by Student Peace Action Network
“This is so cool! This is so cool,” the enthralled 13 year-old kept repeating as he squeezed rounds from his M-16, picking off “enemy combatants” while perched on a real Army Humvee. We’re in the new Army Experience Center in suburban Philadelphia and the young teen, who doesn’t look older than eleven, was obviously impressed with the Army’s killing machines. “I just came to the mall to skateboard in the skate park across the hall but everyone said this was pretty cool. I just had to try it and its great!”
The Perfect Gateway to Institutionalized Killing
Video games offer the perfect segue between childhood innocence and institutionalized killing. That’s why the Army opened the Army Experience Center, a one-of-a-kind, 14,500-square-foot “virtual educational facility” in August, 2008. Although the Army says it’s not about recruiting, all 20 soldiers stationed at the mall are active duty recruiters.The Army will run the Experience Center as a pilot program for up to two years when it will decide whether to launch them nationally, like so many Wal-Marts. Early reports regarding the success of the program indicate that the Army Experience Center is able to attract the same number of recruits as five traditional recruiting centers in the area surrounding Bensalem, the Philadelphia suburb where Franklin Mills Mall is located.
What is happening right under our noses is a transformation of the way in which the military plans on re-wiring the brains of kids at a very young and impressionable age to turn them into silent killers. By allowing anyone from the age of 13 to 18 to handle a machine gun, or use games that promote violence, it creates a generation that is wired to kill and think that killing is something that is easy and sanctioned.
Silence is Complicity
Allowing this to happen is being complicit in the violence we see now occurring on our high school and college campuses. The numbing of the child’s brain to react to witnessing death and destruction is what is happening in this center. Common sense tells us that, and yet this place is allowed to exist and is paid for by taxpayer funds.
On Saturday, May 2nd, over 300 people from all over the northeast decided to take action. A coalition of over 30 anti-war, peace and justice groups rallied at St. Luke’s Church on Knights Road, just about a mile away from the Franklin Mills Mall, which houses the AEC. Everyone was fired up about shutting this atrocity down, and you could feel the energy in the crowd that ranged from Viet Nam vets to Iraq Vets to young students. Drums were heard, speeches and rallying cries to “Shut it Down!”
From Student Peace Action Network, www.studentpeaceaction.org. Other similar sites: www.peace-action.org, www.campusactivism.org, www.nyspc.org/ (National Youth & Student Peace Coalition) www.notyoursoldier.org/, www.thinkoutsidethebomb.org/, www.hiphopcaucus.org/, and www.unitedforpeace.org.
Photo: http://1.bp.blogspot.com and http://indymedia.us/en/2009/03/36554.shtml.