Everybody Wins

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You know when I see someone in the street or in a class dressed in that greenish camouflage / and sometimes the cap I feel anger and resentment and guilt because it’s not their fault / just like it’s not the fault of the kids in low-income housing who idolize drug dealers (who harbor glocks and techs for each other and an understandable hatred of the police) / and want to be just like them and then they do but in our society we villainize
those people / you know, they call themselves soldiers too and with as much validity  because that’s what a soldier is / someone who raises their hand when the teacher asks who will kill for the community / who will engage the enemy / who will be the one to put the gun to the heads of those who would do the same to us / I promise they would / see how they hate us when we walk into their house / and military psychologists invent terms like collateral damage and / everyone we kill is the Taliban or Al Qaeda until proven brown at the wrong place at the right time / and even those who lampoon right-wing ideologues check their critical irony at the door when those who serve are involved

The men and women overseas who fight to protect our freedom, some of them, “they don’t have a choice” / Perhaps they’re poor and can attend college no other way / perhaps the problem children of the street corner who bang with evil gangs / and run with stolen guns have no other way to feed themselves / and feel part of something larger than their own socially marginalized existence / so when they put bullets in the heads of other little children or grown-up children / you can say they do it because they have no other choice / this is their community and they fight for it and it’s true that oppression is violent /  hierarchy is coercive but we always have a choice, don’t we? / We may not know it but as the tired saying goes, what about Gandhi and Martin Luther King? They had a choice, too / To that, Hollywood, the government, and the rest of the dominant culture says: what about Private Ryan and Kill Bill? / Violence is justified if you’re rooting for the good guys / The US military is the biggest, baddest gang of all

The state always has a choice before it sanctions its own violence / and we are truly fucked when we deny ourselves the subjectivity that comes with choosing not to fight in the name of empire codename Åefreedom’ / 100x as much pure cocaine as crack will get you the same jail time / A million times as many brown people as Americans could die /  and we would still count the cost of war in dollars / there is a choice to regard complicity in violence as normal and honor it as courage / there is a choice before we pick up a gun and say yes sir I was born in the USA / and I will walk into that house across the sea and fix their shit up good and we’ll do it for 300 million beating hearts back home and if they don’t want us by God we’ll just defend our freedom to be there alaykum as-salaam

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