Thursday, May 27, 2004

On the poverty draft

Both Lynndie England and Jessica Lynch are from small towns in West Virginia, and issues of class are gaining more attention. Philip Weiss of the New York Observer notes that “there is something condescending and unconvincing about the portrayals of the poor people who are fighting the war for the rest of us.” He also writes:

The poverty draft reflects the great divide in the new economy. The college-educated would regard it as a waste if their children were to join the military. No, they must be trained to the highest degree for participation in the global economy. Meanwhile, high risk can be outsourced, to the new immigrant from Guatemala or the ghetto kid who can’t find employment….

There’s got to be a better way to define citizenship. Representative Rangel served (and froze) in Korea, and while he didn’t see the mission that time either, he has never forgotten the democratic lessons the military taught him: "We had the ability then to bring people of different classes and races together, and force their asses to respect each other."

The Iraq war has replaced that sense of a democratic collective with disrespect for those who can’t participate in the new economy. And don’t think that the citizens of Arab oligarchies don’t see that. We like to think that we’re exporting democracy. So far we’re exporting ruthless capitalism.

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