Posts Tagged ‘violence’

I’m really trying not to flip out every time the right wing says something this week, but Sarah Palin is not making it easy for me.

Her latest statement on the Giffords incident is, in a word, vile. Not only does Palin miss the chance to show any contrition for drawing up maps with crosshairs over the now-shot Rep. Giffords’ district (or for her and her colleagues violence-laden rhetoric), but she managed to invoke the status of a persecuted European Jew to describe the awful phenomenon of people finally holding her accountable for her words.

Just so we’re on the same page here, this is an excerpt from Palin’s statement:

If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

The phrase “blood libel” has a very dark history. It’s not a phrase that simply means “to falsely attribute responsibility for violence.” It has a very specific meaning, and it refers to the old European anti-Semitic slander that Jews kidnapped Christian children so they could eat their body parts during religious festivals like Passover. This slander led to the false prosecution of any number of Jews in cases where a murder of a child occurred, often of whole groups of Jews who were implicated in the hate-motivated conspiracy theory of the local Christians. Blood libel played a major role in the persecution of Jews in Europe over at least two centuries. Pogroms have been triggered by the blood libel.

Sarah Palin is drawing an analogy between people finally calling her out on her and her movement’s violence-laden rhetoric and the anti-Semitic hate slander that led to the killing of European Jews.

This persecution complex of the right wing astounds me. With the Supreme Court, Congress, and the White House under the control of majorities who identify themselves as Christians, with a de-facto religious test built into our politics for high elected office, with Christianity being by far the largest religion adhered to by religious Americans, the right wing puts out constant propaganda that “we have to turn America back to God” and that “Christianity is under attack.” While it’s true that Christianity is under attack in other places around the world, honestly and violently under attack, that is not the case in the United States.

What is the case in the U.S. is that we have a political movement jockeying to represent a clearly defined demographic group, in this case Christians, that make up a majority of the population (again, because that group has enormous political power, not because it’s “under attack”). What all these claims of persecution and of the need to “turn America back to God” amount to is a call that the majority be able trample the rights of the minority so the majority can live in a pure society untainted by the sin of the outsider. What the folks making this argument may or may not understand is where this kind of agitation leads: what Rene Girard identified as the “sacrificial crisis.”

In a sacrificial crisis, a society’s rituals for managing violence break down, the ritual observances’ ability to create unity losing their effect. The society begins to look for causes for the ineffectiveness and for the increasing pressure within the culture, for the “anger of God.” They inevitably focus on the contamination of “the Other,” the person or people in the group that are different than the majority, those that “pollute” an otherwise “pure” culture. As the idea solidifies that the Other is to blame, a herd mentality begins to form that directs the violence of the community in the Other’s direction. The community is once again united–in violence–as they sacrifice the Other. The unity created by the majority’s mob mentality gives the illusion that the rituals are working again, masking the fact that the unity is only the unity of the gang.

This is why it’s so essential that we continue to hold people like Sarah Palin responsible for their violent rhetoric: our country is ripe for a crisis. Our rituals aren’t working. The Prosperity Gospel is in the gutter. Millions of people participated in a mass movement to get the right wing out of office, and it we still find ourselves mired in war, unemployment and general malaise. Millions of other people just voted Republicans into office in Congress, but they’ll discover as they did in the Tom DeLay years that people who campaign to obtain political power don’t generally use it to reduce the power they have. (Just wait until they get the Presidency and Congress again, and watch.) In short, it seems like nothing is working, and each of us is becoming less secure. As the pressure builds, the tendency to identify an Other and make violence against that Other acceptable will increase.

The right wing is playing with fire, both with their violent rhetoric and with their language of persecution. Each pushes a society already sliding in the direction of a sacrificial crisis that much closer to the edge. That’s what makes Sarah Palin’s statement so appalling. Not only did she not retract her violent imagery and rhetoric, but she compounded it with the language of bloody persecution. If those who support people who use this kind of language don’t forcefully denounce it, we’re all going to get burned.

U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot today at a public event outside a grocery store in her home district. Many other people were hurt or killed, including a 9-year-old child. Giffords has been the target of repeated nudge-nudge-wink-wink incitements by the right wing over the past several months, including being put on a “hit list” (complete with cross-hairs over her district’s location) by Sarah Palin, and an event hosted by her electoral opponent Jesse Kelly (endorsed by Palin) where you could “Get on target for victory in November Help Remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot an automatic rifle.” Shot at point-blank range with the bullet passing through her brain, Giffords survived the attack and the surgery and is in critical condition.

The shooter, Jared Loughner, by all indications is deeply disturbed, a fact that anger-outrage-nationalism-mongers are furiously trying to exploit to escape culpability. They won’t succeed. I’m fully confident that Americans, for all of our shortcomings, get that you can’t put cross-hairs over someone’s congressional district, sling around phrases like, “Don’t retreat…RELOAD,” and talk about “Second Amendment remedies” for months and then act shocked when someone gets shot. The local sheriff put it well when he spoke to the press about this crime earlier today:

At a news conference Saturday night, a clearly emotional [Sheriff Clarence] Dupnik, who has been close to both Giffords and Roll, repeatedly cited what he characterized as the “vitriol” that has infected political discourse. He said that his own state has become “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

There is reason to believe, he said, that the shooting suspect “may have a mental issue,” adding that people like that “are especially susceptible to vitriol.”

“That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences,” he said.

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said something similar when the health care reform debate started turning so violent last year:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw … I saw this myself in the late ’70s in San Francisco,” Pelosi said, choking up and with tears forming in her eyes. “This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it created a climate in which we, violence took place and … I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made.”

Pelosi referred to the murder of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone by former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978.

Perhaps all Sarah Palin and Jesse Kelly wanted to do was act tough and appeal to the card-carrying-NRA-member demographic among their base with all the gunsights and shooting talk. But if that’s the case, the sheriff is right: they still bear responsibility for what happened if their rhetoric reached Loughlin’s disturbed mind. And even if Loughlin never even heard of Palin or Kelly, they should still be ashamed of themselves for this kind of ugly talk and behavior, since today’s crime is a reminder that people actually do, you know, really get shot with real bullets, so maybe the “don’t retreat…RELOAD” rhetoric isn’t very damn funny after all.

Confession time: I did not react in a very Christian way this morning when I woke up to the news of the shooting. (For those that missed it, my response was to post examples of Palin’s and Kelly’s ugly violence-baiting material under various iterations of “Fuck you, Sarah Palin.”) I believe Palin, Kelly and other right-wing hate-baiters bear culpability for Loughlin’s violence and for the other violence that their more unhinged hearers undertake. I hate the things Palin and Kelly have done. But I should not have reacted in a way that is a less articulate version of, “I hate you, go to hell.” However, I won’t go so far as to delete those posts because I don’t want to leave the impression that I want to fool people into thinking I never said or wrote those things. I’d note, however, that Palin’s camp is taking the opposite approach, and that speaks volumes.

Things are bad in America right now. The politics in this country are as brittle as I’ve ever seen them. We have an unemployment crisis that’s so bad that the “improvement” in our unemployment rate is largely composed of people just dropping out of the labor force altogether, giving up on ever finding a job. Meanwhile, the super-rich and their political allies have forced further concessions from the government, decreasing funds available for public-structure-building and increasing the wealth of the rich even further. These huge, destructive economic forces are at play in people’s everyday lives behind the scenes such that outcomes seem disconnected from the choices we make as individuals. Hard work does not equal a good living. The situation feels luck-based and grossly unfair, and that combined with a feeling of relative deprivation breeds intense frustration and rage. And speaking into that rage are these brimstone-laced voices, telling people not how to unite to overcome the challenge as a community, but rather who is to blame and who must be expelled.

I worry that we’ve crossed some kind of critical threshold as a country. There’s a sense of something lurking around the corner, of some stark outcome waiting for us if we make just a couple of wrong moves. The fabric of our agreement to live together seems stretched to the point of snapping, threads already plucking away as the tension on the fibers increases. The monster is under the bed. I’m reminded of D.H. Lawrence’s intuition about Germany when he visted in 1923:

“It is as if life has retreated eastwards…at night you feel strange things stirring in the darkness, strange feelings stirring out of this still unconquered Black Forest. You stiffen your backbone and you listen to the night. There is a sense of danger. It is not the people. They don’t seem dangerous. Out of the very air comes a sense of danger, a queer, bristling feeling of uncanny danger.

Something has happened. Something has happened which has not yet eventuated. The old spell of the old world has broken, and the old, bristling, savage spirit has set in…Something has happened to the human soul, beyond all help…It is a fate; nobody now can alter it…At the same time, we have brought it about ourselves…”

The savage spirit is here. At first it is the crazy people that are moved by it. But unless we start making wiser choices about our words and our characterizations of each other, pretty soon everyone will go crazy.

Sign our act.ly petition to tell the next journalists on Petraeus’ media tour to ask tough questions and expose his effort to extend the Afghanistan War.

General Petraeus is on a media tour to sell the idea that the U.S. military is “making progress” in Afghanistan, a well-worn message aimed at convincing elites to extend this brutal, futile war. So far, it looks like the mainstream media is buying it, hook, line, and sinker.

Petraeus kicked off his spin campaign this morning with an hour-long special on Meet the Press with David Gregory. The piece opened with a montage of Petraeus doing sit-ups, and later showed him jogging, with Gregory opining about him wearing out troops half his age. Gregory went out of his way to set up a "Petraeus saves the day" narrative, asking the general if the situation in Afghanistan reminds him of the "dark days" in Iraq just before Petraeus "succeeded" with the surge. Petraeus hammered home his one-word message relentlessly: progress. Gregory feigned tough skepticism, but betrayed his hero-worship with setups like, "Watch how savvy Petraeus is when he answers my tough question." Throughout, Gregory’s sheepish grin conveyed the sense that he wanted to hug Petraeus instead of critically probe his assertions.

As Petraeus battered viewers again and again with his "making progress" theme, Gregory failed to ask probing, skeptical questions. When Petraeus mentioned "oil spots," as if the stain spreading across Afghanistan were one of security, Gregory failed to press him on the huge increase in civilian deaths, the 87-percent spike in violence and the incredible explosion of IED attacks over the last several months. When he brought up the outrageous TIME Magazine cover showing a woman’s mutilated face, Gregory failed to mention the attack happened last year and that TIME Magazine’s cover grossly distorts the choices before the United States. When Petraeus denounced the Taliban’s recent killing of a pregnant woman, Gregory failed to press Petraeus on ISAF’s own killing of pregnant women earlier this year in which bullets were reportedly dug out of a screaming woman by special forces troops before she bled to death. Gregory didn’t do journalism today. He provided a platform for military spin.

Petraeus and Gregory jovially closed the interview by quoting Generals Grant and Sherman, with Petraeus saying he’s no politician. Don’t believe that for a second. The military wants to extend this war, and it sees American public opinion as an obstacle in getting what it wants. Petraeus admitted as much when he told Gregory that the point of his upcoming media appearances were scheduled in the hopes of showing "people in Washington" and the public that we’re making progress (Finish your drink!) and to shore up support for the failing war effort. This media blitz is about Petraeus shaping public opinion to affect the political environment for a future push to extend the war far beyond the bounds implied by Obama’s December 2009 West Point speech. In short, the military is turning its several-billion-dollar public relations apparatus on the American people, and the mainstream media is so far complicit. To quote one of my favorite bands, "There is a war going on for your mind."

If the media fail to ask hard questions, there’s a chance Petraeus could get what he wants: the freedom to extend an extremely unpopular war that’s not making us safer. We’ve got to push back, and we’ve got to do it now.

CBS’ Katie Couric is next in line to talk to Petraeus during his high-profile spin campaign, so we’re starting with her. Sign our act.ly petition to Couric and push her to ask tough questions about Petraeus’ claims of “progress” and his attempt to extend the Afghanistan War. If you’re not a Twitter user, don’t worry–there are instructions on how you can participate without it.

General Petraeus’ media blitz is just getting started. We’ve got to push our media–hard–to ask real questions and prevent easily disproved spin from polluting the debate. Petraeus wants to change public opinion, and he’s spending your money to sell you a brutal, futile war that’s not making us safer. If you’re tired of this kind of manipulation, join the tens of thousands of other people working to end this war with Rethink Afghanistan.

Plug into the Movement to End the War

A friend recently sent me a great article from The New Scientist called “Winning the Ultimate Battle,” which details the work of anthropologists and others showing that war is not inherent in human biology.

…[A]nthropologists Carolyn and Melvin Ember from Yale University…argue that biology alone cannot explain documented patterns of warfare. They oversee the Human Relations Area Files, a database of information on some 360 cultures, past and present. More than nine-tenths of these societies have engaged in warfare, but some fight constantly, others rarely, and a few have never been observed fighting. “There is variation in the frequency of warfare when you look around the world at any given time,” says Melvin Ember. “That suggests to me that we are not dealing with genes or a biological propensity.”

Anthropologist Douglas Fry of Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, agrees. In his book, Beyond War, he identified 74 “non-warring cultures” that contradict the idea that war is universal. His list includes nomadic hunter-gatherers such as the !Kung of Africa, Australian Aborigines and Inuit. These examples are crucial, Fry says, because our ancestors are thought to have lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers from the emergence of the Homo lineage around 2 million years ago until the appearance of permanent settlements and agriculture less than 20,000 years ago. That time span constitutes more than 99 per cent of the evolutionary history of Homo.

The article gives a good primer on the cultural changes that led to the development of warfare: the birth of agriculture, food stores, symbolic objects of value, etc. The author even contends that human culture has become less violent:

Indeed, perhaps the best and most surprising news to emerge from research on warfare is that humanity as a whole is much less violent than it used to be (see our timeline of weapons technology). People in modern societies are far less likely to die in battle than those in traditional cultures. For example, the first and second world wars and all the other horrific conflicts of the 20th century resulted in the deaths of fewer than 3 per cent of the global population. According to Lawrence Keeley of the University of Illinois in Chicago, that is an order of magnitude less than the proportion of violent death for males in typical pre-state societies, whose weapons consist only of clubs, spears and arrows rather than machine guns and bombs.

While excited about the rest of the article, I take this paragraph with a grain of salt. The marked decrease in violent death among males can be partially accounted for by:

  1. advances in medical science,
  2. technological advances that make it possible for one person to kill many more of one’s enemies, thus enabling societies to inflict lethal harm on enemy societies with fewer individuals from their society participating in the fighting; and
  3. specialization of labor, leading to the development of warrior classes who fight while others in a violent society do other specialized tasks.

Is it one thing to say that fewer people in a society are participating in violent conflicts, and another thing to say that “people” or “societies” have become less violent across the board?  I’m not sure, and it’s certainly not a binary choice. I just would have preferred to see the author deal with these other factors as well.

The research highlighted in the article reinforces the Seville Statement on Violence, made in 1986 by an interdisciplinary group of leading scientists. Here’s a summary of the five propositions made in the statement:

IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY INCORRECT to say:

  • that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.
  • that war or any other violent behaviour is genetically programmed into our human nature.
  • that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behaviour more than for other kinds of behaviour.
  • that humans have a ‘violent brain’.
  • that war is caused by ‘instinct’ or any single motivation.

You can read the full statement and its complete list of signatories here.

Considering the scientific community’s continued validation of the proposition that humans are not violent by nature, together with this and other assertions that humans are becoming less violent, I’m reminded of this passage from Revelation:

7 And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
‘Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,*
for the accuser of our comrades* has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
11But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
12Rejoice then, you heavens
and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!’

Today I came across Joan Baez’s “funny defense” against the “What would you do if…?” critique of pacifism. It’s a fantastic short read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s ever been pinned in a corner by hypothetical arguments about the necessity of violence in some situations (although Baez is wrong about Jesus’s teachings counseling passivity in the face of evil). It got me thinking of a caffeine-fueled evening on the Internet back in December when I engaged in a debate with Pete Kilner (who blogs at Thoughts of a Soldier-Ethicist). The discussion centered around Pete’s controversial thought experiment that attempted to use the story of the Good Samaritan as a way to think about the proper place (or lack thereof) of violence in a Christian’s life. Pete’s thought experiment goes like this:

What would the Good Samaritan–an exemplar given to us by Christ of a person who loves his neighbor–do if he had arrived at the scene earlier, while the robbers were assaulting the man?

1. Would the Good Samaritan walk on by?
2. Would the Good Samaritan stop and wait, allowing the beating to continue, and hope that the victim survived?
3. Would the Good Samaritan rush to find someone else to stop the beating?
4. Or, would the Good Samaritan risk his own safety to stop the attack and protect the victim, using violence as necessary?

When we look at it this way, I think it’s pretty clear that the loving, decent, honorable, courageous, and Christian thing to do is to stop the attack.

After all, Jesus calls on us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I know that if I were ever being beaten mercilessly, I would fight back, and I would want any passerby to join in my defense. So, I will do the same for others.

I welcome and invite any feedback that focuses on the merits of the argument.

This thought experiment is really only concerned with one ethical question: should a Christian use violence if he comes upon an assault in progress?

To start, let’s grant one of the (false) premises of the setup: that the hypothetical has provided all the available options. Having done so, the logic of Kilner’s argument can be rendered as follows:

  1. The Samaritan is a legitimate “Christian” authority on loving your neighbor.
  2. The Samaritan would use violence in this situation because he loves his neighbor.
  3. Therefore, Christians who love their neighbor should use violence to defend others.

This is argument is a logical fallacy: Appeal to Authority.  Pete is using the Samaritan as an authority on a subject which Jesus did not address in the story of the Good Samaritan: violence and/or non-violence. In other words, it’s not self-evident that the Good Samaritan is a legitimate authority on the topic in question.  Rather, the story told by Christ is an example of social boundary-crossing, and he’s indicting the moral boundaries drawn around the Jewish nation in some first-century Jewish ideologies that leave others on the outside, defining neighbors only as those in the “in” group, which restricts the Jewish imperative to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  It has nothing to do whatsoever with the question of violence, yet the thought experiment utilizes the trappings of one of Christ’s moral teachings to imbue Kilner’s preferred answer to the question with the moral gravitas of the Samaritan.

However, as stated, getting this far in the argument requires one to accept a hidden false premise: that the thought experiment contains the full range of options.

So, let’s make the implicit premises explicit:

  1. The Samaritan is a legitimate “Christian” authority on loving your neighbor.
  2. The Samaritan, as a person who loves their neighbor, must not be passive while their neighbor suffers.
  3. In this situation, you can only be passive or violent in response to your neighbor’s suffering:
    1. Walk on (passive).
    2. Stop and wait, allow the beating to continue, and hope that the victim survived (passive).
    3. Find someone else to stop the beating (“clean hands” passivity).
    4. Risk his own safety to stop the attack and protect the victim, using violence as necessary (active).
  4. Because 2 and 3 are true, the Good Samaritan would use violence to attempt to stop the attack by using violence.
  5. Because 1 and 4 are true, Christians should use violence to defend their neighbor.

This line of argument also contains a logical fallacy: the False Dilemma. It is not true that one must be violent or passive (#3). There is a third option: nonviolent resistance to injustice/evil.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“First, it must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight … while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive nonresistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil.

“A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent … The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.

“A third characteristic of this method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil … We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.

“A fourth point that characterizes nonviolent resistance is a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back. ‘Rivers of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood,’ Gandhi said to his countrymen. The nonviolent resister … does not seek to dodge jail. If going to jail is necessary, he enters it ‘as a bridegroom enters the bride’s chamber…’

“A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love …

“A sixth basic fact about nonviolent resistance is that it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. Consequently, the believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future. This faith is another reason why the nonviolent resister can accept suffering without retaliation. For he knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship …”

Beyond the problems with Pete’s specific thought experiments, however, is the broader issue of trying to do ethics in this manner.  In the discussion in Pete’s comment section, I made a remark that I did not explain well:

this isn’t a legitimate way to do ethics

Pete’s response, though, is a perfect illustration of what I meant:

Can you say more about why this isn’t a “legitimate way to do ethics”?

If you’re going to say, “I’d put myself between the victim and the attackers,” then please provide a description of how that would likely play out. For example, would you really expect that the murderous rapists would see you coming to hug the victim and say, “Oh my gosh, someone is passively putting herself next to our victim! Let’s flee!”?

By “this,” I meant to engage people in recurring rounds of “What would you do if…?” where one person plays God in the scenario, limiting the information given in the scenario and adjusting the reality of the hypothetical as the argument progresses to to trap their debate opponent in an un-winnable situation. The violent “god” making the argument gets to referree based on their biases and experiences, deciding what would work and what would fail, adding new constraints as the debate progresses until any and all nonviolent solutions have been closed off. This form of argument is referred to as “moving the goalposts” or “raising the bar” and is an informal logical fallacy.

The mistake I made in that discussion was going any further than critiquing the logic of Pete’s argument, entering into the “what would you do if…?” debate. Anyone engaging in a debate with these ground rules automatically loses–you can’t win an argument with God, even a hypothetical God.

Study turns belief commonly held by video game industry, gamers, on its head

By Laura Sanders

Blood, guts and gore aren’t what thrill avid gamers when they slaughter zombies in The House of the Dead III video game, a new study suggests. Instead, feelings of control and competence are what the players crave. The new research, led by psychologist Richard Ryan at the University of Rochester in New York, appears online January 16 in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

“A common belief held by many gamers and many in the video game industry — that violence is what makes a game fun — is strongly contradicted by these studies,” comments Craig Anderson, a psychologist who directs the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University in Ames.

Encouraging, and food for thought about how to design future entertainment products without including the violent narrative.

My wife just sent me a link that I will use as my next big post topic, but for now, enjoy:

Some might say that all those teenagers “wasting time” on Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 are actually the warfighters of tomorrow, training themselves at zero cost to the U.S. taxpayer. In fact, when offered the choice between the traditional airplane controls and gamepad controls, many younger soldiers pick the thumbsticks that are familiar to them. “There is an absolute age difference,” says Bigham. “We call it the ‘jihad of game controllers.’ You get kids that are in their low 20s that are gamers, and they go right to the game paddle. And they don’t know why us old-timers like using the F-16 hands-on, throttle-and-stick controllers.”