Many young boys growing up in the first half of the twentieth century watched movies and then television series of Westerns where the forces of Good and Evil were clearly defined.
The Good Guys literally wore the white hats. There was no room for ambivalence or nuance. Our national character was in the early stages of conditioning.
Some of us might recall though that when one of the Bad Guys eventually met up in the penultimate showdown with the Good Guy in the white hat, and guns started blazing, it was not uncommon for the Good Guy to shoot the gun of the Bad Guy out of his hand, thus winning the battle of Good and Evil and at the same sending a message to the young boys in the movie theaters or sitting in front of their televisions with the bunny ears antenna of the time, that killing was not glorified. Unrealistic scenario today of dealing with evil, thievery, blackguards, Evil Doers (anyone)? Of course. But that underlying message about killing was imprinted in our minds. With time that showdown ended in a dual where the Good Guy killed the Bad Guy. We progressed to yet another level of killing being acceptable and what the Good Guy has to do in defense of honor, justice, and just plain old Goodness.
Well, here we are today, another world, another reality of killing has been etched into our conditioned psyches as a nation of men. Ferguson_USA, Iraq, Ukraine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Palestine (GAZA). We no longer disarm the guys in the black hats. In fact, WE ARE THE GUYS IN BLACK HATS, literally…unless one prefers camouflage as a fashion statement.
Our police forces, extensions of our military, now resemble robocops_freewheeling warriors built for war, destroyers of anything that gets in their path, collateral damage beware. Tanks and anti-mine armored vehicles, automatic rifles-even sniper rifles, drones, high tech helicopters, stun grenades, tear gas.
And our police officers now sport tattoos, fashioned after the shallow depictions of manhood of single focused fictional characters hellbent on revenge found on TV and in our war movies where “real men” don’t weigh the consequences of their actions.
This is who we have become as a nation.
Maleness is now synonymous with violence. Young men now look to older men as they have always done for guidance and we offer them animated caricatures of masculinity, exaggerations of exterior ostentatious strength, devoid of emotional concerns for others, a competitive image of non-thinking, non-feeling men-machines who lack the character of moral principles because that is not valued in this Neo-Spartan culture. We are warriors. The whole world is our battlefield.
Our young men are growing up with this shallow image of their Man-ness, and by a very predicatable process of osmosis, it is being assmilated by other other young men throughout the world. One has only to look at Israeli solders and their brutal and souless massacre of innocent women and childen. No room there for thinking, for feeling, for understanding. That conflicts with their male personas passed onto to them by older, deadened, heartless, animated, and elevated male egos.
Police today encapsulate this culture of violence as do soliders. And let’s remember that they are the tools of the 1%, the controlling arm of the 1%’s enforcement mechanism.
Personally, when I see these characters in their camouflage outfits, teflon body shields, black military helmets, bulked up padding covering their small male bodies, automatic rifles for yet further reassurance of their invulnerabilty, I am reminded of those days as a young boy reveling in gathering together with other boys in our backyards and “playing war” together. We were MEN, and we acted it out.
Are they, like we skinny legged, freckled faced kids then, wanting to be men and do what all men must ultimately do_defend something, anything because somehow that defines us and give us an identity.
Are they reveling in that thrill boys felt pretending to be men?