Coming Home to Roost: American Militarism, War Culture and Police Brutality

By Colin Jenkins

“President Kennedy never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon…”

– Malcolm X, December 1, 1963

Photo: Kabul Military Training Center

Photo: Kabul Military Training Center

“Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle… you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight!”The thundering voice rang out from the large box speakers situated across the damp, cement floor. ” Americans love a winner! Americans will not tolerate a loser! Americans despise cowards! Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American! ” The words surged violently from the mesh screens, ostensibly louder by the second. A quick glance across the concrete quad produced a herd of silhouettes, all frantically running to their predetermined spots in the haze of a 4:00 AM-fog. “We don’t want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats! If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards! The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the God-damned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men!” It was the summer of 1994. I was 19 years old. The words screaming from those speakers – a daily sound that I would become accustomed to over the course of a few weeks – were those of U.S. Army General George Patton (through the voice of George C. Scott). The location was Columbia, South Carolina, though it might as well have been halfway across the world because the only things I would see for the next two months were marching drills, firing ranges, fields of mud and grass, and miles upon miles of indistinguishable running terrain. This was US Army Basic Training and I was one of thousands of recruits eager to soak up the glory of “defending our country.”

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