The maniacal push for war on Iraq has just hit a new low. I can handle the media and its Super Bowl-like treatment of the pending war, using such catchy and euphemistic slogans as, “Showdown: Iraq.” In fact, I half expect to see computer images of the two countries smashing into each other a la the football helmets at the beginning of Monday Night Football.
I can also handle the many political games that are currently being played. The blame-game: Korea is Clinton’s fault; Hussein is Reagan and Bush Sr.’s fault. The conspiracy game: Bush wants to distract us from his deplorable domestic failures and his failure to actually persecute the real terrorists who were responsible for 9/11, not to mention that his father stands to make truckloads of money from this war. And the name calling game: if you oppose war, you are a limp wristed liberal sissy who has no grasp of reality, and if you are for war, you are a hardheaded warmonger who lacks the ability to see through government lies.
However, there is one thing I cannot stand. Recently, I saw a commercial for a Play Station game in which the player assumes the role of the American Army and the entire point is to find and kill Hussein. Not only does this game make war seem like a casual, fun thing, it also makes an appalling statement about our culture. To promote war through a medium that is used mostly by young children and teenagers is just plain wrong. It makes a mockery of the real people (not computerized images) who die on both sides of the war, and it teaches children to see the world in the same erroneously polarized way that our government currently sees it.
Maybe it is just because I am one of those limp wristed liberal sissies, but I am sickened by the fact that we are using video games, arguably one of the most important influences on young children, to implant war into their psyches. Not only that, by making war into a game, these children will lose the sense that actual humans are dying.
Or maybe that’s the point. Iraqi citizens aren’t human, right? They don’t feel pain like we do. When their innocent citizens are bombed, they don’t see it as a tragedy because, to let the game tell it, they are simply evil and must be destroyed.
Hopefully, children will not be tricked into this mindset. Hopefully they will not lose touch with the fact that war is ugly or that it involves people, is not always clear-cut, and neither side is ever completely innocent. Above all, I hope that we are not raising a generation of citizens that glorifies war because it is, frankly, nothing worth glorifying.
Travis Atria is a junior majoring in English Literature.