Soldiers have perhaps the hardest job
in the world. They wake up in the morning happy to be alive, strap on
their gear and go kill people before they kill them. It’s like being an
inner-city police officer but worse.
When news of a U.S. solider opening
fire on a stress clinic at Iraq military base Camp Liberty (these
military names are great propaganda) broke, it came as no real surprise
to me. Monday’s attack is the sixth time that a serviceman was killed
by a fellow serviceman since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March
2003. This week’s shooting ended in five dead. A suspect is alleged to
be in custody.
What makes a solder snap?
To help understand this, let’s look at
Hip Hop’s weird fascination with the military. The most memorable being
Master P’s No Limit soldiers. They even had army tanks
in their music videos. Now, most crews emulate the ranks of the
military. 50 Cent is probably the hardest drill sergeant there is
forcing his foot soldiers to obey command for risk being stripped of
their rank. Ask Young Buck
what happened when he stepped out of line. For every rapper that goes
against his platoons orders there is another willing to write away his
rights as an independently thinking man and fall right in line.
A good reason why soldiers snap is due
to the insurmountable pressure put upon them to perform (in the case of
Hip Hop, to sell records) and to not question authority. No-hit wonder
Canibus was actually a former solider yet he couldn’t survive the
minefield that was the music industry. In Camp Bad Boy, any artist that
doesn’t follow the rules of Master Chief Diddy gets the boot. The Lox
questioned things and went AWOL. On the flip side Shyne tried to
protect this superior as a show of gratitude and ended up in prison.
It’s almost as if being a solder, no matter was field you are fighting
on, is a no win situation.
The fact that this week’s slaying took
place at a stress clinic isn’t just ironic but sad. How can you help a
person that is going to walk out the door and return to the same
stressful situation that made them walk in the door?
Imagine waking up every morning with
the weighted stress of having to liberate the world, kill people
(innocent or guilty) and marching blindly into warfare at the command
of your superior officers. At some point whether you agree with the
mission at hand or not, you will begin to question if this is the right
thing for you to be doing. Then comes the guilt of taking part in the
killing of thousands of people. Let’s not even get into the soldiers who victimize the innocent people they are deployed to liberate.
Shouldn’t we be surprised that more soldiers aren’t losing it? Hell, in the ’80s postal workers were murking each other over the pressure to deliver mail on time (hence the term “going postal”).
War doesn’t just kill our enemy; it
damages our young men and women, who join the armed forces in hope of
having a better life. Instead they come back mentally and physically
broken or in a pine box.
The X Fact(her) is a weekly column that appears on 99problems.org.
Started on Inauguration Day 2009 by the League of Young Voter’s
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