Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marine Snipers Urinate on Afghan Kills: Practical Buddhism

The photo is enough. If you have a TV, you've seen the video. 

On cable, every politician and retired general has weighed in. They look for fresh ways to say it's shocking, horrible, disgusting, not in the traditions of the USMC, an isolated incident that does not reflect on the Corps.

No, it's Abu Ghraib redux.  It's the psychological equivalent of scalping or collecting severed ears. Invading soldiers have done this kind of thing for thousands of years without being videotaped. I get it, and as a psychologist I can understand the circumstances that could lead folks to consider doing what the Marines did.

And I'm horrified too, but for different reasons.  Snipers exist to kill by stealth with super-rifles. They are carefully selected and their training is intense and desensitizing. Their calling is considered noble and heroic by many. Kill and terrorize the enemy. (You will be told who the enemy is.)

To be crude I'd rather be peed on than torn apart by high power bullets. I wouldn't like it. It would be very humiliating. But I'd take a long shower, put on clean clothes, and get back to living.

I haven't yet heard a politician or officer express any remorse or regret about the killing itself, even if they felt it was necessary. Instead, I'm hearing that to go a faraway land and pick off political foes is righteous and worthy of praise. But it has to be nicely and unemotionally.