The Godfather, Fifty Years Later


 David Swanson, World BEYOND War, May 23, 2022

This Memorial Day, we have a solemn responsibility to glorify participants in wars that will leave no survivors.

We should not lightly disregard the longstanding custom of celebrating only those who have already participated in orgies of mass murder.

But we also have a duty to look forward with what discernment we can muster. In the absence of an omniscient future-crime bureau, we can only act on probabilities. However, the likelihood of all-consuming nuclear war is increasing rapidly, and by preemptively celebrating it we only add to the near-certainty of its coming. We must act now. We cannot take the risk of WWIII surprising us in between Memorial Days and finding no opportunity to dignify the ultimate industrialized cannibalism before the final lights out.

So, a future-crime Memorial Day is a necessity, but it also has serendipitous advantages. Normally, we are reduced to celebrating actual wars, with all their flaws and failings. A nuclear war is far less messy and bloody than most wars — at least in an imaginary caricature, and a war that hasn’t happened yet can be idealized as we see fit.

This also gives us the opportunity to praise and glorify people while they are around to appreciate it. Mourning the dead has always made complete sense, but celebrating the mindless obedience and sadistic destruction of the dead has never seemed quite right — probably because our cheers have never reached the ears of the fallen.

It’s also always seemed a bit off to be celebrating only a tiny fraction of the dead, only the military participants, and only those in one military. Statistically, the dead in the coming apocalypse will also be mostly civilians, but we’re no longer honoring the dead — we’re straightforwardly encouraging the participants among the living.

It’s also always been a problem that the military dead have been mostly low-ranking people compelled to kill and die or face prison, people mostly drafted by poverty and ignorance, whereas we couldn’t properly memorialize those most responsible while they were themselves playing golf. In the revamped Memorial Day this problem vanishes. We can prioritize as appropriate, perhaps even with some major ceremonies in honor of Bitutinensky (Biden, Putin, and Zelensky) — credit where due!

No reason not to also finally, at long last, memorialize the weapons company CEOs — after all, they are going to die with everyone else, just in nicer clothes.

No reason, also, not to put this thing into the selfish first-person and ask everyone to memorialize themselves in the name of Lockheed Martin. We who are about to die, salute you!

But the major advantage of a future-crime Memorial Day is that we can memorialize more than just people who are about to die. We can memorialize dolphins, roses, mice, butterflies, forests, and coral reefs. We can memorialize childhood and marriage and sports and dancing. We can memorialize music and kisses and breakfast on the beach. We can memorialize every goddamned thing we can think of. That’s the size of this idea, folks. Go big or go home. This Memorial Day needs to be the best one ever!


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host.