Veteran Idols

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[Non-Stop Spoilers]

A dear friend of mine stated that the won’t go see Non-Stop because conservative media is in a froth because the bad guy is a 911 family member and a military veteran.  His position is that our servicemen deserve better treatment than that.  We shouldn’t make movies portraying them as villains.

So why am I making an entire post about this?

Reason 1: Idolatry!

I’m sorry, I know and dearly love many veterans of the armed forces.  I have also met many of them behind bars, or on parole or probation for various felonies.  Lee Harvery Oswald was a military veteran.  So was Colin Powell.  Veterans have done an admirable thing that is worthy of respect by serving our country.  I will not discount that.

Nor will I make them holy in my sight, since only God is holy.  Veterans can lie, steal, and as happens in this movie, go absolutely nucking futz.  There are even specially built prisons where we put the criminals who are servicemen and women.  So here in reality, people are people.  Those who have donned the uniform and put their lives on the line, or served in peacetime or in support capacities, have earned respect.

It is wrong to worship or idolize them.  When saying something against a veteran or putting one in the role of villain is some sort of blasphemy, this is an indicator that we have gone too far.  This violates the First Commandment, it does not honor God to make something other than him holy.  It does not honor our servicemen.  Even the most honorable men, if we place them in a position with no accountability or responsibility, are in danger.  Even King David fell when he was the war hero beyond approach or accountability.

I will never put that burden on my friends who have honored our country with their service.  When we make idols of our fellow human beings we harm ourselves, and harm the other.

“There is nothing so good that you cannot turn it into a devil by worshiping it.” -Evan Hartshorn

2] Sometimes it is appropriate to story and world that the military function in the role of bad guys.  I have a history textbook from my grandfather’s time, written in 1905.  It still carries the dehumanizing racist descriptions of American Indians that survived from the Indian Wars.  The term used was still “Savages,” and no matter how horrifying I found it, it did teach me a lot about the interactions between dehumanization and predation in human military and political history.

This comes up in my work in progress, Giant’s Rage.  My protagonists are Fallen/Nephilim.  They are half-demon superheroes who are good because they choose to be and thanks to the redemptive power of Christ.  Now, in all fairness, since most of the Fallen run around keyed in to their supercharged sinful natures, there is every reason for national security types to see them as an immense and immediate threat.

IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) tragedies happen often enough in military circles that they are a thing.  These days, with the UN sticking highly toxic and inefficient hands in every pie that won’t shoot the hand off, it is called Blue-on-Blue. [My apologies.  One of those veterans I mentioned has edumacated [sic] me that the origins of the term does not have to do with the UN.  Yes, it is still called Blue-on-Blue, and yes, the UN is highly toxic and inefficient, but the blue-helmeted people and the blue phrase are not, it seems, causally linked.  I reserve the right to still think it ironic.]

This isn’t just an idea of mine.  In the (predominantly liberal) comic book culture military threats are a theme.  Super powered people have the potential to do a lot of harm, otherwise Superman and the X-Men would get a lot more work gardening and landscaping than they do.  But if you were a government, how could you differentiate between the human-looking super-werewolves who protect people and the human-looking super-werewolves who don’t?  This isn’t a comic book where they get special colored fur because they have decided to fight for the side of the angels.

There are good stories here, and in book 3 of The Trials of Adrian Campbell I am going to take a swipe at them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no interest in writing the standard liberal claptrap that is as knee-jerk as it was brain dead.  There are no Japanese American Internment camps without a reason (like how in World War II Japanese American spies helped feed Japan much of the information used to plan the attack on Pearl Harbor, a fact that liberal-run public schools leave out in the rush to prove how racist America is).  I will never write a testosterone-imbalanced general who shouts “Chesty Puller!” before dropping napalm on civilians.  I grew up immediately after the Vietnam war and had to choke on these overused stereotypes my whole childhood, except I never bought into them.

And it is all the more difficult when the threat is real.  In the Trials of Adrian Campbell there really are biker gangs of werewolves who could eat your whole town.  If you have a family of Amish folks who can turn into 12-foot-tall bulletproof giants, what are they going to do when you try to haul their twenty-something son off at gunpoint?  Are they wrong?  Is the government?  Not only are these legitimate story questions but relevant ones to an American landscape where politicians repeatedly offer to take more of our freedom and rights and promise us that it will make us safer.

If a genuinely confused intelligence snafu sends armed men to shoot your next door neighbors, whom you know to be innocent, and you have the power to stop them… what do you do?  Where is the line?

The great thing about fiction is that we get an opportunity to ask the questions with imaginary people, imaginary bullets, and imaginary fallout.

But only if we lay down our knee-jerk idolatries and take a risk for a good story.  “My country, always right.” is just as false an idea as the currently popular “America is always the problem” I heard endlessly stated or implied at Bemidji State University.  We aren’t going to stop the liberal version of that error by being just as knee-jerk to the other side.

So those are some of my thoughts, what are yours?

PS.  I don’t stress about the bad guy in Non-Stop because whoever wrote his ending dialogue put together such a logically inconsistent pile of nonsense it is hard to even track, much less tack on to the genuine military or a particular outlook.  Anyone dumb enough to think the imaginary terrorist in Non-Stop has anything to do with a real serviceman, the Republicans, or the Tea Party already drinks the Cool-Aid and there is no great loss.


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