Sophie's Choice for Fascists #2: Collateral Damage Hits San Diego

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March 11, 2009

Even since U.S. Marine Lieutenant Dan Neubauer crashed his F/A-18 Hornet into the San Diego home of Dong Yoon on December 8, 2008, I have been struck by two obscene phenomena. No, it was not that the jet incinerated Yoon's wife, two infant daughters, and mother-in-law as the pilot attempted to land at nearby Miramar Naval Air Station ' as horrible as that is. Similarly, I was not surprised that the crash destroyed two homes and damaged three others. Finally, I was not scandalized that the crash was the result of a preventable chain of errors that included negligent maintenance, use of a jet with known fuel-system defects on 146 flights, reckless piloting decisions, failure to follow standard emergency procedures, and refusal to land the jet at a safe location instead of flying over several heavily populated neighborhoods. I expected no less of our government. No. I was stunned by (1) the bizarre and dangerous reaction of the man whose family was slaughtered and (2) the alarm and surprise shown by the people who live in the community near the crash site ' my neighbors.

Crash Victim Falls for the Big Lie

First, there is Dong Yoon's reaction. When he realized that the Marine pilot had destroyed his family, he said:

"Please pray for him [the pilot] not to suffer from this accident. I know he's one of our treasures for the country, and I . . . don't blame him. I don't have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could."

These statements are chilling for two reasons. They are not chilling because he forgave the pilot. After all, Yoon claims to be a Christian, which requires forgiveness. Furthermore, I understand that people often behave strangely in the midst of traumatic events. What is breathtaking is that he said, 'I know he's one of our treasures for the country.' This is not forgiveness. It is not grief. It is the automatic repetition of a vapid political slogan, and it was lifted from the relentless stream of propaganda that has been pounded into our heads for eight years. Consequently, it is not surprising that it popped immediately from the lips of the devastated Mr. Yoon. Furthermore, it is a statement that is anything but Christian. It is the abject worship of killers in uniform, and it is the official philosophy of the U.S. government and its jingoistic apologists on the right and left. It has been repeated endlessly by the morally bankrupt creatures in the administration of George W. Bush, by his rabid national talk-show cheerleaders such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, their local San Diego clones, Roger Hedgecock and Rick Roberts, and virtually every local television newscaster ' not to mention local congressional war-worshippers and enablers Duncan Hunter (R), Duncan Hunter Jr. (R), Brian Bilbray (R), Darrell Issa (R), and Susan Davis. Nonetheless, it is chilling that it was spoken by Mr. Yoon.

If your entire family had just been slaughtered in a reckless, preventable accident, would you call the man responsible a 'treasure for the country?' Of course not. But you would if you, like Mr. Yoon, were suffering from a case of government-induced Stockholm syndrome ' a psychological transformation in which victims become sympathetic with and loyal to their abusers. In this case, Mr. Yoon defended the pilot who destroyed his family ' incorrectly assuming that the pilot was doing his best. For those who are familiar with George Orwell's novel, 1984, it is a living example of 'doublethink,' a mode of thought in which two mutually contradictory ideas are held simultaneously and accepted in spite of the contradiction. In this case, the killer-pilot is also a national treasure. For those who are not satisfied without an example from Nazi Germany, it was called the 'Big Lie' in that era. Adolf Hitler explained the power that the Big Lie held over its victim-believers: '[they] would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.' Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda, explained that the Big Lie was also useful for propagandists in Great Britain : 'The essential English leadership secret [the ability to lie] does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.' Ditto for our benighted democracy. Then again, the first casualty of war is truth, and the lies keep on coming.

It is not my purpose to embarrass Mr. Yoon. I am merely issuing a warning: even the victims of the welfare-warfare state seem incapable of properly viewing their own government as their chief enemy. And that puts me and others who oppose the welfare-warfare state at risk. No thank-you, Mr. Yoon. Likewise, I am not seeking to further demonize the pilot, Lieutenant Neubauer. If his conscience is still active, he will resign and carry this memory for his entire life ' unless his grief counselors try to erase his therapeutic guilt feelings with their banal advice, perhaps telling him that he was enrolled in a 'noble cause' (remember Abu Ghraib?) and that he simply made a mistake. The rest of us know that the plane crash may not have been his worst personal disaster; instead, it was his decision to join the U.S. Marines in the first place, where he would be granted the opportunity to commit mass murder on behalf of the world's largest organized crime syndicate, the U.S. government, led by its virulent nest of politicians. That decision lies at the root of his troubles, and it put him on the path to his ill-fated flight.

San Diegans Express Alarm for Their Safety

I was also stunned that in response to the jet crash, hundreds of San Diegans from Mr. Yoon's neighborhood expressed alarm for their personal safety. My question is: Where were they when the U.S. government began bombing and shooting Afghan civilians? What did they think of 'Shock and Awe' in Iraq ? After all, the estimated civilian body count in Afghanistan is over 30,000, and it ranges between 100,000 and over 1 million in Iraq . In Vietnam , it was 2,000.000. If 'collateral damage' is just dandy halfway around the world, why are San Diegans so reluctant to cough up their fair share? And if all those Afghan wedding party celebrants deserved to die because a tiny group of people in their huge country supported the 9-11 terrorists, let's not forget that some of the 9-11 terrorists did their training right here in San Diego. Why not wipe out the surfers, too, just to make sure? You can't be too careful, can you? (Thank God that Dubya is not in office to misunderstand a facetious remark.) When my fellow San Diegans realize that the U.S. war machine is far more dangerous than anyone living halfway around the world, they will have earned the right to complain about jets crashing in the neighborhood. But as long as so many of them act as cheerleaders for war, what do they expect? After all, one of Mr. Yoon's neighbors was flying an American flag (the new symbol of torture, sex abuse, and mass murder) outside his/her home, as you can see at the end of this video. Did karma simply miss its target? With neighbors like these literally inviting death from the skies, is anyone safe?

Not surprisingly, some San Diegans were outraged that the 11 families affected by the crash were paid a paltry $147,000. That's a lot more than the $2,500-a-head paid to relatives of civilian victims of the U.S. military in Haditha , Iraq or the $40,000 paid to Afghan villagers for the death of 15 relatives. Do the math: $2,666 per victim.

At some point, a significant but foolish number of Americans and San Diegans must abandon their sloganeering and go beyond their Top Gun-induced love affair with mass murder and the military. And speaking of Top Gun and thus Tom Cruise (BFF of Oprah), when will Oprah Winfrey, the Oracle of the Obamatons, begin to realize that Obama voted for Patriot Act 2, voted to continue funding for the war in Iraq, seeks escalation of the war in Afghanistan, winked at spying on the American people, plans to continue the secrecy shield that cloaks U.S. torture policy and secret renditions, and has contributed to the incendiary rhetoric aimed at Iran? He has even abandoned his promise to bring the troops back from Iraq ' now claiming that we must leave 50,000 troops there indefinitely. It is an uncomfortable fact ' for both the political left and right ' that war is big government. And both parties are lapping it up. And apparently, so are San Diegans. Every year in October, thousands of them show up at the MCAS Miramar Air Show (once again, of Top Gun fame) to cheer on the death machine of Mordor? Since when did vampires both inside and outside of the coven appear in broad daylight?

Expect More of the Same'and Worse

Some of us in San Diego were not surprised that Lieutenant Dan Neubauer crashed his jet into a residential area. For the past several years, the roar of jets in the area has increased, and pilots appear to derive great joy from the inappropriate use of afterburners over neighborhoods like mine. After all, ever since Dubya appeared in his 'mission accomplished' flight suit, they have been empowered ' as if they have an uncle in 'the business.' Only one question: What business is it? And what kinds of people are joining the U.S. armed forces? They are posted in over 700 bases located in about 130 countries. They are currently engaged in two wars, and their presence has triggered more hatred than they are capable of defending against. Just ask the crew of U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S.S. Cole. There it was, the ugly face of the Evil Empire, bristling with advanced death-bringing technologies, and after the fashion of the Millennium Falcon, it was taken out by two men in an inflatable boat on October 12, 2000 . And don't forget to take a look at this recent video of a U.S. trooper lecturing the Iraqi police if you want to see for yourself how our troops inspire love for the United States . Even worse, our presidents appear to be trying to start even more wars. What next? Iran ? Korea ? Venezuela ? Russia ? It would be an understatement to say that the military forces of our Evil Empire are overextended. As former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter has said: 'Empires usually die of indigestion.' Consequently, we should not be surprised that those who sign up for military service are increasingly unfit for any kind of civilized occupation. They are overweight, have criminal records, and are poorly educated. If that's 'being all that they can be,' we're toast. And Lieutenant Neubauer is part of this trend. Jet crashes? Get used to it; the politicians in Washington , D.C. already are. You are collateral damage, sucker.

To bring this essay back home to my earlier essay, 'San Diego Plays 'Sophie's Choice' for Fascists,' it is clear that far too many Americans and San Diegans have betrayed the concept of liberty and have exchanged it for a false and unattainable sense of security. Consequently, they are now faced with two competing choices ' Sophie's choice for fascists. Either they must (1) abandon the vicious habit of engaging in criminal, pre-emptive wars, which would undermine the unifying principle of militarism, which requires an abundant supply of enemies to finger and hate (something they seem unwilling to do as ludicrous as that seems), or they must (2) abandon the fiction that the government can and will protect citizens from harm by keeping them safe from crashing military jets and the blowback of our interventionist foreign policy (which is the sole self-justification of military fascism).


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Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
Columns on STR: 37

Lawrence Ludlow is a freelance writer living in San Diego.