Asshole Army

This asshole probably doesn't even use his turn signals. 

A few years ago, back in Portland, I saw a distressing report on the local evening news. In one neighborhood, residents had come together and used donated supplies to build a little community garden that they all tended and harvested together. The garden had been a point of pride for the neighborhood, but the reason it was on the news was because the night before a bunch of vandals had come, knocked down all the fences, tore up all the planters, then stuck the garden’s hose into the dirt and turned it on, completely flooding everything.

Watching the residents of the neighborhood try to pick up the pieces of their destroyed garden, I found myself wondering, Who the hell does something like that? And then I immediately knew the answer to my own question: Assholes. Assholes would do something like that.

Whoever destroyed that garden didn’t have a personal vendetta against the community, or a longtime grudge against eggplant. The garden just happened to be there, and destroying something is always easier than creating something – and if you’re an asshole, it’s also preferable to just leaving it alone.

Assholes are everywhere. I am of the belief that assholes make up some percentage of the population of every country on Earth. Wherever there’s a group of people larger than 100, a certain number of them are just going to be assholes relative to everyone else. Their activities may vary from one culture to the next, but no matter where you are there’s always going to be a contingent of assholes united only by their desire to break shit, cause trouble, and get attention at the expense of everyone else.

It’s impossible to rid the world of assholes, but countries can control their numbers and mitigate their effects by investing in things like education, infrastructure, and jobs – because smart people who have opportunities in their lives are less likely to become assholes when there’s better, more lucrative alternatives. In America, our assholes shut down the government for no particular reason or carry assault rifles into restaurants, but they haven’t attempted genocide or mounted an aggressive terrorist campaign to overthrow the government. And they’re unlikely to, because the majority of the people here have enough other stuff going for them that these assholes’ antics will never infect more than a small, noisy percentage of the population.  

Bad things happen when a country loses control of its assholes. Nowhere is this more apparent than Iraq and Syria, where tens of thousands of young assholes have come together to form their own asshole country, which they’ve christened the Islamic State. The Islamic State practices such a violent form of assholery that even al Qaeda is appalled – because the Islamic State’s massacres and bombings and decapitation of journalists don’t have any greater purpose or agenda. They’re just being the biggest assholes possible so they can attract attention and, as a result, draw more assholes from other countries to join their big asshole army.

All the world’s bullies, angry losers, undiagnosed schizophrenics, and bitter outcasts are coming together under one flag, united by a hazy understanding of Islam and a very real desire to wreck the civilization we’ve spent thousands of years trying to build. I’m as much of a peace freak as any other Hollywood liberal, but if you ask me this sort of situation is the exact reason we have a huge and well-financed military.

I really don’t want another war in Iraq – because I don’t want Americans to die, because I don’t want Iraqis to die, and because I don’t want to pay for it. We’ve been bombing Iraq on and off for the last 20 years and it doesn’t seem to have turned them into a modern liberal democracy yet. More bombing probably isn’t the answer to their democracy problem, but it’s definitely the answer to their asshole problem. Because as much as I don’t want another war in Iraq, what I really, really don’t want is for the Islamic State to keep being a thing.

I mean, Jesus. Imagine if you traveled back to late September of 2001 and told people that in the future terrorists would have billions of dollars, US military technology, and their own fucking country. I agree with the assessment that these assholes don’t pose a direct threat to the US right now, but we’re already on their shit list and if we don't take care of this soon I'm sure they'll get around to being a threat to the US in due time. 

We’re never going to be able “destroy” the Islamic State the way the government wants to – I mean, we’ve been trying to “destroy” al Qaeda since I was in middle school and we’re not there yet – but I’m sure we and our Middle Eastern frenemies can kill enough of them to turn them from a terrorist country back into a smaller and more manageable terrorist group. When a herd of assholes grows large enough that it threatens the stability of multiple countries, that’s the cue for society at large to begin culling it.

If there was a way to solve the Islamic State problem that wasn’t a war, I’d support it. But there isn’t – they don’t want to negotiate. Assholes aren't capable of negotiating. All an asshole wants is to provoke a confrontation. In most cases the best course of action is to just ignore the asshole. But this group of assholes is too big - and too well armed - to ignore. 

Truman Capps thinks we should skip the War on Terrorism and jump straight to the War on Assholes.