Comment of the Day: “The Darkness of the Right, Pissing Away American Values”

Is that you, Rod?

This is a treat. I was hoping that my post about the most ethically-challenged of the Right’s uber-patriots cheering corpse desecration would flush out a full-throated cheerleader, and here he is!

In his indignant reply to Bill ( a Marine himself), first time commenter Haddit (who, I gather, has “haddit” with all this ethics talk) gives a bravura performance of exactly what ethics-free thinking will get you in this and other war-related issues. It turns people into clones of the ridiculous general (played by the late, great Rod Steiger) in Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks,” whose nuanced response to every dilemma is “Kill! Kill! KILL!” ( I know, I know…in the movie it turns out that the general was right after all. It is a satire.)

Here is Rod’s, er, Haddit’s Comment of the Day (to Bill) on my post about the infamous pissing Marines, The Darkness of the Right, Pissing Away American Values. You’re welcome for the editing, Haddit. I’ll have some final comments after the featured rant:

“Are you kidding me? They should be punished?????? We train these guys and gals to be heart-breakers and life-takers, but “oh no don’t piss on the enemy”? I say we put all the bodies of our enemies in a giant blender and dump their remains on the cities where they lived and let’s see how long they screw with us. Desecrating bodies……….What does a bullet or a bomb do, man? War is being insane, doing insane things. Sane folks don’t KILL other folks. So, we teach em to be insane but with rules? THERE ARE NO STINKING RULES. KILL, KILL, KILL come the cries of our military men and women while in training. “WHAT MAKES THE GRASS GROW”???? “We don’t go to war to die for our country, we make the other poor bastard die for his country.”

“The very idea that our fighting men and women shouldn’t take whatever revenge of what our enemies do to us is to ignore that we have asked these people to do everything that is abnormal in life, that being to kill another human being. How stupid is Hillary Clinton for saying we are not going to condone pissing on a person trying to kill us and will lock away anyone that does? I guess it’s okay that they kill us. We are not over there to MAKE NICE!!!! Any person saying anything bad or threatening to throw one of our military in jail for such trivial BS would and probably could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.

“What is our “Duty”? Kill the enemy. “Honor” went out the door for our enemy when we set foot on their soil whether it be foreign or domestic. Our “COUNTRY” sent us over there, now let us fight and strike fear in the hearts of our enemy or bring them the hell home and make em play with dolls. NO MARINE will be found doing that BS, they will be doing whatever necesary to KILL the no good, sorry SOB that wishes to kill us. If just one of those boys ends up in jail over this, we should OCUPY WASHINGTON and call for this administration to be banished from the office of which they swore to uphold. OOORAH!!!!”

——————————–

I’m back.

The central rationalization in Haddit’s fallacy is my least favorite of them all, “It’s not the worst thing,” which IS the favorite of the Mark Levins and his ilk. Killing soldiers is, in fact within the rules of war, and always has been. Visiting atrocities on civilians also used to be among the rules of war, until human beings became more civilized and recognized the dignity of human life, the cruelty of mistreating women and children, and the rights of non-combatants generally. To argue that any act is justifiable because “you can’t do worse to someone than killing them” (Brit Hume game perilously close to this argument on Fox News this morning) is willfully ignoring what legitimate war is. It is not about hate. It is not about revenge. War is for the purpose of protecting a nation that has been threatened, deterring future attacks and aggression, and making future conflicts less likely. It is the ultimate utilitarian act and challenge, choosing elements of evil to accomplish a greater good.

Desecrating bodies, gratuitous cruelty, torture and other wartime atrocities do not have any useful purpose within this mission, and are motivated by emotions like anger, fear and hate, and unethical objectives like revenge. They are impediments to effective warfare, as they involve real conflicts of interest: the best soldier is the clearest thinking soldier, motivated by love of country and respect for authority, not raw emotion. General Patton, who Haddit quotes with approval, was a brilliant general whose uncontrollable emotions were a fatal flaw, and they limited the degree to which his superiors could trust him. And it was the methodical, even-tempered Ulysses S. Grant, not the emotional “Fighting Joe” Hooker or Ambrose Burnside, who led Mr. Lincoln’s Army to victory.

Of course it is hard for soldiers trained to kill to simultaneously keep their emotions in check. That’s why training is important, discipline is crucial, effective command is essential, and codes of conduct are vital. Soldiers are professionals, and have professional standards. Defense lawyers would sometimes love to turn their guilty scumbag clients in, but they cannot and must not. Police officers would sometimes like to shoot vicious felons who they suspect will go free. A doctor might want to let a drunk driver who wiped out a family die on the operating table. I’m sympathetic, just as I sympathize with the Marines, who lost comrades fighting those dead Taliban soldiers. But they are professionals, and they are Americans. We can sympathize, but we must not accept or condone.

Beyond pragmatic considerations are those of principle. The United States is the only nation in the world founded on ideals, and if it is not true to those ideals—indeed, if it is not perceived as being true to those ideals—it is in peril more deadly than the threat posed by any foe. The cowboys of the Old West held to a code of ethics that declared shooting a man in the back as unforgivable, no matter how dangerous or despicable the man might be. The United States, which in its founding documents proclaims the undeniable human rights of all people, not just American citizens, has pledged itself to being the hero, the good guy, the rescuer, the role model, the white hat, in all its international activities. As I wrote in the post, it has often failed that impossibly high standard, but that is the standard.

It must remain the standard. Haddit not only wants the representatives of the United States abroad to behave like monsters, but to revel in it and be rewarded for it. He is, in essence, endorsing the logic of terrorists, Vlad the Impaler, Hitler and Caligula, not the ideals of Madison, Mason, Jefferson and Adams. “OOORAH!!!!” in such a context is no more than a werewolf’s howl.

The fact that without working ethics alarms ideologues, fanatics, and zealots can embrace cruelty and revenge over core American ideals is what convinces me that the colloquy here is so important. Posts like this also remind me why Americans must constantly strive to have a clear view of right and wrong cutting through the fog of emotion, especially when that emotion is hate.

41 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “The Darkness of the Right, Pissing Away American Values”

  1. I would ask Haddit only one question. How would he feel if it were Taliban pissing on our guys and gals?

    If he’d consider it just part of battle, then I have nothing to say that would be of interest to him; he could at least claim logical consistency.

    My guess is, though, that he’d be outraged. Which only leads to the second question – what makes his outrage more justifiable than an Afghani’s outrage?

    And not to put words in his mouth, but if his answer rhymes with “because our side is right,” then I also have little to say to him, because flaming idiots like that are absolutely beyond reasoning with; there can be no civility when dealing with people whose ethical capabilities end with “kill the bastards.”

    • They do far worse than that, Charles. Again, a little perspective is in order, here. There is no moral equivalence between the Taliban and the Marine Corps. It’s that very attitude among amoral pundits that undoubtedly provoked Haddit’s “spirited” defense of his comrades-in-arms.

      • They do far worse than that, Charles. Again, a little perspective is in order, here

        Amazing.

        There is no moral equivalence between the Taliban and the Marine Corps.

        That’s actually the point.

        It’s that very attitude among amoral pundits that undoubtedly provoked Haddit’s “spirited” defense of his comrades-in-arms.

        I don’t defend the criminals and unethical in my tribe. I Attack them with everyone else. I expect the same from American Soldiers.

          • I grant that you understand the battlefield environment more than me, just like cops understand the job of policing more than me when they say their fellows shouldn’t face serious punishment for beating up a civilian while on duty.

  2. Besides unethical and unprofessional, it is ineffecient. Military spending is through the roof and paid professionals have time to spend pissing and taking videos of it? How is this different from someone flippin’ burgers spitting on a consumer’s food in revenge? Taxpayers expect more from their military than wasting time and money not doing their job. It is unethical in so many ways! I was trained to be swift and efficient to accomplish missions. Anything else and you are wasting resources and possibly giving your perp an opportunity to even the score.

  3. You’re such a pogue I won’t even argue with a you. All I will do is quote a Marine who is both feared and respected in both Afghanistan and Iraq:

    “It’s not just a physical fight: it’s an ethical fight, it’s a moral fight. Right now more than at other time … we need leaders who will live by a code … who can look in the mirror and not duck away from what they see.”

    General Mattis USMC

    If you’re a Marine, which I highly doubt, you will know who he is. If you don’t, why don’t you look him up and do a little reading about him and then come back and tell us that Gen Mattis is wrong.

  4. One last comment. All major media and press head lines. “Fireteam Ambushed and Killed While Pissing on Dead Insurgents” Here is the video to prove it. – I don’t care what a chump quotes. Now that is dishonorable to our country.

  5. Military commanders quotes are often taken out of context. And often they haven’t seen action. Everyone wants to be McArthur, Patton, Eisenhower, or Washington.

      • I apologize Bill. The kids were immature and had a brainfart. I just wish someone caught this before the public and media did. Too many of the pundits are attempting to educate the ignorant. Only a small percentage attended the War College.

  6. Really. They peed on dead guys and this makes national headlines. This.has been blown out of proportion. No they shouldnt have done it but it is hardly newsworthy. Let the brass correct the behaivior and send them on their way… Back to the front. There are far more pressing matters in our world. Like why the media insists on doing stories on every soldier they can find who makes a bad choice.while.under such.terrible presure.

    • They desecrated dead soldiers. That’s something else. And it was available over the internet, world wide. It’s a war crime. It is newsworthy because it doesn’t happen often, and because we are in a sensitive position in that part of the world, and because it’s W-R-O-N-G.

      It also suggest serious command and chain of command problems. Stop making excuses.The press would be negligent not to report it.

      • Taliban terrorists aren’t “soldiers”, Jack. Even though we usually treat them as such for public relations reasons… a fact that merely incurs their scorn. But it falls hugely short of being a war crime. It was a breach of good order and discipline. Period.

        • They don’t have to be soldiers, Steven—though this is semantics: they are enemy combatants—they just have to be dead on the field of battle to be protected by the Geneva Conventions. You make it sound like a Marine’s shoes weren’t polished. this is exactly how war corrupts and coarsens cultures and nations. You don’t abuse dead bodies, just like you don’t rape women, The word for it is “barbaric.”

          • Implying that leaking over a dead enemy is any where near the same as rape is well its silly and wrong.
            I agree that their actions were inapropriate, but as far as desecrating remains go, ehh its petty, and has blown out of proportion. They should be punished, make them clean the latrine and get back to work.

            • Bad arguing form T—I didn’t say they were the same, I said they were in the same category—barbaric and primitive actions that serve no purpose other than to harm and humiliate, and specifically war crimes..A soldier who does that can’t be trusted not to do worse–it shows a total lack of discipline, judgment, and self-control. Send them home, and give them a dishonorable discharge. Urinating on a the dead is pretty dishonorable,

              • Completely disagree Jack, If we held these men to the standard you are proposing half the Marine who fought in the South Pacific and good deal of the Soliders who fought in Europe would have been gotten dishonarable discharges. As a former Marine NCO If I caught them doing this I would have stopped it, destroyed the cell phone, made them wash and clean the bodies and found some other shit detail for them to do. But a dishonarable discharge for this? Its NOT A FELONY why should it be treated as such?

                • Not half of them, Bill–just a couple, to send the correct message that it wouldn’t be tolerated. I have always believed those photos of GIs with Japanese heads mounted on their tanks were horribly destructive to US honor and reputation, and it should have been stopped. Tolerating it (and publicizing it) led to our Vietnam soldiers think it was OK to make strings of Viet Cong ears—remember, it was stuff like that helped us lose the Vietnam war, and let John Kerry portray the entire US fighting force as sadists and monsters. That in turn lets Marines piss on Taliban corpses, because it’s “better” than cutting off their ears. Nope. You discourage it by making the punishment hard and clear.

                  • Not at the time they weren’t . Hell they had pictures of Japanese skulls taken as souvinirs on the cover of Life.

                    And those photos are not what I’m really talking about.

                    The Marines in pacific for the most part did not take Japanese prisoners. Why? Two reasons. The Japanese tortured, mutilated and killed our Marines and Soldiers when they took them and Japanese soldiers would pretend to be surrendering and then blow themselves and the Marines up. Solution? Kill all the Japanese soldiers. Period. If they throw up their hands? Shoot them. If they are they laying on the ground wounded? Shoot them. The Japanese soldier gave up the protection of the Geneva convention when they started to use it to hide behind.

                    I think that maybe we should just pull the Marines and soldiers out of Afghanistan if every time one them makes a mistake the arm chair quarterbacks are going to tell us how to police our own. Let the Marine Corps handle it.

                    • The press also called them “Japs” and monkeys, and appealed directly to racism. Doesn’t make it right.

                      I have no problem with the treatment of Japanese prisoners once it was clear that they were using the “rules of war” to kill our soldiers. Absolutely right. My Dad was in a unit that twice had men killed in German towns after the town raised a white flag, and the commander started telling other towns that 1) the white flag was not operable and 2) if one of his men was shot after the town surrendered, the town’s leadership would be executed on the spot. All fair.

                      As always, it should be left to the Marines, but the Marines have an obligation to maintain order and discipline. If they don’t meet the obligation…

              • Sorry i dont believe that.they are anywhere near the same category. It takes an entirley differnt mindset to rape or dismember, than urinating on a corpse.
                Had they mutilated the bodies dusfigured them, drug them around or even took flesh as a trophy okay. But urinating on them is not even in the same ball park

                • The Jeopardy category is “Barbaric and uncivilized conduct in combat in foreign lands while representing the United States and its people.” Rape is for 200, Alex; mutilating bodies is for 100, ans pissing on the dead is for 40. But the category is the same, and everything in it a disgrace. Despicable? Of course. That would be a good category too.

          • Jack, they are by all laws of war terrorists. They have no clear identifiable command structure and wear no clearly identifiable emblem identifying them as combatants.

              • Because under the Geneva convention they have to either be wearing a uniform or wearing something that clearly identifies them as combatants at a distance. Fighting in civilian clothing is against the Geneva convention.

                  • They are still not soldiers or enemy combatants.

                    Ive always said that if they did this they should be punished. I just dont think it ranks up there with a felony.

                    I hope that once the furor dies down these Marines will get a fair hearing. That’s all I’m asking for to happen. I don’t want to see undue influence get these men railroaded.

                    • Is a dishonorable discharge only for felonies? If so, I withdraw that as a remedy. I agree that this should not be treated as a crime. I realize I hadn’t made that clear.

  7. As General Sherman stated, “War- at best- is barbarism.” That reality must be taken into account when evaluating events during combat operations. You can’t do it properly from a legalistic approach. By Taliban standards, this was nothing. Nor is the torture and rape of American service women who’ve fallen into the hands of a Moslem enemy… as has happened in every known case since the First Gulf War. These people have no sense of decency or chivalry as we understand the terms.

    War DOES coarsen soldiers to death. Inevitably. It also raises your awareness of your own mortality and forces you to come to terms with it. Often this results in a (surface) cavalier manner toward it, largely among your buddies as a matter of esteem. In a military culture, courage and teamwork are held in the highest regard.

    There’s also this. Soldiers can respect other soldiers who share their concepts of soldierly virtues… even when engaged in combat against them. When, however, you’re up against murderous insurgents who reject every rule and concept of honor in which you’ve been trained, they become dehumanized in your eyes. It was often that way in WWII in the war against Japan. That attitude is likely prevalent against the Taliban who, in addition, are not even soldiers of a national army, but a collection of fanatic thugs.

    • Gen. Sherman, as you know, was a humanist and a disciplinarian, and would have probably shot a soldier under his command who urinated on a dead enemy, because it served no purpose and was an insult to the uniform.

      • General Sherman- the humanist- also introduced little innovations into American warfare such as shooting prisoners, using prisoners as walking mine detectors, despoiling helpless civilians, terrorizing populaces with roving bands of lawless soldiers and local criminals (the bummers) and total war in general. Given all that, the idea of him shooting his own soldiers for urinating on an enemy casualty is rather arcane!

        General Lee, who was a Christian gentleman, would have abhorred all of it.

        • Forgot about your Southern heritage! (But you brought up Sherman!) Shooting prisoners was no innovation—Sherman—the humanist—believed that total war was the most humane war, because it ended hostilities and death quicker. He concentrated on destroying property, not people.But everything he authorized had a military purpose, and was directed toward ending the war. He also had the fewest casualties among his own forces of any of the Union generals. He was a pro, a West Pointer. Most of your allegations have not been proven—Civil War soldiers were not especially well-trained, and hard to control, and there was looting, in part because Sherman’s army was living off the land.. Sherman himself always said he was executing orders—well. I like to believe him. I still think he would have shot anyone who defiled a body. They were good about that in the Civil War.

          • That’s rather begging the point, Jack. The bummers were rife wherever Sherman’s army went. You might well say that he didn’t actually order them to commit depredations outright, but he did little to nothing to enforce discipline on his forces in that regard. He also burned down whole cities in his path on the total war premise that terror and destruction will “save lives” in the long run. And sometimes they do… as with the A-bombs on Japan. But the South was not Japan, but America. After the fall of Atlanta (which cost Sherman MANY casualties in the process) the end of the war was right before him.

            The devastation didn’t hasten the war’s end by much. It merely reduced the population to hunger, poverty and a deep bitterness that survived the war’s end by many decades. In a way, it remains still. It also made the rise of the Ku Klux Klan inevitable, I’d venture to say.

            I’d also point out that West Point, while among the finest of institutions, can and does put out occasional individuals who are either incompetant or ethically challenged. Because of the unprecedented requirements of the War Between The States, those who were usually weeded out in actual service… weren’t. Besides, the most capable ones tended to be Southrons.

            Say… you’re up latge tonight!

  8. For somne reason I couldnt reply to your post asking about dishonorable discharges.

    If you get a dishonorable discharge it is treated as felony conviction by the goverment and companies.

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