Soldiers Defile Corpses

A video of U.S. Marines defiling unidentified corpses, which was taped by a fellow Marine, has circulated the web on sites like YouTube, CNN, The New York Times, and internationally on Aljazeera and the BBC.

It is a stab to the heart of patriotism to watch U.S. Marines huddled together with their, “man-hood” poking out from their pants as they urinate on the bloody corpses of insurgents.

The footage has now been logged into our nation’s viral history along with the photos from Abu Ghraib and the video of a soldier tossing a puppy over a cliff.

The response was as expected. President Obama, along with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta denounced the actions and promised punishment.

Their reproach is one shared by many Americans. One only needs to scroll down from the video to read comments like, “They are not Marines” and “This is why people hate us.”

Their sentiments correlate with the common sense of military stratagem; in the long run, we cannot defeat fanatical terrorism by assuming the role of vengeful crusaders.

And yet we cannot overlook the few, like Rick Perry, who label the act as a mistake that is incomparable to the barbaric unmerciful atrocities committed by the enemy. We need only to remember the beheading of Daniel Pearl to understand their perspective.

But beside the blaming and finger pointing, the relevancy is in the dichotomy between war and reality, or rather, of a nation’s perceived excellence versus the verity of its shortcomings.

We live in a time when being groped by airport officials is an understandable security measure and where our government can record our conversations and imprison American citizens without trial.

Fear has driven us to the corner of unattested zealous precautions because the enemy is everywhere and he hates our freedom, our women and our nation.

Let us not forget that the enemy is a feral red-eyed beast which lurks in the darkened crevices of some ungodly underworld feeding on the blood of innocence.

There is a childlike simplicity to such characterizations that is reminiscent of children’s fairytales. Perhaps, it is in our nature to cling to the naivety of our youth when reality becomes too complicated and the enemy too difficult to discern.

But when the truth dawns and the enemy is humanized we are left with a decrepit mind on the verge of moral insanity.

I say moral insanity because our actions contradict our demands. On May 2, 2011 Osama bin Laden was killed. An action that is arguably a victory, but what is most memorable was the crowd that gathered outside the White House and throughout cities in the United States.

There were thousands people screaming and waving their arms with excitement. I am not implying that people should not have been proud, but there is eeriness. How can we say that we above our enemy, if we cheer at death as they did on 9/11?

I do not deny that my point is debatable, but either the enemy is the epitome of evil or they are people infused with a complex hatred, which cannot be summed up in a few sentences. If we choose evil, then we cannot be surprised when our soldiers urinate on the devilish beasts.

And yet, one may wonder why a societies’ view is relevant to soldiers urinating on the corpses.

It is reckless to expect soldiers to be immune from immoral wartime behavior. It is as though believing they were molded from some virtuous clay rather than expecting that they sprang from the loins of mere mortals.

These soldiers are not strangers fighting a war, but they are citizens fighting abroad. They carry with them laptops and movies, but most importantly the attitudes of their communities.

Yes, we must seek justice for intolerable acts, but justice must not be used to relinquish a community from taking responsibility for the strength of its words and the message of its actions.

Nidia Sandoval is a third-year history major. She can be reached at nidias@uci.edu.