Henry Rollins: Dead Children in Afghanistan
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
I use music to keep my life in check. Really, I do. I can get through almost any tough situation if I have the right soundtrack.
I become genuinely excited when I find out about a new release. I often pre-order the record or petition the label for an advance copy. Music -- listening, acquiring, discovering, the facts, the history, the minutiae -- it never gets old. I have been hooked in this way since I was teenage. I would like to think that I'm only getting warmed up.
Music helps me to fortify myself against the often depressingly grim realities the state of things currently offers.
In many ways, America is on the receiving end of a pendulum that has been swung with great force, and for a long time, outward into the world. The impact is a wake-up call on every level. Domestically and internationally, things are getting all shook up. Bills are coming due, minorities are not as minor as they used to be and a country that is historically resistant to change is changing. It's the same old God, gays and guns stuff but, unfortunately for those sincerely and generationally invested in the past and the oppression of others, it is becoming the hardest possible thing to sell to the texting generation. These aging Amerikaners are not taking the whole equality thing well.
All the while, society's tectonic plates are ceaselessly shifting underneath. More is being shown and known. The actual ingredients of the American way are sometimes rather awful.
With high-definition clarity, Americans and the rest of the world can access images of dead children in Afghanistan. Understandably, many recoil in anger and disgust. As Americans, we are often tasked with cognitive dissonance as normal operating procedure. We are horrified at the thought of America being the killer of children, yet we also know that America has been killing kids all over the world for a very long time. Can this be stopped? Of course. You. Just. Stop.
But apparently, "we" can't, and for this, we pay. For every child killed by American ordnance in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq (at least), a ceremonial marker should be placed on the lawn of the White House. Every Easter, visiting children can hunt for brightly colored eggs amidst the markers. President Obama, a Nobel laureate and father, should be just fine with that. In front of the newly built George W. Bush Library should be a veterans memorial wall with all the names of the fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq, including all the post-deployment suicides.
Of course, nothing like this will ever happen. It would be too much for America's collective stomach.