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Iraq, our kids, and the March of the War Pigs

Iraq, our kids, and the March of the War Pigs

“Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses…” – Black Sabbath, War Pigs

If you’ve ever seen the movie “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka!” you know that the way you can tell if someone is a real hero is if he has a band behind him playing his theme music.

Thanks to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the country of Iraq is just as unstable as it was when America dropped bombs on it in 2003. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows.

That same reasoning can also apply to politicians if we think about it. Might make press conferences more interesting. Just imagine if President Barack Obama walked into the White House Press Room to the sounds of Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” or Speaker of the House John Boehner walking in Ray Charles’ “Cryin’ Time Again.”

Thanks to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the country of Iraq is just as unstable as it was when America dropped bombs on it in 2003. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows.

That song is especially appropriate when folks like Sen. John McCain and former Vice President Dick Cheney are at the desk. I mean, hey, what other song would work for two of the biggest cheerleaders for a war that we had no business getting into in the first place, especially since it’s a song that talks about how war really works?

Politicians hide themselves away,

They only started the war,

Why should they go out to fight?

They leave that role to the poor…

The politics of war

Why pass a jobs bill or restore long-term unemployment benefits when you can hand people a gun and turn them into cannon fodder, right? What always fascinates me when the War Pigs come out to play is that they do so knowing it’ll have no impact on them or their families. Only seven of the 535 members of Congress had a child on the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What always fascinates me when the War Pigs come out to play is that they do so knowing it’ll have no impact on them or their families. Only seven of the 535 members of Congress had a child on the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Heck, in the case of Cheney, he made money on Iraq through his shares at Halliburton.

Meanwhile, a lot of kids are looking at the evening news and wondering “Is Dad gonna have to leave us again?” That’s a rotten feeling to have. I remembered interviewing military kids in 2003 at the beginning of Iraq and Afghanistan and while they tried to keep brave faces along with Mom and Dad, their eyes showed the fear that comes with knowing that Dad was going somewhere where people were getting shot. I got those assignments because it was assumed that my experience as a military kid would get them to talk.

My dad was in the Army for 32 years and for a chunk of my early years, he fought in Vietnam. When you were born and raised on a military base, you know what things like the Vietnam War are all about even if you didn’t grow up sitting on the couch with dad watching Walter Cronkite. One of the kids I grew up with lost his dad in that war. My dad got injured and mom couldn’t find him for three months.

War is hell … on families

While I can’t identify with moms (or in some cases dads) having to deal with the possibility of a loved one sent into a war zone, I can identify with the kids…’cuz I was one.

Here’s how my mom, possibly the best mom ever created, by the way, got us through it:

  • Routine is your friend. Your kid is going to have enough trouble adjusting to not seeing Dad (or Mom) every day. Try to make that the biggest adjustment he or she will have to make by making sure that every day things like play dates, visits to Grandma’s house, and trips to the playground don’t change. It may take some doing, but family and friends can help.
  • Recognize that you’re dealing with a kid here, not a little adult. While I freely admit that the kids of policemen, firemen, military personnel and others who deal with life and death are slightly more mature, the bottom line is that they’re kids. Be honest with them, but don’t expect them to react the way an adult would. My Mom told me that when we put my Dad on the bus to go back to his base to be shipped out, I had a full-on tantrum. Punishing your kid because he or she had a tantrum over a toy makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to punish your kid because he or she had a tantrum when Dad is being shipped off to war.
  • Allow your kids to recognize that while they’re scared, you are too. It’s okay. One of the things that I find most disingenuous about the Cheneys, McCains and the other War Pigs calling for ground troops in Iraq is that they fail to recognize something that you and your kids have already figured out.

War is scary. This is especially true when you’re an 8-year-old who realizes that your parent has just been sent into that foreign gunfight you’re watching on television.

It’s okay to recognize that fear. It’s doubly okay to allow your kid to recognize it. If your child says they’re scared, hug them, and be honest. Tell them you’re scared too. Sometimes kids need to realize that while their parents are pretty strong and can protect them from almost everything, they’re not invincible. It gives them permission to be human if you are.

But while the War Drums are banging the loudest these days, you may not have to use any of the tips I just gave you, because this is a different type of Congress.

You see, unlike the Congress that sent us into Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, one-fifth of the current Congress is made up of veterans. It’s made up of people who have actually fought in wars, and unlike McCain, they aren’t interested in creating more potential Prisoners of War.

Because these veterans are in the decision making process, I’m hoping that we will be allowed to move from this song in Black Sabbath’s catalogue and toward another one that always makes me think of the current state DC politics.

That song is “Crazy Train…”


denise clay 2Denise Clay is a journalist and adjunct professor. She is active in the National Association of Black Journalists and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

Denise Clay
Written by Denise Clay