American corporate mass media exhibits a curious ongoing alternation between harsh hyper-masculinist proto-fascism and a soft, more officially feminine and receptive consumerism. One minute you’re watching Dubya receiving “Hooahs” from an audience of military cadets or censored clips of rugged Marines conquering Fallujah.
The next minute you’re gazing at a delicate white woman soaking up her Oil of Olay or confidently proclaiming her worthiness for L’Oreal.
One second you sit amazed as a muscle-bound free safety tries to decapitate or at least paralyze a wide receiver or as a towering manchild in an NBA uniform climbs over frightened kids to pummel a mis-identified problem fan. The next minute a lovely model is letting you in on Victoria’s Secret and Oprah is showering her audience with millions of dollars’ worth of consumer goodies.
Turning off the television, look at the November 22nd issue of Time Magazine, the one with the cover picture of an embattled Marine over the phrase “STREET FIGHT: INSIDE THE BATTLE FOR FALLUJAH.” Between pages 31 and 36 of this issue you can read a manly account of the conquest of Fallujah. We learn from embedded reporter Michael Ware about the heroic actions of Marine Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, described as “a wiry 29-year old who resembles Sean Penn.” “Bellavia’s bluster on the battlefield,” Ware tells us, “contrasts with his refinement off it.” The latter is displayed in Bellavia’s ability to “discuss the Renaissance and Eastern European politics” during lulls in manly battle.
Ware provides the following inspiring description of the alternately savage and civilized Warrior-Prince Bellavia in action during an assault on an “insurgent"-controlled house:
“‘Get on me now,’ he says, ordering his squad to close in...He asks who has more ammunition. Two soldiers stand up and join him in the street. ‘Here we go, Charlie’s Angels,’ Bellavia says. ‘You don’t move from my goddamn wing. You stay on my right shoulder. Hooah?’ The men nod. ‘I wanna go in there and go after ‘em.’”
‘Reaching the barred window near the front door, Bellavia tells two soldiers to perch by the house corner and watch for insurgents trying to leap out the side window. He looks at Staff Sergeant Scott Lawson and says, ‘You’re fucking coming. Give suppressive fire at 45 degrees.’ Bellavia and Lawson step nervously into the house. From the living room, Bellavia rounds the corner into the hallway. The insurgents are still alive. Their AK-47s fire. Bellavia fires back, killing them both. ‘Two fuckers down,’ he says.”
“Lawson stays downstairs while Bellavia scours the first floor for more insurgents. A string of rapid-fire single shots ring out. Then silence. then a low, pained moaning. The two soldiers waiting in the courtyards call out to Bellavia, ‘Hey Sergeant Bell,’ but get no response. ‘Sergeant Bell is not answering,’ a message is shouted back to the platoon members across the street. ‘We need more guys.’ The platoon’s other staff sergeant, Colin Fitts, 26, steps up. ‘Let’s go,’ he says.”
“Fitts takes a small team over the road. ‘Terminators coming in,’ he bellows as he goes inside, using the unit’s name in a code to warn that friendly forces are entering. Inside they find Bellavia alive and on the hunt. Upstairs he scans the bedrooms. An insurgent jumps out of the cupboard. Bellavia falls down and fires, spraying the man with bullets. At some point another insurgent drops out of the ceiling. Yet another runs to a window and makes for the garden. Bellavia hits him in the legs and lower back as he flees. When it’s over, four insurgents are dead; another has escaped badly wounded. To Bellavia, Fitts says, ‘That’s a good job, dude. You’re a better man than me.’ Bellavia shakes his head. ‘No. no, no,’ he mutters.”
Wow: a real-life Arab-killing “Terminator,” ready to discuss Michelangelo off the field of invasion. .
Later in the story, Ware says that “the U.S. invasion of Fallujah exacted a price...all told the battle’s first days left at least 24 [U.S.] service members dead and more than 200 wounded. It was a stunning success militarily, but in human terms each loss was deeply felt.”
The “deeply felt” “human” “loss” does not include “the two [then four invasion-resisting] fuckers down.” Nor does it include the many hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilian noncombatants who died as “damage” that was “collateral” to the Marines’ “stunning success,” which was qualified by the interesting fact that, as Ware notes, “the nationalist and jihadist leadership had by and large already left the city with much of their ranks.”
This little technicality does not lead Ware to wonder about the morality of the fact that “the U.S. offensive has,” in his words, “left much of Fallujah in ruins, as air strikes, artillery barrages, and ground fighting destroyed homes and damaged many of the city’s mosques.”
How interesting to flip from this rugged imperialist Fourth Reich War Journalism to a lovely “Phoenix Investment Partners” advertisement on page 59 of the same Time issue. This ad shows an older white bourgeois woman and her young adult daughter. They are sitting back to back. Both are gazing thoughtfully at the camera. Next to the younger woman is a curious little poem, printed in semi-cursive lower-case characters:
loves having a trust
At the bottom the advertisement makes an admonition to older parents of affluent children: “Show her how to earn it. Tap into Phoenix’s better results philosophy --- the thinking behind the intelligent, easily customized wealth strategies available to advisors today for affluent and high-net-worth clients.”
Yes, show us all how to “earn” an inherited trust fund, will you Phoenix Partners? And what strategies do you make available to the low-net-worth populace, including the very predominantly lower- and working-class people that America sends to fight, die, desecrate religious shrines, and level apartment complexes, medical clinics, and day-care centers in places like Fallujah?
Why do they hate us?
There’s another curious and disturbing juxtaposition in the November 22nd Time. On pages 72 and 73, reporter Michael Lemonick notes --- in an article titled “MELTDOWN!” --- that “the Arctic is warming up even faster than scientists feared.” Based on a recent 4-year study conducted by 250 scientists pulled together by the prestigious multinational Arctic Council, Lemonick observes that the Arctic has “warmed twice as fast as the rest of the globe over the past 50 years. Arctic ice has shrunk by as much as 20%, snow cover has diminished on land, and the permafrost underlying the tundra has become less stable. And it’s getting worse.” Consequences include massive coastal erosion, drastically rising sea levels, significant species die-offs, and an end to indigenous Article human populations.
Yet flipping through the November 22nd Time issue, I counted 13 automobile advertisements, many hawking large ecocidal SUVs and mini-vans --- among the worst perpetrators in the massive humanity-made carbon spew that is creating the apparently escalating and ongoing global warming crisis.
It’s appropriate, then, that Lemonick omits the Arctic Council’s critical finding that the Arctic MELTDOWN is the product of surplus human carbon emissions.
But then, as a two-page advertisement tells us even before the Novermber 22nd Time issue’s table of contents, the great environmentalist entity called ChevronTexaco is working to “control greenhouse gases” by seeking “to know where those emissions are coming from and in what quantities....In the end, “ ChevronTexaco notes, “improving the environment can best be accomplished by improving our cooperation.”
And isn’t improving our cooperation and the environment what America, multinational petroleum corporations, and, for that matter, the occupation of Iraq are all about?
Loves having an oil-driven empire, breaking international law, killing Arab children, and melting the Arctic
hates feeling guilty
Show us how to take it.
Paul Street is a writer and researcher in Chicago, Illinois. His book Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 is now available from Paradigm Publishers. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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