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Sunday Weekly Review

May 29, 2005

(broadcast stream)
Newsweek was right. General Hood has now confirmed that Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita lied when he said there were no “specific, credible allegations” of Koran destruction. Will DiRita be fired? Will the Bush Administration apologize to Newsweek? Don’t bet on it!
Here’s the released excerpt of the FBI agent’s report on a detainee: “Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Quran in the toilet.”
Has the Republican grab for power — an attempt to end Constitutional checks and balances — finally gone too far? Does this pre-sage a Democratic victory in 2006? Even without hack-proof voting machines? Possible topics:
— The lowest ever poll ratings for Bush and Congress
— The nuclear “compromise”
— The Government plot to propagandize PBS and NPR
— The rejection of a Democratic bill to strengthen our borders
— Zygotic Stem Cell Research Bill
— Legal Bribery is Commonplace among most Republicans, not just Delay, and even a few Democrats
— Real salaries nationwide decrease on average for the first time in 14 years
— The Administration plays down genocide (it’s only “crimes against humanity”)
— Any other news of the week you wish to bring up

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  • Vicky February 20, 2006 6:31 pm

    Gordon…This is a beautiful story and testimony. I’ve been enjoying all the short stories you’ve shared with us. Thank you.

  • The Forgiven February 11, 2006 4:32 pm

    Why I Fought
    Why I fought is the question I must answer to God. I must search my soul, clean it of all my alibis, and cut to the marrow of my choice in following the course that I took. Some would say my decision was valor, and others would say it was moral cowardice. The more and more I rethink it, the answer is never clear, but rather a conglomerate of many converging factors that I have to pry from the recesses of my psyche.
    The most basic thing I can say is that I fought because I was afraid not to fight and betray what I was taught as a little child by a society that goes to war every 20 years or so. Through my formative years, America’s mass media created within me a curiosity about this phenomenon called war. There were TV shows like “Citizen Soldier,” “Combat,” and “Silent Service” with proud-sounding theme songs, and epic sagas on Sunday night like “Victory at Sea.” There was always a bountiful supply of broadcasted battle-action to kindle a young boy’s imagination of what war was really like; and always the images were portrayed within an idealistic framework of themes like duty, patriotism, sacrifice, and honor. As a child I didn’t know what those things meant; but I wondered.
    Around age seven, I saw a TV promotion for relief for the people of Indo-China. It was film-footage of fleeing refugees and I saw a little boy my age running in the mix of many people. He wore just a white T-shirt and nothing else, as he ran with fear in his eyes and his little, naked appendage wiggling. Every time I saw that filmed appeal, it scared me and I didn’t know why, except that I knew that little boy could be me.
    Perhaps my doubt about what TV and the movies told me were the proud concepts of war started with the fear I saw in that little boy’s face; but the overflow of ideas substantiating the social need for war as promulgated by mass media, eventually outweighed that fear and disguised that glimpse of truth in my mind. With talk of war came thoughts of heroes and heroism and that seemed more pleasing and important to me than considerations of pain and dirty altercations.
    Around age 12, I got religion. I became a born-again Christian. I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior; and, at that age, didn’t really know what that meant. I just thought it was a guarantee that I wouldn’t go to hell, whatever and wherever that was, when I died. Even though the Bible said I shouldn’t kill and Jesus said to turn the other cheek, I eventually chose to fight, disregarding that deep feeling in my heart that knew it was wrong to take someone else’s life.
    When I dropped out of college, perhaps a sense of shame along with the 1-A draft status induced me to fight. Also, I had no pretty girl to tell me not to go to war. In my emotional fantasy, I was the vanquished joining the French Foreign Legion. I sought any sense of adventure to replace the awful immediacy of the feeling of failure that crept through me. To escape my life, I chose to fight.
    I didn’t know what that war was about. The politics of dominos, communism, and global consumerism wasn’t my main concern. It was the gamble with death that was the true enticement, that struggle of grace under pressure that Hemmingway talked about, that mystery I had to know about myself, the itch that some men have that only the risk of combat can alleviate. I had to play Russian-roul-ette and satisfy that curiosity about war that I had as a kid. I wondered if being close to death would give my life new meaning, or at least end my old life that apparently had no meaning. Perhaps I would find out about what my father never talked about in the war he saw. This thinking was a part of why I fought.
    I sat in the top of the centerfield bleachers of Tiger Stadium in downtown Detroit on opening day. The Detroit Tigers had won the world championship of baseball the year before. In seven days my leave would be over, and I would be in the war. I wondered what another year would bring, whether I would be alive to see another opening day. I looked at the green grass and the players that looked like animated figures on the field below. I realized this was about as much Americana as I really knew. I was going to fight just to be able to come back in a year and watch another baseball game, as much as for anything else.
    I could drive across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and become a hippie in Toronto; except that I had this challenge waiting over choppy seas, which I had already taken an oath to do. I was Beau Geste, Johnny Tremain, Sgt. York, John Wayne, and an American boy trying to be a man. Perhaps that’s why I chose to fight.
    When I got to the war, there was another threshold to cross: the entrance from the world of choosing to fight to the world of actually fighting. When the bullets started whizzing, a whole new set of senses kicked-in, triggering the impulses, actions, and reactions of survival. Then I chose to fight out of instinct. The psycho-social conflict in my head was over, disappearing into a new drama that took center stage in split-second
    decisions that immediately by-passed philosophic quandaries and conundrums of right and wrong. With the impending question of survival sometimes measured in inches and instants; now the difference between being a murderer and a martyr could be experienced in the span of one breath.
    I fought then, because fighting was survival. I was operating as a part of a team, and fighting became a way of living, a standard operating procedure of attacking an environment that held us hostage, mentally and physically.
    When I knew I had killed, when I saw the body of the man I had riddled with bullets, lying in a deformed mass of his own blood and guts, I then fought with a new commitment of knowing I was no longer untainted and innocent, no longer a solution but now part of the problem and as vulnerable as the one I had just killed. I was aware that I had stepped into the middle of the fire, and fighting was my only way out.
    Fear turned to anger and was the fuel I used to fight. When I saw how Kowalski had been tortured, his body mutilated, his head cut-off, I became resigned to fight with a special fear called vengeance, an emotion that I allowed to build within me over many days, sometimes, before releasing it in a frenzy of revenge that always left me empty.
    The fighting, over time, was a continuum of getting and giving pain that was part of my agreement; and when I understood that, I understood more clearly my true options and allegiances. When I understood why I fought and felt like the bad guy in a civil war where I didn’t belong, I was able to make my decision not to fight and walk away from a conflict that no longer had any control over me. When I had proved myself to myself, learned what I had to learn, and realized I had fought for a mistake, I discovered the folly of what I had been curious about, ever since I was a boy.
    That thing called war was not a glorious, heroic, bold adventure; it was a disease. And I had fought because I was sick, just one of the many afflicted of a tainted society in a less-than-perfect world.
    That’s why I fought; and God forgive me.