The Road to Guantanamo made one thing very clear; when it comes to terrorism, there is no such thing as innocent until proven guilty.
The experiences of the the prisoners, from capture, to transport, to torture, to release, detailed an incredible incoherence in intelligence opperations. The guards and interrogators took the forms not of protectors, but of perpetrators. Throwing insults amidst injury, The Road to Guantanoma showed armed service members to be desensitized, highly masculine, and rigid. Methods of interrogation were stale, given, knowing. The lack of hope felt by the detainees was palpaple amidst the brute action and unapologetic torture.
But I was not surprised. Not disgusted, but disgruntled. That this is what I have come to expect. This is what I have known. Which makes me think… if my protectors are perpetrators, if my heros are villains… how does that inform my experience of safety?
How does this silent acceptance of terror affect America’s conscious self? Our covert operations and anti-terror efforts come from a culture that values violence, but furthermore from a culture whose safety has often been secured through violence. Genocide, slavery, conquest, apartheid. Violence has helped secure hegemonic rights. But Violence is also used to ease psychological pains… or perhaps exacerabte them.
The other day, some friends of mine were playing Call of Duty. Previously, they’d been playing Grand Theft Auto; hit up a strip club, punched out some gangsters, ran over a hooker, shot down a helicopter. As the tone shifted from city scape to war zone, I closed my eyes and curled under a blanket. As the room shook with the sounds of machine guns and roadside bombs, I laughed at how safe I was. How safe I felt. The sounds didn’t even bother me. But they did scare me.
Just like the looks on my friends faces; their mouths relaxed, their eyes focused, their legs open. “Fuck you dude! You fucking terrorist! Die, asshole!”
And all I could feel was the fleece wrapped round my face and the bed beneath my back.