CHRIS RODDA, MRFF SENIOR RESEARCH DIRECTOR – Those Marines Bought an SS Flag Without Knowing What it Was? Seriously? That’s Your Excuse?

Those Marines Bought an SS Flag Without Knowing What it Was? Seriously? That’s Your Excuse?

by Chris Rodda, MRFF Senior Research Director

Of all the really hard to believe excuses the military has made for the actions of military personnel, this one has to take the cake. Those Marines posing with a Nazi SS flag in Afghanistan just didn’t know it was an SS flag!

Yesterday, this photo went viral:

If you somehow managed to miss all of the countless stories about this photo, here’s the AP version.

There are also a whole bunch of articles with titles like “Marines: Nazi flag was mistaken for their own,” since the Marine Corps’ official excuse is that the use of the flag was just a naive mistake on the part of Marines who didn’t know what the flag was and just thought the SS stood for Sniper Scout.

Really? And just how does someone go about buying a Nazi SS flag without realizing that it’s a Nazi SS flag? Well, I spent hours yesterday afternoon and last night trying to do just that, scouring the web for an SS flag that could be bought by mistake. And, big surprise, I couldn’t find a single place where an SS flag wasn’t very clearly being sold as what it is — a Nazi flag.

In the course of searching, I found what I’m certain is the exact flag in the Marines’ photo. It’s the only one anywhere on the web with a blue background, and laying the image from the website on top of the Marines’ photo shows that every dimension of the flags are identical, from the size and proportions of every part of the logo to the slightly off-center position of the logo on the flag. You can even see in the Marines’ photo that their flag had the same creases from being folded as the flag for sale on the website.

The description of the flag on the website, Traders of the Lost Surplus, is an “ss double runic flag, a favorite and well know ss flag,” and the entire website is full of Nazi stuff. No Marine, even if they previously didn’t know that this was a Nazi symbol, could possibly be so dumb that they wouldn’t realize at this point that this is a Nazi flag! Even if someone was unfamiliar with the SS logo, all the swastika items would certainly tip them off.

Here’s a screen grab from the website, with the blue SS flag at the lower left:

As Gawker put it, “But then how you end up acquiring Schutzstaffel flag? Unless our men in uniform sewed the flag themselves, you’d think the whole ‘Please make your check out of Nazi Memorabilia ‘R’ Us’ thing would have tipped them off.”

The Atlantic Wire isn’t buying the naive mistake excuse either, posting an article titled “Marine Corps Insists Marines Are Too Dumb to Know This Is a Nazi Flag.”

Are people in our military seriously ignorant about history? Probably. That “Jesus Loves Nukes” missile officer training that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation got the Air Force to nix did include a slide of former Nazi and SS officer Wernher von Braun being quoted as a moral authority. And there is a constant stream of Christian nationalist pseudo-history in base newspapers throughout the military, as well as in military training presentations (but that’s a story for another day).

But historical ignorance can not excuse these Marines using the SS flag. No matter how little they know about history, it’s just impossible to believe that they could have bought that flag without finding out what it was in the process of buying it.

The Marine Corps must think we’re all pretty naive to believe their excuse that these Marines were that naive.

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  1. Mark

    I have to say this is the most ridiculous article ever and that this was pushed on up the chain of command to make a real issue out of this is just utterly ridiculous.

    First off the runic S has been used since the 2nd to the 8th century. The Anglo-Frisian runes since the 5th to 11th centuries. The Futharks from 9th to 11. The medieval from 12th to 15th and Daleclarian from 16th to 19th centuries. Marcomannic runes from the 8th to 9th.

    The SS by far did not have the copyright on the runes and actually came about through Karl Wiligut and Heinrich Himmler, and were called the Wiligut runes. So, just because the runes were used and ASSOCIATED with an infamous military organisation does is not cause to say that the runes themselves are bad!

    The fact that Scout Snipers wanted to use the runes to represent something that THEY are proud of, and has NOTHING to do with the NAZI Schutzstaffel, should be of no concern… least of all some ridiculous religious group that has ZERO understanding about the matter.

    I was a Corpsman with 3/5 STA platoon and think that this is utterly disrespectful towards the United States Marine Corps Scout Snipers. Marines that do a job not a single one of you religious freedom people could do. A religious freedom these great individuals provide to those in need of freedom. You should literally be ashamed of yourselves.

    Let me you know this fun fact as well. I am 100% German, was raised by two German parents and lived in Germany in my youth. I, for one, am NOT upset that these great Marines, Marines I called my mates, chose to use the runic SS to be proud of their often under-rated and unappreciated profession.

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