The video posted by Michael Fields of Alamogordo shows the Marines at the Alamogordo Naval Air Station in New Mexico as they’re training – oh, how delightful. There’s some swamp boating and maybe even a few combat scenarios in there. But for my money, the best part is when we see some Marines objecting to the Sikh “new guy” –- a command sergeant major named Michael Fields –- who is wearing a turban and loud red tie, which the Marines cannot see.
Oh no, the Marines say! You’re violating policy! “Not an area of good taste,” one of the guys says.
Fields, speaking to NBC News in California and the Orange County Register in California, says “they felt threatened by the turban –- or the color of my tie”. He says the issue goes back to when he came on board after a year and a half of being in the Marine Corps Reserve.
“They said to me they want no mention of Muslims. They said they want no mention of blacks. They said they want no mention of Jews. And not to mention religious minorities. I said, ‘Wow, that’s extremely discriminatory.’”
The chain of command at the Alamogordo Naval Air Station has said that the Marines are allowed to express their opinions as long as the subject is not discussed during the off-duty time that comes after training. They said they also need to protect the “good order and discipline” of the Marines.
You can see the whole thing below, and you don’t have to have it in English to understand that this whole thing is, in a sense, absurd and ridiculous. How on earth can a Marine, to keep order in the barracks, say that some of his fellow Marines need to be told “not to mention Muslims”? But it is true that there are certain policies in the military that are broadly verboten. But there is also history and tradition about soldiers’ rights to speak up.
Nobody is saying that the turban is racist. Certainly nobody in the U.S. military, including the Greensboro Five, thought that the turban was a direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, passed during the second world war, because it could be used as a weapon. But really, it is utter idiocy to forbid a group of Marines from speaking up to their commanding officer about whether or not they can say anything that might offend their fellow Marines.