Magnet Magazine Article --by Henry Rollins
It seems to me that the world is smaller than it’s ever been. My daydreaming’s been marginalized by pointing and clicking. Feeling far away and leaving things to the imagination seem to be almost fiddling while the empire burns. These days, I don’t feel far away from anything. I’m not trying to be a drag but for me at least, the Bush Administration has knocked the magic out of the night, the poetry out of seasonal change and makes me feel like a bum for reading fiction and doing many of the things that a forty-something should be hard at work contending with: concentrating on finding the humor in midlife crisis and the endless irony that comes with the onslaught of all the “If I did that now, I would break my arm.” types of realities I am forced to face.
I would like to do all that stuff. I would like to but I can’t. Thousands of my country’s best are in a kiln-hot hellhole fighting constant skirmishes that are sending hundreds back dead, mutilated and mentally maimed. They are fighting a war that the President had no exit strategy for, no sound intelligence to act upon and thus, no good reason to send our nation’s best to go out and deal with. A war that the President doesn’t hesitate to send young people into but seems to forget that his daughters are the perfect age for a stint in the Armed Forces. I however, am well aware and can’t wait to see which way they’ll go—Army? Marines? The Air Force has the best food and there’s beer on base so their hands won’t tremble on the stick.
I read the reports of the dead and mutilated coming back here. I read the articles about the bombs that went to the wrong place and made a mother carry her child’s body parts down what’s left of her street as she howls in unfathomable misery. I try to imagine if that was my friend carrying her child and how that would feel to even be that close to such horror. I react to the information like a lot of people do, I get depressed, angry, hopeless and frustrated, knowing there’s not a lot I can do.
Then I can turn on the television and watch Sean Hannity tell me that the world is a safer place with Saddam gone, that our efforts in Iraq is the War on Terror, that Saddam and Osama are as close as Chang and Eng and we’re doing a great job winning this war. This is a guy who has never seen anything more intense than a football game. I hear that Michael Moore is just a damned liar and all he’s doing is spreading hate and propaganda. Bill O’Reilly will send me a Boycott France bumper sticker if I write in and he’s right about everything -- this Kerry guy, geez, what a flip-flopping loser.
I read an article about how the microfilm that held Bush’s military records seems to have disintegrated and now we’ll never know about his whereabouts during his time in the Texas Air National Guard. A day later, I seek to drag that article off the internet so I can make notes about it for my radio show but it seems to have fallen off the grid. I guess that’s because it’s being swept under the rug by the Elite Liberal Media. No problem, I found information on Al Jazeera. Wheeeee!
It might be about now that someone reading this might want to tell me to get the hell out of America if I hate it so much. That’s just the problem, it’s that I love it so much that I get so angry at what’s been happening in the last few years. America is hard at work isolating itself from the rest of the world; America comes off as a cold, forbidding and ugly — like Dick Cheney in nothing but a thong. In my opinion, quite the opposite is true. Americans are a great people and we have done so much to be admired, it’s amazing how easy it is to forget that. People in other continents are having a very easy time but I guess that’s because they’re cowards, liberals or intellectuals. President Bush isn’t much on reading or watching the news or attending meetings that last too long. Castro reads voraciously. That hardly matters, I was just being cute. Like when Bush did that little skit in the Oval Office where he searched for WMD under his desk. If he looked down the road, he could see young people getting buried in Arlington. You can see a lot when you look around.
I have been doing work for the USO for some months and it’s allowed me to see aspects of the war that I would have never been able to from the confines of Sean Hannity’s one bedroom brain. So far, I’ve visited Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. The more trips I make and the more troops I meet, the more trips I want to make and the more troops I want to meet. The more trips I make and the more troops I meet, the madder I get. These boys and girls are well trained and valuable, why are they being sold out? Why is methyl tertiary butyl ether still in gasoline? Why is a psycho like David Hager in charge of the Reproductive Health Drug Advisory Committee? Why is the President saying he’s optimistic about the economy when his daughter’s children are going to be bailing America out of the fix he’s putting us in? Why are all the neighborhoods that were beatdown when I was a kid still beatdown? Why is America’s prison population so huge and BLACK? Why does President Bush get to sell his Harken stock shares, not file with the SEC and magically escape even a scolding? Is it because Whoopi Goldberg said something naughty the other night at a fundraiser? Is it because I say that I can’t wait for the day when Dick Cheney is in a prison cell one down from Slobodon Milosevic any time there’s a live microphone in front of my face? Is it because I see a country that eats too much, smokes too much, takes too much for granted, worships little girls who lip synch through sold-out concerts, pay a day’s wage so they can buy a shirt that says Sean John on it, get run over, work way too long and way too hard for way too little and have nothing to show for it but credit debt? Is this why Americans are getting shot at, beheaded, hated and underpaid, so a guy who barely got through college can try and put an amendment onto the Constitution that will treat some Americans like they’re somehow not deserving of happiness?
America is the land of the free and the home of P-Funk, it’s time to get up for the downstroke. Please vote this November. --Henry Rollins