This was supposed to be a post about the time I drove over 300 miles round-trip from Columbia to Savannah to buy a radioactive red Fiestaware teapot.
Instead, belying today’s upbeat headline and photo, I’m going say hello to the Marines who deployed their youthful tallywhackers recently, urinating on what are reported to have been the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents.
Booyah, Marines. At ease.
Since 40% of the Corps is 22 years of age or younger, you’ll forgive me for assuming that you’re not the exception, but the rule. You’re kids, essentially. Crazy high on adrenaline. Scared and angry. Put those last two in whichever order you like. We’ve outfitted you with every excuse imaginable for what you’re supposed to be doing over there and all we ask in return is that you to help us keep up appearances. That means, among other things, no cameras rolling when you break the “rules.” Capiche? I hope so. Dismissed.
Writing in today’s edition of The Christian Science Monitor, Dan Murphy observes that “every war will have bodies desecrated, adding that “mutilation of the enemy dead was far from uncommon” during WWII. Yes, even the Greatest Generation urinated on corpses. And worse.
Murphy calls it “gallows humor,” noting that, in the past decade, more U.S. troops have stopped abuses than committed them. A questionable comparison, I think, unless he’s referring to the the number of troops caught committing abuses. In the end, though, he admits that ” if you put enough men in combat, for enough time, this sort of thing is likely to happen.”
No doubt, but the point isn’t whether members of the American military have more or less class than, say, pirates. The point is first causes.
Ross Caputi writing in The Guardian today puts things in what I’d call proper perspective: “Though their behavior is disgusting and unacceptable, I find the public’s reaction to this video far more troubling. People are not outraged that there are dead Afghans; they are outraged at the manner in which the dead are treated. This is indicative of our culture’s tolerance for war and war crimes – as long as they are done in a gentlemanly fashion.“