There’s a grim but unmistakable appropriateness about the timing.
Friday — the day before Veterans Day — a United States Marine Corps drill instructor was sentenced to 10 years in prison for systematic physical, emotional and psychological abuse of recruits.
Special targets of Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix were three Muslims, one of whom eventually committed suicide. Felix taunted the Muslim recruits as “ISIS” and “terrorists,” and ordered two of them, on separate occasions, to climb into an industrial clothes dryer. He spun one of them around in the machine, twice stopping to ask, “Are you still Muslim?” According to testimony reported in the Washington Post the recruit, Lance Cpl. Ameer Bourmeche, twice answered in the affirmative before renouncing his religion in what he said was fear for his life.
U.S. Marines are tough. They’re trained to be tough. They rightly take pride in their courage and endurance — under fire and under all kinds of stresses, physical and mental.
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“He wasn’t making Marines,” the prosecutor, Lt. Col. John Norman, told the jury. “He was breaking Marines.”
After the March 2016 suicide of recruit Raheel Siddiqui, the Marines launched a hazing investigation that resulted in charges against six drill instructors, including Felix, and the commanding officer of the training battalion at Parris Island, S.C., the Post reported.
In addition to the dryer treatment, witnesses said Felix and other instructors choked recruits, punched them in the face and kicked them to the ground; ordered recruits to choke each other; and ordered them to drink chocolate milk and then train until they vomited.
This wasn’t training. This was torture.
It shouldn’t be necessary to point out (but in today’s toxic sociopolitical climate it probably is) that the Muslim recruits subjected to this selective “attention” were, like their peers, Americans who had volunteered to serve their country.
Thanks for your service.
A Monday story in the Newnan Times-Herald is a bittersweet account of an area nearby law enforcement agency, in the wake of another church massacre, offering what help and advice it can provide.
Houses of worship have many security concerns short of the kind of horror wrought at Sutherland Springs, or the earlier church killings in Charleston.
There is the constant threat of theft or burglary, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office told the Times-Herald. There’s sometimes a lot of cash in a church, or unlocked cars parked outside it. There are people who work with young children.
And of course, there’s the need — tragically — for simple safety. Churches can allow congregants to carry weapons, or can have special security units, said Sgt. Ryan Foles. But the sheriff’s office also provides help to those houses of faith whose congregations don’t think worship and ordnance are a comfortable fit.
“It’s tough for churches in today’s climate,” Foles said. “You don’t want to let your guard down and have a Texas or Charleston situation. You also don’t want to lose the whole meaning of the church.”