Thomas Wictor

In praise of warriors

In praise of warriors

I just saw a tweet by author Joyce Carol Oates. It’s about a movie titled Les Chevaux de Dieu (Horses of God). I’ve never had the urge to read anything by Ms. Oates. Clearly I haven’t missed anything. Ms. Oates suffers from the mental illness of moral equivalency. She compares American warriors to suicide bombers.


Never mind that the 2003 Casablanca suicide bombings—the subject of the movie—were met with utter revulsion and outrage by the Moroccans themselves. They marched in the streets with banners reading “SAY NO TO TERRORISM.” We’ll also overlook the fact that suicide bombers deliberately target civilians, while in the US armed forces, targeting civilians is a crime.

Section 918, Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice unequivocally states that suicide bombing of civilians would be considered murder and is thus prohibited.

This really isn’t hard to figure out. Ms. Oates’s confusion shows that her brain isn’t functioning properly. Or it could be that her moral compass is out of whack. I don’t know, nor do I care.

Horses of God isn’t a documentary; it’s a drama. In the real world—not the make-believe world so many of us occupy—poverty, lack of education, and hopelessness don’t play a large part in creating terrorists. Shallow nincompoops attribute terrorism to poverty and hopelessness. It’s how the wealthy assuage the superficial guilt they feel over their own good fortune.

Paging Joyce Carol Oates! Ms. Joyce Carol Oates, please go to the white courtesy phone!

Generally speaking, oppression makes terrorists. Islamic countries are some of the most oppressive societies in human history. If the people don’t live under formal theocratic or secular dictatorships, they suffer self-imposed cultural oppression.

And no, the US doesn’t “transform young vulnerable hopeless into human weapons of war.” A peek at the demographics of the US military should calm your anxieties. First you have to take gender into account. We’ll talk about active duty, because those are the folks who do the most killin’.

Only 14.6 of active-duty personnel are female. Now, 98.9 percent of the active-duty US military has a high-school degree or a GED and some college. Since the US is 51 percent female, and since 85 percent of Americans twenty-five and older reports having a high-school degree of GED, you can see that the active-duty US military is way more educated than the general population.

I can’t emphasize this enough: The active-duty US military is a group that’s 85.4 percent male. Of enlisted personnel, 48.8 percent are twenty-five or younger. I got F’s in math, so I can’t weight or balance or whatever the statistical term is to make the military comparable to the general population. All we need to know is that active-duty military personnel are mostly young and male, but they far outperform their civilian counterparts.

About 70 percent of active-duty military is white, compared to 78 percent of the general population. However, you have to keep in mind that only about 10 percent of military occupation specialties (MOS) are in the combat arms. Those are the only jobs Joyce Carol Oates cares about.

The people choosing combat arms are overwhelmingly white. Blacks avoid them due to another example of media malpractice. Most Americans think that blacks were disproportionately killed in action during the Vietnam War.

That lie even made it into an article in The Stars and Stripes.

John Sibley Butler, author of several books on race in the military, said the overall decline in the number of blacks in the military is not unexpected, given that college enrollments among African-Americans have increased in the last 20 years. That has brought the military’s racial composition closer to the country at large.

There’s also a long-held perception inside the black community that more minorities were forced to the front lines during the Vietnam War than their white counterparts, Butler noted.

African-Americans comprised roughly a third of Army combat infantry ranks during that conflict, according to Butler’s research. Thus, parents who have encouraged their children to join the military in the last 20 years have also pushed them to seek jobs outside of combat specialties.

Butler is absolutely wrong. Of the men killed in Vietnam, 86.3 percent were white, and 12.5 percent were black. At the time blacks made up 11.13 percent of the general population. If 33 percent of combat infantrymen were black, their rate of being killed in action would be much higher. Also, I challenge you to find me a single photo or film clip of a Vietnam War infantry combat unit comprised of 33 percent blacks.

Joyce Carol Oates can’t handle her coddled lifestyle, so she should give me all her money. If won’t make me feel guilty in the least. She refuses to face this stark reality.


And for those of us who aren’t offended by the notion of brave men and women fighting and killing to protect us, here’s some glorious warrior-porn.

US Army helicopter gunner with facial armor decorated in a beautifully macabre motif.


Polish Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego (GROM) special operators in Afghanistan.


German Panzergrenadier or mechanized infantryman. He looks mechanical, doesn’t he?


German Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) operators in Afghanistan.


Danish Jaegerkorpset, special operators who cleared the caves of Tora Bora, fighting al Qaeda hand to hand in pitch blackness. Their courage and skill earned them a United States Presidential Unit Citation, presented to them in a private Rose Garden ceremony.


Australian (left) and American soldiers, Afghanistan.


US Marines, Afghanistan.


Canadian army, Afghanistan.

Combat Operations

French special operators.


Bedouin trackers or reconnaissance specialists, Israeli Defense Force.


Corporal Bill Henry “Willie” Apiata, New Zealand Special Air Service, winner of the Victoria Cross for saving a comrade while under fire.


And foreign special operators who entered the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, June 28, 2011, and fought Taliban suicide bombers room to room, in the darkness, for five hours, until they’d killed all the terrorists.


I’m deeply grateful to all of you. Joyce Carol Oates is mediocre to the point of clownish farce. And so is everyone who agrees with her.