Go Ahead, Declare Martial Law For All I Care


At regular intervals I switch on the news and the scene flashes to someplace in Africa. Inevitably it’s a place I’ve never heard of because someone changed its name — again. A ragged mob is running around in bits and pieces of tattered uniform shooting at another ragged mob dressed in more bits and pieces of uniform.

Bullets are flying everywhere, mostly up in the air because ain’t nobody gonna stick his head over a wall to see who’s getting shot — or shooting back.

And when the camera backs up and I get a glimpse of the small mud-brick town where all this is taking place the only thing I see are large pairs of eyes, mostly kids’ eyes, peeping over the thresholds of windows, or around a doorway with a high-security door made of a burlap bag.

And then comes the onerous announcement out of some national news anchor.

“The interim government of Mogododo has declared martial law in the Ruggamugga district and is sending in troops to control the violence.”

I can just picture it. Here comes a third bunch of guys dressed in bits and pieces of tattered uniform — and shooting at everyone else. The only difference is that this bunch comes with nice new berets. I’ve often wondered where they get all those new berets. The French got something going on over there? Do they just break them out for the declaration of martial law and put them back in mothballs until the next time the balloon goes up?

I wouldn’t mind having a few berets.

They would make perfect covers for the sheepskin buffing cloths on my buffing machine. Probably would put just the perfect final touch on my pickup — if I ever get time to polish it again.

But wear a beret? Get serious! I look silly enough already.

Ever ask yourself why the governments over there are always referred to as “interim?” Don’t those places ever hang together long enough to have a permanent government? And “interim” between what and what? The hard spot and the rock? I tell you, if I lived in one of those places, and it had a shore touching the Atlantic, I’d buy a pair of water wings, get some water pump grease, slather myself up, pack a garbage bag full of water bottles and hardtack, and start swimming for the good old U. S. of A.

And that’s one batch of illegals I wouldn’t be sending back. Or if I did send them back, I’d train them, arm them to the teeth, issue them steel helmets instead of %$#@! berets, put them on a couple of dozen tank-carrying landing craft packed with Abrahms tanks, get them mad as hell, and let them go home, clean house, and get their country on track — with real martial law.

What I wouldn’t do is send our troops over there to give everybody nice recognizable targets to shoot at.

Anyway, I have never heard anyone sound quite as lugubrious as a news anchor uttering the words “martial law.” It’s as though the unthinkable has been thunk. I can almost see inside that beady little brain in the talking head on the screen.

“Oh dear! Martial law. Guys in uniform actually enforcing the law. How could I get my limousine driver to speed on the way to work? How could I cheat on my taxes? How could I sit here at my desk spouting half truths? You can’t bribe a guy who’s pointing a gun at your belly. Not our troops anyway. If they didn’t like what I was saying they might just start shooting. Me! That’s not fair. Of course there would be officers I could try bribing, but a lot of them get shot during martial law. Friendly fire, you know?”

“Uh-uh! No way! I better smear it on thick and scare the audience. That way we’ll never get martial law over here.”

“And so folks, once again Mogododo is torn by internecine warfare and has declared martial law in the state of ...”

Yeah. The news media and martial law. Like oil and water.

Truth is, martial law isn’t at all bad. Given a choice between martial law and some of the federal law enforcement, or lack of law enforcement, I’ve seen lately I’d jump at the chance to see a guy in an Army uniform enforcing the actual written laws.

They’d get enforced. Would they ever!

I wouldn’t want to see martial law forever, of course. Sooner or later everything gets messed up. Civilians are always sticking their noses into military matters and screwing them up royally, so you’d have that to worry about after a while. But if you give the military a job, all you have to do is say, “Here’s what we want you to do.” Then you get out of the way so you don’t get trampled.

Suppose, for example, we sent the Army down to the border and told them to “secure the area.” We could just wander off on our regular business and forget about it. Job done. Or better still, what if we sent in the Marines? That would be that. “Whatta you want us to do now, Sarge? Call graves registration?”

I’ll never forget the day some 30 years ago when an Army general got tired of hearing about the thinning of the ozone layer over Antarctica.

“For God’s sake!” he said. “Just send some back up there!”

People laughed, especially the news media, but they all quit laughing when scientists looked into it and said the same thing. That’s the way it is in the military. Got a problem? Do something about it. Don’t sit around drooling into your porridge during your 30-second term in Congress, while you think of ways to drum up votes for your kid so he can inherit your seat.

Anyway, I can prove that martial law isn’t what the media thinks it is.

How? Well, I lived under martial law for 30 months while I was stationed on Okinawa. It was a breath of fresh air. They told us the rules. We lived by them. End of story. That 30 months went by in a flash. One of the best tours of duty I ever served.

Even the Okinawans enjoyed living under martial law. There was literally no crime.

That’s a great thing. You should try it.

Well, as often happens, when I start on a subject that’s so much fun to talk about, I’ll finish up next week. See you then.


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