". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It would be lovely if there was peace everywhere today.

I've been listening to women giving their accounts of what it was, has been like, and probably will be again (fully a third of those who have served, have served more than once) serving in Iraq.

Women are not receiving broad honor and recognition for their service. The public, PR faces of the troops remains overwhelming that of men's faces. Women are in combat but their courage, their stresses, their presence are all dismissed, considered not to be putting out the same level of courage, stress and risk, by their own fellow troops because they are classified by the Pentagon asx combat support, not combat troops.

Several of them stated there wasn't a day when she was in Iraq that she wasn't in combat. The women agreed that when they were serving in Baghdad there was no difference between combat support and being in combat.

A medic testified that not a single day went by without being sexually harrassed. She was also assaulted. While she was working to save lives of troops and Iraqis.

All of them agreed that these were the conditions, and they'd had to accept them or not survive. They received none of the same support and respect and recognition as the men when they returned. This lack of respect started with those very same men with whom they served.

Then all these old guys in the audience had to put in their opinions. Smugly they proclaimed there is no place for women in war. They hadn't heard a goddamned thing any one of the women had described. What these smug old white guys were saying is that everything that has happened to you is your own goddamned fault and you asked for it when you went to war. They never heard the women's descriptions of all the women and children who didn't choose to go to war and were killed, maimed, injured, raped, orphaned, widowed, etc. anyway.

Why is there no place for women in war other than as victims? Yet Our Sacred Troops are victimizing their sister troops.

Ayup. that's the only place for women in war. Victims. Victims. Victims. Despite how often they prove otherwise.

Our Sacred Troops haven't done their own damned job to counter this, you know. They have been the bottom of the problem. They have chosen not to be the solution.

Well, that's how this woman cannot help but see things as all her life she seen the stories of what American troops actually do and how they behave have been shuffled from public view, starting with the rape rampages they went on in the South Pacific back in WWII. Vietnam was even worse. Funny that. How unjust wars make troop behavior even more out of control, isn't it. And then there is the personal family experience that I won't go into here, on this day, when we honor the troops again, and peace -- well, not so much.

We have severe problems in our military and this latest cooing and dewy-eyed "We support Our Troops No Matter What" isn't helping. The military cannot continue without the women who have been part of it for so long. It's about farkin' time the powers that be do something to reflect that, and start kicking serious butt when women are not respected and treated as they have earned to be treated and deserve to be treated.

But by doing that the Pentagon and the world would have to give up the most dearly held enticement that keeps young serving in the wars made by the old -- women and uncontrolled violance against them, their supreme reward for allowing themselves to be in a position where their nutz might be blown or cut off.


K. said...

Doonesbury has an excellent ongoing series dealing with sexual assault in the military. Isn't the rate something like 30%? It's a dirty little secret that doesn't get talked about any where near enough.

Graeme said...

"we support the troops" is a blanket statement that many don't think about. There are many troops (on every side) that don't deserve anyone's support.