It was just about impossible to turn on the TV yesterday without stumbling upon a maudlin tribute to our fallen heroes in some form or other, whether a straight news piece or a war movie of the Band of Brothers variety. Even during the seventh inning stretch of the Phillies game there was a sappy musical tribute to those who, as the announcer put it, “made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.” And you couldn’t so much as drive down the street without being assaulted by American flags.
Of course, a day devoted to remembering people killed in wars could just as easily be an anti-war holiday. But, alas, this isn’t the case here in America, where militarism is the national religion, in spite of the official myth about how the U.S. isn’t an aggressor and only goes to war when it has no other choice.
Our Nobel peace laureate comedian-in-chief delivered this knee-slapper, among other no doubt hilarious jokes, at the recent White House Correspondents’ dinner:
The Jonas Brothers are here; they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans; but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking?
As Roderick Long points out, this bears some resemblance to Obama’s chimplike predecessor’s attempt at humor when he pretended to look for the missing WMDs under the furniture in the Oval Office.
This reminds me of the scene in the movie Hearts and Minds in which footage of Richard Nixon doing schtick at some kind of formal affair is juxtaposed with a clip of a Vietnamese man anguishing over the deaths of his two young children who were killed by an American bomb. The man says, “What have I done to Richard Nixon?” Indeed. To Nixon’s credit, at least he didn’t make any jokes about indiscriminately bombing villagers in Vietnam—instead he tried to rationalize [a particular bombing raid apparently] with the “it was the hardest decision I had to make as president” line.
We’ve come a long way. Apparently there used to be some shame attached, at least publicly, to the practice of killing foreigners for no reason. Now we just laugh at it. Is this some of that change we can believe in?