If Steve Gilliard were healthy, I'm sure he'd share this. Since he can't for the moment, I will.
What with its new-found taste for overseas assignments, you would think the German Army might have developed a finely tuned sense of cultural awareness by now. But it still seems in need of sensitivity training.
First there was the scandal over German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan. Now the army is in trouble again over a video showing a recruit being encouraged to imagine he is shooting African-Americans in the Bronx.
German Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said Monday that the army was investigating the incident. "This behavior is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts the training standards of the German army," Raabe said at a press conference, where he emphasized that the incident was an "isolated case." The army had begun a probe into the incident which would probably be completed within two to four weeks, he said.
The video in question shows an army recruit being trained in machine gun use by an army instructor. First the recruit is encouraged to imagine he is shooting terrorists in an airport. The soldier lets off a couple of rounds, apparently to the instructor's satisfaction. The second visualization exercise involves a more urban scenario. "You are in the Bronx," the instructor says. "A black van stops in front of you. Three African-Americans get out and insult your mother in the coarsest possible way." The recruit is told to fire and shout the English expletive "motherfucker" with each round, which he does after first laughing at the absurdity of the instructions given him. The instructor tells him to shout louder, and the recruit obeys.
This San Francisco purveyor of graffiti has it right. When times are bleak -- when country and planet sink under the barely restrained sway of greed, raw power, and fear -- it's time to restate what matters.
I write here to preserve and kindle hope for a national and global turn toward multi-racial, economically egalitarian, gender non-constricting, woman affirming, and peace choosing democracy that preserves the habitability of earth for all. There's a big order -- but what else is there to do but struggle for this? Not much.
Topics range from the minuscule to the transcendent to the global, from dire to delightful. I am not an optimist, but I refuse to allow myself to wallow within the easy bias that everything is going to always be awful. Good also happens; love lives too.
I've been yammering here about activism, politics, history, racism and other occasional horrors and pleasures since 2005. I intend to continue as long as the opportunity exists. In this time, that means activism and chronicling resistance. Perhaps it always has, one way and another.
I'm a progressive political activist who runs trails and climbs mountains whenever any are available. I've had the privilege to work for justice in Central America (Nicaragua and El Salvador), in South Africa, in the fields of California with the United Farmworkers Union, and in the cities and schools of my own country. I'm a Christian of the Episcopalian flavor; we think and argue a lot. For work, I've done a bit of it all: run an old fashioned switch-board; remodeled buildings and poured concrete; edited and published periodicals, reports and books; and organized for electoral campaigns. Will work for justice.