Lemmingly, We Roll Along

Exclusive: When soldiers die, the politicians who sent them to their deaths typically use euphemisms, words like “fallen” or “ultimate sacrifice.” On one level, the avoidance of blunt language may be seen as a sign of respect, but on another, it is just one more evasion of responsibility, as Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

There has been unusually wide (and for the most part supportive) reaction to my article of Aug, 7 on Afghanistan, “More U.S. Soldiers Die in Vain,” which was picked up by other websites as well.

One comment described a cartoon and struck me as particularly, if sadly, apt: “Two lemmings were chatting while standing in the line to the cliff. One says to the other, ‘Of course we have to go over the edge. Anything else would dishonor all the lemmings that have gone before us.’”

And so it goes, thought I, with our Lemming-in-Chief (LIC) Barack Obama and those who lemmingly follow him.

The President’s and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s words about the 30 dead soldiers, including members of the elite Seal Team 6, were carefully chosen, but bore the telltale earmarks of “the Lemming Syndrome.”

“We will honor the fallen by showing our unyielding determination to press ahead to move forward with the hard work,” said Panetta on Aug. 8.

President Obama also stressed how “our troops will continue the hard work. We will press on.” There was also much talk about how the troops were “lost.”

Gosh, I thought, I did not know that the 30 U.S. troops were just “lost” or that they had simply “fallen.” Sounds like maybe we can still find them and help them get up when the hard truth is that they’re dead.

Frequent references to the helicopter having “crashed” also played down the details of why the troops had “fallen.” I thought I’d read somewhere that the helicopter “crashed” because it was shot down by folks who do not like American troops making middle-of-the-night raids all over their country.

These unhappy folks are usually described as “militants” or, in a sad reflection on the primitive level of the war discussion in the U.S. news media, simply as “bad guys.”

Perhaps others of my (Vietnam) generation are hearing what I hear, the plaintive lyrics of the song, “When Will They Ever Learn?” More descriptive of such times, then and now, are the words Pete Seeger put to music during a large lemming infestation 44 years ago: “We were neck-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push on.” Pete Seeger, 1967

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. An Army Infantry/Intelligence officer in the early Sixties, he then serves as an analyst of the CIA for 27 years.  He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

5 comments for “Lemmingly, We Roll Along

  1. August 22, 2011 at 11:28

    Another great column. Unfortunately, our national political leaders are leading the country astray, yet again. How many fools of both political parties continue to represent us in Congress decade after decade? I see that other leaders of other countries are referred to as reckless and dangerous, yet President Bush 43, one of our most reckless and dangerous presidents makes millions of dollars annually giving “speeches”, no doubt about democracy and freedom, something he is ill-equipped to know or understand. As long as a president like Bush 43 is praised and rewarded and not condemned by the nation, we will continue to stumble along making mistakes by the minute, hour and day.

  2. Kelley
    August 21, 2011 at 03:10

    You do the math: it’s all about the numbers.

    As I see it, there is no hope for change unless there is a Democratic primary challenger for 2012. Ron Paul would stop the wars, but the Fawning Corporate Media pretend he doesn’t exist. And, I’m not sure he wouldn’t unwittingly work toward further corporatization and continued dismantling of our middle class. We pay for Social Security and Medicare, they’re not ‘entitlements’. Warren Buffet has been referred to as, “Some kind of socialist” by the FCM, indicating the typical manner in which linguistic tricks are used to “dumb down” the masses. Michelle Bachmann thinks the Soviet Union is still a threat, and wants someone to look into who in our legislature might be, “Un-American”.

    As we approach the end of George W. Bush’s 3rd term, we shouldn’t be embracing the ‘vote for the lesser of two evils’ strategy. On the right, one fruitcake after the other has emerged. They would all fall like a house of cards if it weren’t for the ‘progressive’ perception that we have been duped. They’re probably willing to vote for a Ron Paul as a protest vote. That solid block of right-wingnut Dominionists who would vote for Bachmann or Perry turn out in predictably high numbers. As I recall, they are about 20 percent of the population, and only 45 percent of our population voted in the last election. So, if my math is right, the Republican nominee already has 44 percent of the votes before we even know who it is. It only takes 7 percent of disgruntled or undecided voters to jump the fence, and the wing-nuts have it.

    If we don’t want the President in whom we invested our hope and our dreams to fail, we must encourage him to re-embrace in a tangible way those values we thought he embraced when we voted him into office. The only way to do that is to challenge him with a primary election. We are now involved in more simultaneous conflicts abroad than the Roman Empire ever could imagine. By all accounts outside the FCM, Ghaddafi is winning against NATO. And, there is talk of more wars. Campaign slogans? Sure, it’s the economy, stupid, but I think maybe, “You do the math” might be a better one.

  3. August 20, 2011 at 20:29

    Just How Gutless/Stupid/Sick Do We Have to Be To Do It to Ourselves?

    German High Court Outlaws Electronic Voting
    Wednesday, 21 October 2009, 9:45 am

    Hacking Democracy – 90 minutes of proof the vote is fixed on multiple levels.

    City of New Orleans, LA & 36 Other State’s Elections Fixed? http://www.thepriceofliberty.org/06/07/17/ward.htm

  4. August 20, 2011 at 11:30

    I agree – except on the use of “lemmings,” though I suppose there is no way to stuff that expression back in the bag. The lemming claim is about as true as Adam being created from clay and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.

    That lemmings supposedly committed mass suicide by following leaders across waters where they all drowned is adeliberate lie, committed by Disney “documentarians” as part of their animal story line. There is a famous scene where these lemmings jump over a cliff into the deep water and swim to their eventual doom. They never did any such thing. The film makers created the scene.

    The film makers constructed a whirling table at the top of their “cliff” and set the camera just below. Then, on top, where the camera didn’t see it, the film makers threw the poor lemmings onto the turn table which caused the lemmings to come flying off the camera side, giving the impression that they were jumping off a cliff. After that they added a scene where they stuck the lemmings in the water to swim and told us that the animals were swimming out to open water and never reach land but would drown instead.

    Actually, the true story of the lemming film, the construction of the lie, is perhaps a better match for the lies we’ve been told than the concept of lemmings following leaders to doom, regularly. As with the making of the lemming “doc” it is the humans doing the lemming bit, not the lemmings, who have more sense.

  5. bobzz
    August 20, 2011 at 01:02

    We send our “boys” and now our “girls” to fight for Exxon, the banks, the military industrial complex, etc. We call them heros—until they come home. Far too many of them bringing their PTSD with them. Shattered minds. Shattered bodies. Can’t find jobs; can’t find rehabilitation; throw ’em on the dump. Homes foreclosed. Struggling to hold marriages together too often not succeeding. Suicides up. How many of these volunteers are unsophisticated kids from small towns who end up in the military because they can’t find jobs? It’s a mess all right.

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