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Jeff Sharlet’s cover story for the May Harper’s, “Jesus Killed Mohammed,” introduced us to the role that Christian fundamentalists play in military operations in Iraq. The title comes from a legend painted on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that cruised the streets of Samarra. Sharlet shows us that a number of religious right figures in the military construe their mission as a crusade. Many of the same ideas apparently affect private security contractors operating in Iraq.
A few days ago, two declarations were filed in some civil litigation in Virginia in which the families of Iraqis are suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes. One affidavit, filed by a former senior management figure at Blackwater whose name was submitted to the court under seal, talks about the role of Christian fundamentalism in the operations. Erik Prince, the CEO and founder of Blackwater, is well known for his devotion to the religious right, of which his family has been a long-standing funder. But the court papers suggest how these attitudes have influenced Blackwater operations in Iraq. Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” the affidavit states. He “intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis.” It reports that Blackwater “employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms of Iraqis and other Arabs, such as ‘ragheads’ or ‘hajis.’” And it notes that Blackwater intentionally recruited individuals from the former Yugoslavia because of their violent anger towards Muslims.
Jeremy Scahill reports on the story in the Nation and discusses these developments here on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”