Posts Tagged ‘News & Current Events’

The Baltimore Riots are over. Freddie Gray is still dead, obviously. A half dozen officers have been charged in relation to the killing, but their subsequent convictions remain to be seen. The folks from Baltimore didn’t even give the justice system a chance to fail, like those in Ferguson did, they just assumed it was broken and started throwing rocks.

Hell, why not? After all, rock chucking and fire setting has been the traditional response of minority communities to an equally longstanding police tradition of targeting said communities with violence…and usually getting away with it. This tradition spans a half century at least. Not that cops weren’t killing poor black folk prior to the sixties, but it wasn’t really until the sixties that people began to respond by rioting and looting. Up until this time, somehow, being shot by the police wasn’t the black community’s biggest problem.

imageIn the 1960s, Americans did more rioting than any other decade, four to five times more in fact, than the thirties, when people were as broke and hungry and abused as ever. In 1964, a New York police lieutenant shot and killed a fifteen year old Harlem kid in front of his friends. A shit storm ensued, on the spot, and the rioting crowd swelled to more than 4000. For four days, angry citizens threw rocks, set fires, attacked the police station and, of course, looted stores…all to no avail. The police lieutenant remained in the clear. Irregardless, similar riots occurred that year in Pennsylvania, Chicago and New Jersey, initiating a 51 year old cultural trend which has yet to have any real impact on the problem, but has retained its position as the black community’s go-to response in such matters.

Not that someone, somewhere, consciously plans these actions as a response…like I said…it’s a cultural trend. Riots tend to happen in clusters, at least with regards to cause, and the clusters typically span across a few decades. In the first couple decades of the 1900s, the thing was for a big gang of whites to get together and murder blacks. Racial attacks, like those in Tulsa and Rosewood, left hundreds dead. The other thing was for primarily white union members to violently suppress others’ opportunities for the same contracts. After the 1927 Herrin massacre, when rioting strikers looted gun stores and shot down a bunch of black strike breakers in cold blood, the focus of labor riots shifted to workers rights for a decade or so. Racial riots shifted in nature as well, decreasing in levels of violence and intensity, and for the first time, minority groups became the willing participants of melees like the Zoot Suit Riots, instead of the victims they had been in the past. Things then quieted in the fifties…the calm before the storm.

The sixties were indeed a perfect storm, a convergence of unrest so varied that the parties involved fed off one another and mustered a collective momentum not seen since the American Revolution. “There was madness in every direction,” wrote Hunter Thompson, “you could strike sparks anywhere.” For some reason, in the 1960s, a lot of Americans decided that they deserved to be treated equally and they took it to the fucking streets. If the blacks were rioting about being victimized by white cops, why shouldn’t drag queens riot too? After all, by the sixties, a black guy at least had a perceived right to walk down a sidewalk without being arrested simply for being black.

imageNot so for drag queens. While homosexuality in general was frowned upon and in fact legally punishable, it was sometimes hard to prove. Crossdressing, on the other hand, was also illegal and very easy to prove. During a customary raid on a gay bar, “suspicious ladies” would be led into the restroom by a female officer who would check for penises. Offenders would then be arrested. I’m not kidding…that’s the power of the American tax dollar as hard at work as ever…Stop-and-Frisk meets TSA. So on one particularly balmy 1969 New York night, the patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, decided to fight back.

After refusing to consent to a penis search, several people were arrested. As they were being led to police cars, a crowd gathered outside. Witnesses reported an arrestee pleading for bystanders to intervene. And then, after suggesting that the cops be paid off on the spot, someone threw a penny. And then another. And another. And then a rock. And then it was on. A hailstorm of foreign objects rained down on the police officers, who were forced back inside the bar for their own safety…or driven into the bar like cattle…take your pick. Outside, a surge of entitled gay rage spread throughout the crowd. Participants have expressed a collective feeling of having had enough. Things had to change, and it all had to start somewhere.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the mob had gotten to the officers cornered in the bar…your guess is as good as mine. Not that they didn’t try, mind you. Multiple accounts indicate one or more alleged drag queens ripping a parking meter out of the sidewalk and then using it, siege style, as a battering ram against the buildings entrance. Unsuccessful, they attempted another classic siege strategy, setting the building on fire. Remember, these weren’t Roman centurions. Or common street thugs. These were dudes in dresses with size twelve star-spangled pumps who’d probably never hurt anyone before in their entire lives.

And they beat the shit out of those cops. Another witness recollected a drag queen straddling a prone policeman, cowgirl style, while (s)he thrashed him mercilessly with with one of those big assed shoes. And it wasn’t just the cross dressers bashing white devil cops with their purses…though the imagery is almost too awesome not to dwell on…but the vast majority of New York’s gay community. Just as the police eventually managed to summon assistance, home phones all over Greenwich Village rung off the hook.

imageShit got wild. The city had to send in their tactical riot squad to extract the officers trapped inside the Stonewall. The gays rallied enough reinforcements to sustain a full length Broadway style kick line while still managing to overturn cars, light fires and chuck rocks. I have yet to figure out what could possibly be contained within a transvestite’s purse to make it heavy enough to smash a police cruiser’s windshield.

By sunup on Saturday, the violence had stopped and the crowds had dispersed. But it didn’t last. Saturday night’s rioting was described by some as being even more intense and violent than Friday’s, although accounts vary. Nighttime clashes with police continued through the middle of the next week, and then the fighting was over. The gays went back to their lives and the police went back to oppressing them. It wasn’t long before Inspector Seymore Pine was raiding gay bars again, despite the fact he’d barely escaped the Stonewall Inn alive.

But while laws hadn’t changed, attitudes had. The gay community found that in order to riot about their right to be gay, they had to come out of the closet into the light of police cruisers and paddy wagons set ablaze. I’m a clinical sociopath – I know what masks and closets feel like – and I also know how liberating it feels to let your nature shine in the bright light of a fire you intentionally set. It feels fucking good. And for the gays, it took, so as the fires went out and the day broke, they discovered the sun feels even better.

New York City saw it’s first gay publications and the community began to associate on another level, that of activism. The conflagrations, it seemed, hadn’t gone out entirely, but had activated secondary fires in the hearts and minds of the homosexual collective. By the next June, they organized a march in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots. News had spread, it seemed, as had the metaphorical flames, and marches were held in a number of U.S. cities. It’s 2015, and this month, they’ll be marching again. Betcha didn’t know that’s where Pride parades came from, did you?

The black community just had their latest parade as well. It was in Baltimore this time, but instead of commemorating the beginning of a rather successful movement, or even the previous riots in Baltimore, it was just the same old noise. From Harlem to Watts, L.A. In 1992, Ferguson, Baltimore…nothing changes but the names. The significance of the community’s rage against the institution, however justified, is ultimately lost in the lawlessness that inevitably takes control, so much so that when Bill O’Reilly pointed out how dem colored folk need to do some policing of themselves, he kind of had a point.

imageThe gays understood this. For them, Stonewall was nothing more than a rallying point, a catalyst that drew the community together and brought the issues out into the light. When the fires went out and the sun rose, they began to organize, and then to move forward. I dare say that the effectiveness of the gay rights movement has far surpassed that of the civil rights movement. A big part of this, I think, is a level of cohesiveness that the black community has never attained. Close they’ve come, but never enough so for a cigar.

I’ve always framed the civil rights movement through the Martin vs. Malcolm paradigm…that is…non-violent resistance vs. resistance by any means necessary. Both have their place, both are useful, even necessary…but they can’t work independently of one another. Non-violence means nothing if one has never experienced violence just as violence itself loses significance when there is no foreseeable hope of peace. Resistance is a school of thought unto itself and in order to be successful it must be inclusive of all approaches. The very notion of a Martin vs. Malcolm paradigm demonstrates an internal conflict which dooms the movement from its inception and therein lies the lack of cohesiveness.

Before Stonewall, the gay rights movement was, well, still in the closet. Associations like Mattachine and the Daughters of Bilitis were established in the fifties and advocated for the rights of gays, but encouraged members to assimilate into straight society. Their strategy was to gain ground by convincing the mass culture that they were no different. A Mattachine march on the White House went unnoticed, in fact, because it was just a dozen or so dudes in suits walking up and down the sidewalk. A couple of years after Stonewall, there were over a thousand, and everyone noticed them.

Frank Kameny, the MLK of the gay rights movement, was critical of the Stonewall riots, as well as the sudden outing and publicization afterward. He later regretted his initial opinion, however, when he realized that even with his twenty years of work, it wasn’t until after Stonewall that he was able to garner the necessary public support to be the first openly gay candidate on a Congressional ballot. Kameny and the old schoolers had indeed assimilated, but it was not within the culture which they had expected. It suddenly became apparent that they didn’t have nearly as much in common with mainstream white America as they did with a handful of rock chunking transvestites.

For the last century and a half, black people have faced the same dilemma, at least with regards to their identity and position within America’s social food chain. The Martins preach assimilation and love while the Malcolms demand resistance against oppression. Both sides pretend to want to understand one another and work together…but ultimately, the push and pull they exert prevents any sort of unified black identity from ever really emerging. And identity is what it’s really all about, in the end.

“Ya wanna know how we screwed up in the beginning,” asked hip hop activist KRS-ONE in his song Higher Level. “We accepted our oppressor’s religion.”

It’s an excellent point. Why in the world, I wonder, would a people with a history of being enslaved subscribe to the very religion used to morally justify the wrongs inflicted upon them? When an imprisoned Paul met a runaway slave names Onesimus, he instructed the man to return to his master. When he decided this didn’t make him a big enough asshole, he wrote his Letter to the Ephesians, wherein chapter 6 admonishes slaves to be obedient to their masters as to their Lord Jesus Christ. Really now, Paul, really now.

So for me, with an outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to take a guy like Martin Luther King seriously. It’s even harder to stomach Baltimore mega church pastor Jamal Bryant, who, throughout the Ferguson and Baltimore protests, urged the community to calm down, drop the stones, stop setting fires and looting items that corporate white insurance companies would ultimately be paying for…to settle down and be, well, good ol’ friendly American negroes.

How would Stonewall have turned out if that one drag queen suddenly dropped the parking meter and proclaimed: “Settle down boys and girls, and remember that these policemen have rights too…now get on home now…and let these nice boys go back to institutionally molesting our entire culture!”

See what I mean?

imageSo by the time the Baltimore riots were winding down, the black community was getting two barrels of advice to settle down and straighten up. Besides Bryant’s calls for nonviolent protest and peace, local gang leaders joined in as well, yep, the same guys who make the cops trigger happy and scared to begin with. The big question is, should the black community be listening to either party? Are religious leaders who propagate the same religion used to justify slavery thinking in terms of what is best for the people? Something tells me that Jamal Bryant, in his casual business attire, his downhome southern preacher affect and his 7500 strong flock of income producing sheep, has very little in common with those marginalized and murdered by the police culture. And as for the gang leaders, they are at least as bad, if not worse, than the nightstick toting police who beat their asses. Neither non-violent passive resistance, nor the white Jesus, nor black tar heroin will correct what is wrong.

But you can’t tell that shit to America, black or white. Americans are too busy singing praises of Baltimore’s own dragon lady and house nigga extraordinaire, Toya Graham. Graham claimed international fame after attacking her brick lobbing 16 year old son in front of news cameras. I’m sure you’ve seen it…it’s all over youtube. What really struck me was the public’s reaction, as well as that of local government, which was overwhelmingly positive. In any other context, a mother shown on live TV to be striking her teenaged son on or around his head while screaming profanity at him would be labeled a child abuser and likely prosecuted. It suddenly becomes acceptable however, and even praiseworthy in this situation. But the kid wasn’t looting or stealing or selling drugs or even back talking his mom…he was chunking rocks with his friends, all in support of one particular friend whom he claimed had been beaten by policemen.

imageOf course, Graham was praised by everyone from those old wrinkled bags on the View to Baltimore’s own police commissioner. “Good job Toya,” they all seem to say. “Way to use violence to instill the values of assimilation, submission and tolerance of abuse into the next generation.” Her pastor, none other than the aforementioned Jamal Bryant, also spoke warmly of her actions, as did the ghost of MLK.

The ghost of another “Milk,” on the other hand, probably sees it a little differently. Harvey Milk (first openly gay politician in office…and the first of such to be assassinated…and the second cause of the second series of flamboyantly gay riots) came out of the Stonewall era. He wasn’t militant or violent and he wasn’t nationalistically homosexual. What he was, was part of a very small demographic of American people who decided they weren’t going to fucking take it in the ass anymore, metaphorically speaking at least.

This demographic, though small, included a wide range of differences…from men who like men, to women who like women, to drag queens and whatever the hell you call women with mustaches and workboots, pretty much everything 1969 America regarded as sexually deviant, except perhaps the pedophiles and dudes who like to screw wet tree stumps. The diversity of the movement didn’t stop there either; differences based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomics, the same shit we all argue about-these differences were deemed secondary and sidelined in favor of the larger picture. And to show for it, they have a strong movement that has only gained in momentum. And they also have the Pride parades, their equivalent of the American Independence Day.

It’s hard to say if that is a reality the black community will ever be able to attain, but my magic eight ball says they won’t. The situation has been as it is for too long and the people involved, sadly, are trapped-unable to stop snapping at the bait. A free meal from a burning CVS is no different from the false hope offered by Jamal Bryant and his hoes and his precious white Jesus…one way tickets on a train with no real destination in sight, that is, save the mirage of equality and the fallacious notion that our country is built upon it.

And ain’t that just the awful, bloody truth of it all?

“So I made up the whole crucifixion thing…sorry…but still, when you piss off this many weird cat ladies, it’s only a matter of time before they radicalize and come after you…”

For about a week now, I’ve been traveling with an automatic rifle in the front seat of my truck. At dawn and dusk, I find myself cruising the back roads of my neighborhood, searching, stalking, hunting. The beast doesn’t know I’m gunning for him…or maybe he does…maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find him. Or maybe I’m just no good at hunting tomcats.

imageI ought to be, that’s for sure. In the southern Appalachian mountains, far from stop lights, street lights, neon lights, any light beyond God’s great blanket of stars, shooting tomcats is somewhat of a tradition and it stretches back several generations, at least. My dad tells stories of growing up in the 1950s, riding around in the backs of pick up trucks, blasting stray tomcats to pieces with shotguns and .22 rifles. Pops is in his mid sixties now, a little worse for the wear, but still drilling stray male cats like it’s his fucking job.

It’s because it is and, in a way, always has been. In his youth, those heavily armed boys in trucks collected bounties for the cats they killed. Back in those days, see, bird hunting was the hot shit activity in these parts and the uniqueness of a man’s bird gun coupled with the prowess and intelligence of his dogs was a big part of how dudes back then measured off against one another. Of course, you had to have birds to shoot, so collectives of hunters went to great expense to propagate the existence of game birds, particularly quail and grouse, in the region. The thing about game birds is that they are ground nesters, the easiest pickens of all for a lazy assed tomcat, and stray cats were wreaking havoc on the baby birds. Hence the bounty on feral tomcats.

These days, Pops doesn’t bird hunt. We both have really awesome bird guns and the bird dog who lives with me is so damned smart we assign him chores, but no one shoots birds anymore. We do, however, still shoot feral tomcats. Pops just got one last week, as a matter of fact. He claims he nails a couple per month, and I don’t doubt it, but I don’t think these cats are as feral as they used to be, though their impact and behavior aren’t really affected by whether or not they have permanent homes. Free roaming male cats are nuisances…they always have been…and they always will be.

My folks have three barns and a little over a dozen horses. Having horses means hay and feed, which is to say my parents maintain a small army of female cats who help keep them from being overrun by rodents. They, and anyone who employs cats will tell you, to hire females because they stay close to home and hunt much more than the males do. At any given time, they employ between eight and twelve cats for this purpose, and employed is exactly what they are. Their cats have names, health plans, room and board. In exchange, they kill the fuck out of some rats. Part of their health plan, oddly enough, includes the armed protection of a retired Army Ranger when stray tomcats wander in and attack them.

Yes, that’s a real thing. And it’s fucking brutal.

A loose tomcat, feral or not, may range and, in fact, claim several square miles as its territory. Tomcat behaviors, on these prowls, more often than not include vicious attacks toward smaller cats. Throughout the spring, we’ve been waking in the night to the sounds of cat fighting outside. The first few times, it was easy enough to release the hounds into the night, to break up the cat fight and then return. Everyone goes back to sleep. Three months later, the dogs are staying in and I’m going out, at three a.m., in boxers and boots and eight rapid fire rounds of turkey shot, scanning a Surefire light for the trespassing brute but finding nothing.

Our cat, Bunny, a five pound calico female found in the street as a kitten, has enough bald spots and scratches and bites that she doesn’t really even want to be outside at night anymore. Instead of killing mice and rats and moles in her own yard, Bunny is spending her nights sleeping on her spot on the bookshelf, where it’s safe. And I don’t blame her. The fact is, I don’t really like being in the yard either. Besides brutalizing smaller cats, tomcats tend to engage in territorial marking, called spraying.

imageAlso a very real thing. And it’s really fucking nasty.

Ever wonder why your front porch suddenly smells like concentrated cat piss one morning? It could be a stray tomcat, homeless and hungry, but it could just as easily be someone’s “pet,” who has chosen a spot ON your home or IN your vehicle to point his furry little cat cock at and mist with urine, hot and sticky, and specifically for your personal enjoyment.

Think it’s not personal? I used to, till I got to know my ex’s cat. Patch was a big grey tomcat with a white spot and he fucking hated me. When he wasn’t out prowling, he was peeing on my stuff. He ruined MY couch by peeing on the headrest in MY spot…he ruined MY leather armchair…and he hit my laundry basked, repeatedly. Only my stuff. So one morning, after discovering a basket of clean and pissed laundry, I’d had enough. Patch got snatched, pitched and pinned in the bathtub. Then he got a dose of his own medicine. I don’t care what you say. That malicious bastard was hurtin’ for a squirtin’ and deserved every damned drop of it. Fair’s just fair and I’ll stoop to a cat’s level if I have to.

Which brings us back to my mountains in the present day, with my bleeding and battered little calico cat, my front porch reeking of piss, as does the inside of a vehicle after I forgot to put a window up one night…back to the rifle in the front seat of the same vehicle…back to the hunt at hand. A feral cat is my likely target, and I hope this is the case, because discovering that it is someone’s pet wouldn’t make much difference to me, other than the fact I’d be angry at one of my neighbors for being such an irresponsible pet owner as to allow their animal to become a nuisance. Make no mistake, this animal’s days are numbered.

I doubt, however, that I’ll post a picture on Facebook. Or maybe I will. It really depends. If it’s a headshot with an arrow like the one Kristen Lindsey posted, I totally will. What an awesome shot…Kristen, my hat’s off to you…to take with a bow and not document and subsequently share. Hunters kill things with sharp sticks all the time and the pictures get published in magazines, so what’s the difference? Killing game, such as a harmless little bunny rabbit, with an arrow is considered a feat of marksmanship and talent in the hunting community, but for Kristen, killing a loose tomcat by the same means is proving to be a costly error.

imageIf you haven’t read about it, last month (April 2015), Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey shot a tomcat in the head with her bow and arrow and then bragged about it on Facebook. It went viral, of course, and a backlash of social pressure cost Lindsay her job and prompted an official investigation. Thus far, the D.A. isn’t moving forward. Facebook is enraged and circulating petitions not only for her criminal prosecution, but for the revocation of her license to practice veterinary medicine. Seems a bit much, to me, especially over a creature whose behavior could easily be considered antisocial to begin with.

Sorry cat owners, but that tomcat who is so sweet and cuddly at home is very likely causing problems when you let him roam, even if you’ve had him neutered. Which really sort of means that YOU are actually the problem and that is this particular tomcat, later identified as Tiger, the pet of an “elderly couple,” was not so much the problem as were his owners. Maybe Kristen should have shot them in the head with arrows…or maybe not…but either way, they were long gone. As in moved. As in moved and left the cat. As in abandoned. According to their former pet sitter, “Amy,” who has created a page telling Tiger’s story and ultimately soliciting donations, Tiger’s owners made some sort of arrangement with a neighbor to care for Tiger so he could continue doing what was most important to him, roaming the countryside and sleeping all day in a “barn.” One day, Tiger disappeared. That is, he didn’t show up to eat food and sleep before leaving again.

I’m not kidding. Read it here.

After a week or so, Tiger’s disappearance was solved when he appeared on social media, speared on an arrow like a shish-kabob by a college educated chick with a compound bow and a hell of an eye. A lot of people are really mad about it. The Bryson, TX news station KBTX, who has been most closely covering the story, actually had to disable the comments on their online news articles due to “repeated death threats being made against the veterinarian.” Small protests of weird cat ladies have gathered outside the Austin County courthouse demanding “Justice for Tiger” and the identically named Facebook fan page has garnered in excess of 50,000 followers, all squealing and wallowing in self righteous anger, seeking to destroy a human life they actually seem to place less value on than a damned pissing old tomcat.image

I don’t give a shit if he did have a name. More power to him. Now his name is mud. How you like them apples, weird cat ladies?

Apparently, you don’t like ’em at all, because like the KBTX news website, Tiger’s Facebook fan page has to specifically ask users not to contribute death threats to the comment threads. That’s right, even more death threats made by even more people who are even more concerned by the rights of a tomcat to prowl freely than a working, tax paying, American citizen’s right to due process and more importantly, her right to protect private property from untagged and unleashed “domestic” animals known for engaging in destructive and antisocial behavior. Remember now, Tiger wasn’t killed in his own yard and I have a solid understanding of how wandering male cats treat the property of others. image

These crazy old bags of shit are even invoking the great and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation in their hopes that someone else is something close to being just as sinfully stupid and silly as they are. Since the FBI is apparently maintaining statistics regarding animal cruelty, it only seems logical that they’ll be dispatching the Behavioral Analysis Unit from Quantico any moment…that Hotch and Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid from TV’s Criminal Minds will be Leer jetting down to Texas to solve the great mystery of the impaled tomcat before framing the events with a relevant quotation like:

“A man has to work so hard so that something of his personality stays alive,” said Albert Einstein. “A tomcat has it so easy, he has only to spray and his presence is there for years on rainy days.”

Something tells me that the FBI doesn’t really give and shit and isn’t coming, but I certainly hope that all of Kristen Lindsey’s haters are holding their breath for it. After all, every time an ignorant piss-faced fart knocker chooses not to breathe, someone much more deserving of oxygen gets a chance to. And I like that idea. I also seem to like the idea of having a forum where I can rail against people like this…maybe a little too much…so before I go too far, I’ll just bring up one more teeny tiny eensie weensie little thing…

image

“Dead Cat Protest…or…The Society of Heifers in Sweats?”

Of the 50,000+ people who support the persecution, prosecution and/or execution of Kristen Lindsey for “cruelly” killing a tomcat, how many of these same people choose to purchase poultry and meat from corporate American factory-farmed sources? From the looks of the asses and bellies of the protesters, I’d say a good portion of the McDonald’s customer base is represented here. Some of these folks are people who couldn’t give a shit less about the treatment of the chicken or cow that ultimately provides sustenance for their worthless little life and don’t hesitate to contribute a few bucks here and a few bucks there to a system which has actually institutionalized real-life animal cruelty.

Maybe ganging up on lone archers like Kristen Lindsey makes them feel less like the mush-filled douche bags that they are. Or maybe they actually think they’re doing a good thing.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end, unless you’re the human being whose life is being ruined by a bunch of stupid assed cat ladies. If you’re a roaming tomcat anywhere in rural America however, you should know that someone, somewhere, likely has your number and your days of terrorizing sweet little calicoes and squirting piss wherever you see fit will result in exactly the sort of “Justice” that old Tiger received.

Weird old cat ladies who befriend and “claim” wandering tomcats would also do well to remember this.

A small sprinkling of snow entered my car as I rolled down the window.

“What’s wrong officer?”

“You seem lost,” he answered after a few seconds, knowing damn well that didn’t constitute probable cause to execute a traffic stop. “Can I see your license and registration?”

Getting lost on Beech Mountain is not at all uncommon. Once off the main road, it becomes a maze…a spiderweb…of identical dirt roads, miles of them weaving through the trees and bending around the mountainsides. The roads focus around a half-assed ski resort, reminiscent of Hot Tub Time Machine, and a golf club.

“I’m not,” I answered, gathering my documents. “I’m headed to check out the electrical system on a house my friend might buy and he gave me bad directions. I was headed back up to the top of the mountain to try and call.”

Cell service is spotty and unavailable for most of the 3000 houses that line the windy narrow passages, only 10% of which are occupied year round, and it’s patrolled by an eight man staff of externally sourced police, some from the same region as most of the property owners, south Florida.

“Do you have anything in the car that you shouldn’t,” he asked next, “drugs, weapons, anything like that?”

This is rural North Carolina. Appalachia. Resort town. Rednecks with shotguns and OxyContin crazed hillbillies are as common as tourists in Landcruisers…

“Nope,” I answered, “just electrical tools and trash.”

…just as common as guys who do electrical work and favors for their friends on snowy Tuesday afternoons.

“Do you mind if I have a look inside?”

Whooooooaaaa…the locally sourced police didn’t usually act this way.

“I do mind,” I answered. “I haven’t done anything and I have things to do.”

image

Arrest photo of the actual cop…er…ex cop…

“If you don’t consent Mr. Brennar,” he said, “I’ll have to call the county K-9 unit. You might be here awhile.”

I chose my words carefully, considering factors such as his ethnic and regional heritage, the number of witnesses, his ultimate willingness to push the issue and most of all, the fact that I, for once, was innocent and simply being harassed. He was about to discover that I was, indeed, his huckleberry.

“You go ahead and do that,” I said, stone-faced, “and when I’m done suing you for illegal search, you’ll be back to pruning palm trees in South Beach. I’m a decorated veteran and if you want to violate my rights, you’re going to have to make that call.”

“Wait right here sir,” he responded, his voice quivering in anger.

He stomped back through the snow to his cruiser like the spoiled little shit that he was, angrier than a child denied dessert before the due process of dinner.

The officer ran my information, in vain, before returning and sending me on my way. Nothing more was said of the search, nor of my rude and racially insensitive remarks. I bid him a good afternoon before abandoning my friend’s house prospect and heading home.

imageThat shit wouldn’t have worked out in my favor if I’d have pulled it on the same guy in Metro Dade. In Miami, if I’d have implied he was a Tin Starred Landscaper, he’d have called an army of assholes just like him and they’d have dragged me from my car to the curb. After being Tased and maced, I’d be pseudo raped by a dogpile of angry blue men, each getting their licks in, one indistinguishable from the next, even with multiple angled helicopter footage. I might even be killed. And that’s considered preferential white guy treatment.

If I’d have been black or Hispanic, they’d have just killed me, maybe without even pulling me over, as their dash cams recorded them screaming at me to drop the knife. A box cutter would later be found in my tool bag, locked in the trunk. But, as it was, I drove home feeling pleased with myself for such a tiny victory against the heavy handed oppression that seems so prevalent in the big city police departments. For once, I’d succeeded in emasculating a tiny piece of the authoritarian culture, and it warmed my cold Grinchly heart.

The point of the story is not to pat myself on the back for racially insulting a pushy cop (I’ve done plenty of patting already, trust me), but that the encounter went just as it should have, anywhere in the country, regardless of the racial element. The officer, after blatantly ignoring his constitutional obligation to establish probable cause before pulling me, attempted to intimidate me into submitting to a further violation of my rights. His behavior, and its potential for affecting me in an emasculating way was returned in kind, tit for tat, certainly not rewarded. I, on the other hand, experienced a psychological reward, a wonderful mix of chemical endorphins, and it probably makes me more likely to act the same way again.

So it’s probably good that I live in a little town like South Park where I can get away with bullying a bitch-assed city-mouse cop…as opposed to somewhere like New York City…where a guy might find himself being cop-raped with a toilet plunger. To death. Talk about emasculation…

…and speaking of rape…

imageI suspect the psychological implications of being dominated and brutalized by those in authority might be very much akin to those of being ass ravaged by a mob of big soapy meat daggers in a cold, dark prison shower. In each situation, feelings of powerlessness and dehumanization are easily inflicted through detention/immobilization and reinforced, often enough, through pain. While one might not be able to relate to the actual experiences of being detained and beaten any more than being cornholed inside out by a pack of Aryan brothers, it’s more understandable, in these graphic terms, the sort of feelings that might result.

And that really only applies to the survivors of police bullying and brutality. Last night, I spent the better part of two hours watching YouTube videos of unarmed civilians being shot and killed by American policemen. I spent this time wide eyed, intently watching as though I’d bet money on the outcomes, watching sometimes handcuffed people bleeding to death in the streets, with no clip being repeated save one, that of five heavily armed New Mexico cops firing on a homeless goofball who was camping in the desert. After gassing and shooting him multiple times with assault rifles, they fired beanbags into his motionless body and argued about who was going to secure his four inch knife and get the cuffs on him. He died shortly thereafter and not a cop lost a job. Incidentally, the victim just happened to be white.

It’s not just the black men who are gunned down and beaten, although they certainly constitute the majority, but it’s people of all races and backgrounds who make up the larger cultural subgroup of the disaffected. They’re often poor, mentally unstable, unemployed or homeless, sometimes drunks or addicts, but the common thread is a lack of an ability and the financial means to stand up against overreaching authority. For every dead Sunday school teacher with fifteen bullet holes in her car and an angry community demanding accountability, there are a dozen, or more, socially disadvantaged minorities with holes in their bodies where holes don’t belong. We never hear about those people because they often have no one to speak for them and even if, it turns out that most people simply do not care.

It must be a sobering thought, likely one nestled in the forefront of the consciousness of America’s disaffected city dwellers and for minority groups in general. Sobering, that is, to realize on some level that the value of one’s very right to exist rests upon the whims of a police subculture which not only assesses them at a lower value than those who have the means to defend themselves, but actually targets them because of this weakness.

And it seems to only get worse.

image

GITMO in Chi-town?

A Guardian article claimed recently that the Chicago P.D. have been operating a “black site” for a number of years, sort of a way station between apprehension and booking where off camera interviews have been allegedly conducted and these interviews were described as being both coercive and abusive in nature. The police denied it, of course, but I also remember a fair amount of denial when it came to accountability regarding the goings on at Abu Gharib and GITMO. It’s only natural, after all, when you’re asked about systematically violating people’s human rights, to deny everything.

In the end, denial only carries you so far. Sooner than later, reality pulls up with a past due bill and a collector who looks like Jason Voorhees with a head full of PCP. If you’re lucky, at least. When the CIA was beating and torturing people, essentially raping away the masculinity and self respect of people like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the other leaders of ISIS, we’d all like to think they “misunderestimated” the outcome of those interrogation sessions, but who knows…it’s not like it’s the first time humiliation and brutality sparked the flame of violence and hatred in a man’s heart.

imageWhat we can all safely assume, is that if you spend your time turning fellow prison inmates into your own personal sex dolls, one day, eventually, you’re going to get stabbed in the neck with a fucking toothbrush. That’s just how it is and it’s just as true when it comes to other forms of physical and emotional emasculation. The more a man is subjected to such abuses, the further he has to go to find balance again, to feel strong and to stop feeling raped.

Back when I was a squirrely little third grader, I thrashed a classmate, mercilessly, in the bathroom after recess one day. They sent me home for fighting, of course, but allowed me to return after hearing the truth from my mom. Not one to tattle, I’d neglected to mention to the principal that right before I beat him stupid, the other kid had been intentionally pissing on me. Nor was I one to relish an ass beating from my pops, so I’d told my mom the truth. And then she smelled it on my jeans and my red Chuck Taylors. It was exonerating for me; the other kid stayed suspended. That was ’86…or maybe ’87.

Times has done gone and changed on us.

By the time I graduated high school in the mid nineties, corporal punishment and a student’s assumed right to defend himself from bullies were a thing of the past. My response, as appropriate and effective as it had been, was to be tolerated no more. In the new century, I’d likely have faced criminal charges for seizing that mealy mouthed bastard by the throat and playing “Ring Them Bells” on his skull.

Today, children are allowed only a little leeway when it comes to preventing bodily harm, just as adults are, but as a general rule, we’re expected to tattle, to file reports, ultimately to defer our own protection to others. That’s all well and good…it’s just fine to tell the teacher after it happens…but it doesn’t do anything to stop some degenerate pre teen from whipping out his weasel and watering you like a houseplant in the first place.

Between the schoolyard and the streets of adulthood, things don’t change much. Bullies continue to rob, rape and urinate on decent folk, and the expectation remains to defer protection to others, in particular, the police. Again, that’s all well and good, but what happens when the policemen are the ones with their anteaters out splattering warm urine on anyone close enough to get hit and too poor to do anything about it? Who do you tattle to?

imageSomeone, at some point, thought it was a good idea to complain to the federal government, who responded by promptly by issuing surplus military hardware to any cornpone breadbox bunch of keystone cops with the space to store it. City police departments, seemingly, have gone without armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles for so long they forgot how much they needed them. That’s sort of like me tattling on the bully, only to come to school the next day and find him wearing a Kevlar Hall Monitor vest and a Skorpion machine pistol, with the principal helping him aim his little piss rocket towards the smaller children.

Sort of…you get the point…at least if you’ve lived somewhere like Ferguson you do.

I know where you think I’m headed with this…to the mattresses no doubt. The clinical sociopath is about to suggest we start locking and loading on the Big Blue Dick, that the two cops shot in Ferguson, the other two in Los Angeles, that it’s been a long time coming and the poor should rise up against the oppressive white devil swinery… That sort of shit, right?

Sorry to disappoint, but that just ain’t the case. Not that I’m against fair play, mind you. On the contrary, I vehemently disagree with peaceful protesting, turning the other cheek, all that worthless crap, especially when the other side is squirting tear gas into a crowd of the same people who pay their salaries. But, I’d be encouraging people like Eric Garner or the two Columbine boys, and that doesn’t solve anything. My solution, simply put, is easier, and lies in the future generations.

In the same ways our children have learned to trust those with power to protect their rights, they can relearn to trust themselves. We can teach our children that, as the larger social collective, they hold the true power to redefine our culture. They can learn that the things we protect and hold dear, the materialistic trappings we are so afraid to lose, mean nothing when you’re being beaten or raped or murdered…mean nothing when your brother or neighbor is experiencing the same. Through our children, we can reestablish our social identity as one which simply will not tolerate a bully culture, much less pay its salary.

Indeed. The answer doesn’t involve conferences and legislation anymore than it does Molotov cocktails and lynchings of murderous asshole police. The place to fix bully problems is in the third grade, on the level plane of boy’s bathroom floor tiles, with a dad-taught right cross and a punishing series of left jabs, all empowered by a fundamental understanding that not being suspended for fighting is infinitely less important than not being urinated on.

Before I was a veteran, I was a veteran.

During the 1980’s, a series of wars and skirmishes broke out across the Appalachian region of North Carolina. These engagements went largely ignored by the news and popular media, who instead chose to focus on the conflict between Afghanistan and the drunken cockfight formerly known as the Soviet Union.

imageBy December of 1979, the people of Afghanistan were openly revolting against a series of newly enacted socialist peasant raping reforms and the leaders appealed to their sugar daddies, the Soviets for military support. The Soviets responded by mobilizing airborne brigades and sprinkling Red Army paratroopers all over the Afghan countryside. On December 27th, Soviet troops reached Kabul and the special forces promptly paid a visit to the president bearing a message from the closest thing the communists had to Santa, General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. It was a swift execution, Dirty South Style, on his knees with two in his head.

On the other side of the globe, an invasion of another sort was taking shape. In 1981, as the Soviet “intervention” was gaining serious momentum, a secret meeting was convened in New York. One of the men in attendance was Archie Goodwin, a well known author of, well, comics. Goodwin was charged with creating a public face for the impending invasion, as well as writing what amounted to a manifesto calling for the overthrow of the worlds governments and their subjugation to “Cobra, a ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world.” image

The invasion, although eventually reaching an international scope, began in the United States heartland. The news of the impending attack was heard solely by America’s youth, who were suddenly faced with the reality of what it means to become a man in America. And they began to arm themselves. Hushed calls were made from design studios to corporate board rooms. Sweaty hands shook firmly before dialing China and lining up ordinance production.

Little boys in North Carolina, meanwhile, were making lists and submitting them to their Secretary of Armaments, Santa Clause. Beginning on Christmas of 1982, the young American patriots began to amass troops. The small, localized militias grew slowly, with neighborhood warlords graduating to generals as troop strength swelled.

The overall resulting military collaborative became the cultural phenomenon collectively referred to as “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.” Hasbro, an American company with manufacturing facilities in China, began to extensively produce weaponry and the 3 3/4″ plastic men the young generals needed to combat the dreaded Cobra Commander and his shock troops.image Back in Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation wasn’t going so well. The Afghan Army was expected to do most of the front line fighting but apparently when it came to killing their own people in support of a doctrine that directly contradicted their belief structure, they turned out to be squeamish. Roughly half raised a black flag and joined the revolt. The rest, mostly, just hung around and talked shit, waiting for the next paycheck and often, doing more harm than good. More and more, the Soviets were finding it necessary to use their own troops in direct combat, something they’d hoped to avoid.

The mujahideen, Afghanistan’s rag tag conglomerate of a resistance, proved to be much more effective than Soviet command had predicted. Able to attack without warning and then disappear back into the populace, conventional military attacks against the mujahideen were obviously ineffective. This resulted in a tactical shift, and the Soviets began to view the Afghan countryside as what amounted to the mujahideen’s supply lines, resulting in the implementation of scorched earth strategies. As the civilian body count climbed, the Afghan clergy issued a decree, or fatwa, labeling the atheist-socialist controlled invasion as an attack on Islam as a whole and declared it the duty of all Muslims to join or at least contribute to the effort against the Russians.

image

Soviet AK-47, preferred weapon of Clint Eastwood’s enemies and Cobra troopers

The mujahideen army grew exponentially, peaking out in excess of 200,000 fighters, many of whom were called Afghan Arabs, foreigners who had heard the cry for help and came to kick in. Such an influx of personnel required armament, much as the G.I. Joe armies back in North Carolina. The American adults, along with those of Saudi Arabia and a few others, began to funnel cash and weapons into the mujahideen using Pakistan as their primary conduit. For the first few years, Afghanistan’s foreign support network contracted with independent arms traffickers and provided the resistance exclusively with Eastern Bloc ordinance procured from China, Czechoslovakia and even the Soviets themselves.

The Pakistani government, heavily influenced by Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Islam, disbursed the armaments disproportionately, basing their issuance not only upon the prospective faction’s potential for sending Rooskies to be judged by Allah, but their level of commitment to hardline ultra conservative Islamic principles as well. Nothing about warfare, it seems, is ever fair and things were no different back in the mountains of North Carolina.

image

G.I. Joe Headquarters

My sixth birthday signified my entrance into the global G.I. Joe battlefield. Since the war had begun, I’d engaged in daily after school battles in my friend Wyatt’s basement. Wyatt commanded the neighborhood’s only true G.I. Joe stronghold, the massive Headquarters play set he’d gotten for Christmas. Again and again, the open topped plastic fortress was bombarded by the likes of HISS tanks, Fang helicopters and the dreaded Hydrofoil. Each time, we were able to repel the attacks using the fort’s laser cannons, removable missiles and Wyatt’s brigade of tanks and trucks, all maintained in the service bay.

As often occurs in such guerrilla style commands, infighting broke out. Wyatt, while a highly capable leader on the basement battlefield, was a poor politician and proved ineffective at maintaining cohesiveness amongst the lieutenants who’d joined from around the neighborhood. We all began to personally arm ourselves and the intense battles pitting the G.I. Joe forces against those of Cobra became interspersed with sectarian cap gun violence in the back yard. The infighting nostalgically culminated in our first real casualty, when a kid named Heath stepped on an old land mine in the back woods, driving a three inch rusty nail through his foot. Although a resulting ceasefire refocused resources on the war against Cobra, the damage was effectively done. As the hype around G.I. Joe grew, our small coalition factionalized and in the fall of 1984, I began to stockpile ordinance of my own.

The Silver Mirage motorcycle was the first thing I acquired. It was awesome to behold, a magnificently flimsy, unsteerable thing of a sidecar equipped motorbike, broken in the package even. It was the first tool of war that was mine. I’d suddenly become my own boss and sweet Jesus it felt good. I wanted more. My small yet successful engagements with Cobra outposts such as the Bunker, as well a few against a new enemy known as the Transformers instilled within me a strong resolve as a military leader and tactician, thus I began pleading with the Congressional Parental Undersecretary to authorize an increase in the household defense budget.

imageLater in 1984, as I was planning a series of waterborne creek assaults on a backyard Cobra cave complex, my father burst in with a VHS tape containing information that “everyone” needed to see. The Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan had expanded to America and it was time to open our eyes. The tape was a newly released copy of the John Milius film, Red Dawn.

Eyes wide, I was engrossed with the concept of American children rising up against the Cobra-like invaders and I instantly identified with them. From my parents living room, I witnessed Hollywood destroy previous records for depiction of on screen violence and loved every blood soaked minute of it. I wasn’t the only one of my generation who suddenly became aware of the Communist invasion, and it also began to play out in the back yards and playgrounds, running concurrently to that of the battles against the Transformers and Cobra: The Enemy. But, despite even the bloodiest fighting against the commie forces, the war against Cobra still managed to intensify in some sectors as generals like Wyatt added elements such as the fucking U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier to his arsenal.

image

Official toy of the Spoiled Bastard

Unequitable distribution of war resources often led to jealous sectarian clashes, with well funded warlords such as Wyatt being accused by rival factions of back room talks or flat out collusion with the communists and thus militarily engaged in conventional cap gun and motorized squirt gun combat. The truth is, we could have, and maybe should have used nukes against guys like Wyatt but found ourselves concerned with global fallout. That is to say, no one kicked his ass for being a stuck up spoiled prick because he’d have told his commie mother and there’d have been hell to pay.

Back in Afghanistan, the Soviets were starting to pay like that. As money and manpower flowed freely into the mujahideen’s ranks, their effectiveness as a fighting force against the invaders increased. Victories against the Soviets prompted further tactical shifts. Soviet offensives became more brutal, incorporating heavy aerial bombardment of civilians and militia alike, as well as the use of chemical weapons.

During the heaviest fighting of the mid eighties, when troop strengths were the greatest, a young Saudi jihadi with a degree in economics created a splinter faction using money inherited from his billionaire father. His name was Osama bin Laden and his group was the forerunner of Al Qaeda. Between his own cash and some outside help, Maktab al-Khidimat, became a notable contributor to the resistance. Bin Laden himself began to gain notoriety of his own following the Battle of Jaji.

image

Hamster not included.

On the Carolina front lines, my own army had grown dramatically. In addition to a small fleet of assorted armored vehicles, planes and helicopters, Santa found my war efforts and ideology worthy enough to provide me with the Mobile Command Center. The MHC changed the war against Cobra altogether. It was a rolling, three-story, unfolding monstrosity that took a team of technical experts until New Years to assemble. It contained a repair bay, missile command, brig and on the top level, there was a trap door large enough to accommodate a marauding yet very confused hamster as it swooshed down an eighteen inch escape slide. Cobra simply couldn’t compete with heavy, mobile firepower like that, not even by weaponizing giant hamsters.

In 1985, mainstream America finally became aware of the true scope of the Cobra invasion when Sunbow Entertainment produced a 95 episode series of animated documentaries about the conflict. Weapons sales soared and plastic man recruitment was at an all time high.

The fighting was also the heaviest during this period (1985-86), and many of the G.I Joe generals began to show their true colors. While some welcomed outside factions such as the Transformers, many generals were distrustful of the giant robots and felt there was “more than meets the eye” going on. As a result, Transformers and their leaders were more often than not targeted for persecution and or elimination.

Heavier ordinance, of the Chinese pyrotechnic sort, was becoming widely available to anyone brave enough to cross the border into South Carolina and obtain it, and its use soon became widespread. In a struggle for neighborhood supremacy, some despotic fartknockers committed what accounted to genocide against Transformers and other minority groups including M.A.S.K., The Masters of the Universe and those Voltron cat things. The only thing more devastating than using an M-80 to destroy a disloyal Joe soldier is using six of them to blow Optimus Prime into more pieces than that crying kid who owned it could ever realistically pick up. My Little Ponies were slaughtered wholesale and melted down into something that actually sort of looked like soap.

Indeed, playground warfare had evolved significantly since the days of beheading Barbies in windows and door jams or simply using stones to drive those snug scrawny bitches up to their necks in the cold, red North Carolina clay. By the end of ’86, even those of us commanding the most modest armies had become drunk on our own power, and this arrogant aggression soon spilled over into our ongoing war against occupying Soviet forces. The first real hard shots sounded like the ultra realistic rob-a-liquor-store-with-it cap guns we were all packing, but as it turns out, Wyatt had introduced South Carolina bottle rockets into the fray and was in fact firing them towards our position.

image

The Stinger, a gift from Allah and whitey

About the same time, a new weapon was introduced into the arsenal of the mujahideen, not entirely dissimilar from a bottle rocket, called the Stinger missile. Afghan fighters were being butchered, at this point, by the Soviet use of areal bombardment and attacks by heavily armed helicopter gunships.

The west, apparently as tired of fucking around as Wyatt was, just gave a whole bunch of the Stingers, shoulder fired, laser guided and capable of dropping an aircraft from 6 km away, to the Pakistanis. Pakistan, of course, did their best to arm those who were most committed to mad dog Islamist policies, like bin Laden and the assholes who would become the Taliban a decade later. Many Stingers, however, found their way into the hands of fighters commanded by Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Massoud was an old hand in the war. A native Afghan, he’d been one of the subversives who’d bristled under the Soviet thumb since even before the invasion. He commanded a large contingent of rebels in northern Afghanistan, where most of the heavy fighting took place. The Stinger missiles were the wind that turned the tide for the Afghans, giving them a much needed edge against the superior Soviet air power that had been driving them further and further towards defeat. Massoud’s men, with the precision of surgeons, used these wonderful American toys to drill new assholes in the Russian hardware, as well as the Russians themselves.

image

“Yes we can.”

As 1986 began to lean towards 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed effective control of the U.S.S.R. and announced, much as Obama did, that the Red Army would soon be returning to the mother Russia. Although at great cost, the Afghan and Arab mujahideen conglomerate had succeeded at driving out the great and powerful Soviet war machine. Contrary to popular western theorists, the Golan-Globus contrived character of Rambo had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

The victory was the product of a home field advantage, surgically applied firepower and a whole hell of a lot of religious, self-righteous indignation. Unfortunately, as the cease fires set in and the Russians prepared for withdrawal, the commanders of the mujahideen armies realized that a power vacuum was developing in Kabul and began to view each other not as allies, but as rivals.

image

Cobra Commander…a snake?!

The North Carolina battlegrounds were evolving as well. By 1987, Cobra seemed pretty well done for. Cobra Commander had gone to the North Pole and been turned into a snake by weird mutants (WTF??). Most of us simply didn’t buy the official story. Around the NC campfires, the theory was that Serpentor had assassinated Cobra Commander on the shitter and gone on to turn Cobra into a live Miami drag show comprising elements of Shakespearean thespianism and down home Tijuana livestock lovin.’

Hasbro began reissuing old equipment, repainted and rebranded, a shiny example of the military industrial complex at its most money-grubbing pathetic best. Without Cobra Commander, the once powerful G.I. Joe armies fell into decline. Repairs ceased and the thundering war machine slowed to a crawl, a weekday after school rerun.

The decline resulted, as in Kabul, in a vacuum, but ours was resource based. As armies of plastic men took up less space in war budgets, more funds became available for the same resistance leaders to focus towards the ongoing struggle against the communist occupation of the playgrounds and increasingly, against each other. Arms makers like Hasbro and Mattel fell away from prominence and were slowly replaced by the likes of Crosman and Daisy. Christmas weapons shipments changed shape. Instead of large square packages filled with unassembled plastic bits, we began unwrapping long rectangular boxes containing the 4th grade equivalent to the Stinger missile.

By spring of 1988, the Great North Carolina BB Gun Wars had begun. The Soviet menace was losing face and strength in the eyes of the world. It showed in our battles against them on the playground, which became fewer and fewer. The Soviets were withdrawing, much as they were in Afghanistan, and like any post-war army, we still needed someone to shoot at. Luckily, we still had our old rivalries from the Cobra wars and it wasn’t long before someone shot someone else in the ass with a pellet gun.

Everyone thought it was really funny, because it was, and not a week passed before new alliances were formed and we began actively engaging in open live combat. Our new weapons equalized us on the battlefield. Wyatt could bring all of the bottle rockets he wanted, but he still had to stick his head out in the open to fire them.

The Afghan mujahideen had won, sort of, against the Soviets, but their fight, just as ours, was far from over. As Soviet forces exited to they north, they paused and spent three days in the Panjshir Valley violating the ceasefire with Massoud’s army by steadily shelling and firing rockets at them. The attack, which inflicted substantial casualties was a preemptive effort (rightly so) aimed at protecting the Soviet installed puppet leader, Mohammed Najibullah, formerly the head of the Afghan secret police. Najibullah was tasked with basically continuing the same policies that lead to the war in the first place.

image

Massoud and his homies

With continued outside aid, mujahideen fighters united under Massoud and in 1992, the communist presence was eradicated from Afghanistan and hopes were high for democratic elections in the near future. In the meantime, civil war raged. By 1994, a generation of hardline Pakistani radicalized refugees returned as the Taliban. Within two years, the Paki and Saudi backed group had driven Massoud and his hopes for Afghanistan into exile and instituted their oppressive form of authority. Massoud’s forces remained loyal, later becoming known as the Northern Alliance.

A year before the Soviet evacuation, bin Laden’s modest force had gained its own autonomy. Bin Laden saw al Qaeda as sort of an Islamist jihadi version of the A-Team and declined to officially integrate himself into the Taliban. When Iraq invaded Kuwait and moved dangerously close to the Saudi border, bin Laden eagerly offered the services of his mujahideen army to his native Saudis. When they declined in favor of American intervention, bin Laden’s focus shifted and ultimately, he found his new war.

Much information exists to suggest that bin Laden’s al Qaeda was responsible for the car bomb that killed Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9th, 2001, the first shot fired in a war that bin Laden felt the 9/11 attacks would render inevitable. The Soviets, withdrawn from the situation and destroyed from within, have offered the best perspective on what the foreseeable future of Afghanistan holds in a statement made by former Captain Tarlan Eyvazov:

“Children born in Afghanistan at the start of the war… have been brought up in war conditions, this is their way of life.”

The boys in North Carolina, like our Afghan counterparts, had succeeded in driving out the invaders. But, also like the Afghans, we found ourselves continually engaged in the throes of all out civil war. Our newly acquired pellet rifles amounted to being little more than muskets, low powered and slow to reload, but when they’re the best thing available, they’re certainly sufficient. Our fathers, who’d ultimately planted the idea in the first place were surprisingly cool with it all, but the Maternal Oversight Committees labeled the use of pellets and BBs as atrocities and war crimes, which forced the fighting out of the neighborhoods and underground, into the forests.

image

The Crosman AR-17

Hidden fortifications were quickly constructed and the evolution of our fighting became evident. Gone were the flimsy twig forts of the Soviet/Cobra wars and in their place rose cobblings fashioned from old pallets, used lumber and anything we could find that would stop an air rifle that had been pumped up 46 times. Cardboard and duct tape were adapted into crude forms of body armor and used to cover exposed patches of pellet susceptible flesh.

image

Daisy Model 45 Semiautomatic pellet gun

As the fighting again intensified, I signed a secret treaty with a collector of Cobra war relics and used the subsequent profit to purchase a CO2 powered semi automatic handgun, modeled after the Colt 1911. It complemented my Crosman AR-17, a pellet firing cousin of the M-16A1 rifle. I kept the new weapon a secret, tucked under my combat clothes in a vintage canvas shoulder holster and waited for just the right moment to deploy it. The wait wasn’t long.

The summer of 1990 was accentuated by the Battle of South Springhaven Court, the last major military engagement of my adolescence. The small cadre of fifth graders, of which I was a part, found ourselves out manned by forces loyal to Wyatt, who had slowly morphed into a tyrannical seventh grade version of Stalin himself. There were only five of us in the tiny fort and the bigger kids were unleashing timed volleys of pellets and BBs, balancing their rate of fire with reload time so we had no safe window of escape. A fourth grader named Richard suddenly screamed out that a BB had penetrated the skin just behind his ear. The shooting stopped and except for Richard’s wailing, it all grew silent. After a moment, we heard Wyatt’s voice clearly.

image

They don’t hirt THAT bad.

“You faggots better brace yourselves,” he yelled in a way reminiscent of the Soviet nerve to hand Afghanistan a bill for their invasion services. “Because we’re coming in and that little kid owes me money for my pellet that’s in his head.”

We were screwed like the pooch. The woods began to fill with thick, white smoke. The smell of South Carolina pyrotechnics filled the air. Wyatt and his men were using a smoke screen. They were going to storm our fort and fuck us up. The BB guns were ineffective in close quarters and those boys were much bigger. The mountains grew silent, save the crackling of leaves as Wyatt and his troops closed in. Our only chance was to use the same smoke as cover and we knew it.

Rifles pumped up, we assumed a triangular formation and pushed right down the center, hoping the enemy had fanned out enough to make their lines week. The older boys were too cool for protective snorkel masks and cardboard, so the first two we encountered got hit close range by the aforementioned 46 pumps, which stopped them cold. Although our rifles were empty when we encountered Wyatt and Heath, our crude body armor easily absorbed their hastily fired shots and all that was left was to get away. Wyatt and Heath, thinking us unarmed, attempted to close in for the kill.

They stopped suddenly and began to back away, however, when I whipped out the CO2 pistol. That awful fascist son of a bitch Wyatt got a look on his face like he was about to get shot sixteen times with a pellet gun.

I shot Wyatt sixteen times with that pistol, center mass, at a practically point blank range. And then we ran, reloading on the move, all the way back to the relative safety of home. It was the closest thing we could have achieved to victory, but it was ours, as we hadn’t been wedgied or beaten up, and so for the moment, it was enough. But like the Afghan kids, it had become what we knew and as Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner put it,

“G.I. Joe was my first recruiting officer.”

 

*This edition’s highly offensive comic strip has been posted to Facebook.

A big part of the morning ritual where I live involves a group of salty old codgers who set up shop around the coffee pot at the filling station and conduct informal surveys of who is and is not blessed by the availability of work on the given day.

“You fellers stayin’ busy,” asked a crusty old guy named Harold, a man known for stating the obvious in the crudest way imaginable.

“It comes and it goes,” I responded, for at least the fourth time that week. “How bout you?”

“Sheeeeeiiiiiit,” he began, pausing to almost spit tobacco juice in his coffee cup, then actually spitting said juice in another identical styrofoam cup before answering, “I’m so damned poor I got to get me one of them sex changes and take to sellin’ pussy.”

I had an instant flash of Harold, as a woman, announcing loudly to a group of other prostitutes to “clear on out, the pussy posse’s a comin’ round the bend.” It’s a scene I clearly wish I could unsee.

What Harold said was definitely funny, especially when considering the twisted-old-bastard/I-don’t-give-a-fuck way that he said it, but stuff like that really happens and from what I’ve read of Belle Knox, it pretty much went like that…just without the sex change part. What began as an off-handed remark about doing porn to pay for college quickly exploded into a career, of sorts, after she emailed a few selfies to some producers.

Belle Knox

Belle Knox

Knox, a 95-pound former Catholic school girl and freshman at North Carolina’s Duke University drew almost instant attention. Within a matter of weeks, she was on a plane to her first shoot. Unfortunately for Belle, the Internet is a much smaller place than it seems to an eighteen year old girl and she was quickly recognized by fellow students, resulting in a media frenzy which spread across much of 2014.

The frenzy produced a whole shitload of news articles, a lot more porn shoots and a substantial amount of criticism directed towards Knox, a Women’s Studies major and self-described feminist. She gave a number of interviews over the course of 2014, including those to CNN’s Piers Morgan and those catty old broads on The View, as well as the likes of Howard Stern and the much maligned FoxNews.

In each interview, Belle refers to her experiences as being generally positive, attempting to negate the assertions of a number of former porn stars that the business is overflowing with misogynism, drugs, disease and abuse, something akin to wood chipping the Saudi royals and cramming them all into one small port-a-john bowl before leaving it in the hot sun to ripen. According to Knox, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Barbara Walters' face when Knox explained "the money shot."

Barbara Walters’ face when Knox explained “the money shot.”

While the word we most often hear used in popular media regarding a young naked white girl surrounded by so many big scary uncircumcised crotch dragons that she literally starts crying is…”exploited”…she chose another word entirely: “empowered.” Of course, the horny penis-loving liberal feminist camp thought this was just dandy. The other side…not so much.

As it turns out, there seems to be something decidedly non-feminist about a teenage girl being slapped and spit on as her face is being pummeled by some engorged pink warthog of a thing that looks like it just might just have its own zip code. Even my dumb ass can understand that. I’m not exaggerating, by the way. The pink warthog to which I’m referring is featured on the website Facial Abuse, along with Belle Knox, in her first scene and if anything, I’ve been understating things.

The video, in fact, shows Knox being degraded in the same kinds of ways that morph ordinary mild-mannered jihadis into super villains deserving of their own brand, flag and logo (still waiting for ISIS Crunchy Jihadi Flakes, btw). I highly doubt, however, that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi ever got handle barred by his pigtails or had a crude rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night dribbled in semen across his face as he was told what a filthy little feminist he was.

Click here to view a heavily censored clip from the Facial Abuse shoot.

Or maybe so. Maybe that’s why ISIS is so pissed. That’s not the point, though.

The point is, that was all basically true. Except for the Starry Night thing. But then again, everything’s open to artistic interpretation…either or…yuck city. So the conservative feminists seem like they might have a point after all. What’s feminist, they claim, about depicting the subjugation and a use of women for a profit, even if it is in the name of education? Ironically, the syphillitic shitbag doing the degrading in the film agreed with the mainstream feminists, bluntly informing Knox that she was indeed, “a bad feminist,” right before he squeezed his sock puppet so tight it popped and glued her eyes shut.

Knox argues that as a member of the BDSM community, she represents a segment of feminism that remains largely marginalized. This assertion effectively muddies the waters, semantically, and raises the idea that what defines feminism for any one female might just be subjective to that female. In other words, it takes all kinds. As Knox so succinctly articulated to Rolling Stone’s Alex Morris in 2014, while most women prefer not to have their faces drizzled with the human equivalent of warm spoiled yogurt, she happens to “think it’s hot.”

How utterly tasteless...

How utterly tasteless…

And so went the debate. The relationship of feminism to abusive face raping, while certainly a tempting topic, was not the only issue tackled in the Knox interviews. Knox, clearly an intelligent young lady, conducted herself well during the interviews and gave a fairly comprehensive insight as to her life, the ups and downs of the porn industry and how she hopes to make the two things work together. In each interview, each half assed cross between a porn star’s self marketing ploy and what we now call journalism, her challenge of the definition of feminism was the only real issue discussed.

They all scratched the surface of the larger problem, much as I did in the beginning of this article, but failed to return and finish the job. All except FoxNews411, and aside from presenting a colorful graphic and reading from it, they didn’t have much to say either.

And that’s fine by me. I’m stuck at home, it’s snowing like a bastard and when my wife gets home the jumping on the bed and chasing the cat with my Nerf Assault Cannon will inevitably cease anyway. So, I might as well continue the story that everyone else decided to leave wadded in a tissue under their journalistic nightstands. I might as well, after all, since it’s flu season and we’re fresh out of Kleenex.

As FoxNews411 anchor Chris Kensler pointed out, quite literally, Duke University costs approximately $31,000 per semester. Knox, the first from her high school to be accepted to Duke in over a decade, found herself looking at a tuition bill in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars. Duke, of course, is proud to offer a monthly payment plan which is tailored to each student’s individual situation, just so long as that situation involves coughing up a $4300 payment every month. On time. Knox, who had around two dozen films under her belt by mid spring of 2014, stated that at the rate she was going, she’d be able to cover her first years tuition in cash.

Her parents, she said, made just enough to disqualify her from federally subsidized student loans and, despite her father being a physician, were unable to afford her tuition. Belle’s choices were, basically, giving up her dream or being metaphorically fucked by debt. Lawyers, she pointed out, need more than a bachelor’s degree, and loans made no fiscal sense. To the future porn actress, the notion of having her future monkey-fucked inside out by the massive hulking anteater that we know as student loan debt was way more terrifying than, well, the real thing. I sort of see her point.

According to Belle, and what is apparently common knowledge, a porn actress makes, on average, $1200 per sex scene. Roughly, she will have to star in around 100 scenes to meet her tuition and fees, and that’s if FoxNews estimates of cost were not conservative. To put this into an appropriately sticky perspective, if 70% of her scenes included male participants, over the course of four years of college, Belle will get sloshed with something like a quart and a half of that tuna yogurt I mentioned earlier.

Welcome to Yucksville, son.

On examination of Duke University’s financial statistics webpage, I discovered the university nets about $316 million per year in tuition and fees representing about 16% of its annual revenue, which approaches two billion dollars. At a rate of $62k per year, this figure only accounts for about 5000 students. The tuition of the other 10,000, Duke says, is covered by various forms of financial aid and therefore not included in the data.

What are they doing with all that money? Well, if you keep scrolling down their financial webpage, the next colorful pie chart indicates they use about half of it to pay employee salaries and another ten percent on employee benefits. So students like Belle, the ones who pay as they go, account for about 30% of Duke’s overall salary expenditures.

A 2010 independent investigation revealed the salaries of a number of top earning faculty members at the university, none of whom actually teach any classes. The data, if accurate, presents the names of 25 individuals whose income accounts for roughly one quarter of Duke’s annual salary disbursement. At 23.5 million dollars, it’s still less than the amount kids like Belle have to cough up each year.

Coach Michael Krzyzewski

Coach Michael Krzyzewski

To put it in porn industry terms, if basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski was an eighteen year old girl who made an equivalent living by touching penises on camera for a living, he’d be dealing with about thirteen and a half gallons of high quality Southern California semen each year. In other words, he’d be shooting ten scenes per day, every day, even on his birthday, and that’s only if he was a young, supple teenage girl; gender economics, in the porn industry, work a little differently than they do at Duke, where men earn consistently higher salaries. When old hairy men get hired to be pivot men at penis parties, they don’t get paid shit, so in reality, that thirteen and a half gallons I mentioned earlier would be more like filling a Gatorade cooler the size of a Volkswagen. Twice. And then dumping it on him at half time.

What I’m slipping and sliding into stating, is that if a basketball coach like Krzyzewski were paid $200k per year instead of $4.2 million, something like 68 incoming freshmen wouldn’t be faced with the decision Belle was faced with. If all 25 salaries were equitably reduced to the same figure, the number of cash paying students could decrease by nearly 300. Granted, that only accounts for about 6% of the total cash paying student population, but remember that the investigation only revealed 25 salaries. And in my opinion, $200,000 per year is still way, way, way too much to pay a college basketball coach.

Now the really crazy part, the bit that no one is really addressing, at least comprehensively, is that Belle Knox is far from alone. A lot of young girls, when faced with exorbitant tuition rates, turn to the sex trade. Like Belle plainly stated, a girl can’t pay her way through school on tips, especially not at Duke, unless those tips are, well, you get the picture by now.

When Brett Snider’s Findlaw.com article was published in early 2014, the bidding war on med student Elizabeth Raine’s virginity had reached $300,000. The bidding topped out at around $800,000, at which point Raine, not her real name, backed out, claiming she wanted to focus on her studies.

"Raine"

“Raine”

The actual truth is, she very likely was aware of the 2009 FoxNews report of a woman going by the name “Natalie” who negotiated the sale of her virginity for a whopping $3.7 million, and Raine was valuing her own at substantially more than $800k.

I bet when she was researching, Belle Knox read some of this same information and kicked herself a few times for being such a horn dog in high school. But, that’s just silly Catholic school girls for you, never realizing that not only does preserving your virginity greatly please Jesus, it also represents a sound financial investment in one’s educational future.

Belle probably isn’t the only girl who has kicked herself in the ass for this exact same reason. If she is, it’s because she’s the only student sex worker who read the article and considering that there seem to be a damned lot of them, that’s highly unlikely.

A number of other prominent pornstars have given interviews to various media conduits that they entered porn for the same reasons as Belle and simply stayed. These women, I suspect, represent only a small minority of the total number of women who enter the sex trade each year in order to afford tuition. It happens enough, however, that within the porn industry itself has emerged an entire sub genre of realty porn focusing entirely on “exploited broke college chicks.” Apparently, some savage little renegade strand of environmentally adapted DNA codes some men to see the added elements of desperation and destitution as making their fireman-time viewing material so much hotter.

I guess it’s like the Bloodhound Gang song proclaimed, “the lap dance is so much better when the stripper is crying.” Maybe they have a fucking point.

Unfortunately, Belle’s demographic of Former Schoolgirl Turned College Porn Slut represents an even smaller segment of the student sex worker population than that of Cum Crazed Coed Neo Feminists within the overall feminist movement. And that’s pretty damn small. Knox might even be by herself on that one. Either way, a tiny bit of information exists that suggests that tuition strapped college girls are resorting to the sex trade more often than we think.

About a year ago, the Huffington Post published an article about an association of strip clubs that took out a series of recruiting ads in San Francisco area student periodicals. Indeed, stripping is not an uncommon way for a young girl to make a few extra bucks while she’s in school. Even as far back as the greedy and decadent 80’s, people were aware of this cultural phenomenon, as it was essentially glamorized in the 1983 film Flashdance.

While College Girl Strippers are a demographic most of us accept, or are at least somewhat aware of, another segment of this population exists of which most people are ignorant. This ignorance, while probably sometimes willful, is essentially rooted in naivety and based on the fact that, since prostitution is illegal in most places, college students, girls who have a lot to lose, don’t tend to speak up about it. But it’s out there.

The internet, obviously, has contributed to the spread of the cash for sex business, allowing potential prostitutes the long needed option of going into business for themselves. Some girls take jobs with escort services, some advertise online directly and some go another route, as the HuffPost article went on to describe.

This is for real.About the same time the strip clubs were advertising on campus, a billboard sprung up in Los Angeles like a spring Daffodil, advertising a website called ArrangementFinders.com. The function of the website aims to hook financially strapped young ladies up with sugar daddies, which lands it somewhere in the murky area between paid escort sites and Match.com. Feel free to check this one out on your own.

Although some anecdotal evidence does exist, at least from an American perspective, the true prevalence of this behavior among the college female demographic is hard to estimate and if you search on Google, you’re not going to find much. I did find one small university survey, which I have sadly been unable to relocate, that indicated one in ten students at a particular college knew another student who was a sex worker. I can personally relate to that. When I was of college age, I knew one girl who was supported by a de facto sugar daddy she’d met on the Internet. That shit is out there.

While none of this information really proves anything, the fact remains that the phenomenon is prevalent enough that Portland State University’s Women’s Resource Center identified a need and created the Student Sex Worker Outreach Project, aimed at providing a support network for a population substantial enough to justify such a program. Like I just said, that shit is out there.

So where am I going with this one…I know…it’s getting long…just a few more ingredients and someone’s eating a big dripping pile of hot boiled crow. I promise.

In an American Association of University Professors report from 2013, it is revealed by the U.S. Department of Education that the number of adjunct professors teaching in American universities has climbed to nearly 42%, nearly doubling its prevalence since 1975. Here’s the thing about being adjunct: it sucks. Adjunct professors are considered part-time, receiving approximately $2700 per class and are generally limited to teaching five classes per calendar year. Bear in mind, that potential total of $13,500 is net and usually doesn’t even include benefits. This prestigious position only requires that one first earn a Master’s Degree. Monetarily, colleges value Bachelor’s degrees even less.

Now, the 42% figure is obviously an average, taken from a lot of different departments at a lot of different schools. In certain departments at certain schools, numbers of adjunct faculty are very low, sometimes even nonexistent, but in other institutions, such as the English department of Appalachian State University, about five hours from Duke, it has been as high as 90%.

What do these numbers say about how American universities actually value the very educations they peddle to hundreds of thousands of eager young minds each year? A $10,000 per year take home salary for a job that requires eight years of expensive education which, coincidentally, comes from the same or a related institution, is a reality that doesn’t need any sort of snappy commentary to sell it as the stack of steaming shit that it is. Statements like that damn well sell themselves.

In sharp contrast to schools like ASU, Duke primarily refuses to use the adjunct staff principles and simply benefits those who have made the full doctoral investment into the systems with pay scales ranging from $89k to $160k, depending on tenure status as well as sex. Yeah it’s like that.

Speaking of sex, why not bring Belle Knox back into things and wrap all this blathering numerical gibberish into something which is sickening in more ways than just being generally vomit inducing. So grab a bucket, if you must, and let’s sum up.

For Belle, as has been previously indicated, the best way to afford the overwhelming burden of a $250,000+ college debt is to make porn. Point taken, Belle, we all get it and we all sympathize. To earn that quantity working in porn, as Belle Knox, she has to do about a hundred scenes, which, as I calculated, amounted to about a quart and a half of moldy cabbage gravy, evenly distributed over eight semesters worth of spring, summer and fall breaks. Admittedly, it seems crass and rather unbecoming of a civilized American to equate the value of a degree from Duke University with that of one and one half large Mason jars of semen, sitting innocently on someone’s coffee table, but if the proverbial shoe fits…

Applying that logic to the practice of relying on adjunct professors to teach classes, while paying them a pauper’s wage, is even more disturbing. According to the principles of Semenomics, which apparently I’ve just invented, a Master’s Degree at North Carolina’s ASU is worth a mere 1/3 of a cup of the old hot buttered garbage sauce, at least in their English Department. So, good news males, at Appalachian, you can actually make more cash per adjunct class taught than you can in porn, but that fact is,sadly, not so for women.

The slippery, slimy most fucked up aspect of the whole situation, as well as what no one wants to admit, is this:

Whether you measure the values of these professions in terms of counting benjamins or the amount of semen you have to scrub out of your hair after work, the result is the same. The overwhelming message behind all of this is that if you are an American woman in your late teens or early to mid twenties, society places a higher value on your sexuality than it does your intelligence and potential to contribute to society in a meaningful way. More simply stated, sorry kid, but the fact is you can make more money stripping buck naked and letting some guy make a doughnut out of your face than you can teaching English at a North Carolina University. We’re sorry but, as Americans, we have more time, money and inclination to watch young girls like Belle being molested on the internet, while we rub our penises, than we do to make any moves toward changing an educational system that, while not doing the brutalizing itself, facilitates the idea that an educational diploma is worth more than a person’s intrinsic right to never have to make such a choice in the first place.

Am I suggesting that universities lower the cost of their educations to the point that it’s actually cheaper to go to school than to do porn? Or that maybe Americans watch way too much porn and value it just enough to perpetuate such a degrading cycle? Or might I go so far as to imply that certain controlling human elements in both the pornography and educational systems should be sunk slowly into a large drum filled with Southern California’s annual estimated quota of semen production (around 60 gallons, room temp and partially congealed) and drowned like the rats they are?

Maybe. We’re not there yet, obviously.

What I am saying, is that people need to start talking about this. And that brings me back to Harold, the ignorant old chicken sucker at the filling station.

Another one of the creepy old fucker’s sayings that gives me small waking nightmares, is his occasional announcement that,

“We’re so damn poor up there, Glenda’s gotta jerk the dog off to feed the cat.”

“Fuck it all Harold,” I want to respond, “the college raised tuition again. What you need is a Craigslist ad for College Cum Craving Cutie Cleanup and a damned sheetrock trowel.”

But Harold wouldn’t get the joke.

And that’s a big damned shame.

A wise man once said: “People who to try to crucify and behead you…those people are not your friends.” In fact, when people act this way, it’s best to strap your shit to the top of the old Family Truckster, tie Aunt Ester’s dog to the bumper and high tail it for Wally World. And whatever you do, don’t stop the convoy…for anything.

Thousands of people have been doing this in Iraq and Syria. Except they’re not heading for Wally World and they’re a long fucking way away from the sarcastic humor of Chevy Chase. Orthodox Christians, Kurds, Alawites and Shi’ite Muslims are vacating their homes the same way the middle class abandoned Detroit.

That way is the fastest possible and like I said, just pass the kid a Gatorade bottle and whatever you do, don’t stop the convoy.

All those folks are wise to leave. I’d leave too if I were in their situation, especially given the alternative. The things ISIS does to people are…medieval. I’ve got to admit, I’ve actually found myself a little disgusted at what’s been going on. That’s saying something, considering that I’m of the opinion that atrocities and brutality are entirely acceptable tactics when a force is overwhelmingly outmanned and out gunned. I’ve also got to admit that, until last week, I knew virtually nothing about what was going on with ISIS.

That being said, I predicted U.S. entry into Syria a couple of years ago. I expected it within the Obama years, and so far, it looks like I might meet my spread. Will I be a prophet…I think not…but if I were, I wouldn’t be the only one. Mark Danner predicted what we now understand as the Islamic State back in 2004. In a published essay, he basically outlined how the televised atrocities that emerged as Abu Gharib and Gitmo would serve to crystallize a mindset in radical Islam that would nurture a nationalist movement like the Islamic State.

Danner wasn’t the only one to have this epiphany. Nor was he the first.

In 2003, the thinkers at the Pentagon screened a film called The Battle of Algiers, an Italian film about the Algerian struggle for independence from the French. Often used as a recruitment tool by insurgent leaders, the film depicts how the French utilized tactics of brutality, false imprisonment and torture to extract information about resistance fighters who hid amongst the civilian population. The film was billed thus:

“How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.”

Apparently, what’s happening is only a surprise to the people who haven’t been paying very close attention. There is a South Park episode where Professor Chaos discovers that no matter how ingenious and dastardly his plan, it has in fact already happened on the Simpsons. History is sort of like that. It’s all gone down before.

To understand what is happening now, you have to go back a bit, at least as far as World War I. In those days, the Ottoman Empire encompassed what we now know as Turkey and Greater Syria (Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel). It was ruled by the Ottoman Sultan and he was called the Caliph of Islam. At the end of the war, France and England abolished the position of Caliph and divided the empire into territories and drew boundaries that simply looked good on paper. The kingdoms of Jordan and Iraq were promised as prizes to loyal local leaders. Lebanon was created as a haven for minorities that really didn’t work out too well. Turkey became Turkey and Israel came later.

The point is, the borders of the modern day Middle East were drawn by the French and English and based upon their own interests, as opposed to the natural state of social evolution that had been previously attained. By the end of World War II, when France and England were tired and hungry, they basically withdrew support from these countries and proclaimed, “Happy Independence Day, motherfuckers!” And there has been strife ever since.

ISIS is challenging these borders and, if history is of any indication, has designs on the aforementioned Greater Syria. What we are seeing are the early stages of the decolonization of the region. History teaches us that this process is often, in fact, very ugly. It’s worse, in this situation, simply due to the ugliness that kicked it to life. Assad’s destabilization during the Arab Spring was certainly a prerequisite to ISIS’s grab for territory, but the movement would not in fact exist were it not for the brutal tactics used by Westerners in the last decade. ISIS is an example of violent nationalism fueled by anger, hatred and revenge. And while certainly made up of men hardened from fighting the West and steeped in radical Islam, it attracts outsiders too. They are globally recruiting and enlisting the equivalent of ideological crusaders.

Even in Jersey.

A 74 year old German author named Jurgen Todenhofer spent ten days in Mosul and Raqqa with ISIS forces. Part of this time he spent in a recruitment facility. There, he met people from both New Jersey and the Caribbean. He also traveled extensively through the territory controlled by ISIS. Of course, his interactions were tightly controlled, but according to the Iraqi civilians, ISIS is no worse than Saddam, maybe better even. So far, no one from ISIS had used any mustard gas on anyone. The Syrian civilians he met seemed to prefer ISIS over the Assad regime, at least I got that feeling. But then again, the name Assad is associated with transforming towns to parking lots overnights, the people still inside, blood oozing through newly laid asphalt. Neither Assad nor Hussein ever set the bar particularly high.

Apparently if you’re a good God fearing Sunni Muslim, you are indeed, to use a beloved expression from the American Deep South, shitting in high cotton.

The civilians left in ISIS controlled territory are almost exclusively Sunni Muslims. If I’m mistaken, it’s only because some minority groups have thus far failed to leave and have not yet been exterminated. What’s happening is natural. It’s normal. Think back to the dissolution of Yugoslavia back in the 90s. I saw and smelled that shit firsthand. The Serbs needed Serbia something terrible but they had to pay for it. Same for the Croats and the rest. Think even further back to the fall of the USSR. Or look at Africa. Any of it. Places like Somalia have never even begun to recover.

The Sunni Muslims need a place to be. So do the Shia. And the Alawites. And the Orthodox Christian Arabs. And the Kurds. The thing is, these guys have to work all this shit out for themselves as it was devilishly mishandled outside intervention that formed the genesis of the problems we, and especially they, face today. The atrocities and ethnic cleansing we are exposed to in the media is simply the result of availability of media. This behavior is not out of character for what is occurring and only seems worse because we are able to see more of it on our computers and big assed 52″ flat screen televisions. Displacement is a consistently occurring effect of decolonization. You don’t separate previously integrated groups by sending invitations to refugee camps. You motivate unwelcome parties to flee by fucking them up. Like I said, everyone needs a place. As an unofficially Christian nation, however, it’s hard for people not to somehow take it personally when the news reports that ISIS has “beheaded 21 Orthodox Christians.”

That, in itself, makes me ask if someone wants us to take it personally. And why. But that’s another thing altogether.

Americans also seem to be as terrified of the concept of Sharia law as they are misinformed about it. The fear is righteous. Sharia is decidedly unfriendly to non Muslims. It is, however, a necessary element in social hierarchy of Islamic culture. Islam, fundamentally, is legalistic and lends itself in many ways to theocratic forms of government, which is how the Islamic State is trying to present itself. Arabic culture not only fails to place the value on democracy that westerners do, but they also fail to draw the sharp line between government and religion.

On a side note, I find it side splittingly funny that no one seems particularly bothered by the fact that the Saudis implement Sharia or by the way they go about it. The Saudis are, in fact, known for having a poor reputation regarding human rights. When a women’s school in Saudi Arabia catches fire in the night and the fleeing women are not appropriately covered, exit is barred by authorities. It’d be awful to burn to death because you couldn’t find your ninja mask when the smoke woke you in the night and the Jesus police barred the doors. We still trade with these savages. Does that make my sense of humor twisted?

If it weren’t for my twisted yet well read sense of humor, you’d never have known that really happened. And not so long ago. So there.

I’m curious to see how the events unfold this year. Much is at stake, on all sides. Western interests seem to be gambling on ISIS doing some or all of the heavy lifting when it comes to ousting the Assad regime and establishing a friendly government, essentially a sort of recolonization itself. The gamble is based on how hard it will be to control or oust ISIS after and if ISIS is able to rout Assad completely.

ISIS is, essentially, placing all of their eggs into one big ass sandbox and hoping like hell that sheer numbers do the trick when the bigger richer boys show up to play and bring tanks and trucks.

Again, this not the first time this has happened. Back in the first century BC, about sixty miles south of Rome proper, a gladiatorial training center was overrun by about 70 enslaved gladiators and all the Roman citizens involved in the operation were slaughtered.

For a year or two, this group looted and pillaged Roman towns, killing Romans and freeing slaves. Slaves jumped at the opportunity to join this small movement, which swelled to a force of over 70,000 by 71 BC. Up until this point, Rome had utterly refused to take seriously an uprising of slaves, deeming it only worthy of being handled by poorly trained and equipped local militias. A steady stream of victories against the poorly lead local forces bronzed the egos and courage of the resistance. And they actually thought they had a chance against Rome.

At that point, enough was enough. A rich asshole named Crassus was appointed to deal with the uprising. He engaged the army of slaves with a force of 40,000 highly trained, highly experienced Roman centurions and the army of Spartacus was wiped away forever like a turd on a wet wipe.

The moral is…you don’t fuck with Rome. Because Rome will fuck you up.

The fighting force that, essentially, is ISIS, seems to have evolved much in the same way as the army of Spartacus. ISIS is primarily lead by men freed from coalition fingernail factories. Guys who were dangerous and pissed off before being tortured and humiliated. Gladiators and slaves. Both groups utilize(d) similar personal demographics, those of people with a basic ideological need to resist what they perceive to be injustice.

Furthermore, they grew battle hardened and emboldened through successful military engagements against inferior forces, like the Roman citizen militias and the Iraqi army. In addition to increasing territory and available resources, shortsighted victories such as these boost morale and when human resources are available, recruitment numbers.

For Spartacus and his army of slaves, victory was in fact short lived and defeat was spelled out across the Roman countryside by men stapled to wooden crosses driven into the ground by their inevitable conquerors. So far, the only occupied crosses have been driven by ISIS themselves, but the new war is still young and Rome has not yet mobilized it’s more effective methods of extermination.

The only protection ISIS has, fundamentally, are the millions of non combatant civilians that they hide amongst to eat and sleep, and the fact that Rome has not yet been able to convince its citizens to foot the bill on a flat out Caesarian cleansing of the proverbial slate.

Not since Hiroshima at least.

This foul new year will indeed be a fine one for those who like to observe history as it happens, especially when it’s through a magic porthole in a living room, several thousand miles away. I can’t say that for those who see it first hand, but I’m sure they’ll be just as engrossed as I am.