Last night Benjamin and I tried to watch Inglourious Basterds, a long in coming Tarantino film about Nazi occupied France during WWII. The opening 15 minutes or so (warning: minor spoiler ahead) is centered on a Nazi commander’s visit to a family in the French countryside, the home of a dairy farmer that is harboring a family of Jews. After a drawn out conversation in which the commander mocks the farmer and maligns the Jewish people, he proceeds to threaten the farmer and his family enough that the farmer admits to hiding the Jewish family. The Nazis storm in, shoot up the floor, kill all of the Jewish family except one girl that escapes, and then the movie cuts to Brad Pitt talking to Allied Jewish soldiers about revenge and killing Nazis.
I couldn’t handle it. Hiding my face under my grandmother’s quilt, I asked Benjamin if we could spend our night doing something other than watching this particular movie. I then proceeded to apologize for not being able to watch the film, and then explain why it bothered me so. But later that night, Benjamin and I both realized that war shouldn’t be humorous entertainment, and that maybe my reaction wasn’t unreasonable at all.
The particular sequence of events in Inglourious Basterds wasn’t really what upset me. It’s the fact that so many people, Americans in particular, seem to think of Nazis and the many other happenings in WWII as an isolated incident, something horrific and painful, but somewhat of a blip in the history of the United States if not the Western world. But it’s not. War is happening right now. American soldiers are occupying Middle Eastern nations right now. Villages are burning, people are dying, bombs are going off RIGHT NOW. War and terror and evil acts are not something of the past, they are a very real part of our present.
And not only are there losses of human life happening right now, we’re also spending an absurd amount of the national budget on conflicts that a large percentage of the country doesn’t support, while wondering how we’re ever going to get out of this recession. Yesterday I signed a petition at Codepink to send to the new Congress urging them to bring our military dollars back home to support education and healthcare rather than killing people for oil thousands of miles away. Petitions are not much, I concede, and I continue to look for ways to more actively subvert the military-industrial complex of our culture. For now I think it is living simply, locally, and with love, always open and aware of possibilities to do more, say more, and act.