Morons And Madness

A Poem by Richard Macintosh


"They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them. But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."
--US Brigadier General John Kelly, assistant commander of the 1st marine division in Iraq. (1)

It's hard to tell the morons from the mad, these days,
Or the mad from the morons,
Madness and idiocy merging, as the case may be.

It is difficult to tell who is more mad,
Men running into machine gun fire,
Or other men gunning them down.

I mean, who is more moronic?
Those who die for a dead cause,
Or those who believe they're killing for freedom?

Men killing in the name of freedom,
Going home after a killing spree
To a nation no longer free.

Freedom as we knew it is dead, you know.
Liberty under the Bill of Rights is as "irrelevant" as the UN,
Crushed under the Patriot Act--Dead as a dodo.

Yes, we're free to read our own domestic version of Pravda,
Or watch controlled television.
Or travel to the nearest mall to shop.

Yes, our president told us to shop--I kid you not!
No liberty gardens, as in WW II.
No ration cards. . . "Shop!" he tells us.

Must be some sort of emergency!
Must be some memory from Daddy's loss in '92.
"It's the economy, stupid!"

"Gotta keep them Third-world sweat shops humming!"
"Gotta keep them profits coming in!"
"Gotta keep them offshore tax havens happy!"

Doesn't matter that there's not enough money for veterans benefits
Or medical care for our old people
Or additional money for our failing schools.

"Shut up and quit protesting, treasonous dogs!"
"You're either with us, or against us!"
"You had better watch what you say!"

We used to laugh at those old WW II movies
Where the Gestapo man would say: "Ve haff veys!"
We're not laughing anymore.

Habeas Corpus has been limited and may be eliminated.
Our once private data is being screened.
And the FBI is privy to our electronic mail.

Are free people to fear the secret police
And the knock on the door at night
And the "disappearing" of loved ones?

Is this still America?
Is this what we are fighting for?
Is this what our soldiers are dying for?

Can we be both free and unfree?
Can we bring democracy to other peoples
While destroying democracy at home?

That doesn't make much sense, does it?
Or it's not too smart, or not too sane. . .
Take your pick.

So who are the Morons?
And who are the Mad?
Don't be too quick to make your choice.

General Kelley cannot be blamed one way, or the other.
Marines are paid professional killers--"PPK's"
Master Gunnery Sergeant Gettys told us so at Quantico, back in 1954.

I have not forgotten
Sometimes I get the sweats at night
And I awaken, wondering if it is my heart, or my mind.

Yes, the "PPK's" are mad--stark, raving mad.
And they will be coming home to your neighborhood
With a basket of nightmares

And broken hearts.

1.  Kingston, Margo, "Shoot the morons, then the journalists?" - http://www.smh.com.au/, April 9, 2003  (back)

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Poetry on Swans

Iraq on Swans


Richard Macintosh was a Public High School Teacher in California (1956-1989). Ed.D, Educational Leadership, BYU, 1996. MA, Liberal Studies, Wesleyan University, 1982. BA, history, Stanford University, 1956... Macintosh is currently a part-time consultant on Personnel/Team matters in Washington State.

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Published April 28, 2003
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