Saturday, September 13, 2008
Syndrome posted by Richard SeymourIn light of the revelations by people like Aidan Delgado and Specialist Jody Casey about officially sponsored racism in the military, the use of the dehumanising proper noun 'haji' to facilitate murder, and the spree of free and easy killings that ensues, I found the following testimony, quoted in Michael Krenn's account of racism in US foreign policy, resonant:
"On August 8th our company executed a 10-year-old boy. We shot him in the back with a full magazine M-16. Approximately August 16th to August 20th - I'm not sure of the date - a man was taken out of his hootch sleeping, was put into a cave, and he was used for target practice by a lieutenant, the same lieutenant who had ordered the boy killed. Now they used him for target practice with an M-60, an M-16, and a 45.
"I don't want to go into the details of these executions because the executions are the direct result of a policy. It's the policy that is important. The executions are secondary because the executions are created by the policy that is, I believe, a conscious policy within the military. Number one, the racism in the military is so rampant. Now you have all heard of the military racism. It's institutionalized; it is policy; it is SOP; you are trained to be a racist. When you go into basic training, you are taught they are gooks and all you hear is, "gook, gook, gook, gook." And once you take the Vietnamese people or any of the Asian people, because the Asian serviceman in Vietnam is the brunt of the same racism, because the GIs over there do not distinguish one Asian from another.
"They are trained so thoroughly that all Asians become the brunt of this racism. You are trained, "gook, gook, gook," and once the military has got the idea implanted in your mind that these people are not humans, they are subhuman, it makes it a little bit easier to kill 'em. One barrier is removed and this is intentional, because obviously, the purpose of the military is to kill people. And if you're not an effective killer, they don't want you. The military doesn't distinguish between North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, Viet Cong, civilian--all of them are gooks, all of them are considered to be subhuman. None of them are any good, etc. And all of them can be killed and most of them are killed." (Testimony of Sgt Jamie Henry, 4th Infantry Division, to The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by Vietname Veterans Against the War, 1971.)
Of course racism in the US military is a matter of policy. The pitch from the military itself is that it regards racist stereotyping as detrimental to discipline and performance, and does all it can to stamp it out. This is utter bullshit. It is not, of course, the 'Vietnam Syndrome'. That was a pseudo-medical coinage to explain the popular aversion to the necessary slaughter of brown people. Rather, it is the Philippines Syndrome, the Haiti Syndrome, the Hiroshima Syndrome, the Navaho Syndrome etc. It is the race, empire and genocide syndrome.