Biking down the west bank esplanade at about 6:30 this evening, I was shocked to see several artillery guns sitting on the lawn of waterfront park aiming towards the east bank of the Willamette as if an attack was eminent. I recognized immediately that the guns (and the several camouflaged Humvees on display), were simply a shameless ploy by the National Guard to show-off what they treat as toys for grown-ups, which are actually highly-advanced weaponry with two purposes: to destroy and to take human life.
The site of children (some appearing to be as young as four or five) climbing on these killing machines, and young men and girls being instructed in their use (lured in by our society's glorification of armed service and machines that create large explosions, as well as camouflaged neck badges and foamed toy footballs with the US Army logo being handed out) left me in aghast. My horror quickly turned to anger at not only the dozen-or-so guardsman and women perpetrating the crime, but also the citizens in the park who seemed to be unaffected by this sickening and insensitive display of American military force and attempted recruitment of the most easily-impressionable in our society.
Shocked and angered by the lack of response, and even support given, by the public in the park, at one point I yelled out, "does this make anyone else extremely uncomfortable?!" "These things are for killing people!", I shouted in vain, soliciting an aggressive rebuttal from one of the guardsman. But no one responded or even acknowledged my presence.
Have we become so immune to our military society and imperial power that it doesn't illicit a response even when it's flaunted in our faces? Are we not all complicit in the crimes committed in our names by our country's armed forces (including the preying-on of youth to fill the spots of soldiers coming home in body bags), and the death and destruction it produces, if we allow it to go unchallenged--especially in our public spaces?