Dying for Dairy

In the wake of 9/11 and the wars it spawned (or was the excuse for), the Americans have made an art out of worshiping their “men and women in uniform”. And, like so much of American culture, we’ve decided to import this phenomenon wholesale, even though the conditions on the ground don’t quite fit. So, a Kiwi military death now entails wall-to-wall media coverage that glorifies an unjustifiable war and provides politicians with the opportunity to, as the Americans like to put it, “wrap themselves in the flag”. (Well, that would be true if we had a flag worth wrapping oneself in.) Anti-war activists lament these deaths, too, but for the right reasons – i.e. that we shouldn’t be there in the first place, something that was underscored this week with the release of Nicky Hager’s new book. (Though peaceniks tend to be seen by hawks, and others who benefit from all that faux nationalistic fervor, as the traitorous and unpatriotic ones.) While the Americans get to claim their “fallen” died defending their country, and/or way of life (True! The Imperium must be defended), what can we say? That our soldiers in Iraq risked their lives defending our oil-for-food contract? That those in Afghanistan are fighting for dairy farmers? It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. But still the media pile on.

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