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May 29 2012

Marine Corps Lawyers Claim Crusades Weren’t a Religious War

Last month, I wrote about Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, the unit whose commander, in his infinite wisdom, had decided to change the unit’s nickname from the “Werewolves” to the “Crusaders,” a change that came complete with a nice big crusader shield and cross being painted on its planes.

This unit, given the nickname Werewolves before its first WWII combat tour, was renamed the Crusaders in 1958 when the plane it was flying was the F-8 Crusader. But in 2008, when the unit was preparing to deploy to Iraq, the name was changed back to the Werewolves by the unit’s then commander, Lt. Col. William Lieblein, who, stating the obvious, said, “The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn’t float.”

But earlier this year, the unit’s new commander, Lt. Col. Wade Wiegel, decided to change the name back to Crusaders, telling the Beaufort Gazette that he just didn’t see calling a U.S. military unit the Crusaders as being “politically incorrect.”

On April 18, after receiving dozens of complaints about this name change, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) sent a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and Secretary of the Navy demanding that the unit stop using the name Crusaders and the cross and shield imagery.

After receiving MRFF’s demand letter, the decision was made to change the unit’s name back to the Werewolves. So, problem solved, no more issue, right? Well, not quite.

On May 18, the General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Robert D. Hogue, and one of his colleagues spoke on the phone with MRFF’s lead legal counsel on this matter, Caroline Mitchell of the firm Jones Day. MRFF was not aware at the time of this phone call that the decision had allegedly (according to what the military said after the fact) already been made to change the unit’s name back – and, apparently, neither was the General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who proceeded to explain to Ms. Mitchell that there was a secular purpose to using the Crusaders name and imagery.

When msnbc.com reported on this story last week, they mentioned the phone call between MRFF’s counsel and the Marine Corps counsel, but this part of the story is so insane that it deserves more attention. Seriously, you ain’t gonna believe the points that General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps made in his attempt to defend the use of the Crusader name and cross.

The most incomprehensibly unbelievable point advanced by these legal geniuses was that the Crusades were not religious. They were just military in nature, and therefore the term Crusades evokes “military” history, not “religion.” I kid you not. The General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps DOESN’T THINK THE CRUSADES WERE RELIGIOUS!

These Marine Corps lawyers then asked Ms. Mitchell if a cross always has a religious connotation, and they were ready with an example of one that doesn’t – the X on the Confederate flag! That’s right. Their great example of the secular use of a cross is a symbol that evokes something much better – the Dukes of Hazzard (oh yeah, and racism and slavery, too).

But wait, there’s more! They also asked Ms. Mitchell if the use of the Crusaders name and imagery would be permissible in a theater where the people are “illiterate,” apparently assuming that everyone in the Middle East is illiterate, and that the image of a shield with a cross on it wouldn’t be clear to anyone, whether they could read or not.

They next asked if the usage of this name and imagery would be acceptable in Africa, apparently unaware that there are significant Muslim populations in Africa as well as the Middle East.

Other questions included whether or not it would be acceptable to remove the cross, but leave the shield and continue use of the Crusaders name, or to use an image of a Crusader plane instead and keep the name.

Yes, folks, these brilliant points and questions were brought to you by the General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps – the senior legal advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Deputy Commandants of the Marine Corps, and other top officials of the Marine Corps. We have a serious problem here.

37 comments

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  1. 1
    julian

    This just in: Marines are fucking stupid.

  2. 2
    mlshatto

    Ah, “there are none so blind as those who will not see.” We have a very minor version of the same mindset in the school district where I live. Despite student petitions, submission of reams of documentation, etc., the school board just doesn’t get that the name “Warrior” and logos that include an “Indian” profile in full feathered bonnet and a feather-adorned spear, when used by a non-Native school, might possibly be offensive to Native Americans.

    One question I would like Mr. Hogue to answer is this: If the historic Crusades were not religious in nature, why did the Pope spearhead fundraising for them?

  3. 3
    nonsense

    Ah, the Crusades — when the good ol’ secular boys were rampaging around the middle east for the purpose of recapturing the Secular Land for the secularists from those awful religionists.

    I’m surprised they didn’t argue that the Crusades weren’t religious because the european christians killed almost as many christians in the middle east as they did muslims, albeit accidentally.

  4. 4
    wholething

    Once again proving the accuracy of the acronym:
    Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential.

  5. 5
    boneforgod

    News flash: all people named julian are fucking stupid. I offer as evidence your post of “This just in: Marines are fucking stupid.”

    Nice generalization julian. Moron. The General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Robert D. Hogue, and one of his colleagues are fucking stupid. Stupid.

    2 of the first 4 responses are just as fucking stupid as the fucking stupid response of the “General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Robert D. Hogue, and one of his colleagues”.

    I was a fucking Marine and I can at least find the target for my remarks, instead of spewing stupid remarks in the wind hoping it sticks on the right target. Stupid fuck, you are part of the problem too.

  6. 6
    julian

    Hey, fuckwit. I’m a Marine. And I’ll repeat, Marines are fucking stupid. From the Commandant and SgtMaj to the lowest boot and their Cpl. When our leadership isn’t run by lackwits and idiots maybe I’ll be kinder.

  7. 7
    Trebuchet

    I’m surprised they didn’t argue that the Crusades weren’t religious because the european christians killed almost as many christians in the middle east as they did muslims, albeit accidentally.

    Accidentally? No, they did it on purpose. Crusaders were quite happy to kill the wrong kind of Christians (Eastern vs Roman) or even the correct kind if they had something worth stealing.

  8. 8
    boneforgod

    Well julian, it appears you can speak for yourself with authority; you appear to be just as fucking stupid as you say you are. It’s obvious you didn’t qualify, even as marksman, in the logic department. Have a nice day and try to focus.

  9. 9
    nedchamplain

    I guess they can’t figure out why there is no red cross in ismamic nations. I do hope our Military acadamies would teach history as a required course. And stop glorifying war.

  10. 10
    helen

    This has nothing to do with “the blind who will not see.”

    They see. They don’t like what they see. So they are trying to change the narrative. These are spoiled rotten brats who are used to getting their own way and now they are losing a battle. Wait –what? Losing a battle? We can’t have that. Marines don’t lose battles. Does not compute. They think changing the historical narrative will help them win? Do they not realize how incredibly stupid they look? Anyone with the most cursory knowledge of the Crusades knows it was a religious war. The very first sentence in Wikipedia says:

    “The Crusades were a series of religious expeditionary wars blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church, with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem.”

  11. 11
    billkurmes

    Just because they are ignorant of the origins of the St. Andrew’s Cross used in the confederate battle flag does not erase centuries of religious symbolism either.

  12. 12
    Chris Rodda

    @ billkurmes … They’re probably using the Confederate flag example because there actually was a court ruling in Mississippi that said the X on the flag doesn’t have a religious connotation anymore, even though its origin is the St. Andrew’s Cross. But, of course, that would be an apples and oranges comparison because the Crusader shield and cross absolutely does still have a religious connotation – that’s its ONLY connotation.

  13. 13
    jg

    Is Lt. Col. Wiegel really so eager to associate his unit with possibly the worst series of military debacles in human history?

  14. 14
    Erp

    @13 jg,

    Actually the first crusade was quite successful (if you survived all the hardship) in that they did capture Jerusalem and established several states that lasted for some time (another less overt goal was providing something for many of the younger sons/brothers of the nobility whose only job training was warfare from Europe).

  15. 15
    MikeMa

    @Erp
    Other than the huge loss of life, wanton destruction and huge costs involved which could have gone to more important projects, the pope’s armies did have some victories.

    @boneforgod
    They were the pope’s armies so that makes Robert D. Hogue an idiot, willful or not, an idiot.

  16. 16
    msm16

    Not to go Medieval history on you but in actual fact the crusades werent

    “another less overt goal was providing something for many of the younger sons/brothers of the nobility whose only job training was warfare from Europe”

    In fact a systematic examination of the documentation shows that most of the crusaders on the first crusade were well established individuals with a lot to lose. Why does this matter in this context? Well it shows that the common view of the crusades as a primarily materialistic endeavor with a gloss of religion over it is in correct. We secularists tend to assume that “that could NOT have possibly motivated them!” that in this case being religion. In fact it was the driving force. The crusaders truly believed in their religious goal. And while at the end once victory was in their grasp they got down to the nuts and bolts of distributing booty other things came to mind, it was more of a consolation prize than anything else.

    In fact most of the crusaders left the middle east following the capture of jerusalem, having gained no wealth and spent [b]huge[/b] sums of their personal fortune to achieve their goals. This was actually a serious issue for those crusaders who did stay and set up households in the new crusaders states because they were in effect a huge minority in a hostile land.

  17. 17
    msm16

    they were not a ‘huge’ minority but a tiny one, derp

  18. 18
    Pinky

    I’m an ex-flyboy, but I know a little bit about the Marine Corps. I know two thing for sure; 1.) there is no such thing as an ex-Marine and 2.) they do not use weasel language. The enlisted Marine veterans I know speak directly and truthfully.

    I hope Hogue, and his colleague in the General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, are civilian lawyers and not Marines.

    General James F. Amos, the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, should communicate his expectations of Corps standards to his legal staff.

    Wholething Said:

    Once again proving the accuracy of the acronym:
    Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential.

    Uh huh, history shows the Corps (the original American fighting force) is always first in to do the dirty, dangerous work the other services aren’t able to do. Insulting a Marine is as smart as poking a short stick at a badger.

  19. 19
    benedic

    Couldn’t they rename themselves “The Inquisition”? Not I add, a political term.

  20. 20
    left0ver1under

    This is unbelievably stupid. The crusades “aren’t religious”? The muslims have long memories. They consider the crusades of a thousand years ago to be current events, not ancient history, unlike most Americans who have “moved on” and consider six months to be “long term”.

    Either those liars…I mean, lawyers…okay, liars are more ignorant and uneducated than a grade six dropout, or their intention is to deliberately antagonize and incite a reaction from muslims. Given the number of US brass-holes who have equated the two illegal occupations to “doing god’s work”, it’s very likely the former.

  21. 21
    sqlrob

    Nice generalization julian. Moron. The General Counsel of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Robert D. Hogue, and one of his colleagues are fucking stupid. Stupid.

    If the Commandant doesn’t fire his ass for this, he’s stupid. If the top level of something is stupid, what does that say about the lower levels?

    So I’ll reserve judgement until it’s determined whether or not this guy is on the unemployment line soon.

  22. 22
    laurojaquez

    Tangential but, MikeMa, care to point out how many medieval conflicts didn’t carry with them “huge loss of life, wanton destruction and huge costs involved”. Erp’s point stands, the first crusade was a successful military operation by at least some of the involved parties (that the Byzantine empire didn’t saw it as a success is an understatement).

  23. 23
    msm16

    This is also incorrect, sorry but I have to use my college education for something.

    “This is unbelievably stupid. The crusades “aren’t religious”? The muslims have long memories. They consider the crusades of a thousand years ago to be current events, not ancient history, unlike most Americans who have “moved on” and consider six months to be “long term”.”

    In fact until the 20th century the people of the middle east had largely forgotten the crusades, after all they ‘won.’ The reintroduction of the crusades was largely a result of colonialism on the part of the western powers who saw the Crusades as a watershed event in history (see euro-centrism). This was a direst result of the education system brought in by western teachers, specifically the British and French (see mandates post world war 1).

    For Muslims before colonialism the crusades were nothing more than a minor blip on the radar, mush as the war of 1812 is for Americans. The idea of ‘long memories’ is quite incorrect.

  24. 24
    alexmartin

    Think about it: just a few hundred years after some illiterate desert-dwelling, psychotic, child-raping, lift-the-skirts-of-a-small-boy-and-kiss-his-penis, murdering savage so-called Prophet launched his schizoid socio-political “religion”, his followers had invaded and murdered the people of a great many lands, so much so that, given enough time, even mainland Europe eventually would’ve been under their khuff heels.

    They had to be stopped. It took a great deal of time, blood, sweat, and treasure, but the murdering hoardes were held back at Spain and eventually repulsed. You’ll say that was bad, bad, bad, but you know it wasn’t.

    If not, you may not have been born. This would not be 2012 A.D., there would not have been an “America”, and you would not be sitting at a computer to complain about it.

    If you existed at all, your first or second language would be Arabic, you’d slave under a global, former-European Caliphate, and you’d bend your knee 5 times daily to the Moon-god il-Allah under pain of brutal death by stoning or beheading on orders of some pigheaded mufti, shah, emir or the like.

    You know it. Deal with the fact and move on.

  25. 25
    nedchamplain

    I would hardly call the people of that time “illiterate”. The Proto-Sinaitic script dated back to the 15th century BCE and most likely the predicessor of the Phonecian alphabet which all modern alphabets derive. The numbering system we commonly use today, base 10 was developed in Egypt around 3100 BCE. So the “illiterate desert-dwelling, psychotic, child-raping, lift-the-skirts-of-a-small-boy-and-kiss-his-penis, murdering savage ” people you describe are the ones who taught us civilized colonizing land grabbing followers of a son murdering blood sacrificing god, how to read and write.

  26. 26
    alexmartin

    The Great Prophet and his clan lived in the desert in tents and was in fact illiterate.

    He kidnapped a priest and a rabbi and forced them to compose his “holy” book. They deliberately did a smashup, bangup job of it. Then in gratitude, we understand, he had them killed for their endeavors.

  27. 27
    NuMad

    alexmartin,

    Equating all of the Crusades with the Reconquista doesn’t seem very informative, among other things.

    Unlike msm16′s posts in this thread, which are.

  28. 28
    Lowcifur

    @sqlrob

    “If the Commandant doesn’t fire his ass for this, he’s stupid. If the top level of something is stupid, what does that say about the lower levels?”

    Virtually nothing.

    My time in the Army showed me that the US military has a great system of filtering out anyone with a low bullshit tolerance. The end result is leadership that is either:

    1) Very good, with a strong character and commitment to doing what’s right (Lt. Col. William Lieblein in the context of this story, for example).

    OR

    2) Someone composed entirely of bullshit, to the point that they are immune to its effects.

    Sadly, in my personal experience (for what little that’s worth), the first group seems vastly outnumbered by #2.

  29. 29
    alexmartin

    #25 nedchamplain,
    I note your curious, yet typical, morally relativistic equivocation, suggesting, as is the wont of secular collectivists everywhere, that all wrongs are equal in every regard.

    Who made me an apologist for Christ?

    At this late date, this modern age, christianity STILL is not forcibly bending your knee to their god.

    Under the Koran, the Sunnah, the Hadith, after the workings, doings, sayings, preachings, teachings, slaughters, psychosis, child rapes, treachery, betrayals, lies, deceit, genocide, commandments, restrictions, prohibitions and suggestions of the Perfect Man of the Moon God,
    You WILL be forcibly bending the knee to their god.

    Do you see a difference there?
    Let me guess– of course you don’t.

  30. 30
    nedchamplain

    How wrong you are. I bow to no gods, godesses or deities of any kind. They do not exist and those that follow are delusional to some extent. Just how far is determined my the actions upon their belief.

  31. 31
    Erp

    I’m actually trying to figure out where alexmartin is right; he seems to have swallowed the most narrowminded Christian propaganda about Islam. That Muhammad himself was illiterate (not unusual for that time and place though there were literate people around) and had married one young girl (for political reasons) seems to be the total.

    Msm16 has good points though given that European colonialism in the Middle East started in the early 19th century (France took over Algeria in about 1830 and had invaded Egypt under Napoleon); the crusades have had plenty of time to be rekindled in the locals’ minds (or Europeans’ minds since they probably pushed the crusades into the background until about the same time [speculation on my part]).

  32. 32
    alexmartin

    Erp,
    What about Islam do you support, protect, or defend?

    Particularly as juxtaposed against the demonstrated hatred of christianity as practiced here, definitionally.

  33. 33
    DarcBird

    hmmmm… Has anyone else seen “Monty Python’s Holy Grail”? I thought it was hilarious. Especially when the crusader killed the talking head…

  34. 34
    laurentweppe

    They had to be stopped. It took a great deal of time, blood, sweat, and treasure, but the murdering hoardes were held back at Spain and eventually repulsed. You’ll say that was bad, bad, bad, but you know it wasn’t.

    Oh yeah: an exemple of the “progress” done by the reconquista: under the good rule of its westerner lords, if a muslim man was surprised having consensual sex with a christian women, he was executed. But if a muslim woman was raped by a christian: he was allowed to buy her as a slave and bring her home.
    These oh so progressive people who “held back the horde” decided to either murder or exile all the intellectuals of the peninsula, steal their wealth, in the name of an openly racist system named Limpieza de Sangre and put on the throne a bunch of inbred “let’s fuck our nieces to keep the heritage in the family” inept blue blooded parasites. They would probably have pillaged North-Africa and the levant at this time, if not for the rise of the Ottoman Empire which was too fucking technologically advanced to be challenged, so instead they went to pillage the Americas because, hey, the locals did not know how to throw mortar shells at them.

    I know what you are: you are a fucking despicable white supremacist who’s angry that these brown skinned Muslim are not treated like cattle and breathing sex toys like they were during the good old days of the colonial empires and trying to hide his wickedness behind a faked love for a fictional version of the western civilization: a Breivik-lite with the same murderous fantasies who would already have started a killing rampage if not for a modicum of self-preservation instinct.
    Most people may be too polite or shy to openly tell you that they’re not dupe of your pseudo-civilized playacting, but I don’t fucking care about politeness toward things like you.

    ***

    That Muhammad himself was illiterate (not unusual for that time and place though there were literate people around) and had married one young girl (for political reasons) seems to be the total.

    The “had married one girl” is even not certain: it comes mostly from second hands account from the grandson of one of Muhamad companion who was already being eaten away by Alzheimer (the grand son: the original companion had ong been dead and buried) when he was “recalling” her age.
    More important is the fact that said girl supposed age has been and still is used in order to justify arranged mariage and sexual privileges of men: while it’s not certain that Muhamad was a child molester, the fact that he has been described as such by the clerical aristocracies of several Muslim countries is quite damning for said aristocracies.

  35. 35
    dobbshead

    “Other questions included whether or not it would be acceptable to remove the cross, but leave the shield and continue use of the Crusaders name, or to use an image of a Crusader plane instead and keep the name.”

    Of all the questions the guy asked, this one actually makes a lot of sense. Naming your unit by the kind of planes they fly is not a religious act, even if the name of the planes is itself religious in nature. Using the planes as the symbol is a historic call-back and it then is pretty clearly about unit pride, and similarly doesn’t overtly offend religious sensibilities. That actually seems like a fair compromise

  36. 36
    Nick Gotts

    Alexmartin is reliably ignorant, stupid and bigoted. Christians, of course, had been coercing, imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering each other (and everyone else within reach) over theological differences before Islam existed. Many crusades were not against Muslims at all, but against “heretics” such as the Cathars, or pagans, around the shores of the Baltic, so Christian religious coercion and violence can’t be portrayed by anyone with a scrap of honesty as defensive.

    It is quite true that the Muslim conquest of Iberia was violent. So was its preceding conquest by the Visigoths, from whom the Muslims took it, and the conquest before that, by a coalition of Alans, Vandals and Sueves, and the conquest before that, by the Romans. During the earlier part of Muslim rule in Iberia, it was both far more literate, and considerably more tolerant, than any part of Christendom. There was fighting with the Christian-ruled states of the north, but also many alliances that crossed religious lines (as indeed was the case in the Middle East). In the 11th century, a puritanical and intolerant group of recent converts to Islam, usually known to Europeans as the Almoravids, conquered Muslim Iberia. However, they were at least matched in intolerance and brutality by the rulers of Christian Iberia.

    The development of medieval Europe owed much to Muslim sources, through translations of classical works (originally translated from Greek to Arabic by the order of the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad in the 8th and 9th centuries), original Arabic science (that is, science done in the medium of Arabic – many of those involved were not Arabs, and quite a few were not Muslims), and key innovations such as paper, high-quality clear glass, and the “Arabic” (actually Indian) numerals.

    They had to be stopped. It took a great deal of time, blood, sweat, and treasure, but the murdering hoardes were held back at Spain and eventually repulsed. You’ll say that was bad, bad, bad, but you know it wasn’t.

    If not, you may not have been born. – alexmoron

    Stone me, what a pea-brained fuckwit you are. If any one pair of my ancestors had shifted position slightly while screwing on the occasion another of my ancestors was conceived, I wouldn’t have existed. If only some pair of your ancestors had done so.

  37. 37
    nedchamplain

    Very well stated, KG

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