Killers in the Classroom
By Dr. June Scorza Terpstra
During a heated debate in a class I teach on social justice, several US Marines who had done tours in Iraq told me that they had “sacrificed” by “serving” in Iraq so that I could enjoy the freedom to teach in the USA. Parroting their master’s slogan about “fighting over there so we don’t have to fight over here”, these students proudly proclaimed that they terrorized and killed defenseless Iraqis. They intimated that their Arab victims are nothing more to them than collateral damage, incidental to their receipt of some money and an education.
A room full of students listened as a US Marine told of the invasion of Baghdad and Falluja and how he killed innocent Iraqis at a check point. He called them “collateral damage” and said he had followed the “rules”. A Muslim-American student in front of him said “I could slap you but then you would kill me”. A young female Muslim student gasped “I am a freshman; I never thought to hear of this in a class. I feel sick, like I will pass out.”
I knew in that moment that this was what the future of teaching about justice would include: teaching war criminals who sit glaring at me with hatred for daring to speak the truth of their atrocities and who, if paid to, would disappear, torture and kill me. I wondered that night how long I really have in this so called “free” country to teach my students and to be with my children and grandchildren.
The American military and mercenary soldiers who “sacrificed” their lives did not do so for the teacher’s freedom to teach the truth about the so-called war on terror, or any of US history for that matter. They sacrificed their lives, limbs and sanity for money, some education and the thrills of the violence for which they are socially bred. Sacrificing for the “bling and booty” in Iraq or Afghanistan, The Philippines, Grenada, Central America, Mexico, Somalia, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of the other numerous wars and invasions spanning US history as an entity and beginning with their foundational practice of killing the Indians and stealing their land.
Many of the classes that I teach now include students who “served” in the US military and security corporations. There are also many students who intend to join the US military upon completion of a degree because with the degree they get a bigger “sign on” bonus of ten to fifty thousand dollars. Their position is supported by many of the student body, who, vegetating according to the American Plan, believe they should “support their troops”. The excuses that they give for joining or intending to join the US military terrorist training camps are first and foremost motivated by a desire for money. One student proudly said that he is willing to kill for money, a better standard of living and an education. Another student, who had done two tours of duty to the Empire in Iraq, justified killing and torture, citing the importance of staying on top as the world’s number one super power so that his family could have the highest standard of living and unlimited access to the world’s oil supplies.
Yet another soldier-student said that there would always be wars and someone had to do it. The”it” is killing, rape, and plunder for profit. Some of the soldier-students agreed that military terrorism was thrilling. Stopping and killing people at checkpoints in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in the USA was worth the risk of being killed or maimed. Little did they know that the very education they would kill for could include a course on social justice in which they would be compelled to examine their motives, beliefs and actions in an evil, illegal, immoral and unjust invasion and occupation of a people who never hurt or harmed them or any of their fellow citizens.
To be fair, in this week’s discussion in class there was some mention that some of the student’s intentions had been honorable at the time that they joined the military. They wanted to “help other people”. A few woman students who want to join the military commented that they would be working to “free and defend” people here and abroad. However, for the most part and by their own admission, personal financial gain was their main focus in signing on. Their bottom line was getting the money and their thrills by joining and belonging to the biggest terrorist organization in the world, the USA.
What appears to trouble the soldier student is that the rhetoric of fighting for freedom and democracy is a lie that cannot blanket the horror and guilt of their terrorism. They do not want to hear that participation in invasion and occupation, murder and pillaging, is logically inconsistent with any legitimate concept of freedom or liberation. They know the greed and programmed lust for violence that motivates them. They expect that if they can make it out alive, they get some money, a comfortable lifestyle and an education. Their plan is to secure the oil, the diamonds, the gold, the water, the guns, the drugs, and the bling for their masters, who they hope will cut them in on the swag. They say that someone has to be on top and they want to be on the side of the strong, not the weak. Robbing Hoods, not Robin Hoods.
Read the rest here.