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.
My musings on current events, current projects, current anxieties and current delights.
I started this under the Bush regime when any grain of sand thrown into the gears of the over-reaching imperial state seemed worthwhile.
I have worked to elect more and better Democrats -- and to hammer the shit out of them once we get them in office so they do the things their constituents want and need. It's a big job.
It's mighty uncomfortable, getting by in a declining empire where elites maintain their power by massaging our mean streaks and mobilizing our resentments. This country and this "civilization" may be on their way out, but there's nothing else to do except try to make them as humane as possible along the way. That and to celebrate the extraordinary love that sometimes accompanies our species' bumbling way.
And the end hasn't come til it comes, ever.
Visitors will find a lot of commentary on books I'm reading here. I am very intentionally reading more offline these days because when it feels hard to find direction, it's time to learn something new.
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. I am currently an independent consultant to organizations seeking "help when you have to make a fight."