Troops Wearing ‘Pork-Eating Crusader’ Patches in Afghanistan
In what began as a satirical expression of frustration over Afghans’ refusal to embrace military forces that invaded and occupied their country (go figure), increasing numbers of US and NATO troops are wearing culturally insensitive patches and carry items that identify themselves as “infidels.”
This “Pork-Eating Crusader” patch, made by Mil-Spec Monkey, has been sighted on NATO troops in Afghanistan. The three-inch-square patch features a medieval knight in a Crusader’s tunic, eating a large ham hock, identifying the wearer in English and Arabic as a “pork-eating Crusader.”
Crusaders were European Christian holy warriors who launched repeated invasions of the Holy Land beginning in 1095 AD. The expeditionary wars, blessed by the Pope, were launched in a bid to re-open access to Jerusalem, which is a holy city to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The word evokes a strong emotional response from Muslims, much like jihad does for Westerners, but more intense. In the early days of the War on Terror, Former President George W. Bush infamously called the new conflict a “crusade,” stoking the ire of much of the Islamic world.
Other US military leaders also called the War on Terror a Christian holy war. When asked why terrorists hate America, Gen. Jerry Boykin, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense during the Bush administration, answered, “because we’re a Christian nation.”
“Our spiritual enemies will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus,” he asserted. The three-star general appeared on CNN where he reminisced about hunting down Somali warlord Osman Atto, who claimed he was protected from the Americans by Allah. “Well you know what,” Boykin blustered on worldwide cable television, “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”
Such rhetoric, like “pork-eating Crusader” patches, are extremely unhelpful in a conflict in which a stated objective is winning the hearts and minds of Afghans and the wider Islamic world. Especially in this tumultuous period, when Muslim anger over American atrocities is running high. A video of US Marines urinating on the corpse of an Afghan resistance fighter stoked fury earlier this year. That incident was followed by a plea deal that spared Marine Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led his men on a bloodthirsty murder rampage in Haditha, Iraq, from serving any prison time. Twenty-four innocent Iraqis, including children, died at the hands of US Marines during the Haditha massacre. This was followed by the accidental Quran burnings by NATO troops, which led to dozens of revenge killings. And earlier this month, US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went on a murderous rampage in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, slaughtering 16 innocent civilians, including nine children.
Military.com reports that sales of “infidel”-themed items are soaring. “It started as a humorous tactic for poking fun at intolerant Islamists ignorant of American ideals,” the site explains.
“Everybody sort of hates occupying forces anyway, so it’s kind of embracing that,” Clayton Montgomery, Mil-Spec Monkey’s owner, told Military.com “If you are going to hate us anyway, we might as well pretend to be the great white devil.”
But others caution that wearing “infidel” items could cause serious harm to both US troops and the reputation of the United States.
“When you are trying to hold the moral high ground and you’re trying to say, ‘This is who we are and this is what we do’ – those sorts of incidents… just erode that ground under your feet that you are trying to stand on. Pretty soon you’re in the swamp with everybody else,” Marine Corps Reserve Major Ramsey Sulayman, a Lebanese-American, told Military.com.
Montgomery claims his company has sold more than 10,000 of the “pork-eating Crusader” patches.
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