Category Archives: Jihad

Deconstructing Zionism, Pt. I

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if you will it, it is no dream

The Jews are probably the most hated group of people on the planet, and to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, any people that is so widely hated must be doing something wrong. Now, I don’t think that Kissinger’s view is necessarily correct. Jesus was hated in his time, and so was Socrates. But whether we’re right or wrong to be hated, there is much to be said for how one deals with being hated; and a great deal of the rightness or wrongness of being hated can be measured there.

So how do the Jews deal with being hated? We demand acceptance. We castigate others as immoral for not liking us, and feel deeply entitled as victims to validation and moral support. There can be no greater accomplishment for Israel than to simply be acknowledged as existing, by Chad or Honduras or some Egyptian TV presenter. This is absolutely pathetic. North Korea has more self-respect.

When the Arabs bury their war dead, they own their choices by declaring that the fallen died on account of Islam. When Israelis bury their war dead, they say the exact same thing. Muslims take the initiative; Jews just keep having things happen to them. The Arabs have martyrs; the Jews have victims—and victims are always on the defensive. When the French lost Alsace and Lorraine, they resolved to “remember it always and speak of it never.” In contrast, it is doubtful that Israel can ever shut up about all its massacres and humiliations, which it fetishizes and nurses its children on. It’s disgusting.

Of course there are many trends and factions in Zionism, and many different personality types in Israel. But as with my prior essay series on Judaism, the question is, what is the general tendency? Well… Who is Zionism’s most representative personality? It’s not Joseph Trumpeldor or Imi Lichtenfeld. It’s Jared Kushner, or Rahm Emmanuel. They may not be the most powerful Jews in America, but they’re the best exemplars of how Jewish power in America functions, and Jewish power in America is more fundamental to Zionism than anything that goes on in Israel.

Not long ago, fashionable liberals believed Israel to be a jackbooted anachronism in a liberalizing world. I was a proponent of the corollary view that Israel is based and redpilled for a long time. But I was wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: it would be more accurate to say that Israel is to the liberal world order what Prussia once was to the Holy Alliance.

The goal of late-stage liberalism is to advance “progress” across a theoretically limitless field of human backwardness. The goal of Zionism is to secure the existence of the Jewish people against a theoretically limitless field of outside hostility. Like the enemies of Hamlet or Big Brother, these ideologies’ adversaries are everywhere and nowhere at once. Efforts to ferret them out and crush them must constantly be redoubled. The conclusion each one must eventually reach is that might makes right. And like late-stage liberalism, which functions in machiavellian fashion as its adherents go around preaching human rights, Zionism asserts in the same breath both that Israel has a non-contingent moral “right to exist,” and that its contingent, amoral strength is its ultimate justification.


make up your mind dude

Like a man, there comes a time in the life of any regime or ideology when potentialities are null, and what you see is what you get. What we see with Zionism is a regime that cannot sustain itself without plundering and subjecting a foreign civilian population to permanent martial law. We see a state complicit in the destruction of entire nations (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen) as a matter of its most intrinsic long-term strategy. We see a culture obsessed with victimhood, “remembrance,” and death. We see a people that believes it has special dispensation from morality, with a clandestine orientation to the outside world that is by turns vindictive and pathetic. We see an ideology that increasingly cannot tolerate criticism, because its conscience is not clean. screen-shot-2020-11-29-at-11.02.39-am

Zionism once promised a “new Jewish man,” but after seventy-two years of Zionism the Jew, and the Jewish Israeli, is every bit the specially protected creature his forbear was in medieval Europe, subject to occasional massacres as a matter of course. Where once the relationship of hofjude to crown was the thread by which the community’s safety swung, today the country is dependent on billionaire surrogates pulling strings in foreign capitals. Zionism has accomplished a great deal, but changed nothing fundamental about the Jewish character and its relationship to the world. Why not?

Part II

Also published at Affirmative Right

By the known rules of ancient liberty

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One evening a few weeks back, I went to the supermarket with a three-item list, and ended up spending $300 on dry goods and medicines. The place looked like the collapse of Soviet Russia. It was pandemonium. As I gazed upon the half-empty supermarket shelves, admonishments from the goldbugs and preppers of post-2008 all came echoing back. The libertarian conspiracy-sphere of the Bush II era seems very prescient now. Ultimately, no system can save us from the system at its present scale. Aside from the Davos set, we’re all paleo-anarchists, we just don’t know it until the toilet paper runs out. In fact, this is especially true of the Davos set—and if they don’t trust their own system, why should you or I?

I’ve come to an age where people all look the same to me, like future corpses in the process of rotting on the wheel of time. It was shocking, at first, to see the wheel turn, and the fleshbags rudely rouse themselves. But why should any of this have been a surprise? We all think we’re well-aware of how thin the ice is getting, yet it seems our ability to procrastinate is limitless. For example, a time-lapse video of a Mormon homestead being built in the Idaho Rockies has nearly 6 million views on YouTube. That’s a 6 million-to-one ratio.

In the midst of this COVID hysteria, I keep hearing people say that our most basic individual freedoms do not trump their right to live. This is exactly backwards. Freedom is not a guarantee of life. From time immemorial, freedom has meant readiness to kill or be killed. Throughout history, those who preferred “protection” to freedom were stooges, serfs, subjects, perpetual children—as are those who are clamoring for government protection today.

Indeed, COVID-19 has brought government-suckers of every stripe out of the woodwork: the “resistance” wants Trump to take total control, while MAGA dupes want gibs at any cost. This thing has already ginned-up a conniption of snitching, too, as government authority becomes more and more arbitrary and experimental. For instance, I took my kid to the park the other day, and some busybodies had taken it upon themselves to cordon off the swing-set with yellow caution tape. There was no signage anywhere to indicate that this act had official sanction, yet no sooner had I torn the tape off and placed kiddo on the swing than some corpulent, elderly fuck out walking a shitty little dog (in flagrant violation of state quarantine orders) started mean mugging me, then walking towards me with his phone out. Not wanting myself and my child to become a photo on his iCloud, nor to be there when he called the cops, I took my son and hightailed it.

Later in the week, I was out walking a shitty little dog of my own, in flagrant violation of even stricter quarantine measures that had been announced by our (regional) government protectors only hours previous. Under the circumstances, I had to take seriously the possibility that I could be hassled or even detained. Having experienced a handful of oppressive run-ins with imperious cops over the years, I started imagining the worst. Consider, for example, the following hypothetical: you are minding your own business when a couple of punk cops, flush with emergency powers, arbitrarily attempt to arrest you. They contrive to charge you with some Gordian knot of administrative offenses that will more or less keep you detained indefinitely. Satisfying the judiciary of your innocence will mean the ruin of your career, your family, and your reputation. Forget, as well, that none of what I’ve just described is rare. For our purposes, all of this takes place in Bruce Springsteen’s America, the whole thing is an anomaly, and these two cops are simply bad apples, with innocent wives and children who want to see them home tonight. However, in this hypothetical, you have the opportunity (never mind how, exactly) to kill these two cops, and get away with it completely, i.e., to walk away immediately and never suffer any social repercussion, because no one else will ever know it was you who killed them.

Would you do it?

I leave the answer to your own private conscience. But by the known rules of ancient liberty, there is no civic obligation to forbear such injustice in the hope that a magistrate may eventually prove reasonable. Your ancestors (the ones who were worth a shit) would view our modern sensibilities in this regard as ridiculous, if not totally incomprehensible. On the contrary: to them, killing to avoid being kidnapped would be perfectly normal and acceptable. If a man threatens you, arbitrarily and maliciously, with a kafkaesque nightmare, and all of it could be avoided by killing him, then what is his life worth from your perspective? Is it worth a life-long ordeal? How about a decade-long one? What about five years? Or two? How about six months? Again, I leave the answer to you. Obviously I’m not advising you to kill anyone, no matter how justified, because there’s zero chance you’d get away with it. You can’t get away with anything nowadays—no one can, which in itself ought to tell you something horrifying. Even if you could escape the system’s ubiquitous gaze, almost no one today is mentally equipped to survive off-grid, and even the lowest functionaries of e.g., the schools, the health care system and private businesses can exercise or activate some form of police authority that may not be much in the grand scheme, but could prove fatal if you rub them the wrong way, whether you are guilty of something or not. And even if you believe that most people are not worthy of real freedom, under this system, not even the worthy are free, and our unworthy rulers will not be, either, because the very possibility of freedom—of authentic human life—is foreclosed.

Already, the mass psychology that’s being insinuated in response to this pandemic is that there are literally no boundaries the authorities cannot cross, because you are beholden to “the herd” on a microbial level. There is nowhere to escape from this mindset. Hysterical, child-like awe of authority has, instantaneously—as if by magic—been given every rationalization. The exercise of official power has crossed the line into a realm so experimental it can only be classed as entirely arbitrary. There is no privilege or benefit, no deterrent or disincentive, that could possibly suffice in one fell swoop to obligate all to do exactly as we are told the way this virus is being leveraged to do now.

In a landmark New Deal-era ruling that greatly expanded executive power, the Supreme Court remarked that “Rulers come and go; governments end and forms of government change; but sovereignty survives. A political society cannot endure without a supreme will somewhere.” Indeed, unless you live in a true republic, if you’re not the sovereign, you are necessarily a subject. But every revolution is a revolution in consciousness. The reigns of power have always been in the mind. So if you are worthy, it is time to scale down the system, and scale up the man.

Achtung Juden


What ideology unites Antifa and 4Chan, manosphere he-thots and intersectional harpies, tradcaths and neopagans, wignats and hoteps, Dugin and Zizek, peacenik granolas and international arms dealers?

“Well it’s your own damn fault if you’re so hated!” By those clowns? Really? A man with no enemies is a man with no character, and these enemies are not sending their best. Like the Jersey City shooting earlier this month, last night’s machete attack on an ultra-orthodox Hanukkah party in upstate New York appears to have been carried out by a lumpen African-American under the influence of YouTube Wakanda theology.

Now, I’m half-Jewish, and basically a modern, secular person—I have about as much in common with Hasidic Jews as I do with Denisovans. So it’s as strange to see people who are so different from me being attacked for what little we have in common, as it is startling to see how different the backgrounds of the perpetrators tend to be.

You may recall, for instance, last year’s events at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. No, not the Purim party. I’m talking about the sabbath service where a lonely old wignat truck driver with an AR mistook the place for a range and did target practice on a dozen or so nursing home inmates in wheel chairs. Update: they didn’t survive. You may also recall the following April, when a homeschooled sperg male nurse took out a Federal Reserve banker at a shul in San Diego, wounding the rabbi in the process, along with an eight-year old girl who runs the porn industry. The perp there seems not to have had any imaginary friends, though he did have the next best thing, i.e., 8Chan anons.

Then there was the 2014 Kansas City JCC shooting, also perpetrated by a wignat, who killed a kid and two adults, all of them gingerbread-baking white Methodists in RealTree camo and ugly Christmas sweaters. At least the 2012 shooter in Toulouse (that’s France, for all you Victor Hugo fans) managed to hit actual members of the tribe, killing three toddlers and wounding five others at a synagogue daycare. Oh, and how about the 2009 DC Holocaust Museum shooting? That one took out the security guard, a married black father of three, which is not as rare as a unicorn but should probably require a permit or something. Then there was the Seattle JCC kindergarten shooting in 2006, and the El Al ticket counter shooting in LAX a year or so prior. Oh, and who could forget the 1999 JCC shooting in LA? A real classic, which took the lives of four children, a secretary, and a mailman.

Why do these things keep happening? I’m sure some anthropomorphic little Eric Cartman somewhere would love to fill me in. Yes, the Jews have their fair share of perverts, plutocrats, embezzlers and corrupt politicians. But these pogroms never seem to target those Jews—or any pervs, plutocrats, embezzlers, politicians, etc. So the question is not what the Jews have done to deserve these atrocities. Because if that was the question, they wouldn’t really be atrocities, would they? “Well they’re not, teehee.” Yeah, tell me more about elite pedophile rings there, guy who supports kindergarten shootings.

The reason these things keep happening is because Jews don’t prevent it. And so the real question is, what is to be done to prevent it?

I don’t intend the question as a “silence is violence” callout. Silence can be complicity in the unconscionable, but a lot of unconscionable shit goes on every day, and no one owes it to anyone else to think or feel anything. The solution, then, depends on the Jews. Do we want to live, or don’t we? It’s that simple.

I know that’s sounds trite. I only ask because lots of Jews don’t want to. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that Hitler or Chemelnitsky is coming. Believe it or not—in spite of all these attacks—that’s not the problem. I’m also not talking about Jews who are estranged from their heritage, either. No. I’m talking about Jews who make fellow traveling with some form of anti-semitism a literal component of Judaism.

Sound far-fetched? These types are quite vocal, and they’re the tip of a huge psychological iceberg. On the left stand the anti-Zionists, who should be irrelevant—clammy, furtive little figures like Philip Weiss, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir, and Gilad Atzmon, who make entire careers and identities out of shame, discomfort and denunciation of an identity they could easily just walk away from instead. Proof that mainstream liberal Judaism essentially fellow-travels with this pathology is the recent, wholesale renunciation of Zionism by Jewish Voice for Peace—whose board members include Tony Kushner, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. (It was 1941 when Jabotinsky declared “all those who regard [peace with the Palestinians] as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism.” Better 78 years late than never, I suppose.) Liberal Zionists like Jeremy Ben Ami and Peter Beinart are actually worse, because they’re pushing from within for the Zionist movement to reflect JVP’s attitudes. Of the Palestinian factions they imagine they’d like to conciliate, each one, including the internationally recognized PLO, has a completely undisavowed and remarkably recent history of deadly attacks on Israeli women, children and elderly. But then, no one in J-Street has to actually live with those consequences (unless J-Street is working with frummies from Monsey I don’t know about.)

As bad as all this is, there’s something far more patently offensive to the intellect about the left anti-Zionists’ mirror image on the right, among the burgeoning ranks of sycophantic, alt-right adjacent Jews desperately flailing to live down every absurd libel and stereotype as if it applied to them personally. (At least having no pride or self-esteem whatsoever suits leftists.) Tech entrepreneur Ron Unz, for example, runs the largest aggregator of anti-Jewish content on the web, where he publishes his own rambling, scarcely readable essays that reprise familial and childhood resentments at great length before eventually getting around to the ostensible topic, which is always how bad his own people are. Self-help charlatan Mike Cernovich similarly grovels for acceptance from Twitter Nazis. Classics professor Paul Gottfried pathetically fawns all over pseudoscientist Kevin MacDonald (and is shocked, shocked to find that liberal journalists associate him with alt-right leaders he actually associates with.) Eccentric inventor Henry Makow writes gushing blurbs for latter-day clerical fascist E. Michael Jones’s self-published screeds; and blog posts with titles like “Anti-Semitism is Legitimate Self Defense.” Would he like somebody to murder him, or what?

One looks for sanity in this febrile atmosphere of ADHD Twitter discourse, of anomie and atomization and dementia, and sees the Jewish civil society commentariat, the ADL, the Atlantic, etc., exuding precisely the fear and panic that the high school bully mentality of anti-semitism veritably lives to elicit. When has official Jewry in America ever prevented an attack on Jews here? When they aren’t pushing constitutionally dubious legislation that makes us look ugly and stupid, their solution to everything is “education”: more words, factoids, arguments, and admonishments against wrongthink; to explain ourselves for the umpteenth time to a balkanized and stupefied public justifiably leery of smug expertise.

In Russia, in 1911, Jabotinsky had a prescient sense of this:

Now they have raised a rumpus over ritual murder, and once again we have taken on the role of prisoners on trial: we press our hands to our hearts, with quivering fingers we leaf through old stacks of supporting documents that no one is interested in, and we swear right and left that we do not consume this drink, that never has a drop of it passed our lips, may the Lord smite me on the spot. . . How much longer will this go on? Tell me, my friends, are you not tired by now of this rigmarole? Isn’t it high time, in response to all of these accusations, rebukes, suspicions, smears, and denunciations—both present and future—to fold our arms over our chests and loudly, clearly, coldly, and calmly put forth the only argument which this public can understand: why don’t you all go to hell?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over an entire people where the verdict is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse.’ We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer. . . Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘Why are they so afraid of everything? Apparently their conscience is not clear.’ Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among others an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are—we do not have anything to hide!

This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are those who will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach—to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root.

In over a century, nothing about “this system” has changed. The very existence and prominence of an “Anti-Defamation League” proves this definitively. Cringy reflections on personal and familial Jewishness are a staple among media elites. Jewish topical films and literature reflect the most skittish, vindictive psychology. Far from being an outpost of stoicism and contempt, the State of Israel is fully invested in this victimology, and after 70 years it cannot even live up to its mandate to eradicate these pogroms. Its leaders are busy fighting corruption charges, and casting about belatedly for Nazism; it sends its condolences, as peremptory as any American politician’s. If the body count approaches a dozen, you may get a shitty little Israeli cabinet minister at your memorial service, issuing thinly concealed I-told-you-sos. Mazal tov for that.

For over a thousand years, our ancestors were forbidden to own land, enter an honest trade, testify in court, ride a horse, or carry a weapon in self-defense. We were a “protected” class. A crime against us was a property crime. And after seventy-two years of Zionism the Jew, and the Jewish Israeli, is every bit the specially protected creature his forbear was in medieval Europe, subject to occasional massacres as a matter of course. There is only one system in all of world history that has genuinely offered us the means to relieve ourselves of this baggage. But we cannot fully enjoy its benefits unless we finally, affirmatively accept its offer:

Immiseration Loves Company

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alegrias tuve para dar

Bill Maher insists that “Alex Jones gets to speak.” Does he really? Will Maher use his platform to hold Google’s feet to the fire? Of course not. Maher is not a private citizen with an idiosyncratic point of view; he’s a paid employee of one of the biggest telecom monopolies in the world. So why would he register a contrarian point of view? Obviously, anyone who disagrees that Jones (or the Daily Stormer before him) ought to have a platform is an enemy of free speech. Yet free speech purism can never be more than lip-service from those who substantively support a system whose intentions are abundantly clear.

In 2015, the Guardian published an article titled “Open borders or fair wages: the left needs to make up its mind.” This is totally incorrect. Obviously, open borders and fair wages are mutually exclusive. But what if the left doesn’t make up its mind? Will the little fig-leaf contrarian author abandon the left? Or will he let himself be dragged along, questioning only the conclusions but not the premises that produce those inconsistencies, and continue doing whatever it is that qualifies him to collect a salary from a college and an occasional check from publications like the Guardian?

I could go on with these examples; I could rehash the cliché definition of madness. But what this best-of-intentions gaslighting amounts to is blind faith in the system. Who could write such an article for the Guardian if they didn’t believe that wage integrity might be salvaged somehow, by appeal to the Guardian readership? Yet real wages have been stagnant in the UK for over two decades, and in the US since 1973, even as mass immigration has increased exponentially in both places over the same periods. Would we call the fire department over a decades-old pile of ash and cinder?

There is a zero-sum viewpoint, among marginalized people, that sees members of the helping professions as complicit in oppression. Attacks on aid workers in the third world, county jail inmates who spit at their public defenders, unruly pupils in inner-city schools, are all examples of this. The cops, or the soldiers of an occupying army, are not nearly so offensive as the enemy who thinks he’s helping, who will always advise you to go along to get along.

For a long time now, we in America view marginalized people as being primarily black or brown. Yet where they aren’t already, whites will soon be minorities in their ancestral lands. This is not just happenstance, and we all know what happens to minorities. So regardless of what vestiges of white power still exist or may persist, once its diminishment reaches a critical tipping point, the prudent white person (who is not invested in the system) simply must regard the system as adversarial to his most basic needs and interests. So unlike conservatism before it, the alt-right does not dispute the conclusions of liberal social policy, but rather the premise, i.e., “do white privilege and implicit bias exist? Of course they do. Why shouldn’t they?”

In related news, a New Mexico district court judge last week granted the Taos school shooter compound suspects bail on signature bond, because “the State apparently is asking the court to take the defendants’ faith into account.” The defense argued that if the defendants were white Christians, there’d be no discussion of bail. That’s absolutely correct: a gaggle of equally dopey white Christians suspected of possessing black market firearms, kidnapping a seven year old, killing him from neglect but leaving his corpse to rot in anticipation of its immanent resurrection as Christ, and holding in squalid conditions eleven other children to whom they were apparently administering some form of half-assed paramilitary training, would obviously be remanded without bail, if not extrajudicially executed under cover of law.

So there sat the radical black Muslim in the defense dock, eating as these types always do like a dog from the hand of the system; and there was the white liberal judge, putting out justice’s eyes for lack of a blindfold. This kind of thing is not simply beyond satire. It’s beyond criticism, because every denunciation of it that can possibly be made already has been, yet it persists.

But this is not peak clownworld. It is something much worse: it is clownworld plateau. When the system marginalizes non-whites, it does so as an afterthought. But when it marginalizes whites, it does so in the name of the most sublime humaneness and principle. If this kind of scapegoating outlives the power of the white man to shape society for as long as revulsion of Jews outlived their alleged power to crucify an itinerant preacher from Nazareth, will the world be better off for it? How many Muslim refugees are willing to forego Christian mercy? How many blacks truly want to live exclusively among their own kind? And how many on the alt-right would be happy to limit their use of the internet to echo chambers like Bitchute and Gab? To ask these questions is to answer them. “Sweet dreams are made of these…”

In Defense of Bowe Bergdahl (sort of)

Thanksgiving turkey

(See also: “In Defense of the Westboro Baptist Church” and “American Diaper“)

“Experiences of inner emptiness, loneliness, and inauthenticity are by no means unreal or, for that matter, devoid of social content; nor do they arise from exclusively ‘middle- and upper-class living conditions.’ They arise from the warlike conditions that pervade American society.” (Christopher Lasch, American historian, 1932-1994)

For at least the duration of this week, Bowe Bergdahl will remain the most hated man in red-state America. So far, the loudest voices denouncing him are the supporters of a sitting American president who, as a draft-eligible youth during Vietnam, received four deferments and a (probably) bogus medical disqualification from military service while other, less privileged young men went to war in his stead. Most of Bergdahl’s detractors will have never served in any military or, if they did, will never have deployed to a combat zone.

An acerbic remark about the President’s draft dodging was in the news two weeks ago. It was made by an admiral’s son who graduated at the bottom of his class at West Point; who, once in theater in Southeast Asia, was promptly captured and sang, like Bergdahl, for enemy propaganda. This admiral’s son was eventually released home and a (probably) false narrative of heroism was promulgated as he rose to a seat in the US Senate, while hundreds of his fellow POWs were left behind—a disgrace he has been at the forefront of covering up for decades. Like the President, the Senator sends US servicemen to die for sordid reasons that will never be clarified to the American public. But most of Bergdahl’s detractors won’t get too animated about that.

From what can be gathered on his Wikipedia page, Bowe Bergdahl is an omega-male eccentric: homeschooled, vaguely artistic, brought up in a splinter sect church but with a fetish for Buddhism and delusions of sauntering off into the wide Mohammedan vistas of Central Asia like some kind of Great Game cartographer.

Here is what he emailed home shortly before being captured:

The future is too good to waste on lies…. In the US army you are cut down for being honest, but if you are a conceited brown nosing shit bag you will be allowed to do what ever you want, and you will be handed your higher rank… I am ashamed to be an american…. The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at. It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies…. We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running [Afghan] children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks…. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is america is disgusting.

A lot of my old emails probably sound like this—annoyingly callow and self-righteous. Perhaps it contains little in the way of outright falsehood. But if a narcissist is someone who conceptualizes himself as the star of his own movie (“The future is too good to waste”) then the character Bergdahl is playing is Rambo with a lisp—and the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, i.e., here is what his father wrote back:


Dear Bowe, In matters of life and death, and especially at war, it is never safe to ignore ones’ conscience. Ethics demands obedience to our conscience. It is best to also have a systematic oral defense of what our conscience demands. Stand with like minded men when possible. Dad.


Conscience? That’s the last thing you need in the army. This is terrible advice—either the father doesn’t know his son, or he doesn’t know himself. Bergdahl the Elder (a typical exponent of the kind of hippy-confederate pretense to self-reliance so common in the late-American cycle) is essentially advising junior not to reimburse gangsters he willfully borrowed money from. Bowe’s wrong about the Ugly American, too: what’s peculiarly disgusting about Americanness is not compulsive rule-following or callous disregard for human life (those things are universal.) Rather, it’s the coquettish insistence on enjoying complicity and rebellion simultaneous.

When I was in the Israeli army I got butt-hurt about something and went AWOL for a week. I rode into Jerusalem and left my bag and rifle in a locker at a youth hostel, but I didn’t want to be there either, so I went for a jog.

It was late. It was dark. After running four or five miles, I realized that the Dome of the Rock was peering at me from an angle it never had before. I emerged out of darkness into a well-lit intersection. Packs of male teenagers were roughhousing on street corners. Cabs and delivery drivers with unfamiliar license plates were stalled up and down the curb. The smelly runoff from dumpsters and shawarma-joint mop buckets mingled in the gutters. Waddling matrons in hijabs were taking advantage of the evening reprieve from the summer heat to do their grocery shopping at vendors’ stalls. The storefronts were lit up in neon Arabic.

I had wandered, unarmed and alone, into Palestine (well, I think it was somewhere near Wadi Qudum, technically within Israeli jurisdiction, but still a Hamas hotbed.) A callow, bourgeois existentialist, I didn’t know who I really was, and when I did, the conviction was fleeting. But if the people on that street had noticed me—or, if I hadn’t gotten out of there swiftly in the direction from which I’d come—they’d have known perfectly well who I was, and things would have turned out very, very bad for me.

Of course, war pervades the middle east, but “war-like conditions” pervade America. What does that mean? Deception is the essence of war, but what is the essence of America? You can see it in Times Square, in a Hollywood picture, a philanthropic campaign or public apology. What characters are more quintessentially American than the huckster, the shill, the confidence man, the philandering or money grubbing preacher, the motivational charlatan, the tycoon?

The first white men who settled this continent came in search of freedom: cash crops, real estate, Montezuma’s coffers. Slaves. The freedom of finder’s keepers. The freedom to fuck, suck, eat and shit. Freedom isn’t free—it has to be strong-armed, unfortunately. If she didn’t have all that oil, we wouldn’t have needed to invade ‘er. True, many of the Indians were no better to each other; and subsequent waves of immigrants escaping to these shores came largely for prosaic reasons, if not sordid ones. What savior, what savant, what Dostoevsky Idiot can rightly demand any redress of grievances now? For example, today the curtain is being peeled back on the world of American pederasty (among other perversions.) Bravo. But the father of American pederasty was Horatio Alger.

In summarizing the film American Beauty, a once verbally-unchastened Louis CK put it aptly:

Kevin Spacey playing the man… he’s fantasizing about fucking a cheerleader in high school, and the way they represent this, in this gay movie, this fucking bunch of cum through a projector—according to this movie, when you fantasize about a cheerleader, you lie on your back and rose petals fall all over your body. Instead of her hot, sweaty ass, and the confused look on her face as you cum in her stupid eye…. No, it’s Kevin Spacey with a sweet look on his face, and flower petals, and jazzy music.

[And at the end of the movie, the ex-Marine] is the one who’s really gay. ‘None of us are gay, it’s actually the one hetero guy, he’s the gay one.’ No one else is gay, Kevin Spacey’s not gay. He’s straight as an arrow, he lifts weights, listens to Zeppelin, drives a Firebird—and thinks about fucking rose petals. And then when he actually sees her tits he almost vomits…. He finally sees the 18 year old tits and says, what have I been doing all this time? I forgot I like men….

If the makers of American Beauty (such as Clinton confidante Harvey Weinstein, the film’s exec-producer) can glorify child-rape and drug-dealing, but can’t forgive an ex-Marine, it’s because “it belongs to human nature to hate whom we have injured.” But the consignment of combat veterans to poverty, derangement and indifference is an effect, not the cause of injury. The Bergdahl case illustrates this in ways we might not like to know.

The last American to be tried and executed for desertion, during WWII, was found guilty of escaping from danger (near the front lines), back into safety (in a liberated area of France.) Bowe Bergdahl, on the other hand, spurned safety and traipsed off into incredible danger. I’m not sayin this means that he’s brave, necessarily; but to treat this extraordinary incident strictly as a commentary on the stupidity or moral turpitude of Bergdahl himself is to miss its significance entirely. Rather, it’s an indication of how suffocatingly padded, litigious, infantilized and delusional American life has become. A postmodern system that automizes, “utilizes,” and pathologizes humanness, and measures us by metrics and KPIs, can offer young men for fodder; it can send them into dangerous places to shoot and be shot at; but on some fundamental level it cannot let them truly be men. In some fundamental way, even on the far-flung rugged terrain of Afghanistan, this vaginized baby-sitter regime only trebles its emphasis on procedure and safety and unthinking.

But how would a green recruit know that in advance? Not only is Hollywood not gonna tell him, no one in his community will, either: scarcely 1% of Americans have or ever will serve in the US military, and if they aren’t keeping their mouths shut about it, they’re probably blowing smoke (bravely, I might add.) But if Bowe Bergdahl did just eight hours of guard duty, he did 8000% more than most any of the rest of us. Sure, he got people killed and injured looking for him; but most everyone else in America is content to let others be injured and killed in our place. Bergdahl’s crime is not being a bigger piece of shit than most other Americans, it’s being exactly as big a piece of shit, with the added feature of bad timing.

That most of his colleagues in the combat arms represent a greater or lesser exception to this goes without saying. So certainly there is a characteristically American kind of honor—there has to be, it provides fodder for the other penguins to shove into the water. But Sun Tzu was wrong when he said the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. In America, our enemies are one another, they’re everywhere, and the supreme art of war is to get them to fight your battles for you. To obfuscate, intimidate or disconcert and get something for nothing while the mark blames himself. Maybe I deserved it. Maybe I secretly wanted it. I didn’t fight hard enough. I saved my objections for the staircase. I had no choice. I’ll find a way to compensate. At least I wasn’t the only one. Once the die is cast, conscience becomes freedom’s truest enemy.

The grasping protagonist of Borges’ The Immortal is a legionnaire who says “I barely glimpsed the face of Mars [and] that privation grieved me, and was perhaps why I threw myself into the quest, through vagrant and terrible deserts, for the City of the Immortals.” How much flailing braggadocio is likewise expended by American men who will never feel truly tested, vindicated or individuated? That weaselly energy has got to profit somebody in this land of umpteenth second chances, where Jesus is Lord, insurance is mandatory and Budweiser urges you to drive responsibly. Where once we came fleeing persecution or poverty, today, with nowhere else to go, we try (and fail) to escape from ourselves. Profligacy, obesity, overdoses, dropouts, car crashes, rap sheets, rejection, one-night stands, bullying and being bullied, chicken-shittery of every variety. That’s not who I really am, your honor. But its perpetrators are the soldiers of the real America, where around the Thanksgiving table and in mommy’s waiting embrace, all is validated, all is tolerated, and all is forgiven. So why not Bowe Bergdahl? In the words of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana in Scarface, “You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers.”