So Sergeant Robert Bale killed 16 Afghan civilians when he was on tour in Afghanistan. And apparently his associates can’t believe it. They’re so sad for him.
In a New York Times article, At Home, Asking How “Our Bobby” Became War Crime Suspect, they’re truly shocked — I mean SHOCKED!!
Michelle Caddell, 48, who knew Sergeant Bales when he was growing up, watched a video clip of the news over and over and over again, mesmerized by disbelief. “I wanted to see, maybe, a different face,” she said, fighting back tears. “Because that’s not our Bobby. Something horrible, horrible had to happen to him.”
The article delves into Bale’s past, decribing his promising beginnings, glossing over a civilian assault, addressing Bale’s family’s financial problems and wondering about post-combat PTSD. Portraying Bale as a sad victim of external pressures, the article pities him. Poor white, cis, hetero guy! Look at what was done to him!
The narratives of shock and disbelief prevent the article from showing Bale as someone who committed a horrible crime. They prevent his white, cis, hetero, military male privilege from being interrogated and criticized. They stir up the old fallacies driven into our heads by this rape culture of ours: “He’s such a nice guy; he couldn’t do something like that. Maybe the so-called victims somehow deserved it.”
Our culture needs to get over the “nice [straight, white] guy” myth. It’s getting in the way of important discussions about and changes that need to occur regarding the ills of hegemonic US masculinity, the mental health of military personnel, just what the hell we’re doing over there in Afghanistan anyway and how justice will be served for the 16 people that Bales murdered!