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January 13, 2012

Deconstructing the Despicable "Band of Brothers" Imagery

By now most people with web access have seen the despicable photo working its way across the ether, the "money shot" picture of a band of brothers celebrating their victory, all in their uniforms, the heady moment when they could do anything and it was great to be alive.

What were they thinking? The answer is, they weren't thinking, they were just acting out their understanding of their assigned roles. They've slayed dragons, they've beat the enemy, they've come out ahead. They're winners, heroes, gladiators. They couldn't pass up the photo op.

When people ask, How could they do that? I respond, This is what they are, at their essence; you're not seeing a quirk, you're seeing the nature of the beast. And we're responsible for them; our pressures, expectations, and rewards drove them into this, with our blessing and approval.

Taking the picture was bad judgement; they were carried away by testosterone, arrogance, and their power. They've lost their perspective on the bigger human condition and any claim to decency. Their hubris is way out in front of them. In the moment of the photo, they've put pretense and posture aside and let their Inner Warrior stand proud. This camera doesn't lie.

People from other cultures will look at the photo and wonder, What have the Americans come to? But deep inside, to some extent, we Americans recognize and even embrace the behavior. We won't hold this against these men.

The guys in the picture will have to live with this for the rest of their lives, but they really only regret the publicity of it; they're good with the activity. I suspect if you had drinks with them in private, they'd admit "hell yes I'd do that again".

In the future, when they're under stress and having a "fight-or-flight" moment, they'll remember their experience and the lessons that have been imprinted onto their psyches. Don't be surprised to see this callous indifference again.

The attitude on display is so embedded in their "culture" that they can't even understand what's wrong with it; therefore, anybody who objects to it must be out of touch. Some of their colleagues and fellow-travelers are obliviously defending the photo right now.

Just to ensure there's no ambiguity, we are talking about the photo below, right?

They've completely lost their decency, their moral compass, and their connection to the American people. If they had any sense of shame, they'd withdraw into obscurity and do public service work.

And as far as that other photo (the Marines in Afghanistan), I find myself agreeing with Robert Wright; this is what happens in war, and when you choose to start a war you set yourself up for this.


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