Under capitalism, evil is just another brand

Eddie Gallagher is one of the baddies: he was a murderous Navy Seal in Iraq.

In a lengthy criminal investigation report, the navy detectives laid out other allegations against Gallagher, including shooting a schoolgirl and elderly man from a sniper’s roost. Members of Alpha Platoon’s Seal Team 7 alarmed by their leader’s conduct said they were initially shut down by military chiefs when they first spoke up, and told their own careers would suffer if they continued to talk about it.

Eventually, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) began an inquiry and the platoon members were called to give evidence.

“The guy is freaking evil,” special operator first class Craig Miller, one of the platoon’s most experienced members, told investigators in sometimes tearful testimony. “I think Eddie was proud of it, and that was, like, part of it for him.”

Miller said Gallagher, who had the nickname Blade, went on to stage a bizarre “re-enlistment ceremony” over the body of the captive. “I was listening to it and I was just thinking, like, this is the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen in my life,” he said.

At his court martial, the panel heard evidence that Gallagher had emailed a photograph to a friend in the US containing a photograph of him holding up the dead captive’s head with the words: “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”

These are actions more appropriate to a nightmarish anti-Nazi documentary, yet he’s an American, he actually did these things, and he was pardoned by the US president for murdering children and mutilating bodies. The man is a monster, and he has been embraced by our corrupt government. He is what the people of Iraq will remember about America, and that we have no sense of shame.

However, there is no embarrassment so devastating that capitalism can’t find a way to monetize it, and for the NY Times to sanitize it. He has founded a clothing line and sells all kinds of militaristic crap.

Right. The NY Times calls murder and terrorism a “distinct brand of patriotism”. I guess you could say that if you were willing to downplay horror.


  1. microraptor says

    Joining the military really does give someone a license to act out on their psychotic fantasies. And get called a hero and a patriot for it.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    It horrifies me just how much public support these “warfighters” (as they are now clumsily called by fans of the military) enjoy. As long as it’s done in the name of apple pie, mom, Jesus, Monday Night Football and ‘Murica, no cruelty they commit is ever too barbaric. No outrage ever rises to the point of disgust. Right-wingers LOVE butchers like Gallagher, because they believe that sadism against our nation’s “enemies” is the only way to win wars.

    And Gallagher’s fans are almost always the same Bible-humping assholes who love to lecture us atheists and leftists about about “morality” and our supposed lack thereof. Of course, to us (or at least me) morality is about weighing the outcomes of our actions and deciding what will create the most happiness and alleviate the most suffering. For them, morality is about blind obedience to a set of supposedly “perfect” rules that never question, or worse, nicely match up to their own bigotries and insecurities. So of course they consider Gallagher a paragon of virtue; who better follows orders than an unthinking, unfeeling, soldier?

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    The NY Times calls murder and terrorism a “distinct brand of patriotism”. I guess you could say that if you were willing to downplay horror.

    I’m not at all surprised. Decades of the Right shrieking about the news media’s supposed “liberal bias” has created a generation of journalists who are afraid appearing to be taking a side on anything. Thus, white supremacy becomes just another opinion that’s debated in the marketplace of ideas; Creationism, anti-vaxx nonsense, and climate change denial become worthy topics of scientific debate, and the jingoistic, murder-worshipping merch of a sanctioned, uniformed killer is just a “distinct brand of patriotism.”

    That and since the NYT is a for-profit institution, you can be sure that such intellectual duplicity doesn’t threaten their bottom line.

  4. says

    @#3, Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

    What the hell has happened to the New York Times?

    Very little. It has always been mostly involved in exercises to justify existing power structures. The Times loved Henry Kissinger in his day, for instance. What has happened is that existing power structures have become more and more blatantly harmful to most of the world, so their sycophantry is becoming more obvious as well. Like Joe Biden’s insistence on bipartisanship, it is a relic of an earlier age when the whitewash hadn’t faded so much.

  5. harryblack says

    Calling people like Gallagher monsters, animals, murderers, criminals or psychopaths etc only makes them well up with pride.

    The best way to get under their skin (and actually make them consider their actions) is to tell them that they are bad at their jobs for doing what they do. Its a simple fact that they are supposed to show discipline in theatre and detach their emotions from their actions. Doing what Gallagher did makes him a shitty soldier and the fact that so many of his fellow SEALs turned him in means he was also a failure as a leader and a team member.
    What they value above all is their self image as being ‘better’ than other units so if discussing torture and warcrimes with them, my advice is to steer clear of moral arguments (because they are proudly amoral) and focus on the poor efficacy of torture or the effect war crimes have on the overall mission and creating new recruits.

  6. stroppy says

    “He is what the people of Iraq will remember about America…”

    Yes, that, and if you can wrap you head around it, a lot worse many times over. It hardly scratches the surface.

  7. christoph says

    @ # Stroppy, 9: And the Haditha massacre. 24 unarmed civilians massacred, and all the Marines involved pretty much got away free. (One convicted of dereliction of duty, that’s about it.)

  8. nomdeplume says

    A major feature of American foreign policy is to ensure that none of its defence forces are ever punished for war crimes. In fact they tend to be rewarded.

  9. Hatchetfish says

    No disagreement to anyone’s points at all (seriously, this is not a ‘yes but’, just a nagging inability to find a definitive source I’m hoping maybe someone has, or else point out a minor inaccuracy I keep seeing.)

    Was he actually pardoned? Trump interfered in the trial and later the human resources decisions, and should be impeached again for either, but I haven’t been able to find that Gallagher was pardoned. Two other war criminals were, and I’ve read stories discussing all three where they were simply described as “pardoned” but the interference to protect Gallagher was described without even calling it clemency or commutation (other options presidents have along with full pardon).

    Tldr: Serious question: was he pardoned? Makes next to no difference to Trump’s corruptness or Gallagher’s monstrosity, but I genuinely can’t quite tell and it’s bugging me for weeks.

  10. says

    nomdeplume (#11) –

    I was eleven months living in South Korea when US terro…uh, soldiers ran over two fourteen year old girls, what has been called the “Yangju Highway incident”. Whether intentionally or by incompetence, they drove off the main road and ran over those kids walking on the side of the road. They would have been 33 now.

    Naturally, the US military did a whitewash court martial that “cleared” them of the murders, then whisked them out of the country without allowing the SK legal system a chance to try them. And of course it let the US continue the fiction of “no active soldier convicted of a crime abroad!”

    People were rightfully furious. I started wearing facial hair full time for the next two years out of selfdefence so that Koreans would know I wasn’t military.

  11. Bruce says

    When will the New York Times endorse a line of Nazi clothing, under the label “Are we the Baddies”, as asked by Mitchell and Webb?

  12. wzrd1 says

    @13, he was convicted and demoted, his trident to be stripped. Trump pardoned him, then ordered his rank restored and he be allowed to keep his trident.
    By Trump’s doing so, Trump has effectively told the entire world that the US will no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions and Hague Convention, removing those protections from US forces in the future. Since he pardoned the intentional targeting of noncombatants, who are protected by both conventions and he murdered a POW, placing him right up there with the Waffen-SS. That group also murdered civilians and allied POW’s and the generals ordered reprisals against the Waffen-SS in the form of refusing to accept their surrender, summarily executing them whenever they tried.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    wzrd1 @ # 18: … Trump has effectively told the entire world that the US will no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions and Hague Convention, removing those protections from US forces in the future.

    George Dubious Bush made all that clear a decade and a half ago. Then the US public re-elected him, removing all doubt/hope.

  14. lochaber says

    prior enlisted USMC infantry, and while I was lucky enough to never end up in a combat zone, their are a lot of very amoral, reprehensible people in that line of work. Like, torturing, killing, and mutilating animals they would come across in the field. Me and my then roommate almost got in a fight with a couple other people in my squad over a damned froq they wanted to squish. I had some issues with him, but I’m glad he backed me in defending a frog.

    Anyways, I just want to emphasize what harryblack@8 pointed out, he had to really screw up for his platoon mates to testify against him.

  15. Hatchetfish says

    @18: from what I can tell he wasn’t pardoned though, that’s the odd thing. Trump granted clemency or commuted his sentence, but I can’t find anything that actually says he was pardoned, meaning convictions vacated. The term is frequently used in headlines, but every time it seems to be in a loose non technical way, referring to clemency or commutation.

    I’m in no way defending either of them, they’re shit, and as Harry says, bad at their jobs, not least of all for being or condoning murdering bigots. I’m just trying to reconcile the Bernstein/Mandela-effect type weirdness of this.

  16. ColeYote says

    Repeatedly pardoning convicted war criminals should itself be a war crime. That is all.