Henry Rollins Makes More Military/Foreign Policy Sense Than Those Paid to Make Sense

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • David Sirota Newspaper columnist, radio host (AM760), bestselling author

In its typical -- and typically desperate -- attempt to sensationalize everything via fearmongering, most of the Serious Media continues to assess the Ft. Hood tragedy through the prism of international terrorism rather than through the lens of a stretched-to-the-bone military. And so we arrive at a truly telling moment in the American Idiocracy, whereby a heavy metal rockstar like Henry Rollins makes far more sense of reality than most of those in the media and political Establishment who are paid to make sense of reality:

Writing off the actions of Major Hasan as an act of terrorism avoids having to deal with some very big problems and answering some very hard and important questions. Hopefully, a thorough investigation into Hasan will be conducted with the greatest care and capacity. Such an investigation is anathema to some politicians and many pundits, as it may uncover too much awful truth involving things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the effects on a human being of professionally listening to men and women detail unimaginable horror and atrocity for several hours a day, year after year. Such an investigation might bring up the fact that prolonged wars like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan produce many casualties, often in unlikely places. And it might have to account for the upward spike in suicides in the American military, or even the suicide rate at Fort Hood. (There have been at least 75 soldier suicides since the Afghanistan war began, in 2001.)

When I hear someone attach the word "terrorist" to the actions of Nidal Hasan before the facts are in, I know they lack the fortitude to do the heavy lifting that a true assessment and investigation would require. I know they don't have what it takes to shoulder America's awesome responsibility to the men and women of the military as these two engagements drag on.

Don't want to deal with all this? Fine. Just don't say you "support the troops," because you are, in fact, leaving them to twist in the wind.

Rollins point is basic commonsense...which, of course, is why his point has been all but ignored. The American Idiocracy rewards hysteria, and particularly the kind of reductionist and bigoted hysteria exemplified by the effort to turn the Ft. Hood tragedy into a simple "America versus Islam" crusade. We want simple soundbite answers to everything -- even if, as Rollins shows, the tragedy is more likely the result of many different non-soundbiteable factors.

Of course, Rollins' analysis is not just complex -- it also touches on the taboo when he references a military over-stressed by multiple deployments. Looking at that means looking at our adventurist foreign policy and, really, our entire culture's militaristic posture -- and that's simply not allowed in the Idiocracy.

Instead, conservative leaders cite the Ft. Hood tragedy not as proof that there are individual crazy extremists of all stripes in America, nor as proof that the military is overstressed -- but only as proof that anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world supposedly means "now is the time for a professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community" and that we therefore must further stretch our military by escalating wars in the heart of the Muslim world.

Forget that this course of action might not only further stretch the military but also further inflame the global anti-Americanism conservatives rail against -- the only goal is to stir up religious/ethnic hatred, stay the neoconservative course in foreign policy, and rejustify the policies that have America value militarism over every other priority.