Dancing On Their Graves: A Threnody for Warmongers
Treat war criminals with the disrespect and indignity they deserve. If we don't dance on their graves, then who will?
The Rise of Evil
Throughout history, there are periods when great evil has risen in positions of power, influence, and leadership in the world. Their names stain the annals of history as black marks on the spirit of humanity: Caligula, Julius Ceaser, Enver Pasha, Oliver Cromwell, Porfirio Diaz, Fu Sheng, Queen Mary I, Ivan The Terrible, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Maximilien Robespierre, Leopold II, Vlad the Impaler, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Idi Amin. Individuals who are remembered not for great deeds, but for great evil. Genocide, conquest, enslavement, war, and terror.
But in the post-Cold War era of modern humanity, the rise of the American hegemony in the name of global security has given rise to a new class of tyrants, and a new breed of evil. The American Politician. The elite ruling class of the wealthiest and most privileged nation in the history of humanity has had among its ranks a cult of warmongers so vile, that history would do well to remember them with fear and disgrace: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain. An exhaustive list would likely include an overwhelming majority of federal politicians and bureaucrats to have served in the past 50 years. Their appetite for death, destruction, domination, profit, and endless wars has left over a million dead, and millions more suffering.
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John McCain, the former US Navy Pilot, Prisoner of War, and US Senator from Arizona, died on August 25th, 2018. His career was hallmarked by backroom deals, bi-partisan lobbying, and constant promotion of his brand of patriotism in the form of what some called the “McCain Doctrine.” A policy of preemptive military action, and long-term occupation in the name of national security, McCain’s views became a driving force of US Foreign Policy during the Bush and Obama Administrations due to his influence in the US Senate. These policies, proudly championed and supported by McCain, led to the deaths of over a million people, with some estimates including over 500,000 children. Former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, referred to this cost as “Worth it.” With conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere around the globe, those dead, and the millions more displaced and harmed by the results of John McCain’s promoted policies deserve for him to be recognized as a war criminal, alongside many others complicit in the actions.
The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire has a proud anti-war streak. The activist members of the organization hold ending America’s interventions and foreign conflicts to be a top priority of their political activism. A group whose members include a disproportionate number of veterans of these conflicts, they know all too well the human costs of these wars, as they have seen the harm not only done overseas, but that has followed them home and plagued America’s veterans with mental health and physical ailments that are often disregarded by those who sent them off as cannon fodder. With no love for warmongers and a disdain for their memories of being heralded as heroes by neoconservatives and establishment politicians, the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire took to Twitter to celebrate the anniversary of McCain’s departure from politics, with a spicy take and intent to stir the pot.
The brash statement, “Happy Holidays” accompanying a picture of Meghan McCain crying over her father’s casket at his state funeral, sparked intense backlash and outrage on the internet. Why now? After all, LPNH and its members have been making crude jokes about McCain’s death for going on 4 years now. It’s become an annual tradition, and sometimes just something that’s done to fill the content calendar, and usually goes unnoticed and ignored, good for a few chuckles to the in-group, and largely ignored by those not already in our echo chamber.
This time, Meghan McCain herself finally took notice of the party. She took notice of my own jabs well over a year ago and has had me personally blocked on Twitter ever since, but this time around, she decided to quote-tweet the LPNH message with repeated calls for its condemnation. And the establishment media took their cues from the public figure, who has built her career as an author, tv personality, and political commentator on the coat tails of her father’s war crimes, serving as a mouthpiece, apologist, and advocate for his policies and his legacy. Right, and left alike, came together in a rare show of bipartisanship to condemn LPNH and its commentary, amplifying their message nationally, and forcing real conversations to be had, about McCain’s legacy of bloodshed and death.
Over the Target
To use an old fighter pilot adage in honor of the late Senator McCain, “If you’re taking flak, you’re over the target.” When Republicans and Democrats agree, it’s usually the American people who are getting fucked over, and when CNN and Fox agree, we’re all being lied to. The philosophies of libertarianism have always been on the fringes and outskirts of American politics, and in the post-9/11 21st century, anti-war sentiment has become increasingly fringe as well. The last vestiges of the anti-war left evaporated with the election of Barrack Obama and his continuation and expansion of Bush’s global war on terror. Libertarians alone have remained as the consistent and persistent voices opposing the military-industrial complex, and the politicians that feign disagreement while working together to perpetuate a world at constant war.
But much of the criticisms levied at LPNH and the tweet in question entirely missed the point and substance of the unspoken remarks. Even fellow Libertarians, such as Spike Cohen and Justin Amash condemned the move, as crass and disrespectful, saying that it was inappropriate to mock the grief of a daughter to make a statement about imperialism. But my take was that our shots at Meghan McCain aren’t about imperialism, but rather its consequences and the class divide between the fodder and the elite. It’s demanded of us, that we respect Meghan’s right to grieve her father in peace, and she’s privileged enough to make this demand while those left behind by her father’s victims are not. And she can’t be held as innocent in her father’s crimes either, as her entire career has been built on the coattails of his rise to power. She makes a living as an author, television personality, and political commentator, where she takes every advantage to promote, defend, advocate for and advance her father’s agenda in his memory, as a mouthpiece and apologist for the establishment’s ruling class. She has openly called for US Citizens to be held without trial as terrorists and has wished suffering and death upon journalists and whistle-blowers on live television.
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Not only is John McCain not a hero, but his daughter is also complicit in the continuation of his crimes. As a proxy for his political policy after his death, she has willfully taken up the mantle of his legacy and should be regarded with the same disdain normally reserved for her father’s ilk. She has openly, brazenly, and shamelessly used her father’s death for her own personal, financial, and political gain, so she deserves no sympathy should we decide to do the same.
Cue The Music
The death of tyrants is often celebrated by those they oppressed- from the celebrations and toppling of statues in Baghdad following the execution of Saddam Hussein to the remembrance of Hitler’s final days in film and media. Human beings are no strangers to hatred, and in their selfishness celebrate the deaths and suffering of those who oppressed and subjugated them. It’s hardly uncommon for the death of a foreign leader to be the objective of most liberating wars, think Osama bin Laden, or Slobodan Milosevic, as the death of a tyrant symbolizes consequences for their tyranny.
In Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 classic The Great Dictator, his character finds himself to be a doppelganger unwittingly mistaken for and swapped places with the fictionalized caricature of Adolf Hitler. In a position on the brink of war and asked to motivate the troops, he instead calls for peace and gives a rousing speech about the bonds of tyranny, in which he reminds us that tyrants are mere men, and liberty is eternal.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together
The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all
Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people
To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress
The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people
And so long as men die, liberty will never perish
Don't give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel!
Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder
Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts!
-Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator (1940)
So why should we not celebrate the deaths of those who have done such great evil? Why should we not come together, and ridicule their lives as the stains on the spirit of humanity they were? Should we allow those who have cost so many so much to rest peacefully in dignity? Or should we shame them, mock them, ridicule their ideas, and dance on their graves?
In a blog post inspired by the controversy, Caitlin Johnstone wrote about how the ridicule of warmongers (she uses the term war sluts) is a good thing and a healthy thing for the world. Along with other criticisms of the US Government, she said:
The reason it's good and important to celebrate the deaths of war sluts who facilitated mass military slaughter is because it helps bring clarity and proportionality to the horrors of war. You're making it clear that John McCain's victims matter more than his daughter's feelings.
The fact that celebrating the death of war criminals is met with outrage is itself evidence that it's something that needs to be done. If the public is so blind to the horrors of war that politeness is seen as a higher priority, those horrors need consciousness brought to them.
Caitlin Johnstone, Celebrating John McCain's Death Is Good, Actually: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix
When asking why we feel the need to dance on the graves of others and lower ourselves to the disrespectful and unprofessional level of mockery and derision, we’re not asking the right question. The real question is- If we don’t dance on the graves of war criminals, then who will? In a tweet I posted in response to criticism of LPNH, I said, “Treat war criminals with the disrespect and indignity they deserve. You don’t have to be the bigger person. Cruelty alone can convey the level of vitriol these tyrants deserve. Dance on their graves, because their victims can’t.” I stand by these words, and I mean them from the bottom of my heart. Respect for our fellow man is fundamental to harmonious liberty, but when our fellow man makes it his business to destroy, murder, and cause such great harm that he is to be remembered as one of the great evils to have ever lived, then he deserves nothing but hatred, and that is what he shall find.
I find no shame in this course, no regret, and no sympathy for the McCain family. The only pause I have is to reconsider the merit of allying with those who believe that mass murderers should be treated with dignity. To those asking us to recant, delete the tweet and apologize, I ask you what side you’re really on. We don't, and will never, respect warmongers, their mouthpieces and apologists, or those who admire them and seek their approval. If finding a seat at the table of those who do evil is how you plan to change the world, then we may not be fighting the same fight after all.
Subversive #83: “The Edge of The Knife: A Discussion on Messaging Strategy for the Libertarian Party” feat. Eric Cordova
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The Edge or The Point, which is more important to keep in mind when wielding a knife on social media? Is the bold and radical messaging strategy of the Mises Caucus hurting the Libertarian Party, or is it reigniting a long-lost base of support from the larger movement as a whole? Eric Cordova, vice chair of the Libertarian Party of Queens county, joins Justin for a conversation about messaging, drama, and the social media shakeup that is The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.
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