by Kathie MM
“Dementia is progressive loss of cognitive function, marked by memory problems and confused thinking.” Although Psychology Today claims that the “most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease, a fatal condition that affects more than 5 million Americans,” there are much more serious and more widespread forms of memory disorder with extremely high mortality rates.
I am referring here to the disease that John Dower labels “Memory Loss in the Garden of Violence: How Americans Remember (and Forget) Their Wars.” Dower attributes selective memory loss regarding the country’s role in deadly wars to “victim consciousness.”
To illustrate, he says: “Certain traumatic historical moments such as ‘the Alamo’ and ‘Pearl Harbor’ have become code words…for reinforcing the remembrance of American victimization at the hands of nefarious antagonists. Thomas Jefferson and his peers actually established the baseline for this in the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, which enshrines recollection of ‘the merciless Indian Savages’ — a self-righteous demonization that turned out to be boilerplate for a succession of later perceived enemies. ‘September 11th’ has taken its place in this deep-seated invocation of violated innocence.”
In his powerful essay, Dower provides appalling evidence of U.S. “terror bombing” around the world. Regarding the Korean War, he quotes General Curtis LeMay, who acknowledges, “We burned down just about every city in North and South Korea both… We killed off over a million civilian Koreans and drove several million more from their homes…”
As for the infamous war in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), Dower comments, “’targeting’ everything that moved’ was virtually a mantra among U.S. fighting forces, a kind of password that legitimized indiscriminate slaughter.”
Dower also diagnoses the current symptoms of saber-rattling between the U.S. and North Korea, suggesting, “To Americans and much of the rest of the world, Kim Jong-un seems irrational, to say the least. Yet in rattling his miniscule nuclear quiver, he is really joining the long-established game of ‘nuclear deterrence,’ and practicing what is known among American strategists as the ‘madman theory’…. most famously associated with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger during the Vietnam War, but in fact. .. more or less imbedded in U.S. nuclear game plans.”
My prescription for treatment: Let’s work on developing an antidote to the dementia enshrouding the country’s military aggression and spreading symptoms of victimization and self-justifying heroism regarding its aggression—from the genocide of Native Americans in yesteryear to today’s bloody flag waving.