Garm Bel Iblis wrote:
How about when the MACo pulls out a knife and gets all creepy? I seriously think there are people like Mister martin who think all soldiers are a bunch of thugs ready to wipe out the Na'Vi for their unobtanium.
Forgive my intrusion, but having read this chapter I'm confused.
Was not the whole point to show how this man has been damaged
by the experiences of a lengthy and bloody war? That the traumas and sacrifices and experiences have scarred him? That he can never be the same after what he has experienced? That seems far more realistic to me than a prideful "defending your country! Off to war! Come back and everything's fine!" attitude. If a soldier who has been through such a traumatic series of events wasn't a bit...offputting, "creepy" as you put it, isn't something wrong? He's creepy because he's damaged, because the sacrifices and traumas weigh so heavily on him, no? Those who go to war can rarely truly come back unscathed, as you of course must know if you were active military yourself.
What I'm saying is, I don't see any anti-soldier sentiment here- unless you think presenting soldiers as damaged and traumatized is anti-soldier? No, surely not. An attitude of prideful invincibility in regards to soldiers is surely much more offensive, because it's untrue, as any number of veterans of wars both "just" and "unjust" would tell us? There is no doubt an anti-militiarism
sentiment to this writing, a distaste for war and awareness of the terrible dangers of a culture consumed by war and sacrifice to the detriment of anything else (such as sadly happens when you're fighting for survival as the Federation supposedly was in the Undine war). But anti-militarism is not anti-military. An attitude that takes hold over a culture at war is something entirely different from the individuals involved in fighting or directing it. Indeed, front-line soldiers will be the primary victims of it, because the brunt of it falls on them.
Sorry to repeat, but I don't see any overt dislike of soldiers,
merely of militiaristic attitudes, such as take hold in soldiers and non-soldiers alike in a culture obsessed with war (and a culture fighting for its very survival like the UFP is here will obviously
be obsessed with war- it can't afford not to be). Yet look at the openly disparaging comments in this thread- "peacemonger", "peacenik", "code pink", and the like. As if supporting the cause of peace is a bad thing! Pacifists are NOT anti-soldier, they're opposed to militiaristic attitudes- such as the idea that people going off to war just waltz back okay, proud and strong having fought "for their country!", as opposed to all-too often traumatized and damaged, sometimes for the rest of their lives. In fact, the reason many people are pacifists in the first place is because they understand the sacrifices and traumas soldiers face very well indeed, and don't want those truths hidden behind nationalistic, prideful masks about the glory of service? The gritty reality of war is always in their minds.
I suppose what I'm saying is- what's the real issue here? That soldiers are being presented as the "bad guys"? Because so far I don't see it (though I admit I haven't read the whole book yet). I don't see anyone saying that soldiers- the individual men and women- are thugs out to "kill children" or "take the Na'vi's unobtanium", just that they are sapient beings who, if placed in traumatic situations, as they often are of course, might well end up in a bad way- and isn't it telling that Jake is "creeped out"- that this veteran is now someone those back home are wary and scared of? He can never truly come back to the home he sacrificed so much to protect, which is the terrible tragedy of the situation. Surely this is a highly sensitive portrayal of the soldier- a being who chose to face traumas and make sacrifices who is now unable to be fully accepted by those not so touched. Jake can't truly understand, and is repulsed.
No-one who has faced war head-on for any length of time can ever truly return, I'd humbly submit. I think that's the point, and I don't see it as offensive to soldiers at all- unless the offense is suggesting that military service is all
pride and medals and patriotism, and not also rolling around in the dirt bleeding? Sure, many people find great pride in military service. My family also has a history of willing service- my paternal grandfather, for one, was never anything but proud of his long years in service, including going to war (including the Second World War). But sometimes I suspect some people forget that the pride can only ever be one side of the equation. My grandfather, for what it's worth, didn't fare too badly, but not all soldiers are as lucky.