Promises to repeal controversial, “Don’t Rot, Don’t Tell” policy
WASHINGTON – In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called for the repeal of a controversial policy prohibiting zombies from serving in the United States military.
“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to repeal the law that denies American zombies the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.”
The law, known commonly as “Don’t Rot, Don’t Tell,” allows the undead to serve in the armed forces as long as they keep their undead status to themselves. “No one is telling the undead they cannot serve,” says General Vance Helsing, the Director of Undead Matters for the United States Army. “However, for the sake of morale and troop cohesion, we ask that they keep their RAS (Re-Animated Status) to themselves.” General Helsing noted that rotting flesh, shambling during drills, and especially brain consumption are grounds for discharge.
But zombie activists decry such policies as a nod to the backward days of anti-zombie sentiment, to an earlier time when zombies were completely forbidden from military service. “Once again, the military is stuck in the dark ages, thinking that everyone who rises from the grave is hell-bent on consuming human flesh,” says Billy McDonald, head of the activist group Zombies Against Rampant Discrimination and Oppression of Zombies. McDonald—himself a zombie—notes that many zombies lead happy, productive lives. “Sure, I used to engage in some unsafe, anonymous brain devouring when I was young. But now I’ve got a wife, kids, a job, and nobody says ‘boo’ to me. So why can’t zombies serve in the military?”
Dr. R. L. Stevenson, director of the Brookings Re-Animation Institute on Neurological Studies, has pioneered research into zombie behavior. “The truth of the matter is, there are good zombies and bad zombies, just like there are good and bad people among the living.”
While that may be true, it’s not the view of many in the military’s rank and file. “I dunno,” says Corporal Brian Snack. “I mean, I got nothing against zombies, but I just don’t want to be around them, especially in the shower. I don’t want them looking at my brain or want to see bits of their flesh popping off and clogging the drain.” His concerns are echoed by many enlisted men and women.
“This is why education is so important,” explains McDonald. “For one thing, showering and using moisturizer helps keep flesh from falling off. Second, do people eat in the shower? Well, neither do zombies. That’s just gross. And contrary to popular misconceptions, zombies don’t sit there ogling every cranium we see.
“I’ve also got news for all the breathers out there,” he adds. “There have always been lots of zombies in the military.”
McDonald’s assertion cuts to the heart of the controversy: that the military has had many zombies in its ranks, as far back as the American Revolution—something that military officials and politicians have often tried to hide. “When Nathan Hale was captured by the British for spying, he allegedly said, ‘I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,’ before he was hung,” says biographer David McCullough. “In reality, he said this to General Washington, after Hale had risen from his grave and reported for duty, only to be denied because of his zombism.” McCullough details this in his new book, Hale: The Life, Death, and Re-Animation of America’s First Super Spy.
Beyond pure patriotism, zombies have actually played pivotal roles in American military actions. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes in her book Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Brains: An Oral History of American Zombies, that zombies were a key component of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders when they captured San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. “One of the reasons Spain capitulated so quickly was because of their fear of American zombie troops,” she says, “but this was covered up by publisher William Randolph Hearst, who was an avowed anti-zombist.”
The military potential of undead forces has caused a growing number of officials to reconsider their views on zombie soldiers. “Undead units offer hair-raising possibilities on the battlefield,” said Colonel George Romero, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Task Force on Undead Combatants. “Imagine enemy soldiers watching a group of American zombies shambling toward them, moaning and reaching for their brains. Even if they don’t rip open their skulls and feast on their brains, the thought that they might makes for a great psychological advantage.”
But can leaders prevent a coordinated assault from turning into an indiscriminate brain binge? “The zombie has one thing on his mind: brains,” argues General Helsing. “In the heat of battle, can you trust that he will follow orders and not treat an enemy force as a cranial buffet? And what’s to keep a hungry zombie from eating his comrades’ brains?”
Colonel Romero says the problem is overblown. “There is no recorded incident of a zombie eating a the brains of a fellow soldier in the middle of battle. Furthermore, with the production of BREs”—Brains Ready to Eat—“you can keep the zombie soldier satiated and on task.”
It’s unclear how successful the president’s initiative will be, but Republicans have already vowed to rip to shreads any repeal of the law. “All these books and shows and movies, they’ve made zombies seem cool and normal, just like you and me,” says Senator James Inhofe, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Our kids are getting turned into zombie lovers by all this stuff. It’s unnatural, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let our military get overrun by the undead.”
Dr. Stevenson points out that this flies in the face of recent research. “The simple fact is, zombies are re-born, not made. Trying to ask a zombie to hide his or her nature is like asking us to not breathe or blink. That would be unnatural.”
It especially hurts zombie veterans, who feel rejected by the military that they once served. “I gave my life once for my country,” says Rod Argent, a former captain who was killed in Iraq but denied his attempts to re-enlist when someone accused him of already being dead. “But now that they have my soul, they’re telling my body to go to hell.
“That makes me want to eat brains, just to spite them.”