Bob Smith, Hipographia
“I’m kind of sick of celebrities who go around hugging and entertaining the troops without realizing they’re also selling the wars.”
GARY SINISE is one of those actors who seems to believe that actively “supporting the troops,” doing morale-boosting tours in the warzones where the Empire has deployed them, is the right and patriotic thing to do. Sinise of course hardly invented this kind of exhibition. Actors performing for the troops is an old tradition going back at least to the Spanish-American war. In the 1950s Bob Hope and his generation practically recreated the schtick, perfected it into a regular act, with theme and all. Now America is not alone in sending entertainers to war theaters, the Germans and Japanese did it too, among others, but as usual America does it with far more fanfare, its production values are way more elaborate. And, for a very long time, thanks to Hollywood and television it can tap on celebrities with global appeal.
In any case, Hope and other celebrities of the “old school” could be forgiven for their wish to entertain what soon became our imperial troopers fighting wars of “counterinsurgency” in remote places most Americans never heard of. (Please don’t call them “warriors”—an adulatory term favored by the system’s whores and those who still believe in fairytales.)
After all, the postwar period up until the 1970s was a far more credulous time, and America hadn’t “lost her innocence” yet. But a lot has happened since then, so Sinise and his generation have much less of an excuse in lending their name to the newly-minted American crusades without doing some serious diligence.
“Lifechanging” experience, they say
Sinise apparently had a”lifechanging experience” after meeting some vets with terrible wounds who seemed to bear their personal tragedy with unusual good cheer. There are such types, of course, but in my opinion far fewer than the media would let us believe. It’s just human. People with ghastly wounds, mental and physical, with uncertain economic prospects, plus a load of other challenges impeding a successful reintegration, do not tend as a rule to be bundles of joy. Homelessness and unemployment are constant companions for a significant percentage of vets. And while this probably represents questions of class that preceded enlistment, in this milieu bitterness and depression, often leading to alcoholism and drug abuse, are common. But perhaps the saddest part may be that so many of these broken bodies remain clueless as to the real purposes for which they were put in harm’s way.
Still, whatever their motivations or state of mind a number of vets have come to regard Sinise as a man on their side, an able spokesperson for their cause due to his (admittedly) smashing performance as a badly mutilated Vietnam vet (“Lt. Dan”) in the classic Forrest Gump. So Sinise does feel an obligation.
But these are obligations that can easily cut both ways. Indeed, because of the obvious propaganda fallout, beneficial to the warmongers, we only wish that instead of falling like a dolt for the notion that “showing support for the troops” at a time of war—immoral and criminal wars at that—had no repercussions, Sinise had bothered to talk to people like Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Mr. Bush’s wars, or Robert Mueller or Ron Kovic, badly wounded vets from Vietnam who eventually became outspoken opponents of our new “wars of choice”. And the possible witnesses do not end there. Many vets from the current crop of illegal mayhem abroad could have straightened Sinise out mighty quick about the nature of these wars.
By way of summation
It’s disgraceful that at this late hour, otherwise smart and sensitive people like Sinise still don’t get it that “supporting the troops” —a stance so eagerly fostered by media whores and politicians— needs to be clearly and decidedly separated from an endorsement of this country’s endless conflicts. Fact is, Sinise would serve our people in uniform infinitely better if he fought to keep them out of needless wars that protect no one, except the super wealthy interests that organize and sell such profitable expeditions.
Bob Smith is former soldier and antiwar activist residing in Portland.