This upcoming weekend in Seattle is called SeaFair, and there will be lots of celebration and conspicuous American-style consumption and production of green house gases.
Part of the festivities will be a performance by the precision U.S. Navy flying team called the Blue Angels. Six pilots will fly their six F/A-18 high performance fighter jets in various acrobatic maneuvers and formations to the ooh's and ah's of the huge crowds who will be watching. The Blue Angels have been practicing today in the skies above Seattle, and they are *loud*!
When I was a kid, I used to have these huge posters of lots of fighter and bomber aircraft all over the walls of my room. I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I grew up. I thought all those planes were *so* kewl.
Now I have a slightly different view. It seems to me that the F/A-18's are designed with one purpose in mind--killing people and wreaking death, destruction and mayhem, all from a relatively clean distance where the pilot, and those who send him/her, are able to avoid the sight and the smell of blood, death, tear, and horror. Which is all kind of kewl, I guess, from one perspective.
The Blue Angels involve the use of these aircraft to glorify and perpetuate the myth of redemptive violence. Even in extremely left wing Seattle, lots and lots of people will turn out to watch them and ooh and ah over their spectacular flying. And all the while they will be, at some level, ... supporting and imbibing the idea that such machines-of-death are kewl.
I'm not saying I'm immune. Just a few years ago I went to watch the airshow. I'm just trying to raise certain questions.
- One wonders how many of the pilots of these aircraft are ever, during their lifetime, able to connect with and attempt to understand the stories of civilians whose homes are destroyed, and whose loved ones are killed, by the pilot's pushing buttons in his/her cockpit at 30,000 feet?
- One wonders if the human and financial costs that result from the building and deployment of these aircraft is worth whatever the benefits might be.