Monday, May 01, 2006

COMMENTARY - Nasty New Games

by Julia Messina

Murder as entertainment has hit the US mainstream and is, among some disturbed minds, an acceptable form of leisure activity these days. How bizarre and how fitting that the game is brought to the attention of the American public just as the heated debate on immigration reform is put before the US Congress and splashed all over every newspaper in the US.

The other day I was reading the online editions of several newspapers when an article on caught my eye. An individual or group, with a registered domain in the U.K. and that prefers to remain anonymous (for what intelligent readers will understand to be self-evident reasons), has produced one of the most disgusting video games of the early 21st century. It’s called Border Patrol, and the object of the game is to kill illegal Mexican immigrants at all costs.

The game opens with images of the three “targets”: a Mexican nationalist, a drug smuggler, and a pregnant Mexican woman, who is referred to as a “Breeder.” They are all running across the Mexican-US border, which is identified by a “Welcome to the US” sign, under which is another sign with the words: “welfare office” next to a directional arrow. The player is then directed to kill as many of the illegals as possible and is encouraged to kill the “Breeder” specifically. The player will earn more points by killing the woman, as she is dragging her children behind her and is obviously pregnant, thus the kill ratio is higher due to the multiple hits with one shot.

This game and others like it that target Blacks, Jews, Catholics and others have desensitized us to human suffering. Back in 1967, Marshall McCluhan wrote about this eventual phenomenon in his groundbreaking book The Medium is the Message (title originally misedited by the publishing house Bantam Books / Random House as The Medium is the Massage). He stated that the medium is the message, because it is the "medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action" (p. 9), and scores of scientific studies that followed over the years have supported his contention. The most important and relevant for today is the research cited in Terror In the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Kennedy School of Government terrorism expert Jessica Stern. In it she connects the dots between the delivery, or “medium,” of the message of fanaticism and “otherness.”

Whether it’s fundamentalist right-wing militia terrorists in the US or fanatical Islamists in the Middle East, the ties that bind them are threefold, powerful, and enduring: they need a grievance that appeals to them and unites them (anything from loss of jobs or control to loss of a loved one); they have to be able to identify an oppressor (Mexican, Black, Jew, Catholic, Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Japanese, etc); they have to be able to create fear of the oppressor in order to turn him into something “other” than human. Ultimately, the combination of those three factors allows and encourages that fear to fester into hatred so that any violence done to the “other” can be justified within one’s own set of personal beliefs that one has come to believe are under assault.

So how do people get messages of hate from their warped minds into the general population? For generations the classic training grounds for both US and foreign militias have been the rural camps used by both to indoctrinate their followers. In the Middle East there are tens of thousands of small schools, called madrassas, where young boys are taught to hate “others” from an early age, while in the US, Klan members and other affiliated groups send their children to camps where they are taught to hate “others” as well. The common denominators between these two extremist groups—and others like them—are that they draw in indoctrinees under a guise of worshipping a spiritual leader, whether it be Muhammad in the Muslim case or Jesus in the Klan case, and they begin their training at a young age.

Extremist groups have modernized and turned to the internet to spread their gospel of hate, attract new indoctrinees, and raise funds to fully realize their visions of the world. It’s a speedy, less labor-intensive method of appealing, converting, and activating potential indoctrinees, and what’s easier than teaching a child to accept and perform an action or espouse an idea than through game-playing? So now we are introduced to Border Patrol, a game where children shoot at cartoony drawings of “others.”

Without even realizing what they are doing, young gamers are: 1-- being exposed to a stated grievance (Mexican illegals are crossing the US border and taking welfare benefits for their illegal selves); 2-- identifying a specific racial, ethnic, or religious group to target for perceived wrongs (in this case Mexicans); 3-- absorbing a fear of the “others” by accepting the insinuation that the drug smugglers will harm someone near and dear to them; the Mexican nationalist will lead a charge to overthrow America; and the Breeder will populate their world with Mexican laborers who will eventually take their jobs from them.

Through repetition and the use of cartoony characters with paint-splattery looking blood, kids disengage themselves from the inhumanity of what they are participating in, and ethnic cleansing becomes a game that is brought to them free-of-charge via the delivery system of the internet, compliments of some anonymous coward with a registered domain in the U.K.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a sad state of affairs in this country when we have a video game like this, billed as "entertainment". Most of us have forgotten that very few of us have Native Americans as ancestors, therefore it's the pursuit of the "American Dream" that drives immigration to this country.

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Jna said...

Thanks for drawing our atttention to this outrage. "You've got to be carefully taught to hate."

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boo Hoo, did you or your children ever dress as cowboys or pirates? What's the difference between that and the modern games?

12:32 PM  

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