Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Deadly Urban Warriors

As BushCo claims its turf in Iraq, a serious threat preoccupies those whose job it is to defend civilization:

The Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings and Vice Lords were born decades ago in Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. Now, their gang graffiti is showing up 6,400 miles away in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods -- Iraq. Armored vehicles, concrete barricades and bathroom walls all have served as canvasses for their spray-painted gang art....

Of paramount concern is whether gang-affiliated soldiers' training will make them deadly urban warriors when they return to civilian life and if some are using their access to military equipment to supply gangs at home, said Barfield and other experts....

Barfield said Army recruiters eager to meet their goals have been overlooking applicants' gang tattoos and getting waivers for criminal backgrounds.
And why not? This is very neat economic logic: Send black and Latino criminals to wage war in Iraq, and you dispense with several figures of racial menace at once. Gang members are desperate, angry, violent, and uneducated enough to be ideal recruits for today's volunteer army; to borrow a stock phrase from an intimately related current issue, they do the work that most Americans don't want to do.

But as the war turns sour, we're increasingly prone to worry (an all-consuming habit that is to our culture what prayer was to that of the Puritans). What if these soldiers blame America for what they saw and suffered in Iraq? What if they turn the killing techniques they've learned against us? What if they convert to Islam while they're over there, and form sleeper cells? What if they channel weapons to our enemies?

A black or Latino gang member who gets gunned down in Iraq can safely be designated a hero, and forgotten. The same soldier, if he comes back to America, will be an eternal suspect:
"They're not here for the red, white and blue. They're here for the black and gold," he said, referring to the gang colors of the Latin Kings.
Meanwhile, Shelby Steele frets that "white guilt" has tied our hands when it comes to fighting our enemies. As he sees it, when we gave up "white supremacy as a source of moral authority" (we never really did, of course, but let's pretend), we compromised our ability to mow down "mud people" (like Shelby himself) with the calm detachment proper to the √úbermensch.

The fact that feelings of guilt often provide the perfect psychological impetus for "preemptive" violence against the wronged party doesn't seem to have occurred to Steele, even though it explains seemingly disparate GOP policies quite nicely.

There are other gangs in the U.S. military, by the way.
Barfield...has linked white soldiers to racist groups such as the Aryan Nations.
But for some reason, they aren't quite as worrisome as the black and Latino gangs. As always, white criminality and fanaticism is individualized, and seen as an exception. What blacks do, however, reflects badly on all of them; either they're loose cannons themselves, or they're in secret sympathy with the criminals. You just can't trust them...not even when they're fighting to "protect" you.

That said, the way in which gang leaders cynically exploit the human need for a tribalist sense of belonging, in order to seize and claim "turf" that will advance their own economic interests, is certainly reprehensible. God only knows where they got the idea.

4 comments:

Kate said...

When S was in Afghanistan, he saw a soldier at Baghram with an electronic monitor around his ankle. Freedom granted if you're willing to carry a rifle (for the government, that is).

I have to say that if more Latin Kings end up in Iraq I won't be too upset about it. They keep tagging our garage and it's really pissing me off. That spray paint crap is hard to remove!

Phila said...

I have to say that if more Latin Kings end up in Iraq I won't be too upset about it. They keep tagging our garage and it's really pissing me off. That spray paint crap is hard to remove!

But aren't you afraid they'll come back from Iraq equipped with bleeding-edge military tagging technologies? What if they start burning their tags into your garage with lasers?

The thing about Baghram is creepy. Is it possible he was wearing the monitor as part of a punishment for being AWOL (or something)? Or was he definitely let out of jail to fight "Islamofascism"?

Kate said...

Phila, dear, I was being facetious! Not about how difficult it is to remove spray paint from vinyl siding, but about how great it would be if more gangbangers made their way to Iraq. Having been born in, and lived most of my life in, the city that invented gangs, and after three years living in New Orleans when it was the murder capital of the US, it's safe to say I'd rather our criminals didn't get any more training in the ways of urban warfare.

The Sun-Times story shows how completely and utterly lost the military is right now. Run by a bunch of yahoos, and unable to get people to sign up for an unpopular war with no chance for honor in a fight against anonymous, hidden enemy who use remote-fired bombs as their main weapon, the military has lowered their standards so severely that only the dregs or economically desperate are staying in or signing up. Ugh.

No, there's no chance that guy was in trouble for going AWOL, especially since there's nowhere to go AWOL to in Afghanistan. He was definitely on house arrest or whatever back in the states. Think how many like him are in Iraq. Criminals fighting in a criminal war. It makes sense, I guess.

Phila said...

Phila, dear, I was being facetious!

I know...I was too!

the military has lowered their standards so severely that only the dregs or economically desperate are staying in or signing up. Ugh.

Signing up, maybe. But I'd think there must be plenty of decent people who are staying in 'cause they're trapped, for whatever reason.

He was definitely on house arrest or whatever back in the states. Think how many like him are in Iraq. Criminals fighting in a criminal war. It makes sense, I guess.

Jeez, that's really nightmarish.

Ultimately, though, I guess I don't really care how people ended up over there. I just hope they make it back alive, and get whatever help they need once they're here.

I gotta say, I have far more compassion for a gang member who ends up in Baghdad, whatever his reasons, than for any of the fightin' keyboarders. I'd just as soon bring the gang leaders back, and ship out Captain Ed, Glenn Reynolds, Ben Domenech, Jonah Goldberg, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of those fucking cowards. Gangs do far less damage to society than those clowns, when you come right down to it.