) he did seem very clear on his idea of a future. It's an indignity to him and all like him that he won't be able to serve this country. I wished him well on principle.
That's your country, my friends. That's your military. An old Vietnam vet talks to the young, well-informed and very unhappy. There's a brainwashed toy soldier waiting in the wings and a innocent man who just wants some direction in his life. We need a responsible military who does not accept leadership as an excuse for an atrocity. Just remember that fact, remember Abu Ghraib, and ask yourself which one of these two would have participated in such an evil, and which one would've seen it stopped.
Hint: A low IQ is still greater than a mind overthrown.