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Monday, October 24, 2016

There are only two possible explanations for that photo.

One is intentional malice. That is the explanation favored by Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. That picture, he told The Associated Press, is “beyond the pale.”

  • Bill Britton

    As a former Marine, I was distressed by the SS flag displayed beneath the American flag. This was probably a symptom of ignorance about World War II and Nazi Germany that is typical of later generations of Americans. In our drive to educate tech-savvy graduates, history and the humanities fade to secondary status. “Old wars” like the Civil War, for example, are sanitized by calling it a states-rights conflict, not about slavery, while the Iraq War morphed into an effort to spread democracy–the real reason, oil, being set aside. We spend too much time pursuing symbols like the latest designer jeans and not enough on examining those evil symbols, and what they represent, found in human history.

  • ninure

    When the Tea Party has a leadership that wants to revise American History to so that the Founders never owned slaves, that that slavery in the US had nothing to do with race, that Jim Crow was a violation of property rights, and so forth I think we can see more “accidents” like this occur.

    The American Right seems hell bent on making sure that young people in America remmain ignorant of World History, and American History.

  • BobShipp

    As a VN vet (combat medic) and former history teacher, I am inclined to believe that the SS flag controversy really is a case of regrettable ignorance on the part of the sniper unit. Perhaps a session with all troops during basic training reviewing the atrocities inflicted upon our prisoners during the Battle of the Bulge by the SS, or the lessons of the Holocaust, would be sufficient for them to understand the aversion civilized people have toward anything suggesting that a relationship exists between Nazi ideology and our armed forces. Those who have rushed to the defense of these troops should not become their apologists. I can handle pissing on the corpses of the enemy a lot better than the SS controversy.

  • fordneri

    We live in a country where half the people don’t know who the vice president is. 20% don’t know who the first president was and a little less than half the population thinks the republican party is looking out for the average citizen. We now know that during basic training the service in question needs to teach the recruits not to take pictures of each other pissing on the enemy dead or photogragh the unit in front of NAZI Storm Trooper flags. Us old timers probably would be guilty of the same stupidity if we had of had the technology. So lets lighten up and just solve the problem. Teach a little history and proper war etiquette.

  • SteveHanken

    Dismissing history as unnecessary, absolutely will lead us onto a path of repeating the mistakes of the past. One only has to review “Fire in the Lake” a Pulitzer Prize winner on the failures of the military in Vietnam, to know the same mistakes in the military continue to be made, over and over again in the present. There are a lot more smarter and intelligent people in the military, way beyond the capacity of a handful of Marine ground pounders, who have a proper education that know these facts, but obviously chose to ignore them for whatever reason. One can blame the education system, but everyone in the military knows, you don’t do anything without asking permission when it comes to representing a unit. No one is that stupid in the upper echelons, even in the Marine Corps. to let this pass as a flag that represents a unit in the Corps. To believe everyone was completely ignorant of the connection of the SS and this flag, assumes total ignorance on the part of the reading public.

  • itsadogslife

    As a Jewish American, I could say I am shock at the use of these symbols by our beloved troops. But the truth is I am not much concerned by it. I have no doubt in my mind that those young people had no idea what that symbol stood for; I often helped my grandkids with their homework and was apalled at the low quality of their history lessons and the lack of any encouragement for them to think on thier own. My grandson had six weeks of lessons on American Indians and no where in those lessons did it speak about our Native Americans today, I had to explain to him that Native Americans still were living amongst us, trying hard to keep their culture alive. The lessons on world war II barely mentioned the horrible things done to people by the Nazis, nor were the death camps really explained. Add to that the continued attempt by politicians to rewrite history, the willingness of so many who blindly follow the spoken words of their choosen party and growing lack of respect for role of education in keeping this Country strong, however, deeply concerns me. Our energies should be put into asking, how these young people could not have known what that symbol was and how to correct it, not into how and who to punish. Leave that part up to these young people’s superiors.

  • Ed Kish

    I was in the military from 1966 until 1970 and nobody ever tried to teach us etiquette or history. Snipers kill and piss on the bodies of the dead, who really expects them to cover the IED crowd with flowers? Walk into Westminster Abbey and in a huge hall you will see hung from the beams Nazi flags, SS flags and Rising Sun flags, this doesn’t mean they are worshiped, these are the prizes of war and show what you have won. Find some other media inspired propaganda to get upset about.

  • BettyDoolittleTuininga

    I am a history buff, but quite frankly through my formative years, and even in college there never was enough time in a semester to adequately cover the more current histories like WWII. Sadly, even with my interest in history, I never knew the meaning of the flag when it was presented on the news. My dad served in WWII and I have read a great deal about the history of that war, but I have never seen a photo or illustration of the flag only the swastika which was originally a symbol used by many cultures including the primitive Native American mound dwellers of the Mississippian period.

    History should never be an option in our schools. I am an art historian and without social history much about the formation of the arts would be dull and unimaginative. But more importantly history helps to give it place. It also gives it a source, a name, and a beginning. We all need history in general for much the same reasons.

    I was sadden to hear that your grandsons history lesson failed to enlighten him and his classmates about the current lives of the Native Americans. Unfortunately, as an advocate and a woman of part Abenaki and Cree heritage, I have had many discussions with adults that are unaware of the existence of my brothers and sisters living on on the Reservations throughout this country. But then why should they know if it is never mentioned in our American history books and the aim has been to purify the race, assimilate the culture. The aim has been to make them disappear…

  • Clark_Kent

    No one wants to admit that our military today is not that of WWII or Korea. Those forces were composed of a small core of professionals and a large body of civilian draftees and volunteers. They fought against real evil, threats to our existence that had power to take away our freedom. They were also broadly representative of all Americans. As a veteran of WWII, I can personally state that I knew almost no one who liked military life. The vast majority of us wanted only to get the job done and go home. Americans will fight to the death to defend the country, but Viet Nam proved that they will resist fighting in wars of empire, which all of our wars since Korea have been. That’s why we have today’s military that is completely different and completely professional. They are probably far more efficient fighters than we soldiers of WWII were, but they are not so broadly representative of all Americans. Many find the violence of combat invigorating and thrilling. Even when severely wounded, many want only to get back to their units. Isn’t it possible that the guys in the picture admired the SS and knew exactly what that flag represented when they posed with it? After all, we have civilian groups in many parts of the country who openly admire Nazis and collect their symbols and insignia. I don’t think recruiters inquire into anyone’s political beliefs when they sign them up.

  • ChuckL8

    Now that everyone has a camera, as well as access to allow publishing their photos and videos world-wide almost immediately, incidents such as this cannot be prevented. All we can do is use then to teach others why whatever is portrayed is wrong, and hope that future incidents will not occur. It’s simply a new way of teaching.

    In the past, all such teaching moments happened in real time, one-on-one, between teacher and student, parent and child, and so one. “Don’t run down the stairs!” … “Why not?” … CRASH! … “That’s why!” … “Ah, OK”

    Nowadays, that real-time experience has expanded, greatly. Let’s use it, like we’re all doing here.

  • AngieWasher

    If You like to Read History, There’s a lot to Read Here. But it Look’s Like Were Not All on The Same Page.

  • Howz 1

    For years the Marines have had a neo nazi streak inside of them, just below the surface. There were issues about this at Camp Pendelton a few years ago when Afro American soldiers complained and brought it to the surface. There were links between some elements of the marine reserves and hate groups. This should not come as a shock to anyone. The infamous hell’s angels were started by ex marines coming home from Viet Nam.

  • Rev. Christa Landon

    I wish it were ONLY proof of their ignorance of US history just 60 years ago. However, this isn’t the first time US citizens sworn to uphold the Constitution have waved the flag of a defeated enemy. The Confederate flags I’ve seen waved by some “Conservatives” are just that.

    Ignorance of the actual facts of history isn’t an accident; it’s the results of policies. Recent examples: “Keep Race out of discussion of slavery!”. “Protect children” from learning the unpleasant shadow sides of our Founding Fathers (many slave holders) and treatment of Native Americans (myth of First Thanksgiving).