Monday, August 3, 2015

Super-Crunchy Non-GMO Granola

I'm writing this blog post in particular because I had a conversation very recently, the outcome of which is still upsetting me. Many people here in the South often stereotype "Liberals" as being whiny little piss-babies with empty heads and full wallets. I promise you this, I would not have considered moving South of the Mason Dixon line if I could afford, or stand, to continue living in my home (mostly Blue) State of Maine: Be advised, many Mainers are losing what little patience they already had with that fuck-stick of a Governor they call LePage (dude looks like my alcoholic auntie without her wig on, and whose decision-making capabilities and capacity for sound judgement are comparable) 

When it comes to talking about Soldiers and Veterans, especially in terms of politics, I tend to see a great deal of what I like to refer to as "Flag-Fapping." That is, publicly and unabashedly waxing 'patriotic' for the sole purpose of drawing attention to ones' self. The practice of Flag-Fapping can be readily observed manifesting in a variety of forms, such having one's photo taken holding a Bible in one hand and some manner of fire-arm in the other. Instances of Flag-Fapping often include, but are not limmited to, unnecessary bald-eagle paraphernalia, a perceived over-abundance of bacon, seemingly excessive "thanking" of the troops, posting Ayn Rand quotes out of context (intentionally) or most puzzling of all, expressing outrage over (real or perceived) desecration of the American flag while citing the Flag Code, also simultaneously wearing a t-shirt with the American flag printed upon it (which is ALSO a violation of that same Flag code, see also the landmark SCOTUS ruling Texas v. Johnson)

Flag-Fapping: You want everyone to know you're so goddamn patriotic that you can jerk it to the Star Spangled Banner, cum fireworks, whose sparks then turn into eagles that fart red-white-and-blue streaks across the sky as they fly in formation over untold hordes of marching troops, as legions of adoring civilians shower their heroes with bacon and $100 bills.

'Murica! FUCK YEAH!

Most of the time, when people thank me for my service, it's genuine; and I can tell the difference between a kind gesture versus Flag-Fapping. But when my military service gets dragged into online arguments about really bizarre things like wether or not someone thinks Caitlyn Jenner is "brave," then has the audacity to weild ME like a fucking shield, I wanna throw up in my mouth a little. Caitlyn Jenner just wants to be who she wants to be, and stood on a stage in a theater full of strangers openly declaring as such: That's a bigger deal than many people realize, and I'm not even talking about stage-fright. What pisses me off is that blind hero-worship is SO PREVALENT in our culture that the very idea of a soldier or veteran disagreeing with the person doing the Flag-Fapping/sheild-weilding, that soldiers and vets (like myself) that DON'T fit this constructed narrative are often dismissed, shunned, or called traitors.

It's more than just annoying, it's downright fucking rude: I am a PERSON, not your PROP. Please stop using my military service to justify things like racism, homophobia, transphobia, in fact, just stop doing that altogether. If YOU'RE a veteran, use YOUR OWN damn service as a platform for your opinions (whatever they might be.) Stop waving the suffering of other human beings around like a goddamn flag because you're too closed-minded to grasp otherwise simple concepts like equality and justice!

(sigh) ... And NOW, the reason I'm making this post.

The other extreme, the ultra-uber thrice-tie-dyed far-Left, is relatively rare (in my experience.) As previously mentioned, I grew up in Maine, which is probably (at the time) one of the most "liberal" States you've ever heard of. I lived in Portland for about 5 years, watched the Old Port transform from a cluster-fuck of grungy dive-bars to another cluster-fuck of trinket shops tailor made to drain gullible tourists of their money. Hippies, hipsters, homeless people, you name it we had it: It was also a super-expensive place to live, eventually I had no choice but to move South.

Being a godless lefty myself, there are times I think I've heard damn near everything. A few days ago, I found out that I was quite wrong: Over the course of my entire life, only 5 TIMES has anyone ever inferred that I'm a murderous peice of shit war-criminal directly responsible for the deaths of innocent Iraqis. Three of those five times it was through Tumblr (which should surprise exactly NO ONE) and another one time through Twitter. A few days ago, it was said straight to my face.

For the interest of not directly incriminating specific people and preserving my "career," I'm actually going to refrain from saying where I was, what I was doing, or even what started the conversation. I CAN tell you, that during the course of the "conversation" I found myself frequently cut-off, interrupted and talked-across, and that was even BEFORE I mentioned the fact that I'm an Iraq Vet. Not too long after which, I heard a sequence of generalized statements regarding the "Military Industrial Complex" (which doesn't mean what most people seem to think it does) along with corporate greed (which is true, no argument from me THERE) and that, basically, if people wouldn't enlist at all, there'd be no 'war machine' to keep rolling.

Whoah there! I was just a comms-technician, but a lowly pog, and by my own free admission not even a very good one at THAT! What's all this about WANTING to kill other human beings? That's a pretty bold statement about my character coming from someone who just met me less than an hour ago, in fact I can honestly (fortunately) say that while I was in Iraq I never once was put in a position where I had to shoot at or kill ANYBODY. My job was asking brass-grabbing Officers if they've tried plugging something in or turning it off-and-on again, not lining people up for some kind of slaughter. Basically, my job never involved killing anyone.

Her response: "Yeah, I'm sure the Germans making tick-marks on their lists as people were marched into the ovens said the same thing."


I can be, as I often think that I have always been, an asshole. But what I AM NOT is a needlessly violent person, and I say "needlessly" in particular because I'm not the kind of person to intentionally start a fight with anyone. If someone throws the first punch and I can't get away, then of course, hitting them back is understandable. I think most rational people would agree that resorting to violence in a moment of anger doesn't accomplish anything.

I didn't even feel like flipping my desk, I just wanted to cry.

Seriously? Did you just compare me to a goddamn GESTAPO and then try to play off the whole conversation like you're somehow a victim of a system you obviously KNOW NOTHING ABOUT? Do you honestly mean to tell ME that you're incapable of discerning the fundamental difference between fixing a phone and FUCKING GENOCIDE?!?!? 

Holy shit, I met one... a real one, alive and in the flesh: I actually met what Flag-Fapping strangers on the internet think that I AM (which I am SO FUCKING NOT) ... an ignorant sack of crap. I know, I know, I m breaking the 'cardinal rule' of atheism and debating, "Thou shalt not resort to Ad Hominem, for it is a logical fallacy and just not a nice thing to do anyway" but I do have my fucking limits. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't handle accusatory statements very well: When a previous employer accused me of something I didn't do, all it took was the mere hint that I was considering legal action and they shut right up, and to think that it all could have been easily avoided if they had just checked the damn cameras like I told them to.

As previously mentioned, this is extraordinarily rare. Even among fellow liberals, damn near none of them genuinely harbor this kind of "fuck the troops" mentality that the right-wingers often stereotype us for. As for the three instances I encountered on Tumblr, it's Tumblr. Even Tumblr is occasionally shocked and disgusted by Tumblr, so I can't say I was at all surprised. Hurt and pissed off, but not surprised. But coming out of the mouth of an actual human being, it cut deep.

And I didn't even get a proper chance to explain the error of her statement or otherwise defend myself.

Something I can do in abundance (and without restraint) HERE...

America's occupation of Iraq was illegal and never should have happened, already there seems to be some measure of agreement among historians, legal experts and some military leaders on THAT. Even I won't dispute it, I really won't. But here's the big glaring obvious difference between MY military service and what the Nazis did to the rest of Europe: Genocide and destruction was the single primary goal and purpose of the Nazi regimes, and while Bush used shoddy information to justify the violent invasion of Iraq in 2003, our military objectives and missions were absolutely NOTHING OF THE SORT. 

On that note, Abu Ghraib never should have happened, but here's the difference: The people involved are monsters who broke the law for their own sick satisfaction, and those responsible were rightly tried for their crimes and sentenced to prison. Well, except the Officers in command, of course, which doesn't surprise me at all. Officers can get away with damn near anything, including ACTUAL war-crimes, it seems. The difference between Abu Ghraib and Dachau is that while it never should have happened at all, when we DID find out about it, we held those responsible accountable.

The difference between kicking down doors looking for suspected insurgents versus kicking down doors and rounding up whole families into trains should be painfully obvious, but aparrently not. Do you honestly mean to tell me that giving food and shelter to Iraqi families whose lives were destroyed by Saddam's Fedayeen & Ba'ath Party is in any way comparable to shoving people into gas ovens? 

And on the subject of Iraqis killing EACHOTHER, I hate to rain on your pity-parade, but that was actually a thing. And unless you've been living under a rock, it still is very much a thing. If you want to rant about millions of dead Iraqis, fine, but I'm going to write up a little equation for you to try and work out and see if your "answer" still holds up.

Consider the following: A "sovereign" nation with a dreadful track-record of killing it's own people off en-mass for no significant reason other than their 'dear leader' felt like it. This nation had no established polling or census means in it's entire history, meaning that unless you were a registered member of the Ba'ath Party, your life didn't matter. That means that Kurds, Yezidis, Armenians and other non-Arabs living in the country (even other muslims, especially Shia) were perceived as having no value and not fully human. Anyone the Ba'ath or the Fedayeen felt like fucking with had no recourse, to include extermination and enslavement. Now... in comes an invading force hastily thrown together at the collective whim of their own "leaders" without proper training or equipment, not knowing anything about the local culture or even the language, nevermind the atrocities they've been effectively commiting against THEMSELVES that were already going on since the 1970's. Someone shoots first, the other side shoots back, people die. The regime falls, but the Fedayeen manage to keep their shit together and enlist outside help in maintaining thier presence among the people. Without a government to serve, the Fedayeen no longer need uniforms or flags, just persistence and unabashed cruelty. They continue torturing and executing anyone who gets in their way, including anyone sympathetic to the invaders or even accused as such, just as they always have before the invaders arrived. A group of invaders fucks up royally (E.G., Abu Ghraib) and the Fedayeen manage to turn the situation to their advantage, justifying even more killing because hey, "we're not as bad as THOSE guys." After a long and bloody war of attrition (basically, who can be the sicker bastards) the occupying force eventually gathers what they can and leaves, while what's left of the Fedayeen forces give themselves a new name and dines on the corpse of an already broken country.

After all of this, if the answer you come up with is still "f(x) = Hitler" then you clearly haven't been paying attention to what's been happening int he Middle East, or in the U.S., for the last 30 years. And that wall-of-text took me the better part of an hour to carefully word-smith to leave room for error: Few military historians seem willing to touch this particular topic, so I've taken to reading & researching it on my own for the last 3 years.

No, we can't account for the millions of Iraqis that were killed during the occupation because we have no reliable way of knowing how many of them were dead before we got there.

Trust me, you don't need to lecture ME about how fucking horrible war is. But what you AREN'T going to do is put me in a box, demonize me for things I had no control over, and then tell me that this is somehow MY FAULT because poverty drove me to a particular line of work that you happen to not like. Do you have any goddamn clue how many people enlisted after the housing bubble burst in 2008? Do you have any idea how many people enlist just to get as far away from the inner city/trailer park/reservation as they possibly can? If you had no other prospects what-so-fucking-ever for basic needs like food, shelter, healthcare or even education, ESPECIALLY if you have kids, tell me with a straight face that the thought wouldn't cross your mind. Tricare health benefits FOR KIDS: I've lost count of how many people I've met who enlisted for THAT REASON ALONE! But no, we're all mindless blood-crazed Nazis because you don't understand what our military ACTUALLY IS?

Do you really think it's just as easy as telling them to lay their weapons down and refuse to fight, because YOU say so, when often the penalties for doing so include a felony conviction and imprisonment without parole, or never seeing their families again? Do you not understand that you can't force your ideals, for good or ill, onto other people just because you personally don't approve of their choices? On that note, do you even have a working concept of what freedom of choice means and why others aren't obligated to agree with or even respect your opinions, or mine for that matter? How can you say to me, with a straight face, that you're a Buddhist and all about compassion for other sentient beings while simultaniously telling me that my own suffering was deserved because I, like millions of other Veterans before me, just wanted a paycheck and some hot meals? SERIOUSLY?!?!

If you REALLY cared about stopping bullshit wars, then be ever mindful who you vote for and who you buy things from: THEY make the decisions, NOT ME. And ACTUALLY fucking vote, I hope at least you're not THAT much of a coward.

We live in a country that was founded on, built upon, and continues to thrive by way of, prowess in warfare. If you were really so genuine in your self-proclaimed commitment to peace, then you'd give your house and land BACK to the Native Americans your ancestors stole it from without bickering about the massive financial loss you'd suffer. If your commitment to stopping war in the Middle East was as sincere as you claim, you'd never use anything with an internal combustion engine (to include public transportation) OR anything made of plastic, EVER AGAIN.

But you're not going to do any of that, are you? Of course not, that would be inconvenient. Of course it would be, just like the aura-shattering reality that HUMAN BEINGS OCCASIONALLY KILL ONE ANOTHER, and on occasion THEY ARE justified in doing so!  That doesn't make the situation any less shitty, but it's the world we live in wether or not we like the idea. Are soldiers and Veterans somehow not deserving of the exact same 'compassion' you claim to emulate?

Because if you think what you're peddling is 'compassion,' calling me and others like me "Nazis" or "war-criminals" isn't compassion: It's arrogance, ignorance, and fucking disgusting hypocrisy.

You're doing just as much damage as the Flag-Fapping theocratic Republicans, and you can't even be completely honest about it.

Ever hear of Tumblr?