by Richard Macintosh
"You know, it's a hell of a hoot. . . It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you."
—Lt. General James N. Mattis, U.S. 1st Marine Divisio February 4, 2005.
(Swans - March 28, 2005) The other night while watching a re-run of National Lampoon's classic film, "Animal House," I was struck (again) at the universality of the characters. We have all known some of these types and that is what makes the film. The casting was magnificent.
But these types do not go away when we turn off the TV. They stay with us. We run across them at the market, while shopping for clothes, or at a party. Who has not known a "Blutarsky," a "Flounder," a "Katie," or, as the case may be, a "Doug Neidermeyer"? You know "Dougie." He is the militarist, fascist bully that still lurks among the credulous, pretending to be honorable and patriotic towards our nation, our people and our values.
He isn't any of these things. Dougie is a coward.
In the film, Doug Neidermeyer likes to dress up like General Patton -- chrome helmet and all -- carry a swagger-stick and ride a white horse. If you saw the film you will remember him berating helpless underclassmen. Actually, the character was too real to be funny. Sadly, "Douglas Neidermeyer" is an archetype.
What the Neidermeyers of the world want most is power and respect; the power and respect denied them as children. They love uniforms, spit-polished shoes and fancy sidearms, hoping these accoutrements will hide their inadequacy. They enjoy the use of torture and the fear of death over those who can't fight back (especially those who can't fight back).
Dougie enjoys torturing helpless prisoners, including children.
You know him. He is the schoolyard bully who pushed you around when you were a child, the lecher that groped you at a party, the guy who purposely hurt your dog. Today, you can run across him hassling old people and children at airport security gates, guarding the frontiers of the "Homeland" or working as a "private contractor" in the occupied territories. Occasionally he works his way almost to the top of the military ladder. When this happens, life really becomes "a hoot" for him. He receives all kinds of shiny medals to display on his dress uniform and a fawning media to cover up his excesses.
But like the character in the film, he never quite makes it. Dougie always screws up. He screws up because he isn't the real thing. He is a "wannabe." He hides in groups of legitimate peace officers and honorable soldiers in order to bask in the respect due them. Note that!
He has seen too many John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies.
Dougie likes guns. Not for use in a real "fire fight," mind you, but in an event stacked in his favor. He enjoys the pain and suffering of others. When he gets caught doing something reprehensible, such as the torture and murder of prisoners at one of our "detention centers," his ranking officers deny responsibility. Instead, they prosecute him in order to cover their own asses. To "ice the cake," our politicos refer to these lower echelon grunts as "bad apples." The "bad apples" get prison terms as long as they are non-commissioned officers and not part of the officer (or political) class. (1)
For those of you who saw the photos of the torture meted out at Abu Ghraib, you saw pictures of Dougie in action. There are female "Dougies," too. You may remember one giving the thumbs-up sign while smiling over a dog pile of naked prisoners. (2) In conservative circles you can hear such things explained away and approved of by such luminaries as Rush Limbaugh or the Republican version of Lady Diana Mosley, Ann Coulter. (3)
It goes without saying that the Neidermeyers are sadists.
You will find them at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Bagram air base in Afghanistan, the infamous Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and all the other "detention centers" of our worldwide gulag. (4) You will find them kidnapping "suspects" and flying them to foreign countries for "special rendition." You will find them justifying the suspension of habeas corpus and the right to an attorney. And yes, you will find them arguing that torture is acceptable. "Dougie" doesn't believe that international laws and treaties apply to him. Similarly, he doesn't believe in the Bill of Rights. These laws and rights apply only when he says they do. Runnymede? "What corporation does he work for?" Magna Carta? "What's that?"
Well, in any case, the year 1215 was a long time ago. Those rules are sort of "quaint" by today's standards, aren't they? Our new Attorney General told us so. I mean, who ever heard of them? Seven hundred and ninety years down the drain. Just like that! By fiat! (No, Dougie, I'm not talking about a car.) Of course we could talk about the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, and the Nazis in the dock, but let's not go there. That may be too close to home. (No, Dougie, when I use the word "dock," I'm not talking about a place to put a boat.) There is also a "dock" at The Hague. Am I getting warmer?
That brings us to today, doesn't it? Quo vadis, America? Will we sail along safely as a "Neidermeyer Nation," a people led by wannabe tough guys, who play "dress up" in order to gull the populace into a false sense of security? Is life a movie or a TV "reality show" that can be cut and re-framed at will by the Rasputins among us? (5) Will we get the right script? Will we have the right actors who appear tough and strong, pumped up on steroids, their hair coifed by "Cesaré"? Will we perpetuate the illusion by naming airports after them? (6)
Perhaps so. We already tolerate propaganda, fabricated "news" that isn't news, created by public relations firms in the pay of the government (7) Fake news stories -- often videos -- are given to various media venues which swallow them hook, line and sinker. When they are shown, it is never mentioned that the folks in the videos are actors; "Dougies," (frauds) including the so-called newsperson. And guess what? In case you missed it, the American taxpayer is paying for the disinformation.
And the corporate media had the gall to criticize Dan Rather for questioning the president's service record.
Are you scared yet?