Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I’ll recruit my army from the orphanages — Bob Dylan, Thunder on the Mountain
The Southeast corridor of the U.S. — particularly, Georgia and Florida — have a higher per capita representation among the military than any other region. The South, in general, boasts 40% of the total number of military personnel, 44% coming from rural areas across the board. That said, don’t ever hold me to my statistics; I’m not a sociologist, thank God. Rather, embrace the thrust of my message here. I’m not trying to prove anything with numbers in this article.
Georgia, where I have deep roots on my mother’s side of the family, is arguably the best grounds for armed services recruitment, bar any. For a number of reasons, one of which has to do with the “hard, hard religion” of the realm. The area’s Christian fundamentalism plays an important role in why youngsters sign up for The Slaughter Overseas which is quite often supervised by officers from the Peach State. And that fact of life is much neglected by activists engaged in making moral appeals.
Everyone knows that one can’t turn the Merchants of Death — those who sell weaponry for billions — around with moral arguments. But what’s not acknowledged is that the average military recruit from the South can’t be transformed into the kind of soul who quiets down and puts his gun down because graphic images of innocent babies being burned resonate deeply, or as a result of watching documentaries focused on how immoral the leaders of past wars have repeatedly ripped off recruits, their loved ones and members of their entire homeland region..
I’m talking about Matthew 11:12, what’s in the blood and bones of those recruits who I say can’t be transformed — as per the ideal scenario of most anti-war activists — with Apollonian arguments or heart-wrenching photos of bone-thin dying children. A Biblical mantra that’s taken seriously.
It’s not that those youngsters wearing U.S. camouflage and carrying battle gear into the thick of fiery engagement, or the teens operating drones from a distance aren’t capable of compassion. Rather, “the problem” is to be found in their religious DNA, their spiritual constitutions which demand violence:
‘And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away is all about that mantra. The novel underscores the inevitable encounters with evil we can count on as long as we live. Breathes the spirit of Matthew 11:12. She wasn’t at all a Christian fundamentalist along the lines of the characters she depicts, who embrace the fact that violence must be resorted to in order to do battle with Evil. She was, however, spotlighting that folks from Georgia, for the most part, especially the rural South believe that violence is the way to deal with violence in the secular world. That God demands it on an ongoing basis.
Everyone knows who the average American, let alone the average citizen from rural Georgia, considers The Major Evil of today. They’re easily recognizable, usually, by their dark skin. And the countries they hail from, those satanic creatures who call us The Great Satan.
What even enlightened activists seem to be dumb about, though, is that majors in the military and officers of higher rank — overseeing our abominations abroad — believe in a religion that most pacifist college students and their peace-loving professors don’t know anything about, and are not even trying to understand. Not interested in penetrating from their privileged perches.
And I submit that that’s one major reason why The Slaughter Overseas will proliferate. Another reason is the fact that the folks who are really calling the shots — overseeing the overseers, as it were — don’t even possess a spiritual side.
Richard Martin Oxman is co-founder of the Oxman Collective. He can be reached at email@example.com. He trusts that no reader will view any citizens of the Southeast as crackers. The thrust of the focus on those citizens here was not meant to be derogatory at all.