Thursday, July 9, 2009

#125 Obama's War II--Meat Packing

... and more deadly by the hour.

My adopted home state of North Carolina has some of the largest hog "farms" and pork-processing plants in the world. Owned by giant Smithfield Packing Company, they have polluted the state's rivers and ground water for years with "pig-matter" of one kind or another. One of their plants in Mexico may have started the Swine Flu epidemic. Forever in litigation with state and federal agencies, paying fines and indemnities, fighting unionization for decades (the biggest plant, in Tar Heel NC, finally went union just a few weeks ago)--Smithfield nonetheless ships tons o' hams all over the country (they are tasty), and its operation impacts hugely on the NC economy ... pays a lot of bills ... and, like that other toxic "cash-cow," Tobacco, is more than tolerated (#1 cash crop, though, is marijuana!).

And speaking of "pork-barrels," another large chunk of the NC state economy involves a disproportionate number of military bases, established and maintained through the good offices of our congressional delegation over many, many years. We ship people to the Middle East: soldiers from Ft. Bragg, marines from Camp Lejeune, national guardsmen from their NC home-towns, and so on. They all become our native sons on the local news, however, when they're killed, and their corpses are shipped back ... packed in body-bags.

And the mothers are inevitably interviewed, every day as the reports come in. "He died fighting for our freedom," as if from a prepared script. Who can blame them? The true meaninglessness of their sons' (and a few daughters') sacrifice would be too much to bear. More than halfway around the world, How would the mother of a killed-in-action "insurgent" respond (as if a Muslim woman could ever be caught on camera)? "He died fighting for our freedom." An easy case can be made that the latter response is far more justified--her son was fighting an invading and occupying army. And how in the world can a Pakistani mother come to terms with a son or daughter killed by an American drone-bomber? "He died walking to school." What does she know of "collateral damage"?

Several times during his campaign for President, both here and his one time abroad, Obama made apologies to all for the civilian casualties incurred in the Middle East War. (I was listening.) Almost as a "campaign promise." After all, he didn't start it, was against it, didn't vote for it, didn't have to (wasn't in the Senate yet)--he could still implicitly blame it all on Bush/Cheney ... with absolutely righteous justification. But it's his Vietnam now.

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