Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
I keep communicating my concerns for our immediate future. You who read my words know I’ve long been concerned over escalations of violence and the prospect of it all getting out of control and resulting in a civil war none of us can escape. Many might scoff at the idea of enough lunatic people to produce such a scenario. I want to offer you something to think about that might change your mind. I want to tell you how killers are created, and then point you to what you’re seeing on many streets of America today.
I trust you all comprehend the truth that there are many kinds of killers. I’ll discuss several so I’m certain you understand my central point.
Psychotic killers have such a divergence in their psychology, they have lost the ability to understand that killing other people is morally wrong. They have no moral compass at all. They act on their own demented impulses and gain pleasure from inflicting pain and killing. We all are aware that little children who abuse their pets, pull the wings off flies, or kill birds solely for their own amusement are to be carefully watched. Those are signs that the child has no empathy; no ability to relate to other beings as having a right to peaceful existence. Those are kids who often seem to grow into psychotic killers. The hallmark of such killers is their otherwise seeming normality. Other than their penchant for inflicting pain and killing on impulse, the psychotic can appear amazingly normal.
There is another kind of impulse killer. They aren’t psychotic. They understand what they do is wrong, but they don’t care. They have one or several neuroses which abets their violence. They may be sociopaths who believe they occupy the center of the known universe and everyone else in their lives is their inferior. They could be so seriously paranoid they kill out of a desperate need for self-protection. There are many variations of this kind of killer.
A third variety of impulse killer is the one motivated by desperation and temporary mental confusion. What they do used to be referred to as crimes of passion. This is the person who most often kills someone very close to them—their spouse, parent, sibling, best friend, or someone else very important in their lives. In earlier times, such crimes were almost excused. Statistically, such killers rarely commit another act of extreme violence. Their crime was committed during a time of great personal stress and while in a mental state that may never be replicated.
I do want to mention another emotional condition that scares the heck out of people, but isn’t normally associated with killing. I want to mention it because it’s a very serious mental disorder. I’m talking about paranoid schizophrenia. While it’s true that murders have been committed by un-medicated schizophrenics (think here of Ted Kaczynski), it’s very rare, and usually occurs during the course of a serious delusion, where the distortions of reality make it impossible for the perpetrator to understand the moral aspect of their actions.
I mention mental conditions precisely because I want everyone to understand those conditions are not what I’m talking about. Those conditions have always existed and may exist for all time. They are organic reasons for murders committed by people. What I really want to discuss is how killers are created—the process of purposefully transforming generally normal people into those who will willingly take the life of another and walk away feeling perfectly justified.
I assume some of you who read that last sentence immediately had a picture in your mind of a rifle-wielding soldier. Soldiers do kill, though to call them killers is not accurate. They willingly take the lives of others in the course of doing what they signed up to do. They generally feel justified for what they do, because they find themselves in situations of kill-or-be-killed. They most often kill in battlefield engagements where their own life is in peril. You might correctly assume the vast majority of the people in the military are otherwise normal citizens. But, they’ve been transformed. They’ve been altered into someone who can, given the right circumstances and justification, take the lives of others. Most front-line soldiers will tell you they derived no pleasure from killing. In truth, most are horrified by the memories they carry around the rest of their lives. But, most will still assert they feel no sense of guilt. They accept as part of “the deal” that they were always a moment away from death by the hand of their enemies. They were just lucky to survive.
The question of the soldier is part of the point. Back during the Vietnam War, the nation still drafted men into the U.S. Army and, for a time, into the U.S. Marine Corps. Most draftees weren’t young men who particularly wanted anything at all to do with the military. Those who wanted to experience a martial existence volunteered for service in the Army and Marines. Those who also wanted the experience, but didn’t necessarily want to unduly risk their lives volunteered for the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, or the U.S. Coast Guard. It really didn’t matter which service anyone found themselves in, the process they endured between raising their hands to swear in and receiving orders to their first real duty assignment was pretty much the same. There were variations of emphasis between the services, but the process itself, from the standpoint of transforming the new service member from a civilian to a valuable military asset, varied only in that emphasis. For those in the Army and Marines, there were two areas of emphasis—how to stay alive, and how to neutralize their enemy. Neutralize…a euphemism for…well, you know.
There’s no sugar-coating it; the purpose of the infantry soldier and the Marine on the battlefield is to neutralize the effectiveness of opposing forces. That translates into killing and wounding enough of the designated enemy to ensure their effectiveness as fighting force is destroyed. How does a kid who was in high school one year transform into someone who can put another human in the sights of his rifle and pull the trigger the next? The military knows how. I’ll explain it as best I can. Then I’ll discuss how Antifa, BLM, and other domestic terror organizations manage the same transformation. There’s a lot of similarity, though there are important differences, which should be the clue of how to deal with any domestic group that resorts to violence to make a point.
The military transformation is accomplished through social shock therapy. As soon as a new recruit arrives at their basic training camp and steps off the bus, the transformation begins. The buses are timed to arrive after dark. Darkness disorients. The buses are met by drill instructors, who bellow nonstop at extreme volume, exhorting the new recruits to disembark as fast as they can. For most young people, being yelled at with such extreme energy and volume is very disorienting. The first order given as people scramble off the busses is “LINE UP!” The new recruits do their best to comply, but their best is never enough. The yelling only continues, and in fact increases in ferocity and volume. It’s easy for a new recruit to believe they’ve done something wrong and to panic. It’s very hard to maintain one’s composure. The Sergeants or Chiefs in charge focus on those who appear apprehensive and descend on them for special attention. If you want great examples of this scene, get copies of the movies PLATOON and OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN. I remember the first time I watched those movies. I was laughing out loud in the theater because I remembered every second of my first hours in the military and the absurdity of it all was starkly apparent on the screen. It is absurd, too, unless you happen to be one of the recruits. When you’re the subject of such treatment, you have a totally different reaction. You either steel yourself to withstand whatever is coming next, or you begin to break down.
Without elaborating more on the specifics of the experience, allow me to short-cut it and get right to the essence of basic training as a process. There are three essential aspects of the process: eliminate the civilian personal identity, develop military competence, and implant the new military personality. That’s all there is to it. It works, too. It’s worked the same way forever.
The first step is to remove the civilian personality. That’s mostly done by continuous disorientation. The arrival scene is the first step, which is followed by marching to the receiving barracks to endure a bit of sleep deprivation.
The first night in basic training everything and everyone is new. Many, many new words are heard. New orders are shouted and the struggle is to comprehend them in order to successfully obey. A shocking level of swearing is heard, and at high volume. Derisive nicknames are assigned that often stick to a recruit. Everything is confusing and most recruits only want to go to sleep and hope the sun will bring less confusion on the next day. But, no one is allowed to sleep or even crawl into their bunk until those in charge decide it’s time. Instead, each recruit is handed a pen and a sheet of paper and ordered to write a letter to their mother or whoever their nearest relative is to report their arrival and that they’re doing fine. They’re given at most ten minutes to write the letter and give a mailing address for the recipient before all the sheets of paper and pens are collected. There’s always one who didn’t write anything. That person is taken out of the barracks and given “personal encouragement” to comply. It’s usually around 3:00 a.m. before those in charge finally decide the night’s fun is over. The recruits are given ten minutes to get ready for bed, then it’s lights out. They’re ordered not to talk after lights out. Most are too afraid to. Others are too tired.
The next event is breakfast. Everyone is woken up at 5:00 a.m. and given fifteen minutes to get ready to march to breakfast. The shouting, orders, and seeming harassment continues during the march. The recruits are taught how to form up to wait their turn for breakfast. They stand in formation while companies of uniformed recruits from senior companies arrive and enter the chow hall ahead of them. The new recruits arrive first, but in most basic training sites, they are fed last. It’s not like they have anything better to do. So they stand there in silence and wait, watching all the other companies come and then go. When they finally get into the chow hall, they’re told they have ten minutes to get their food, then fall back out in front of the chow hall and form up again. The recruits usually react with panic and rush through the chow line, then gobble up as much food as they can before the shouting begins again. The worst experience of the morning descends on whoever decides to be the last person out of the chow hall. No one should want to be that person.
After chow, the recruits proceed to the building where their uniforms are issued. It’s a scene of organized chaos. The recruits are sized up by those who give them all they need; an entirely new wardrobe. The only time it appears there’s any special care to ensure something fits is at the end, where the shoes and boots are handed out. The military services do want your footwear to fit right. Few things can affect the combat effectiveness of a person quicker than shoes or boots that don’t fit right.
At the end of uniform issue the recruits are led to a changing room full of boxes. They’re told to change out of their civilian clothes and into a set of their new uniforms, and to put all the belongings they brought from home into the box in front of them. After they’re pretty much through, each recruit is handed a marker and a mailing label and told how to send their box back home. This is the point when the tangible ties to their old lives are severed. Everything they brought with them is going. Everything they have is new. The new identity is being formed.
The next stop is the tailor shop, where uniforms are marked for alterations. The recruits keep one set of uniforms to hand back in once all the rest of their outfitting is altered.
Uniform issue takes almost half a day. After everyone has been issued their new outfits, they’re a bit more uniform in their appearance. The new recruit company is marched back the chow hall and formed up to wait for their turn to eat lunch. It’s a repeat scene; not much different from breakfast.
Just after noon chow, the recruits are marched off to get their first haircut. I’m told the new basic haircut isn’t quite the buzz cut I experienced, but it’s not far from it. The haircut is a very simple process. You walk in one door as a civilian wearing a military uniform, and you walk out with your head as part of your uniform. Those who have spent their teen years growing long hair are often seen crying and sniffling as they exit the barber shop. That provides yet another opportunity for those in charge to assign nicknames and to ridicule.
By this point, it becomes evident to each recruit that they no longer have a first name. They’re addressed by their last name only, unless they were unfortunate enough to acquire a nickname. That’s it. What else is needed?
Most times, the first afternoon is spent in the first session of close-order drill, teaching the new recruits basic marching orders and how to follow them. From any distance, it looks comedic, like a scene from an old Keystone Cops silent movie. Most recruits get that, and are pretty frustrated during their first drill session.
The last major event of the day is evening chow, which repeats the other two chow experiences. Then the company is marched to their new, permanent barracks to begin to learn their new evening routines. They learn they’re responsible for cleaning their barracks. They learn the fundamentals of making their bunks and stowing their new uniforms. They also learn about shining shoes and polishing brass. It’s a lot to learn in only a few short hours. Lights out is at 10:00 p.m.
The second day starts much like the first with one exception. Now that the new recruits are in uniform, with fresh haircuts, they’re almost indistinguishable from all the other recruits on base. Instead of eating last, they just line their company up in formation and wait their turn. Things are getting better already!
The second morning is when the medical screening takes place. The company is marched off to medical and goes through a very comprehensive medical exam, followed by a trip to the shot clinic. Shot clinic is a process designed to unsettle. Medical technicians draw blood and administer shots in an assembly-line fashion. I don’t recall being told what any of the shots were for. I just know I was given about a dozen. Some hurt more than others. There’s always someone in the crowd who faints during the blood draw, and also at least one who will faint during the shots. Those occasions result in the now-expected reaction from those Sergeants or Chiefs in charge; it’s very loud and obnoxious. Then, it’s off to chow again.
The second half of the day is often spent in the testing lab, where aptitude and other assessment testing is administered to aid in classifying each recruit and ensure they enter a military career field they’re suited for.
The day ends with another close-order drill session, followed by evening chow and then to the barracks to commence their evening routine of cleaning the barracks and personal and uniform maintenance.
I’ve purposefully left out a few hundred details.
By the third day, those who have been paying any attention understand their basic marching commands and know what to expect from those who are in charge of them. They understand their job is to follow directions and to be where they’re supposed to be when they’re expected to be there. They know how to get properly dressed in the time allotted and know how to make their bunks up and ensure everything that’s theirs is in its assigned place. They would all make their mother’s proud.
On the third day, the recruits are issued their weapon. They spend time discussing their weapon; what they can do with it, and what they can’t. They’re told their weapon is theirs, and it’s to go wherever they go unless they’re relieved of that responsibility. They’re told punishment for letting their weapon get out of their reach will be swift and severe. They’re told every weapon will be accounted for at the end of each day, and if one is missing, the entire company will be punished until it’s returned.
I’ll stop now with this aspect of military training. What I want you to get from the paragraphs above is that military recruit training is a highly structured environment that’s conceived specifically to rapidly strip any inductee of his/her individual identity and replace it with one that’s oriented toward thinking of the company instead of self; to be part of a whole and to be concerned with the success and failure of everyone around them. They quickly learn that punishments are swift and sure, and that many times those punishments are meted out to all, not just to one. It’s pretty clever, really.
In its essence, developing military competence is just vocational training. If you’re Army or a Marine, you have to learn to march long distances, understand basics of weapons and weapon maintenance, emergency medical response, how to use the various tools and instruments that are encountered in field units, and marksmanship. Everyone focuses on marksmanship, but it’s only one of the important elements of being a “ground pounder,” and not necessarily the most important. Those who are in the air or sea services will have emphasis on either aircraft-related or ship-related tasks, normally experienced by junior personnel. By the end of basic training, most recruits have sufficient experience to be of some practical use in their next assignment. The real guts of what they need to know is learned on the job, once they’re at their permanent assignment. That’s where senior members impart their lessons-learned upon the new people. It’s more than just tribal knowledge transference, though. Most things done by the military are documented in books that are required to be studied. Basic training only serves as an intro into all of that.
The new military personality is developed incrementally. Stripping one of his/her civilian identity is usually accomplished by the end of the first day. The transformation process takes weeks. It’s done day by day, as the recruit begins to incorporate all they see and hear into their consciousness and develops new habits of thought, speech, and action. Those whose future jobs might require them to be in combat, the Army and Marine recruits, spend a good deal of time learning about “the enemy.” They learn how to fight hand-to-hand and with weapons, including rifles, pistols, knives, and weapons of opportunity. They learn the most effective ways to neutralize an enemy with any weapon at their disposal, even if it’s a nearby rock. All their training in fighting and weapons is designed to build self-confidence. All along the way, they’re told their whole purpose is to defeat “the enemy,” though that enemy is never identified. They’re also told they’re of no use if they do anything dumb and get themselves killed. In simple terms, they learn that killing the enemy is okay. Getting killed—not okay. They’re even told how much it costs to put a recruit all the way through training and admonished not to waste the taxpayers’ money by getting themselves killed, creating the need for yet another recruit. Another phase of their training emphasizes survival. None of the training is in-depth, but the point is reinforced that they’re expected to do anything and everything to maintain their status as part of an effective fighting force.
By the time recruit training is complete, most of those those whose future jobs might include killing an enemy accept the idea. They aren’t killers, but they certainly aren’t the children their parents waved goodbye to only a couple of months before. If the time comes, and it too often has, those who are trained to do so will usually step up and do their jobs. They will become active instruments of national policy implementation in the most real sense. When confronted by an enemy, their newly acquired instinct is to attack and kill. Any fear is mitigated by concern for the soldier or Marine to the immediate right and left. They’ve learned that the best way to stay alive is to ensure those people stay alive, too.
Antifa and Black Lives Matters activists have been trained to kill, too. But, not in the same way. Consider who most of them were when they started out—young people with strong feelings of alienation; loners; garage and basement dwellers who seemed to have lost their will to challenge the difficulties of life and make their own way. They were recruited by email contacts by activist recruiters who constantly monitor those who visit the various sites run by the progressives and their activist front organizations. They were people others tagged as “losers,” and indeed many of them were adrift and in need of something to anchor them. They needed a cause and a meaningful way to attach themselves to that cause. Antifa and BLM had no problem recruiting them. At first, their efforts in the streets were relatively timid. Their attacks on others were mostly sneak attacks from behind. They used weapons, but rarely brandished them. They were rank amateurs. But, that was three and four years ago. That was Ferguson. They’ve grown since then. They’ve become killers.
The obvious question is, “How?” There is a similarity to a military recruit training camp in that the progression from civilian to one who will kill was incremental. But there are vast differences in the methodology. Antifa and BLM trainers define and freeze images of their chosen enemies. They keep the focus of their “recruits” on their defined enemy, but don’t worry about personality transformation. That will come soon enough. They subject their minions to repetitious and almost nonsensical propaganda, but instead of using high-pressure techniques to push their recruits they use encouragement. They do hands-on training in the streets. They train with weapons, too. As with all things, the progressives took their time to grow their core groups of street fighters.
Now that they have proven their methodology, their recruiting has changed. They’re no longer looking for the lost “loser” who dwells in the basement. Now, they’re on the lookout for those with borderline personalities, who have a propensity for violence. They no longer need ideological adherents to help justify their existence. Their movements, such as they are, have progressed beyond ideology. Their movements are now focused principally on wreaking havoc, creating chaos, burning, mayhem, and yes…murder. Why do the methods used by the activist groups work? Because, so far they’ve largely gotten away with their actions. They’ve paid no price. They’ve not only been tolerated and excused, they’ve been encouraged. They are making news! What better recruiting tool could there be?
I do have a question in my mind about the killers of Antifa, BLM, and the rest. Twenty years from now, when they look back at what they did, will they be proud of their service to the nation? Will they have regrets? Perhaps that question is premature. It’s possible that answer will depend solely on the outcome of the coming election. Their future, the future of Antifa’s members and BLM’s and all the other groups involved in the street violence in the country could end badly for them, or they could become our nation’s future celebrated heroes. Think about that.
Here’s one way to consider all this. If your job is to kill your enemy according to the International Laws of War and abide by rules established by the Geneva Convention and also according to legitimate orders by superiors, and especially to ensure neither you nor your best friends die, then it may be a really dirty job, but it’s one that can be legally and morally justified. If your job is to create chaos, disruption, and havoc, to burn buildings that may be occupied, and to use deadly weapons against unarmed people or those posing no threat to you, it could be very hard to justify any of those actions. Whenever the act is clearly illegal, any talk of “higher purpose” must always be questioned. Whenever any act puts property and lives in peril that act should be absolutely justifiable, or it is immoral as well as illegal. It’s obvious the killers of Antifa, BLM and their ilk believe in the propaganda they’ve been fed and believe their actions are justified. But, I suspect 90% of America doesn’t agree.
What about you?
Steve© Steve A. Stone
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.