The corps – which likes to think of itself as the most elite of the nation’s military services – finds itself grappling with Nazi SS flags, scout-snipers urinating on Taliban dead, and a young leatherneck who committed suicide after intense hazing by fellow Marines on the front lines in Afghanistan. Over at the independent Marine Corps Gazette, Captain Brett Friedman sums up what he calls a “sickness” infecting the corps:
All of these events were a failure of leadership. Every Marine involved knew that what they were doing is wrong, but they did nothing to stop it. This is a problem that a safety standown, more specific regulations, and education about morality and ethics will not fix. We have fostered a culture that takes perverse pleasure in enforcing irrelevant standards while simultaneously ignoring or enabling true misconduct. We’ve fostered a generation of Marines who will look at the picture of the scout snipers and see facial hair, unbloused boots, and hands in pockets before they notice Nazi propaganda. They will quickly condemn failures in appearance but will enable and defend moral failings. They will ignore and allow a Lance Corporal to be hazed and ostracized. They will join in with the desecration of bodies. These are our priorities. But at least the grass around the battalion CP will remain undisturbed by feet clad in identical socks.