No Nazis in the Corps
When I served in the United States Navy I participated in the natural inter-service rivalry with the Marine Corps. "Jarheads" they were. And that was on a good day. At other times we referred to the "junior branch" in terms unfit for family reading. But the rivalry was more brotherly than adversarial. Let someone outside the family insult or assault a "jarhead" and we "squids" would defend them tooth and nail. This is one of those times.
Unless you've spent the last week chasing wooly mammoths across the Siberian tundra you've seen the photo of a Marine sniper unit posed beside a "Nazi" flag. The "SS" certainly resembles the insignia made infamous in the German Gestapo, the secret police loyal to no one but Hitler, the murderers of millions of Jews who were guilty of nothing more than being born Jewish. Obviously this sniper squad did a poor job of researching their logo choice, thus creating a public relations nightmare. But, does anyone really believe these Marines intentionally posed with a Nazi symbol? You might be surprised.
There are people who not only believe the Marines realized the implications in their symbol beforehand, but actively embrace the evil it once represented. Sen. Dick Durbin would certainly agree that the Marines in question avow Nazism, since he once compared American soldiers directly to Nazis.
Friends, this isn't the first time a slanted "SS" has shown up in a public place. Anyone remember KISS? Yes, that KISS, in all of their costumed, blood-puking, skyrocket shooting, overblown, and choreographed infamy. The KISS that wrote one song, recorded it a hundred times and became multi-millionaires. Look at their logo, the basics of which have remained largely unchanged for 35 years. Notice any similarities between the "SS" in KISS and the "SS" on the Marine flag, or on the Gestapo uniform? Certainly KISS generated their share of detractors. But I can't recall their being accused of headlining the Ravensbrück Rock Reunion at the Auschwitz Amphitheatre.
It's one thing to question war, the reasons behind it, and the strategies involved. It's something else to demean our soldiers for innocuous acts. Besides, the U.S. military bends over backwards to investigate alleged misconduct. Eight Marines were prosecuted for their roles in the so-called Haditha Massacre. The result was a single conviction and no jail time. We treated Abu Ghraib like the worst atrocity in human history even while our enemies were beheading civilian contractors and reporters. That's not to say that all American troops are Sgt. York and Audie Murphy. War is a collection of horrors and some soldiers snap under combat pressure. But we have policed our military reasonably well.
Covert racism undoubtedly exists across all racial, ethnic, and cultural lines. That's still no excuse for ignoring or tolerating overt racism within the military, no matter its origin or target. If said sniper unit has an established pattern of Nazism that's one thing. But a bad choice in unit insignias isn't racism and shouldn't be treated as such.
The American left sees the U.S. military as the world's preeminent force for evil and will pounce on any opportunity to demonize our troops. Thus they've seized on this flag fiasco to paint Marine snipers as Nazi death squads. But where's the evidence to support the notion that these Marines have pledged allegiance to der Fuhrer, aside from an errant choice of insignia? Aren't Marines innocent until proven guilty? What's more, they've earned the benefit of the doubt.