Hver gang det skjer en voldsom hendelse, som drapene på sikher i Wisconsin, eller drapene på Batman-publikummet i Aurora, dukker behovet for forklaringer opp, og mediene kaster seg over alt som virker som stikkord på fantasi og hukommelse.
Ett ord som er som å trykke på en slik knapp er ordet «veteran». Det spesielle med disse ordene er at de er selvforklarende. «Alle» vet hva de betyr. Man må spørre: hvem er det som har gitt dem dette innholdet? Hvem har gjort disse ordene til slike mentale knapper?
John Podhoretz har noen interessante betraktninger om dette i New York Post:
The first thing we heard yesterday about the monster who shot up the Sikh temple on Sunday wasn’t his name, but the fact that he was a US Army veteran. Jeff Gloor, the newsreader on CBS This Morning, screwed up his face into a nimbus of horror at the very thought. A veteran!
The Drudge Report ran with it as well: “Sikh Shooter ID: Army Vet,” ran its headline for most of the day. Twitter was awash with the V-word. The case was solved, in some sense. He was a veteran.
But what on earth could the fact that Wade Michael Page once served in the military have to do with his evil actions?
There are 21.6 million veterans living in the United States. Convert the number of veterans responsible for mass killings in the United States into a percentage of the overall number of veterans, and it’s 0.0000041 percent. That’s because there has been only one: Wade Michael Page. (Timothy McVeigh was a veteran, but his unspeakable crime was something different.)
The unspoken imputation of the “he’s a veteran” buzz was that Page must’ve served in Iraq or Afghanistan. And back we were once again at the new/old meme so unfortunately beloved of those who disapprove of US military action: the crazed war vet.
The crazed war vet was a staple of American popular culture during and after the Vietnam conflict — the trained killer returned home to sow domestic discord and wreak personal vengeance.
Episodes of TV shows like “The Rookies” and “SWAT,” movies like “Rolling Thunder” and “Coming Home” and even Philip Roth’s novel “The Human Stain” made vivid and shameful use of this trope — even though it was a demonstrably false picture of the half million men who were drafted to serve their country and did so with honor (as opposed to those who defamed them to uphold their own political fantasies).
The flip side of the crazed vet was the psychotic soldier, the purest expression of the supposedly deranged American mission abroad, whose understanding of the unjust orders he was given led him to commit brazen atrocities.
This too was a pop-culture staple, the central theme of the Oscar-winning “Platoon” in 1986, which finally featured a moral soldier gunning down his own lieutenant as retribution for the war crime he’d compelled his men to commit. In “Casualties of War,” it was Sean Penn who ordered his men to rape a girl.
Mediene har altså skapt en skinnvirkelighet, og når det skjer noe stort og alvorlig som vekker folks heroisme, som 9/11, stritter mediene mot. Stereotypene er seiglivede.
De gjør seg gjeldende på slagmarken, og påvirker USAs evne til krigføring, som i Afghanistan.
These cultural portrayals, rebroadcast endlessly on TV, have created an impression stuck in the national consciousness even after the country found renewed appreciation for the sacrifices of Vietnam vets and celebrated the courage and fortitude of those who chose to serve after 9/11.
The psychotic-soldier meme got a new workout after we learned of the horrible rampage of Sgt. William Bales, who killed 16 Afghans after leaving his base in March.
Bales’ spree became the occasion for discussion of post-traumatic stress disorder and head injuries and the like, most of which seemed to be brought up to excuse him of personal responsibility for his acts or to suggest that there were tens of thousands of potential Baleses out there ready to crack.
In the case of Wade Michael Page, the “crazed vet” meme would’ve made more sense if he’d actually served in a war. But it turned out that Page had been in the military from 1992 until 1998, serving in jobs inside the United States, before being discharged less than honorably for “patterns of misconduct,” according to Reuters.
What matters about him is not this long-ago military service but the plain and visible facts about him — that he’s a skinhead covered in tattoos, a white supremacist who walked into the house of prayer of a minority religion and began shooting.
He’s a Nazi. Not a soldier.
An ugly war myth
No excuse for Wade Page
Last Updated: 12:32 AM, August 7, 2012