Under Aerial Bombardment

As I write this, I’m under an aerial bombardment. Not really. It just feels – or, more precisely, sounds – like it. The Chicago Air and Water Show 2016 is upon us.

The US Air Force and Navy are using area military bases as launch sites as they practice their routines. Unfortunately, their flight path over the lake brings them over my neighborhood. When they get into full high speed performance mode, it sounds like Edgewater is under attack, experiencing the full force of the US military machine.

This is the time when I most wholeheartedly empathize with people whose cities have experienced the destructive force of modern air attacks – the people of Beirut, Belgrade, Gaza City, Baghdad, Aleppo, Sanaa, and other cities, mostly in the Middle East and North Africa. The distant roar that becomes an earthshaking rumble. The low growl that becomes a high pitch screech. Everything but the unleashing of missiles and rockets.

Chicago is under attack. No, we won’t be bombed, just brainwashed. The Chicago Air and Water Show is a giant publicly financed commercial for the nation’s military industrial complex. You and I are paying to have our children bedazzled into the cult of war.

The Air and Water Show is a showcase for the so called “defense industry.” The show’s web page gives military contractors full recognition for their contribution. The show is co-sponsored by Shell Oil – polluter (both in the US and Africa), PAC contributor, lobbyist, and producer of military jet fuel. The list of participants in the show pays homage to McDonnell Douglas (the F/A-18) and Lockheed-Martin (the F-18, and the overpriced, underperforming F-35).

Of course, there are the vintage military aircraft with all their historical significance and elegance of design. There are the vintage civilian aircraft of equal importance and beauty. They celebrate our country’s contribution to the history of flight, from Kitty Hawk to the Mars Rover. But the overarching theme is military prowess. The victorious past is evoked to conjure up a victorious, secure future, all the while obscuring the violent, resource devouring, unaccountable global thrashing of an empire trapped in endless war. (Not coincidentally, the TV networks are filled with recruiting commercials for the Air Force.)

Yes, I view the Air and Water Show with contempt. Our public schools are being destroyed. The working people of the city are being taxed beyond our means. The weekend of the show will doubtlessly register another tragic toll of shootings and gun deaths. The infrastructure of Chicago and the rest of America is in desperate need of repair, maintenance, and upgrading. But the military continues to consume limitless resources while, in collaboration with our civic elites, it distracts us with spectacles.


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