"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

May 1, 2010

A War Crime In My Living Room


He grows weary, tiring easily. He sundowns. Sometimes he aches, whispering to me of pain in each joint. It comes in waves, and then for weeks, nothing. It has never manifested as badly as the first episode, the one which scared us so, and taught me a whole new kind of nausea.

That doesn't make it any better. I know too much; I don't know enough.

His physician assures us of his health. “The antibiotics worked,” he told me, in disapproving tones. The doctor had the laptop, and charts. I came with questions, and mistrust. Judging from the nurse's glare, I also came with the stupid questions. The nurse smiled pleasantly, busying herself with the habits of her profession. Until I started with my concerns, my own research. She clucked at me, “Not everything on the Internet...”

I wanted her to shut up. I don't care if a hundred nitwits used a thousand pages of stupid speculation. That doesn't mean I did. I don't care if she's got better things to do with her time.

I don't.

I loathe her, and I cannot apologize for that. I despise the doctor, too. Not for his training, or his education. Not even for the paternal condescension from the man-boy with a plastic smile.

For their incurious dismissal of my love, my fear, my insecurity.

They move on, dispensing drugs and smugness.

I cannot. I fucking won't.


1925. The world still lays fallow with the blood of millions, dead from war, from plague, from starvation, from expulsion and genocide. Dead from the too common abuses of power. World War One, following on the naiveté of 1899, and 1907.

Passchendaele, Loos, Ypres, Riga, the Somme. Xylyl bromide, chlorine, phosgene, mustard gas and white star.

Gathering in Geneva, representatives of the surviving states assemble to produce a single page document.

To make law, international.

Kropotkin did not err – law protects property. Criminal statutes define offenses against property, or against people so long as they belong to a state, as property. Humanitarians may draft laws. Pacifists may propose them. But the agents of states will use them. Will use them against each other, and their subjects.

A subject, a citizen, enfolded in the webs of law, becomes as property to those who rule the state, and those who benefit most from it. Becomes property to dispose of, or protect.


1899 and 1907, the Hague. The various European and emerging powers assemble, to put to code their protections of their property, of subjects, citizens and productive non-combatants. Tsar Nicholas the Second saw the bright modern future, and worried. So many ways to kill his officers and his peasants. So many ways to die more, and more brutal, deaths. A rampart, for Westphalia. For the preservation of the states themselves.

The machinery of war, and its operators, could rip apart bodies, lay fields of mines, poison laborers and crops, destroy whole countrysides. Bombardment from the sea, from the air, from hill top redoubts. Chemical weapons could sear flesh, turn the eyes to goo, and the lungs to jelly. Hollow point bullets could create a leaded latticework of death, shredding organs.

The Tsar feared. As did his cousins, on the thrones of Europe. And rightly. The old nobility had nothing on the capitalized death machines of the bourgeois states which everywhere subsumed them.

Kropotkin made a better case, but who listened to him?

The world didn't do away with states, and the laws of property. The machinery of war did not disassemble itself.

Hague meant nothing, in the face of that.


Still, 1925. After men choked on gas, across the once fertile fields of Europe, burning from the inside out, after Germany and the USA pursued extensive biological weapons programs, after the weaponization of anthrax, long after Sherman poisoned water supplies with rotten animals, after disease blankets, and the conquests of Indian Country and the Philippines - an addendum, in Geneva:

“...That the High Contracting Parties, so far as they are not already Parties to Treaties prohibiting such use, accept this prohibition, agree to extend this prohibition to the use of bacteriological methods of warfare and agree to be bound as between themselves according to the terms of this declaration.”

No prohibition, of course, on developing, storing or experimenting with them. Just no using them against another state's property...


He experiences a distinct exhaustion, as if he has labored all day, relentlessly drudging through the hardest work. His attention wanders. He lingers on the edge of this bleariness, fighting it. He daydreams to escape it, losing himself in future delights. I can't blame him, but I want to. I want him to beat this, to prove its better.

I seethe at the unfairness of it, pushing him harder than I ought, attempting to break its spell, as if my will alone can supplant his, give him energy, give him focus, allow him to overcome.

He accepts it better than I. He always has, even that first awful day, starting off with a little nausea, ending it with half his face sliding downward, towards his shoulder.

He has a fine memory, better than mine. I remember the injustice, and rage. He remembers his joys, and smiles. He can recount a full story, the details which captured his thought, and then his imagination. Or a scene in a film which brought him to cramping laughter. Or the day I first told him of my pride, his secret place in my heart. That, more than any other, he kept my heart within my chest, allowing me a sense of proportion.


I take no comfort in the law. I reject the categories of crime, and criminality.

I fell from the grace of the middle class embrace, believing I'd never return to it.

Down in the shadows of Boston's high towers, deeper yet, into the subway tunnels, panhandling and stealing autonomy, I struggled against the deep colonization of my nascent mind. Renegade monks running revolutionary shelters, and high prophets of chemistry, broken veterans and Latino narco-saints, black Jesus with his sage advice, whispering, whispering, “sleep with one eye open, own nothing, never trust the law.” Homeless Nigerians with briefcases, spread out tidily on shelter beds; destitute Kenyans with wood alcohol. The queer boy from Southie, protected by those same Latin saints, proudly sheltering the proud maricón; they, collecting lost cases from the edge of rape and violence, armed with the classics, their machete wounds and a fiercer loyalty than I'd ever known before. We spread the gospel of the shared match, of bad liquor and temporary community.
I love them still, those geniuses of crime and labor.

I crawled my way out of degradation, shed my whiteness, shed my identity, peeled away the weight of my history, and yours.

I thought I'd freed myself of Europe, of European America, which spreads the bourgeois law and the war machine in machinations and violence, in structural adjustment programs and facile entertainment. White culture, taught by dutiful nuns and struggling mothers, brought me in infancy and adolescence to a fealty to law, and order, and obedience.

No brown sister or brother has ever asked or demanded that slavery of me.

Working, laboring, I thought I'd freed myself, like Hemmelrich at the end of Man's Fate.

I could not have predicted my own future worse, or with a greater fidelity to error.

I left them, left those streets behind me. I forgot.

I dragged myself up, to fall prey to good conduct and obedience, all over again. I didn't escape the gravity sink. I didn't get far enough away. Sordid, all that. Degradation.

And now, a war crime embeds itself in the flesh of my son.

Not the war crime merely described in the legacy of law. Not the definition of crime, and punishment, enacted to protect the subject-property of the state.

A violation of his life, his flesh.


“Nearing the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union raced to recruit German scientists for postwar purposes. Under a top-secret program code-named Project PAPERCLIP, the U.S. Military pursued Nazi scientistific talent 'like forbidden fruit.,' bringing them to America under employment contracts and offering them full U.S. Citizenship. The recruits were supposed to be nominal participants in Nazi activities. But the zealous military recruited more than two thousand scientists, many of whom had dark Nazi pasts.

American scientists viewed these Germans as peers, and quickly forgot they were on opposite sides of a ghastly global war in which millions perished. Fearing brutal retaliation from the Soviets for the Nazis' vicious treatment of them, some scientists cooperated with the Americans to earn amnesty. Others played the two nations off each other to get the best financial deal in exchange for their services. Dr. Erich Traub was trapped on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain after the war, and ordered to research germ warfare viruses for the Russians. He pulled off a daring escape with his family to West Berlin in 1949. Applying for Project PAPERCLIP employment, Traub affirmed he wanted to 'do scientific work in the U.S.A., become an American citizen, and be protected from Russian reprisals.'

As lab chief of Insel Riems – a secret Nazi biological warfare laboratory on a crescent-shaped island nestled in the Baltic Sea – Traub worked directly for Adolf Hitler's second-in-charge, SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, on live germ trials.”

Lab 257, pps. 7-8, Michael Christopher Carroll, 2004


August 1945: Operation Paperclip, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program to import top Nazi scientists into the United States. Linda Hunt relates in her book, Secret Agenda, that Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer) Dr. Kurt Blome, was saved from the gallows due to American intervention. Blome admitted he had worked on Nazi bacteriological warfare projects and had experimented on concentration camp prisoners with bubonic plague and sarin gas at Auschwitz. After his acquittal at the 1947 Nuremberg Doctors' Trial, Blome was recruited by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and advised the Pentagon on biological warfare. Walter Paul Emil Schreiber, a Wehrmacht general who assigned doctors to experiment on concentration camp prisoners and disbursed state funds for such experiments was another Paperclip recruit; in 1951, Schreiber went to work for the U.S. Air Force School of Medicine. Hubertus Strughold, the so-called "father of space medicine" discussed--and carried out--experiments on Dachau inmates who were tortured and killed; Strughold worked for the U.S. Air Force. Erich Traub, a rabid Nazi and the former chief of Heinrich Himmler's Insel Riems, the Nazi state's secret biological warfare research facility defects to the United States. Traub was brought to the U.S. by Paperclip operatives and worked at the Naval Medical Research Institute and gave "operational advice" to the CIA and the biowarriors at Ft. Detrick. 

September 1945: General Shiro Ishii's Unit 731, a secret research group that organized Japan's chemical and biological warfare programs is granted "amnesty" by Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur in exchange for providing America with their voluminous files on biological warfare. All mention of Unit 731 is expunged from the record of The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. During the war, Unit 731 conducted grisly experiments, including the vivisection of live prisoners, and carried out germ attacks on Chinese civilians and prisoners of war. According to researcher Sheldon H. Harris in Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up, Unit 731 scientists performed tests on prisoners with plague, cholera, smallpox, botulism and other infectious diseases. Their work led to the development of what was called a defoliation bacilli bomb and a flea bomb used by the Imperial Army to spread bubonic plague across unoccupied areas of China. The deployment of these lethal munitions provided the Imperial Army with the ability to launch devastating biological attacks, infecting agriculture, reservoirs, wells and populated areas with anthrax, plague-infected fleas, typhoid, dysentery and cholera. Rather than being prosecuted as war criminals, Unit 731 alumni became top bioweapons researchers. Ishii himself became an adviser at USAMRIID at Ft. Detrick.”


On Borrelia burgdorferi, known commonly as Lyme disease:

"Dr. Burgdorfer: The similarities that I know of are associated with the infection of the brain , the nervous system. The syphilis spirochete, Treponema pallidum has an affinity for nerve tissues. The Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete very likely has that too.  

Children are especially sensitive to Borrelia burgdorferi.

The Lyme disease spirochete is far more virulent than syphilis. We don’t know the end yet. And [we] can’t even make a [blood] smear with Borrelia burgdorferi and see the organism. It’s there. But you don’t see it. You cannot find this spirochete. Why not? After all, I have a sick person here. He is trembling all over. His spinal fluid is full of spirochetes. But when it comes to blood, it’s not there. So there is something associated with this organism that makes it different...

Dr. Burgdorfer: I am a believer in persistent infections because people suffering with Lyme disease, ten or fifteen or twenty years later, get sick [again]. Because it appears that this organism has the ability to be sequestered in tissues and [it] is possible that it could reappear, bringing back the clinical manifestations it caused in the first place. These are controversial issues for microbiologists, as well as the physicians who are asked to treat patients."


I write these words. I quote researchers and scientists. I want to hate. I want to pursue the monsters who devote their lives to tweaking bacteria and viruses, to make weapons of war.

I want to shake them. I want to strike through the layers of their culture, their acculturation in dominion, want them to understand what happens when your child sundowns like an eighty year old. I want to shake them hard, but I know they already have their rationalizations in order.

I also know I wouldn't stop at that...


We picked our son up from school that day, his face distorted by Bell's Palsy. I didn't know anything about Dr. Traub, the lab he helped to found at Plum Island, or Operation PAPERCLIP. I knew about anthrax scares and a bit about weaponized diseases.

I knew a little about Lyme disease, as well.

My father also has it. For two years, doctors refused to call it Lyme disease. One told him his pain, his neuralgia, his headaches could be chalked up to his imagination. “In your head,” the rat fuck said.

He got the spinal tap.

After that, his insurance company refused to pay for extended treatment. Two weeks of antibiotics, and a “good day to you.”

Now he lives with the chronic suffering, and prescription opiates.


Our son received twenty eight days of antibiotics, and then his own good day to you, sugary sweet and reeking of professional condescension. As for the changes in his energy and focus, as for the pain in his joints, we can go fuck ourselves. The doctors don't put it that way, of course.

What they say, instead: “The infection is gone. He was treated in time. He got good treatment, he doesn't have the Bell's Palsy anymore. The other symptoms could be anything...” you fucking working class simpletons, now shut up, I have a golf game, and after that, quail for dinner and a charity benefit.


I don't know if PAPERCLIP Nazis, and their corporate-state sponsored American brethren at Detrick, Plum Island and the various CDC sites mucked with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

I don't know if they produced new strains, or perfected delivery methods.

I do know that they bred ticks at Plum Island, and that various factions in the military, in the federal government and in academia employed men who had already worked on tick borne biological weapons.

I know that an outbreak in Old Lyme, Connecticut, across the sound from Plum Island, has spread to encompass all of the Northeast, radiating outward from a known biological weapons research lab, founded by a Nazi germ warfare scientist, working for the federal government.


A long overlooked document, obtained from the files of an investigation by the office of former Long Island Congressman Thomas Downey, sheds new light on the second, more damning connection to Lyme disease. A USDA 1978 internal research document titled 'African Swine Fever' notes that in 1975 and 1976, contemporaneous with the strange outbreak in Old Lyme, Connecticut, “the adult and nymphal stages of Abylomma americanum and Abylomma cajunense were found to be incapable of harboring and transmitting African swine fever virus.' In layman's terms, Plum Island was experimenting with the Lone Star tick and the Cayenne tick – feeding them viruses and testing them on pigs – during the ground zero year of Lyme disease...The Lone Star tick, named after the white star on the back of the female, is a hard tick; along with its cousin, the deer tick, it is a culprit in the spread of Lyme disease. Interestingly, at the time, the Lone Star tick's habitat was confined to Texas. Today, however, it is endemic throughout New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. And no one can really explain how it migrated all the way from Texas.”

Lab 257, pps. 23-24


I know that I don't have the whole picture, and probably never will.

Ceteris paribus, my son has a disease which showed up just across a narrow band of water from a biological weapons lab, with an epidemic pattern radiating outward from that lab, where war criminals tested the delivery of infectious diseases.


Those who run the state, and the corporations which fund it and benefit from it, set themselves on top of us, above us, a human latticework of power, control and enforcement. They claw their way out of the families, and the communities, from which they come. Or, born to privilege, they reap the benefits of an education in the mastery of others.

They rule, and we live lives that feed that power. Our daily defeats, our less-than existences – the grist for their supremacy.

They wield the state, and the law, as an instrument. Against us. They haul matter up from the earth and the oceans, using our labor to remake it, shaping it into machines of war, into wire fences and projectile bombs, into court house chairs and a prisoner's chains, into the policeman's baton, into the stone and steel cages of the prison industry, into the soft distractions of entertainment, into the alienation of cheap porn and bitter liquor, into their privilege and our submission.

They wage the quiet war of law and order against us, and the long, hot war against those who live atop the resources they want, the raw matter they need to build the machines, and the societies, which maintain their privilege and their power.


Sometimes it comes close enough to home, to a small and insignificant life, already on the margins. Yesterday, the random search. Tomorrow, the street corner camera. Sometimes it skips right past you, to lodge itself in the flesh of your child.

Or it falls as death from the skies, to kill her quickly in a rain of fire.

My child sundowns, the bioweapon revenant; Ahmed's turns to superheated human goo, gone forever. Gone always now from the flesh and left only in the film of memory.


I dragged myself up from the muck of mere labor. Or so I told myself. No Hemmelrich, I, in the end. Not yet. I had a taste of the half-human liberty, the extra income, the disposable pleasures.

I recovered my bourgeois eyes. Started voting. Republican, then Democrat. As if an honest observer can discern a difference, in goals, however occasionally varying the methods.

Some colonizations, like spirochetes, resist the immune response.


He loves me in ways I do not and cannot deserve. He doesn't see my compromises, my lineage of defeats, submissions and capitulations.

I do not deserve him. I fail him, as I fail my wife and our younger son, simply by breathing.

So many compromises.

He wrote this. So much wisdom, discovering his own language, his own words. Mute, I stopped acting his father, found no fault, no tired dissection of grammar, or tone. I hesitated on the cusp of my usual role, seeking the edge of his potential, pulling him toward his own revelations, the best expression, the cleanest cut.

I stopped myself, absorbing his truth instead.

So young, and already wiser than I:

Ode to life
Life brings much to the world
It is rare in this universe
when it happens it takes on amazing shapes.
It would be foolish for man to squander the beauty.
For all life sustains each other.
Plant supports animal and animal supports plant.
Man kills both, and in return pollutes this delicate world.
Yet life still manages, surprisingly resilient, and deceptively so.
But few people care, most pretend this mess will fix itself, some think it to be fiction.
It is my hope that humankind awakens from this folly and steps out of ignorance.
While life boldly presses on in the face of its greatest oppressor, us.”

I did not teach him this. I fear my own influence, holding back my own cultivated sense of justice, and injustice. My heart's predilection for the language of retribution.

He exceeds me, and I go mute, humbled; my joy, tempered on the anvil of sorrow, the indelicate truth of the spirochete invader, the weary look in his eye, the rabid worry about the next time. And the next.


We learned the facts, slowly. The wrath built fast upon them.

A weapon of war, a war crime in our living room, embedded in his beautiful flesh, burrowing, hiding behind his eyes, persistent like any oppression, like bombs over Baghdad, Sarajevo, Khartoum, like the long, slow starvation of Cuba, Haiti and the poor of Iraq and Iran, like disease blankets at the Tsalagi hearth fire. Like the dead and broken and diseased falling behind the footfalls of Empire.

His brotherhood with the victims of the world.

Through him, my own. Our own.


My beautiful boy, so proud, so kind, so wise.

For him, now – my truth.

Uprising, filling me, more than any rage, or the ribbon strips of pain that follow on injustice.

Facing the war machine come close to home.

The spirochete in his living flesh - the fruit of obedience, of following orders, of taking profit and murdering the land, of twisting the shape of life to the ends of murder, war and death.


Against these lies, and these designs, I will stand.

For his flesh.

For the mind that blossoms outward, from it.

For his love. And all those who love him, or some day will.

For his life.

For the unseen, the unknown, the unwitnessed.

For the living.

Against the oppression of the state, against the business of empire, against the industries and the imperium of the death cult of capital, against the priests and the prophets of law and obedience...


No more obedience. No more compromise.

Rise up.


Al Schumann said...

I've read this several times. It's very moving. For what comfort there is, his tenacity and wisdom have my respect.

Jack Crow said...

Thank you, Al. I haven't told him I wrote it, yet. If he wants to read it, I'll pass on your words, as well.

It's weird.

I didn't think I would write this.

I worried that I wouldn't get it right.

It actually started when he let me read his poem, and I thought about his views on life, in contrast to mine, and this led me to ponder the infection.

What it meant for his future, even if he doesn't have another major outbreak for ten or fifteen years.

I thought about the research we'd done. The conclusions we'd drawn.

I wondered if I'd make a case, or run into the usual obstruction, the misrepresentations that come out of Yale, and elsewhere, and the amount of work being done by pharma and insurance companies to ensure that Lyme disease is obfuscated.

I worried about using Lab 257, which doesn't and won't explicitly connect Bb to Plum Island (and neither will I, as much as I believe there is enough circumstantial evidence to connect the current epidemic to that facility), because it was an invitation to misunderstanding.

A misunderstanding which got me a hostile response elsewhere.

So I guess I have to make clear: I don't suggest that Bb is new, was developed by caricature Nazi mad scientists, or their corporate counterparts.

I'm suggesting, only, that the epidemic is new, that it's carried in part in a species not native to the region in which the epidemic is most concentrated, and that it radiates outward from a lab where disease bearing vectors were used to test bioweapons, and where security protocols were lax to non-existent.

As I explained elsewhere. I grew up around these parts. I've lived here my entire life.

Growing up - and this is confirmed by the testimony of hundreds of other natives, including family members who lived in, trapped in and hunted the woods of fields of New England - we did not have any incidence of Lyme disease, but we had plenty of skill in identifying and removing ticks.

Ticks have always been a problem.

Lyme disease has not.

Do I believe that Lyme disease most likely spread from Plum Island, given the amount of data about US bio warfare programs, there - given the data about US active experiments in New York subways - given the data about one hundreds years of bio weapons research - given the data about Plum Island's notoriously lax disease and outbreak control problems?


Do I state unequivocally that this must be the only case?

No. I cannot.

davidly said...

It takes courage to rise. This poetry, tragic as it is, present a perseverance in the face of cold inhumanity which encourage all of us to make the climb.

Jack Crow said...

Thank you, Davidly.

When I think about all the compromises I've made with my life, about all the times I chose a too simple convenience, or a thoughtless luxury, I want to run again for the cover of apathy.

I don't mean to suggest that convenience or luxury are wrong, in their own rights.

I'm too much of a cornucopian to make that case with any sincerity.

But, I've had time to make those mistakes which contributed to the persistent order of degradation and to take stock of them again.

I've had time, in that light, to take a stand.

Maybe I do so on shifting ground, on the wet sand of my own belief, confusing signs for symptoms.

I'm not sure it matters, in the end.

We are surrounded by case after case of the consequences of the persistent order of degradation.

If we don't rise, if we don't walk away when and where we can, I think we condemn our children, next, to the clutches of an order, and to its consequent disorders, which will be even harder to escape.

Ethan said...

I'm filled with a desire to respond to this but find myself without words. I hope this suffices.

Jack Crow said...

Ethan, I humbly submit that it does suffice.