‘Jesus Camp’ – “America Is Being Born Again” and not in a good way.


Tory (Victoria 10), Levi (11) and Rachael (9) enter ‘Jesus Camp’ as children but leave it as newly recruited soldiers for the Religious Right.

Their mission; to “take back America for Christ”.

A growing number of evangelical Christians believe that there is a war being fought in their country for the hearts and minds of America’s youth. .

This is a war that aggressive Evangelical Children’s Minister, Pastor Becky Fischer , fully intends to win, as she demands that the children of America to rise up to form an army of young Christian soldiers to once again go fourth and do God’s will.

To this end, Fischer devotes herself to the task of indoctrinating children as young as six, within the confines of a summer camp she established for fundamentalist Christian children, called “Kids on Fire”, with the message that Jesus needs you to fight for him, because “Christian Adults have become too fat and lazy to protect them from the evils of this world”.

By following the activities that take place within Fischer’s camp through the eyes of three of the children targeted by her message, this documentary not only enables viewers to directly see and hear just what these children are being e are exposed too, but also enables us to see the way in which her process of indoctrination both impacts on, and changes the way these children view not just religion, but the world as whole.

Prior to entering the camp, Tory appears to be a fairly normal ten year old girl who likes to dance and listen to Christian music. Yet it’s not long before her views on Christianity are changed as she explains to the camera, whilst at camp, that in her view, there are “churches that are called ‘dead churches”.

These are churches where people sing three songs, listen to a sermon and talk like robots. God is not to be found in such churches.

God only likes to go to churches like hers, where people are jumping up and down and shouting his name.

Apparently, quiet, reflective religious practices are no longer acceptable, as God is only attracted to bouncy people who praise him loudly

By the end of the camp she truly believes that she’s being trained to be a warrior for god.

Levi, the eldest of the children followed, is a friendly 11 years old boy who is home schooled. Neither he nor his family believe in global warming,

They believe, as many on the religious right do, that science isn’t real. It’s merely another belief system and as such, should not be given greater weight in schools than creationism and the teaching of the bible.

Levi is asked to preach to he’s fellow campers and whilst preparing his sermon he claims that god writes the sermon through him and that he can actually feel God’s hand guiding him.

He also believes that whenever he interacts with a non-Christian there’s always something about them that doesn’t seem right and makes his spirit feel ‘really yucky’.

He states that he believes that America is supposed to be gods’ nation but that it’s been twisted by corruption and evil

Rachael, at only nine, is perhaps the most zealous of all the camp attendees. She prays before even doing something as simple and fun as bowling and views every outing as an opportunity to preach to people.

This becomes apparent when, whilst at the bowling alley, she approaches an unknown woman and begins preaching at her, telling her that God wants her to “follow him with her whole heart” and that she approached this particular woman “because god told her too”.

Instead of having a quiet word with his daughter about the dangers of approaching strangers, her father instead praises her for the strength of her faith and calls her a ‘medium’.

She admits that she dreams of becoming a nail technician so that she can use her nail painting skills to hold people’s hands and preach to them.

In other words, her idea of a perfect audience is a captive and unsuspecting one.

Rachel’s thinking appears to be highly reflective of the themes she’s experienced whilst at camp.

Inside the Camp

On the first day of the camp itself, we find Pastor Fischer preaching:

“This is a sick old world so let’s just fix it. Kids you need to change things. We’ve got too many Christian adults who are fat and lazy. They don’t want to do anything. Do you know Muslims train their children from the time they are five years old, to fast during the month of Ramadan.”—said with mock awe.

When the kids don’t respond with appropriate awe, they are told “listen, we hold the keys. We can change the world. Boys and girls can change the world. I need you to get serious with god. To say god I’m here to be trained. “

And this is the reasoning behind Pastor Fisher’s words:

“Our enemies are putting their focus onto the kids. They’re going into the schools. You go into Palestine and they’re putting hand grenades in their kid’s hands and they’re teaching them how to put on bomb belts. They’re teaching them how to use rifles; they’re teaching them how to use machine guns.

It’s no wonder, that with that kind of intense training and decipling that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam.

I want to see young people as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places because, excuse me, but we have the truth.”

“We have to stand up and take back the land”.

She also says that “kids are so useable in Christianity because one third of the world’s population are children under the age of 15.”

She believes that George Bush has rekindled America’s faith in Christianity via his own faith because he is telling schools that they should still be teaching creationism. (Please. Has she not read how many dodgy corporations this man and his family are involved in?)

Seriously, she reminds me of Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms. She’s demanding and tough and big on the hard sell when it comes to promoting her camps.

She prepares for preaching in much the same way that Abby prepares for competitions.

She begins the camp by stepping into her makeshift pulpit and asking her camp congregation “what do you guys think of the hair, the nails, the eyebrows and the rest of me?”

Immediately after providing this display of vanity, Fischer then explains to her congregation that the devil is hunting them, even as children, and that sin is designed to destroy them.

She warns them that:

“The devil goes after the young, those that cannot fend for themselves”.

And how does he do this?

According to Fischer, the devil is attacking children via Harry potter.

“Warlocks” she declares, “are the enemies of god, and had Harry Potter have been in the Old Testament, he would have been put to death.” Poor harry.

One child later admits to his small circle of friends, that he watches Harry Potter movies at his dad’s house, because his mum won’t let him watch them at home.

The response he receives from those around him is a shocked silence, complete with nervous eyes flicking in all directions.

Ghost stories are out of bounds too as they don’t honor god. But hang on, wasn’t Jesus kind of a ghost when he rose again and don’t they say the father, the son and the Holy Ghost?

In Fischer’s next sermon, she tells the kids that they are phonies and hypocrites because they go to church but then they talk dirty with their friends and that they need to come up to her and get washed clean of their sins with the bottle of normal drinking water she’s holding in her hands.

Kids immediately start bowing their heads, falling to the floor and crying in response to her accusations that they are “phonies”.

This goes on for quite some time and the kids look completely demoralized and traumatized by the prospect of having to step forward to have their hands cleaned, because as young as they are, they realize that the act of stepping forward is, in and of itself, an admission of guilt.

And not step forward would make them guilty of deceit.

One poor kid sits on stage with a microphone and tells the entire camp that sometimes he doesn’t even believe what the bible says and that makes him a “faker” and a “phony” and that he feels really bad about that.

All the other kids watch him with anxious eyes, no doubt hoping that they won’t be required to confess their hypocrisy aloud as well.

It’s like some form of bizarre mind control. She suggests it and they immediately feel it.

At one point another preacher places a life sized cardboard cut-out of George Bush on the stage and begins to talk to the cut out as if it were real and encourages the kids to pray over the cut-out and to use their prayers to fill Bush with god’s spirit.

“One nation under god”, they shout at him.

Yet another preacher takes the stage and starts telling all of the children that over 50 million babies have been cut out of their mother’s womb s and aborted.

He then says:-

“Do you know that a third of your friends couldn’t be here tonight, because, they never made it”.

As the ramifications of his words hit home the children are handed out tiny dolls that represent foetuses at 5 weeks, 7 weeks and so on.

He then challenges the children to become a part of the anti-abortion movement, which of course they accept, clapping once again and screaming yes.

As the camera pans back out, some young children are now sitting with pieces of red tape plastered across their mouths with the word “life” written on them.

The preacher then places even more red tape over the mouths of over children as he fills them with the horror of the devil’s plan to kill unborn children.

And now of course he tells them that the courts too are corrupt, (but not because they let rapists and murders walk free, but) because they allow a woman to choose her own biological destiny.

The end result is once again children crying, begging for an end to abortion, commanding the devil to leave those unborn children alone and ends with a close up of Rachael, tears streaming down her face, gripping a microphone for dear life and crying while she chants, “no more, no more, no more”.

But does she mean no more abortion or simply no more of having to be exposed to the disgusting thoughts, feelings and distress that this preacher has incited within her?

Remember she is only nine years old.

During the camp the kids are all told that they are soldiers for Christ and asked how many of them want to be one of those who would give up their lives for Jesus?

The response is clapping and cheering, hand raising and affirmations” I do, I want to give up my life for Jesus.

A male preacher states that they are going to break the power of the enemy over government. That’s right, government isn’t corrupt due to the many back door deals that it does, no, and it’s corrupt for removing prayer from their schools.

America now has a corrupt government and that god wants that government to be replaced by a good godly government who will reinstate prayers and the teaching of creations, whilst doing away with science all together, as well as abortion and declaring war on all non-Christians and punishing them accordingly.

I presume that “punishing them accordingly” means death.

Once again this is followed by images of kids in tears and distress while the adults preach war and vengeance at them.

Fischer later declares:

“This means war. Are you apart of it or not?”


I don’t believe that there will ever be any true fairness in the world while some people are choosing to raise their children to be fearful of those who are different from them in any way, whilst enabling them to be arrogant enough to believe, even at the age of 9, that they know everything and that any adult who disagrees with them must automatically be an agent of the devil, who needs to be wiped off the face of this earth.

Nor will I ever believe that one group of people should ever have the right to rule over and dictate to all others how things should be done.

Not to mention that I found it very disturbing to see such small children being spoken to about issues as complex as abortion, war and corruption, in such a simplistic and biased way.

I’m pro-choice.

Pro-gender equality.

Pro- marriage equality.

I’m also anti- child abuse in all of its forms, including psychological abuse.

If this is the future of America, then……

I’m sure you can finish the rest of that sentence yourself and when you do, you might also want to also consider just what form that help might take.

Let’s hope that God is not a fan of Evangelical teaching.

Like many others, if I had to try and classify this film in terms of genre, I’d have to agree that it’s more of a horror story, than a hopeful story.

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From Slaughterhouses to Serial Killers

A few days ago I watched a documentary called “Earthlings” (which you can find of a review of here earthlings-a-documentary-not-for-the-faint-hearted/ ) which detailed the disturbingly inhumane ways in which animals in slaughterhouses are being killed for their meat.

The documentary is filled with graphic footage of cattle being shot in the head with bolts, (which don’t actually kill them) and hung upside down on great metal machines by one hoof so that their necks can be more easily sliced open by the slaughter-men, who, if the cattle don’t die quickly enough for their liking, stab them in the heart and then reach in and pull the animals entire trachea out of their bodies, whilst the animals are still alive.

Gasping for air they kick so hard with their legs, even with their trachea’s dangling down, that they actually managed to free themselves of the giant metal machines holding them upside down, only to land on a hard, blood soaked concrete floor and suffer the further harm of being kicked in the head and stabbed multiple times until they finally die.

As I watched this I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of person would choose to work in a place where they torture and kill not just one animal but hundreds of animals, day in day out, week in week out, as if it were nothing?

I also couldn’t help but notice, that without fail, all of the people shown working in jobs that involved active killing were male.

It didn’t even really seem to matter whether the killing was occurring in India, Japan, America, Mexico, Cuba, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, England or even what species of animal was being slaughtered or why.

The workers were all male.

(That’s not to say that there aren’t any females actively working in slaughterhouses, but if there are, they aren’t in the documentary).

This gender anomaly led me to wonder whether or not the lack of women in that kind of work place is a reflection of social and cultural norms towards killing  being seen as “men’s work “ or if males for some reason do genuinely hold a greater propensity toward being attracted to jobs that involve inflicting pain and killing.

I know that I wouldn’t be attracted to doing a job like that even if there were a million dollars waiting for me at the end of every week and I doubt that any of my female friends would even be tempted either.

But here’s the weird thing about it all:

The men working in the slaughterhouses, most of the time, weren’t even getting paid a decent wage, let alone an extravagant one..

So they weren’t doing it for the money.

And most of them were also regularly getting sick due to bacterial contamination from blood and fecal matter.

So, if men are not doing jobs like this because they offer greater money, and are instead actually getting physically ill from doing them, then why are they doing them?

Could it possibly be that some of them actually like it?

With the vision of that documentary clearly still fresh in mind, today I began reading a book called “Predators – killers without a conscience” by Howard and Wilson, which sets out to examine why serial killers kill and  to explore what parts social and/or psychological issues may play in it all

Within reading the first few pages of this book I was instantly struck by two very clear similarities that seem to somehow flow, eerily neatly, between the documentary and the book, even though they are both about very different subject matters.

Firstly there’s a striking similarity between the ways in which the serial killers in the book choose to kill their victims and the ways in which animals in slaughterhouses are killed.

The book quite literally contains page after page of men rendering their victims immobile while stabbing, raping, strangling, mutilating and cutting the throats of not just women but also children and all , so the authors believe, for their own “male sexual gratification”.

Here are just a few examples that almost mirror in places, the acts of violence that were perpetrated against the cattle in the slaughterhouse.

Trigger warning, if you have a sensitivity towards violence please do not read the following quotes.

“She was hog-tied on the ground. I walked around to her left side and I cut her throat two or three times…but she just started thrashing around on the ground. She was trying to scream but nothing was coming out. I kicked her and put my foot on her to keep her still. It didn’t work so I stabbed her in the throat again. I aimed and stabbed at the hard thing (her windpipe) in her neck. I pushed the knife all the way in but she still wouldn’t keep still so I worked out where the heart would be and I stabbed her on the left side of the chest. She still didn’t stop moving so I stabbed her in the chest again. I needed two hands to get through her chest. She kept moving so I kicked her in the head a couple of times. She still kept moving but she was slowing down. I waited.” (Confession of a man who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).

“He dragged the girl’s dying body…blood still dripping from the wound in her throat…then cut the crotch out of her swimmers and raped her dying body”.(murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”)

“The killer drove her to a secluded area where he sexually abused her, using a knife to inflict horrific injuries on the girl’s body, before disembowelling her while she was still alive.” (murder and rape of a 12-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).

““The killer tortured and mutilated his body. As his killer sliced away … he died a slow suffocating death. The killer cut the boys throat.” (3-year-old boy, abducted and murdered quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).

Time and time again the authors report that all pleas for mercy were met with the same callous and cold refusal by the killers to even recognize their victims as human beings.

The second similarity between the documentary and the book is the fact that 99% of all the serial killers, not just mentioned in the book, but also statistically, are indeed male.

In the entire book there are only two women listed and of the two, one was an accomplice to her partners crimes and didn’t kill anyone and the other was an horrendously abused woman herself with clear psychological issues who, unfortunately for her and perhaps because she was already psychologically vulnerable, became romantically entangled with a man who was already a serial killer.

So, as of now, I’ll be staying well and truly clear of anyone who works in a slaughterhouse.

Let me know whether or not you think there may be a valid connection between the two.

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Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Mea_Maxima_Culpa_-_Silence_in_the_House_of_God_posterImagine trying to fight for justice against a corrupt and abusive system when you literally have no voice to use to get your message across.

This is exactly the position that four deaf men, Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski, found themselves in as they courageously struggled to free themselves from the atrocities of the past by warning others of the dangerous sexual predator lurking within their midst.

With the help of documentary film maker Alex Gibney, these four men, Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski, bring to life and expose the secret crimes of Father Lawrence Murphy, who abused more than 200 deaf children during his tenure as the head priest of St Johns school for deaf children.

To many people, Father Murphy appeared to be both a caring and charismatic priest, whose fluent ability with sign language made him the perfect choice to run St Johns.

Yet to the boys of St Johns he was little more than a sexual predator, a wolf who would stalk their dormitories in the dead of the night, looking for the most vulnerable of their kin to abuse.

Often he would seek out those boys whose hearing parents refused to learn how to communicate directly with their children by learning sign language themselves.

This left the children he abused entirely at his mercy as they were unable to tell their parents or anyone else outside of the realms of the catholic school, about his constant abuse.

Despite each of them graduating from the school and doing their best to move on with their lives as adults, Terry, Gary, Pat and Arthur found that their common experiences of being abused at the hands of Father Murphy reunited them.

Only this time, instead of being afraid or unable to speak out, those same childhood experiences galvanized them into taking whatever action they could to make their community members aware that Father Murphy, who still ran the school for the deaf, wasn’t the godly leader he represented himself to be, but was instead a sexual predator who’d been lurking within their small community for decades.

Their campaign for the awareness of his abuses began with them making leaflets outing him as a child molester and placing them on the windscreen’s of cars parked around Murphy’s church.

Their actions became the first ever known case of a public protest to be held against clerical sex abuse.

The sex scandal they exposed within the Catholic Church later became known as the ‘Murphy Case.

As the documentary unfolds Gibney brings in the testimony of a former priest Father Sipes who had been conducting a 20 year study into the issues of sexuality and sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Sipes states that in his experience and understandings of the way in which the church conducts itself that:

“The system of the Catholic Church selects, cultivates, protects, defends and produces sexual abusers”.

In fact, the problem of priests sexually abusing their congregations had become so bad, that by the 1960’s, long before any of their acts of barbarity were ever known to the broader public, the Catholic Church had itself, set up numerous secret ‘treatment centers’ for them.

An offending priest would be sent to one of these centers for a month and then be sent right back to his ever trusting flock who would be none the wiser as to where he’d been or why.

Once it became obvious that the ‘treatment centers’ were futile, the process of musical diocese began, during which time a pedophile priest, once caught, would be shipped off to another parish, to begin his debauchery anew with a fresh set of innocence at his feet.

This is a practice that continues today and it is a practice that men like Cardinal Ratzinger, who later went on to become Pope Benedict XVI, knew only too well.

According to Sipes, long before Cardinal Ratzinger became pope, he’d previously been in charge of reviewing and responding too, (hushing up) all reports of child sexual abuse by Catholic Priests from across the globe.

It may well have been under his decree that the game of musical priest first began.

Although this is a speculation that we’ll never know for certain, however, merely knowing what Pope Benedict’s former role within the Vatican actually was, definitely adds a whole new perspective as to why it was that he chose to become the first Pope in history to step down from papacy.

After all, his abdication occurred not long after the issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church first came to the public’s attention.

It certainly gives one pause for thought.

In fact, the entire power of this documentary lies within its ability to go beyond revealing the previously unacknowledged and mercenary practices of priests like Murphy’s abuse of deaf children under the catholic church system, by creating such an enormous pause for thought, due to the painfully honest testimonies of Terry, Gary, Pat and Arthur, that it completely strips away any possibility of defending the actions of priests like Murphy, who prey on vulnerable children.

The testimonies of these men leave absolutely no room what so ever for either the church or its lawyers to continue to cling to the erroneous belief that good intentions purify bad behaviour, all so known as “Noble Cause Corruption.”

It is has been this unyielding belief in “Noble Cause Corruption” that has allowed the catholic church to constantly insist that every act of atrocity committed by its priests be kept in house, covered up or paid off.

It has also been the precept behind its refusal to allow outside authority figures, such as the police, to have any involvement within such matters, as they believe that what they are doing is for the greater good, therefore any crimes they commit while serving the greater good are not just made null and void under god’s laws, but in much the same way that Jesus was said to turn water into wine, their acts of sexual abuse are transformed from being crimes into being acts of service.

They don’t need to have a mortal judge telling them what’s right and wrong when god’s already purified their actions.

Such a belief system only lend weight to Sipes assertions that the Church itself has become little more than both a breeding ground and playground for sexual predators who flourish under its protection.

There is little doubt that men such as Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski, whose refusal to be silenced, ignored, marginalize and subjugated by the deceitful machinations of the Catholic Church and Father Murphy, but who instead chose to stand up and be counted by saying NO to the enforced silence that surrounded them as children, have saved many vulnerable children from enduring the same fate.

I thank them for speaking/signing their truths.

The whole world can hear you now.

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‘Earthlings’ – A documentary not for the faint hearted


If slaughter houses had glass walls, wouldn’t we all be vegetarian.

But slaughter houses do not have glass walls.

They are not designed for us to be able to look in and see what’s going on..

They are designed to conceal from us the inhumane practices that are being inflicted on animals behind the scenes.

This is just one of the many messages that this incredibly powerful documentary, ‘Earthlings’ is trying to get across.

I will warn you now that it is not for  the faint heart-ed.

It is filled with graphic footage of animals being bled, jumped on,  hung upside down, stabbed, skinned, boiled and essentially slaughtered alive.

There is no doubt, that when confronted with the awful truth of the myriad of ways in which animals are used and abused for human benefit, including entertainment via such avenues as horse racing, outfits such as sea world and the well documented training practices of circuses, it becomes almost impossible to view any of these things in the same light ever again.

Even though at times, the images on the screen made me feel sick to my stomach and quite literally forced me to cover my eyes so that I may not see the cruelty occurring before me,  the truth is, I am a more informed person for having seen it.

This documentary highlights yet another simple truth.

That what we see on the packaging of meat, poultry and dairy products are little more than blatant lies and yet, we already know this.

And knowing this makes us complicit in the process.

So complicit that we no longer even wish to think about, let alone see the acts that our silent complicity have created.

Yet it’s our complicity that also serves to make this topic such a highly sensitive and complex one.

No one wants to talk about it.

And that’s good if your one of the few actually making bucket loads of money out of it.

But it’s incredibly bad if you’re the one whose going to end up living in an increasingly over polluted and unsanitary  environment due to the overcrowding and improper disposal of animal feces into our rivers, the overuse of antibiotics in animals making them less effective in humans and the waste created by toxins used to tan leather and other animal hides.

Not to mention the fact that it is especially bad if you’re animal.

Every choice you make when it comes to consumerism is exactly that.

A choice.

You can choose to buy products that are made from animals, but be aware that in doing so  you are also willingly  buying into an industry that makes its profits by either killing or treating animals with extreme cruelty.

And how do you know if the producers you are buying from are indeed committing acts of cruelty towards animals?

Well, the only way to know what’s going on within the industries that profit from animal products, is to watch what they are doing.

.So challenge yourself to step out of your own comfort zone of ignorance is bliss when it comes to the practices that are occurring within the industries, (and they are industries), that produce your food, your clothing, your entertainment and actually watch what they are doing, after you do then ask yourself;

Are these really the industries and the practices that you want to support.

This is exactly what Shaun Monson, the brains behind this entire documentary, wants you to do.

He also wants to make everyone aware that during the Bush administration, they passed a bill called ‘Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act’, which is now a law that makes it not only illegal for documentaries like these to be made, but also for protesters against animal cruelty to protest.

The law states that”

If protests, consumer boycotts, whistle blowing or even media campaigns, cause any animal enterprise a loss of profit, then the activists, protesters or even film makers, can be imprisoned..

The message here is pretty clear.

It’s illegal to protest or draw attention to the cruelty occurring within these industries because industry people pay the government top dollar to make it so.

It’s all about profit and the truth be damned.

People must not be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes in these multi-million dollar industries.

To make this point even clearer, Monson also states that due to the fact that most television networks/stations are sponsored by industries that in one or another profit off either the slaughter or the byproducts  of animals (milk, cheese, clothing), he could not find anyone to  air his documentary.

The only line of defense we have in the “war on domestic animal terrorism” is the truth.

Be brave enough to watch this documentary and others like it and tell me what you think.

“Restrepo” – Finally an honest look at the war in Afghanistan.


This documentary follows a platoon of US soldiers as they enter into a 15 month deployment within the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.

Not long after arriving one of their own is shot and killed.

His name, Restrepo.

Shortly after his death the platoon push forward further into enemy territory and establish an out post on the side of an extremely inhospitable mountain, which they name Restrepo in honor of their fallen friend.

Once established at Restrepo, the film makers , apart from providing footage of gun fights, reactions to casualties and the overt machinations of war, also follow the platoon as they attempt to engage with local villagers in order to gain their trust.

To this end the platoon leaders meet with village elders on a regular basis to try and pump them for information and assure them that they are their friends and that the Taliban are indeed their enemy.

One US solider, in attempt to gain the villagers trust, assures the village elders that they will be rich and gain great wealth from the interventions of the US soldiers who are, after all, only trying to improve the living conditions of all of the villagers.

He then promises that if the villagers co-operate he will “ flood this whole place with money and with projects and with health care and everything”.

The village elders remain reticent and there are no further translations provided by the documentary makers as to their verbal responses they give the soldiers.

Later in the documentary one villager responds to the constant questioning of the soldiers with guns by saying “if we let you know about the Taliban, then we will get killed.”

Time and time again the locals tell the soldiers in their area that they are tired of the constant intrusion into their way of life that the military brings.

Tired of all the deaths of innocent farmers who are simply going about their daily lives as best they can in the artificially constructed war zone that has been created by the outpost of Restrepo .

Prior to the arrival of the soldiers and the construction of the outposts, their area had not been a war zone.

This is a fact that seems to be continuously and irrevocably lost on the soldiers as one by one they express their frustration over the locals lack of willingness ness to provide them with information about the enemy, whilst they themselves engage in the tactic of raiding and searching the homes of villagers at will, and ordering them around with weapons pointed at them.

One can potentially understand why the villagers are uncooperative with the soldiers under such conditions.

Add to this the hostility with which the platoon leader treats villagers.

When ask about the fate of several locals who have been detained by the soldiers, the platoon leaders exasperated response is to say “you’re not understanding that I don’t fucking care.”

To the soldier it seems, the locals do not have the right to either seek answers regarding their own missing or even to grieve over the wanton destruction of their village or to have the killing of family members even acknowledged.

This is made further evident when during the course of a bombing mission designed to kill Taliban rebels, several innocent local village women and children are killed.

The platoon’s leader’s response to the killing of the villagers takes little more than 60 seconds and consists of him admitting that he considers the mission to be a failure because they killed villagers.

This overall lack of empathy pervades almost every interaction that the Americans have with the locals and it indeed pervades the entire film.

It seems a particularly cruel stance for the soldiers to take especially considering that their own outpost, Restrepo , is named in honor of one of their own fallen men.

Clearly these soldiers both understand and feel compassion, sorrow and a deep sense of loss when one of their own is harmed and yet it would seem that apparently, in Afghanistan, only the American’s have the right to feel grief at the untimely death of a friend.

Throughout the documentary the film makers juxtapose the lack of empathy expressed toward the locals and the enemy, by providing live vision of gun fights in which soldiers are killed, interspersed with footage of those soldiers who survived their deployment intact, grieving for and both speaking respectfully about the deaths of several of the soldiers within their company, their level of fear for their own lives and their feelings toward their own loved ones back at home.

Yet still, even once returned home, the soldiers continue speaking fondly of the “high” they felt whilst engaging with the enemy in gun fights and killing them.

This sentiment is further emblazoned on the viewer’s mind as the documentary maker shows live footage of soldiers whopping it up and on the whole celebrating the demise of the enemy with great celebratory zeal.

Strangely enough though, throughout the entire documentary, there is never any actual footage of the so-called enemy.

Only villagers.

In this documentary, war seems to be nothing more than the exchange of pain for pain and it doesn’t particularly seem that the Americans care too much exactly who they are inflicting their pain on.

Yes, at first the fact that the platoon leader takes the time to speak with the village elders appears as a sign of respect, but you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of it all for it to be revealed as being little more than a fact-finding mission.

It would be interesting to know whether or not the villagers in the Korengal Valley ever did benefit from the presence of the soldiers there.

Did they end up with, as promised by the platoon leader promised them, great wealth and extensive health care?

Or were they simply left to patch up their bombed homes and heal their injured as best they could on their own?

I admit that at the end of the documentary I felt far more empathy for the villagers than for the soldiers, who yes did indeed suffer and die, but unlike the villagers, where not forced to be there and are not forced to live out the rest of their lives there.

I can’t help but wonder how many of the villagers would have appreciated being given a 15 month furlough to Italy, or any other country for that matter, far away from the hardships of their daily life and the endless fighting in which they’d become nothing more than mere pawns for both sides to play with.

This documentary, to the film maker’s credit, reveals just as much about the impositions that the arrival of soldiers in Afghanistan placed on the local villagers as it does about the fighting that occurred in Afghanistan.

For this reason alone I find Restrepo, when viewed with an unbiased eye, to be an outstanding documentary.