The Blue Angels’ Psychological Warfare

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50396819@N00/115701382/">Black Glenn</a>/Flickr

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Today is the penultimate day of San Francisco’s annual Fleet Week, during which communists like myself complain about the Navy’s wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars on jet fuel so the Blue Angels can do acrobatics overhead. As Navy F-18s have screamed past my house, giving the city the feel of a battlefield, I’ve been thinking, “This is probably not going well for some people.” Like people who have been traumatized in war zones and whose post-traumatic stress may be triggered by the noise.

Sure enough, a massage therapist I was talking to mentioned that while he was working on a relocated Iraqi woman this weekend, the roar of the Blue Angels’ engines sent her into a cowering panic attack on the massage table. That was sad, but not as sad/scary as the Navy SEAL he was working on who suddenly leaped off the table, flipped the massage therapist, and pinned him down by his throat.

Kind of sounds like something that would happen in a movie, but that’s definitely not just Hollywood melodrama. A lot of people who grew up amid war or went to war, the masseuse said, can be triggered by innocuous noises like low-flying jets or backfiring cars even in the profoundly safe and calming setting of a massage. And unexpected—and uncontrollable—triggering is only going to become a more prevalent problem; an estimated one in five Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffers PTSD. Already, some areas hold extra support groups during firework season. With more vets coming home all the time, maybe the Navy should consider making counseling part of its Fleet Week program next year.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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