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There is no independence zombies

July 4, 2013

Gary Snethen writes in Napa Valley Register: “There’s no such thing as zombies“:

“What exactly is a zombie?” I keep asking myself? … “Do people think murdering the patients at Napa State Hospital would be a good thing?” … [there] have always been, people who think it is a good thing to murder other people.

Snethen lists all sorts of competing us-them group conflicts from modern American history:

World War II … Germans and the Japanese were zombies to us, and we, I am sure, were zombies to them. During the 1960s, the Viet Cong became zombies. These days, many people regard some Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis to be zombies. President Obama and his security team hunt what they must see as the equivalent of zombies with their drones, killing them with seeming impunity and without regrets. Sunnis and Shiites often consider each other to be zombies, as do Hutus and Tutsis. Catholic Englishmen and Protestant Englishmen once considered and treated each other as zombies. Many American slave owners considered their slaves to be no better than zombies.

Snethen goes on to mention Mexicans (and immigration walls) and homosexuality and men-women, and teenagers-parents, and 1%-99% and ancient history too: Romans-Jews, then later Christians-Jews.

the most destructive and dangerous of all human traits: the ability to murder with intent and without regret.


Jesus and Buddha have one important thing in common: They both said there is no such thing as zombies. All life is sacred and capable of redemption.

Snethen’s article has garnered 11 comments so far and there is a mix of those that read “zombie” literally and those that understand “zombies” as a extreme metaphor for misunderstood otherness. Snethen mentions his time working with “paranoid schizophrenics” and recall the oppression of the neuroscientist.

So today on this Independence Day as we discuss the metadata collections by the NSA and the US Postal Service (still, we should save the post office!) and as we drop drone bombs on Pakistan and cheer the Egyptian overthrow of democratic election by military coup, we should consider that “independence” is just as real as “zombies”.

But Snethen is wrong to simply think zombies don’t exist. Words exist as words, and words have meanings. What does it mean to be a country of free people. What does “freedom” or “independence” mean? AS with “zombies”, it is just too simple to say that there is no such thing. Extreme metaphorical positions may be literal fictions but the struggle continues…


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