Monthly Archives: August 2016

War Porn by Roy Scranton

Really intrigued by the new book War Porn by Roy Scranton, a veteran of the “war” “on terror” who now teaches Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.

Here is a good review at The New Republic. (As always, you should skip the review over at The New York Times.)

“Scranton’s debut novel War Porn is at the forefront of what will inevitably be a second wave of books to emerge from post-9/11 wars, as veterans get more distance from them. Consider that the canonical works from other conflicts didn’t appear until decades after leaders signed peace treaties. It would take Joseph Heller 16 years after World War II ended to publish Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut 27 years to come out with Slaughterhouse-Five. Books printed either during the war or immediately after it were more likely to be traditional tales of heroism, bravery and survival like Pierre Boulle’s The Bridge over the River Kwai (1952) or other titles modern readers are unlikely to have heard of….

…Throughout the novel, Scranton resists the temptation to deliver a redemptive or sympathetic moment for soldiers who misbehave or suffer humiliation. Soldiers in his book are normal humans capable of equal parts goodness and cruelty. If The Yellow Birds is the backstory we invent that compels us to thank a soldier, War Porn is the unspoken reality that might make some veterans uncomfortable accepting our unsolicited gratitude.”

Who Owns Our Children?

The United States of America has quietly declared that its citizens’ children are Government Property.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a Bill (2017 NDAA) which seeks to establish, as law, several items pertinent to U.S. military operations. Among those provisions is the elimination of the exemption for women from Selective Service registration (a.k.a. draft registration). Since 1980, young men, upon turning 18, have been required to register with the Selective Service. Failure to do so carries various penalties: no driver’s license, no student loans, and no government employment. As a special bonus: non-compliance brings the possibility of being arrested and incarcerated for up to 5 years as well as possible fines up to $250,000.00.

If this Bill is fully approved, young women will also need to register with Selective Service when they turn 18. They will presumably face the same penalties if they choose not to comply.

“Selective Service” is one of many government-speak euphemisms that is essentially a fresh coat of paint on a condemned building. The old term for this euphemism is conscription. The dictionary definition of conscription is: “compulsory enrollment of persons especially for military service: draft”. The modern qualifier “selective” misleadingly implies that one is making a choice to serve. In truth the individual has no choice. Government does all the selecting.

Selective Service registration is unnecessary, coercive and dehumanizing.

Some have argued that registration is really not a big deal. We have not had an actual draft since 1973 when U.S. involvement in Vietnam ended and draft registration was discontinued for the remainder of that decade. Since then the U.S.military has maintained itself quite adequately with an all-volunteer force. It can be argued that registration is nothing than more than a bureaucratic dance between young Americans and the federal government. Kids fill out the paperwork at the Post Office or online and then forget about it. The sales pitch proclaims: “Men…You can handle this.” The implication here is that this task will not put too much physical or mental strain on them. The other parts of the marketing campaign appeal to the young person’s sense of morality (“It’s the right thing to do.”) and need for obedience to State Authority (“It’s the law.”).

If it is not really such a big deal, if it is really nothing more than filling out a simple form then why make an issue of it? Why not just comply with the law and not worry about it? On the other hand, if the actual draft is really a thing of the past, why not just get rid of it? Why not let it be a thing of the past?

The argument has been put forth that if the United States were ever attacked, the government and military would need a system in place to have efficient access to young Americans to be placed into military service. The premise, theoretically, is that not enough young people would volunteer to fight if our nation was threatened. This makes drafting the non-volunteers a necessity. It’s a matter of National Security.

Please notice how all such discussions are expected to be settled simply by declaring that one’s position is vital to National Security!

This argument in favor of maintaining draft registration is somewhat plausible except for the fact that it is wrong! It is wrong because the United States was attacked (we efficiently remember it as 9-11) and we subsequently went to war (and have stayed at war) in the Middle East. As a nation, we have remained actively engaged in warfare in multiple countries for well over a decade. Under these conditions, there has been no need whatsoever to return to an active military draft to recruit additional young people to wear the uniform and “fight for their country.” In fact, the number of young Americans volunteering for military service increased after 9-11 (just as it did after Pearl Harbor).
The U.S. Armed Services recruitment has come a long way from “Uncle Sam wants you!” to the sophisticated marketing techniques currently used to enlist new volunteers. Today’s military advertising is very slick, very Madison Avenue and very effective.

So with the failure of this rationale for maintaining draft registration, what are we left with to explain not only the requirement for young men to register but now also to include young women in this process? What remains is the subtle assertion (if you don’t look too closely or think about it too much) that our children are Government Property. This claim is the result of a highly coercive arrangement by which young people must “voluntarily” sign a government contract in which they agree to serve in the military should the time ever come when they are told to do so:

“In exchange for the State Privileges of driving a car and getting student loans (that I will have to pay back at an obscenely high interest rate when I get out of school and start working at my entry-level job), I_______________ , agree that, whenever I may be called upon to do so, I will serve as cannon fodder for the American Empire. I agree to go where I’m told, do what I’m told to do, kill whoever I’m told to kill, and willingly die painfully and prematurely as may be required.”

As a parent, I am obviously biased on this issue. I do not want my children risking their lives while they try to kill other parents’ children while those other parents’ kids are trying to kill my kids. The mouthpieces of government policy and their corporate media partners euphemistically refer to soldiers as “boots on the ground” as if they are chess pieces to be strategically manipulated to win “the game.” Those “boots” are filled with the barely-grown-up children of mothers and fathers everywhere. These young people are our children and yet we do not own them. They are not our property.

This system has very little to do with patriotism. It has a great deal to do with government exercising control over what it sees as its property. When the government of any nation treats its citizens as property to be managed and utilized it dehumanizes and commodifies the very people without whom there would be no nation. When people are dehumanized in this way it reduces the nation to the status of a mere machine. Citizens are reduced to consumers.

Any system, any corporate entity, that acts to reduce human beings to objects is wrong and deserves a response of nonviolent, noncooperation. Rather than including young women in the mandatory draft registration process as some expression of phony equality, the entire system should be eliminated for all American citizens.

As a society and as parents we bear the responsibility for our children until they are ready to bear that weight themselves. That is the cost of personal freedom. This freedom is not a privilege that our “adult” society bestows upon each new generation but rather it is the repayment of our debt to the generations that came before us and sacrificed for us. It is not the current generation of young people that owe something to the current generation of adults in this world but rather it is the current generation of adults that owe something to the generations of parents who preceded us. Their grandchildren and great grandchildren are our responsibility and not the property of any person or any government.

No one owns our children.

The Real “New American Militarism” *

The Marine Corps ain’t what it used to be either. Check out what retired General Allen, USMC, had to say during his fanatical rally speech for Hillary Clinton at the DNC.

“Every American in uniform, in the White House or at home – USA! USA! USA! – we must be a force for unity in America, for a vision that includes all of us. All of us. Every man and woman, every race, every ethnicity, every faith and creed, including the Americans who are our precious Muslims. And every gender and every gender orientation. [my emphasis]

…My fellow Americans, from the battlefield to the capitals of our allies and friends and partners, the free peoples of the world look to America as the last best hope for peace and for liberty for all humankind, for we are the greatest country on this planet.”

“With Hillary Clinton as our commander-in-chief, the United States will continue to be that indispensable, transformational power in the world.”

I recommend watching the entire video from the beginning to get the full sickening flavor of it. The Triumph of the Hill, we can call it.

It appears that Diversity, for these people, comes out of the barrel of a gun. Even Pope Francis has spoken out forcefully against this madness.

Is this our future, Catholics? Or should we take a gamble and vote for Trump? Desperate times demand desperate measures. We need to talk about this. Comments are welcome.

*with apologies to Professor Andrew Bacevich

Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Wow. I’m speechless after watching this trailer! I can’t believe a film about Gospel nonviolence will actually be on the big screen! This is what the world needs right now.

The extraordinary true story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing a gun. Believing that the War was just but killing was nevertheless wrong, he was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. As an army medic Doss single-handedly evacuated the wounded near enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. He was the first conscientious objector to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor.



Oh, and as long as I’m on the topic of Mel Gibson, I simply must recommend a short story (well, it’s written like a screenplay but meant to be read as a story) called Surfing With Mel, written by the insanely talented Matthew Lickona. Do you have complicated feelings about Mel Gibson? Read this. It has so much heart and so much compassion at once, without fawning, promoting, or excusing.



On April 11, 2012, published a private letter from screenwriter Joe Eszterhas to director Mel Gibson. The letter chronicled, in alarming detail, their disastrous attempt to collaborate on a film version of the Biblical Book of Maccabees. The media flare-up that followed focused on Eszterhas’ characterization of Gibson as an angry, Jew-hating sociopath, but largely ignored the spiritual crisis at the story’s heart. Using the letter as a map, Surfing with Mel sets out to find some meaning within the madness, and winds up outlining a darkly satirical and deeply profane portrait of two men at war with each other, with their pasts, and with God.

About the Korrektiv Press series Lives of Famous Catholics: Writing in his journal about the celebrities of his day, the author John Cheever observed that “we have a hierarchy of demigods and heroes; they are a vital part of our lives and they should be a vital part of our literature.” We agree, which is why the Lives of Famous Catholics series seeks to explore the life of faith by the light of the famous.

Beat His Brains Out

The following was written for the 34th ANNUAL FORTY DAY FAST for the TRUTH OF GOSPEL NONVIOLENCE by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy on Sunday, August 7, 2016.





Giovanni Bugatti

Pope’s Executioner, 1796-1865
Carried out 516 Execution
The last execution by a Pope was by Blessed Pope Pius IX on July 9,1870. However the Vatican had a law permitting capital punishment until 1969. The Catholic Church today still holds that capital punishment is consistent with the teaching of Jesus. It is against capital punishment today, except in rare cases, because it believes it is not needed today.


The grotesque and blasphemous picture of the Blessed Mother above was published in the summer 2016 edition of the Notre Dame MagazineThe picture accompanies an article titled, For the Children I Would, by a woman working on a master’s degree in English at Notre Dame, while teaching at a Catholic school in South Bend, IN. The article is basically a first person narrative where the author asks herself and her class in an exercise in case book morality the question “what I would do if,” by presenting some short vignettes of scenarios of life threatening situations to herself and others and possible responses. She reaches this conclusion:
“I would kill the guy or die trying. I would grab for the most damaging weapon within my reach, the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, fair skinned, blue-sashed, hands clasped in prayer, eyes turned to God, flowers at her feet, and twenty-four inches of heavy, club-shaped plaster, and I would beat his brains out with a statue of the Mother of God.”
“Later, with my class gone to PE and the room quiet,” the author writes, “I looked at Mary so serenely poised there on her limestone pedestal. I imagined that Mary could have had that fighting thing within her. How could a mother not allow that protective beast within her to act? Maybe she did try to fight [to save her Son], and the scribes didn’t write it down for us to read these thousands of years since. Mary has been a spiritual help to me throughout my life. If run and hide won’t work, she will give me more strength in the fight.”
With all the bright people at Notre Dame and all the subjects that could be written about, this is what is published! Why?
This same issue of the Notre Dame Magazine also contained information on this year’s Commencement Speaker, recently retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and on two powerhouse Washington politicians who were given a medal for being “Outstanding Catholics.” Both, since 2003 have voted for every appropriations bill funding the human slaughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. One is even publicly pro-abortion.
Out of 65 million Catholics in the U.S this is the best that the richest and most well known Catholic University in the U.S. can do? Why?
Perhaps it is fortunate Bugatti is dead or he, upon retirement from his prestigious position, would have been given an “Outstanding Catholic” medal or invited to give the Commencement address. But maybe not, for he only participated in killing 516 human beings.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy