American soldiers, honor and urine?

Author: Nezar Hamze, Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations in South Florida
Published On: Jan 23 2012 12:38:51 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 24 2012 03:09:43 PM EST

A video of American Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters made international news this week. Critics came out condemning the act as deplorable, while supporters of the Marines urinating on the dead say they would have done the same thing. Pamela Geller the country’s most rabid anti-Islam blogger actually said, "Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial."  Inferring that the Marines pissing on the dead is their interpretation of ghusl mayyit. 

US Congressman Allen West even weighed in via email to The Weekly Standard, ““The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.”   He followed up with a big “Shut your mouth” to those who haven’t been shot at by the Taliban.

I have never served our country in the military and certainly cannot speak to the behavior of soldiers during the heat of battle. However, after watching the footage it seems that the goal of these soldiers was to desecrate the dead bodies with urine and bid them a good day when they finished. You don’t hear any gunfire in the background and the soldiers seem to be very relaxed and for the most part having a good time.

Several members of my family served in the United States military, so I called and asked for their input about the incident. With no uncertain terms they condemned the actions of the Marines as disgusting, embarrassing and antithetical to everything they were taught serving in our military. I was told these soldiers lost themselves and acted in a way that could possibly end their military careers.

Taking a step back and looking at this incident from a “Peace through strength” perspective, only brings more disappointment. While many Afghans don’t agree with the ideology of the Taliban, we can only imagine the disgust of the Afghan people when they see American Soldiers urinating on their dead. Not to mention the recruiting tool these soldiers just produced, directed and published for terrorist around the world to use against us.

So what happens now? The fate of these soldiers will be determined by the military courts, while our already strained relationship with this region takes another hit. The terrorist got another recruiting tool and Americans become more divided.

As Americans we need to hold strong to what separates us from the rest of the world. We are not perfect, but I’m pretty sure Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness doesn’t encompass urinating on the dead. Being American doesn’t mean bulldozing through any situation screaming “God Bless America” perpetuating pseudo patriotism. Being American doesn’t mean not apologizing when we make mistakes.

Ignoring morality and humanity shouldn’t be a negotiable. As Americans we should embrace balance, balance will lead to justice, and ultimately justice will lead to peace.

For those who espouse hate, well, good luck with that!