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We Hold These Truths…

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Well, the recent remarks made by Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis are making their rounds both with the MSM as well as the Blogosphere. First things first; lets read the entire remark as quoted by the AP:

Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, an infantry officer who has commanded Marines in both Afghanistan (news – web sites) and Iraq (news – web sites), made the comments Tuesday while speaking to a forum in San Diego about strategies for the war on terror. Mattis is the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va.

According to an audio recording of Mattis’ remarks, he said, “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. … It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.”

He added, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” Mattis continued. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

After reading this, I can see why some people are getting upset over it. With that said, I think Gen. Mattis’ statements are indicative of how far we’ve come as a civilization… that is, how far we’ve moved in the right direction!

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard complaints on how brutal this nation’s history has been. Ask Ward Churchill, the guy who recently found himself (happily) embroiled in controversy over his remarks which called 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns,” and called the suicide attacks which killed 3000 innocent people “gallant sacrifices,” and described the terrorists themselves as “combat teams.”

Mr. Churchill will gladly recount in lurid detail every wrong — real and imagined — performed by this country. And, of course, in some of it he would be right.

The United States has done some horrible things, not the least of which is institutionalized slavery. If you think about it, we could even say that we’ve been, through much of our history, equal opportunity oppressors. We’ve oppressed African Americans, Native Americans, women, children (both born and unborn), Irish Americans, Italian Americans, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, and I’m sure a host of others.

In my opinion, the US is more guilty than other nations because of our founding declaration, which declared that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence, 1776

So, the bedrock principle of this country has been from the beginning that everyone was created equal by God Himself, and that our universal equality is a immovable, incontravertable truth of His creation. At the same time, we continued to allow slavery, the oppression of women, the brutalization of Native Americans, etc., etc., etc.

So, who is more guilty; a person who has been taught all his life that certain people are inferior and whose national beliefs are in line with that teaching, or someone whose national philosophy is that everyone is equal but whom continues to oppress another person or group? By the way, this is a rhetorical question.

But, in this country, we’ve been working hard to bring our cultural norms and our personal and/or corporate philosophies in line with the truth; that all people are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as they see fit.

We have, admittedly, a long way to go, but, as a Christian, I don’t believe there is such as thing as perfection on Earth. We need to push towards our highest ideals, but I don’t believe we’ll ever have perfect equality or perfect justice on the Earth. Perfection is something we’ll see with God’s kingdom, not man’s.

With that said, we need to make every effort to achieve those things, and Gen. Mattis’ statements are indicative of how far we’ve come along that road. Why would I say such a thing? Because, the core meaning of his statement is that he, as both a soldier and an American, find the brutal repression of women to be abhorrent.

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” Mattis continued. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

What can I say, I’m with the General. To those who show no mercy, no mercy shall be given.

Not that I would ever say that “it’s fun” to shoot any human being, even one who brutally oppresses women and children as the Taliban did and as the Sharia system of Islam tends to treat them. But I think the General’s statement was not that he enjoys killing oppressors, but that he SO completely hates these forms of oppression that there is a unique sense of satisfaction in taking them on.

Ask the women of Afghanistan what they think of Sharia law in general and the Taliban in particular, they’ll probably say they have few, if any, problems with General Mattis’ sentiments. After all, under the Sharia system, a woman who begs for money and food in public just to feed her hungry children can be — and were quite often in Afghanistan — thrown in jail.

So, to those who think that it is inappropriate to force our cultural values onto others, in this instance, I quite disagree. I think this is one of those clear situations when we should declare our values to be superior, and that, in fact, we are right and they are wrong in their beliefs. Not only are they wrong, they are SO wrong that we cannot stand by and allow such brutality to continue while we have an opportunity to intervene.

Just from sheer volume of injustices in this world, it’s impossible for us to address them all, but, in Afghanistan, men like General Mattis were able to make a difference and give women there a better future. So, to General Mattis I say; thank you for defending those who were unable to defend themselves and for tearing down a government which brutalized women, children, and anyone who did not believe as they did.

For other great commentary on this whole issue, I would recommend visiting Stonescryout.org. They have links out in all directions on this issue.

David Flanagan

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  • Served_under_MATTIS

    This was the speach given to his troops by Gen Mattis before the war. I SUPPORT GEN MATTIS 100%

    “Our fight is not with the Iraqi people, nor is it with members of the
    Iraqi army who choose to surrender. While we will move swiftly and
    aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with
    decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people
    who have endured a lifetime under Saddam’s oppression.
    You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your
    brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each
    other as we enter the uncertain terrain north of the Line of
    Departure. Keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and
    Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit.
    For the mission’s sake, our country’s sake, and the sake of the men
    who carried the Division’s colors in past battles—who fought for life
    and never lost their nerve—carry out your mission and keep your honor
    clean. Demonstrate to the world there is “No Better Friend, No Worse
    Enemy” than a U.S. Marine”

    Gen James Mattis

  • Matt,

    Good quotes, and all very relevant. Here is the quote that underscores the rights and responsibilities of an individual vs. those of government:

    Romans 13:
    Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…

    For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    So, many of the passages you quote have to do with responsibilities that are placed on the individual to do right, to love peace, to resist violence; whereas, the quotes that I have posted talk about the power of God and of governments to judge, and to mete out justice.

    We do not, as individuals, then, have the right to take the law into our hands in the pursuit of justice. On the other hand, we have the right to seek justice and the government has the right to enforce laws that protect society.

    BTW – The passage that quote on turning the other cheek is often translated as not returning insult for insult. Regardless, the overall philosophy is for individuals to not respond to violence with more violence.



  • He can inspire the Old Testament all He wants, but His words are in the New Testament. And he sounds like a pretty peaceful guy.

    John 8:7

    “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

    Matthew 5:39

    But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

    Matthew 5:21

    You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’

    Matthew 5:7

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

    Matthew 5:9
    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

  • Eric Olsen

    not at all, they are preferable to war

  • JR

    Actually, I saw a lot in Comment 19 about justice, nothing about shooting or killing. Is there something wrong with trials and jail sentences?

  • David,

    Would Jesus think it was fun to shoot other people? What Would Jesus Do? Would He take up arms?

  • Shark

    Flanagan, thanks for reminding your readers how much hideous, contradictory bullshit resides in the Bible.


    You can justify anything with it.

    What’s next? Murdering abortion doctors because they commit “murder”?

    Oh, nevermind… that’s been done already.

  • Sorry, forgot to mention that, to remind you again, I did not in any way suggest that showing no mercy to those who have no mercy is necessarily a Biblical concept. I do think that protecting the weak and opposing oppressors is and since Jesus is the one who both inspired and affirmed the authority of the OT, then I lean upon those verses as his word.



  • Matt,

    You don’t understand the Bible if you are asking for “New Testament”-only quotes. Jesus is “The Word,” he inspired the writing of every part of the Bible. Therefore, the Old Testament and the New Testament are in sync with one another.

    Here is what Jesus said about the Old Testament (also known as “the Law and The Prophets”) in regards to its authority:

    Matthew 5:17-18 (New International Version)

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

    Why do you think that, in the NT, Jesus and his apostles constantly refer back to the OT to assert the authority and validity of what they are teaching? Why do you think the NT is much smaller than the OT? Think about it.



  • SFC SKI–I don’t even live by that principle, so I am not suggesting that we should as a matter of foreign policy. I am just pointing out David’s hypocrisy.

    Dave–I said New Testament. Please keep looking. I asked, “Please cite where in the New Testament Jesus echoes these sentiments.”

  • Bear in mind a couple of points: First, Lt. General Mattis is a career soldiers, a volunteer and a Marine. The Marines, as a whole, serve at the tip of the spear – combat-focused, aggressive approach and attitude – they are “can-do” all the way. This is not a bunch of ambivilant draftees. Effectively taking down an enemy, particularly one that does not subscribe to what most soldiers recognize as acceptable practices of warfare, is something most of them would be quite emphatically positive about.

    Second – highly trained soldiers obviously recognize that war is not “fun” as they deal with the reality and the fallout on a day-to-day basis. I doubt that the Lt. General was using the term “fun” in the manner which some parties are interpreting it but the reality is that all professionals do find a great deal of satisfaction in utilizing their skills – surgeons might not think a horrible car accident is fun, but would be energetic about the chance to apply their training and skills to the consequences. Soldiers are the same. They train and train and train. The chance to apply and test those skills on a battlefield is something they generally embrace – often with fear and trepidition, but, as has been said before, they move to the sound of the guns, it is their job.

  • Matt:

    Thank you, thank you! I love a good challenge. Though I was not making any kind of claim regarding the Bible’s application to showing no mercy to those who have none, let’s see what the Bible says on this issue:

    “ Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. ”- Psalm 97:10

    Proverbs 18:5
    It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice.

    Jeremiah 22:3
    This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.

    Psalm 106:3
    Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.

    Proverbs 21:15
    When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

    Proverbs 29:7
    The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

    Isaiah 1:17
    learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. [ Or / rebuke the oppressor ] Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

    This is just a quick set of quotes regarding our need to love justice, defend the weak, and punish oppressors.



  • Eric Olsen

    Shark, I agree “fun” is an unfortunate word, but again, remember the psychology at play: in combat it’s either kill or be killed so your job as a military leader to maximize the former and minimize the latter for your own people. Winning is a lot more “fun” than losing, even more so when lives are at stake. It seems very complicated, as Ski has said.

  • Shark

    Ski, I agree with much of what you say, but regardless, my opinion is that this guy is a BLOWHARD.


    Killing another human being should NEVER be described as fun; one should do so reluctantly — and with some amount of humanity and sadness.

    “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    Folks like Flanagan — who instantly trade their religious and humane ideals for some empty gesture of macho bluster — are in danger of becoming the same thing they profess to oppose. (ie immoral ‘monsters’ — “meet the new boss: same as the old boss”)

    Again, a very sad day for America and her military.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent thread: very fine and balanced article David, thanks, although I don’t see the general’s remarks the way you do – I think it’s more along the lines of what some of the commenters have said about the requirements of the psychology of war and what is required within each soldier to make his/her job “okay.”

    I don’t think we need to play coy about the excitement, the “thrill” of battle — why do you think war movies are so powerful and popular? — I haven’t been there and don’t pretend to know firsthand, but I can easily picture the variety of feelings that would compete for prominence under those extreme conditions, and that extremity, I’m sure, can be addicting, physically and psychologically to the point where “normal” conditions seem like “not living.” What could be a bigge adrenaline rush than combat, and yet it is pure hell at the same time, which could very easily set up some serious internal conflicts.

  • Shark writes:

    “I’ve never known ONE person who was in combat, under fire and firing at others — who would say such a thing.”

    Reply: While I am not quite old enough to know him, one famous American said this about the horrors of war and the dicotomy of feelings it evokes.

    “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

    Robert E. Lee


    YOu might be interested in this US Army tanker’s blog, too:


    I’d advise you all to see the documentary “Gunner Palace” if you can. I think it will be a very good reference for people who want to understand a little bit of the war in Baghdad.

  • Here’s a thought. Some left-leaning BC participants keep defending Islam as a group and saying not to portray all of Islam negatively because of a few fundamentalist psychos. Yet aren’t those the same people who call all Republicans neocons and religious right and anti-gay, etc because the Republican party has a few fundamentalists in it?

    A few fundamentalists can ruin your whole day.


  • RJ

    Shooting and killing the enemy is, like, what soldiers do.

    This guy was simply trying to boost morale by giving them a damn good reason for doing so.

    In Afghanistan, they stoned to death women who were raped.

    In Iraq, they decapitate innocents who dare try to stabilize Iraq.

    These scum need to die.

    And it is US military personnel who will wind up doing that job.

    The man in question is simply trying to help them deal with this fact.

    He’s a hero, not a loon.

    But, as usual, the Left will ignore that, and demonize someone who is simply trying to help their own country…


    Regarding fundamentalism, I should have added this statement; While are all aware that any religion or ideology has extremists, the presence of these extremists and their actions in one should not cause us to ignore, equivocate, or examine, and condemn these actions by another. When American Christians, Jews, or Muslims forcibly sequester and beat their women, assault, rape or kill them for not weaing a veil, or perform honor killings of them, and are not punished but actually condoned by the law and society, then there will be a case that a barefoot and pregnant women in America is the same as a veiled Arab woman in the Middle East.


    Let’s look at the context of killing in war; Gen. Mattis didn’t say that rounding up Muslims because they might be beating their wives is a good thing, he is talking about killing fighters who have the option of fighting and daying, or surrendering.

    Shark, Gen. Mattis has been in combat and can hardly be classed as a wanna-be. He is also not the first general to say that killing enemy soldiers in an effort to ultimately stop a war and bring about peace on our terms is a good thing.
    I did not personally, to my knowledge, kill anyone in a direct manner, so I can’t say whether I would be elated about it or not once I saw his lifeless body, I know I wasn’t bothered by seeing the bodies of fighters I hadn’t personally killed. I know that the idea of killing anyone who was trying to kill me, my brtothers in arms, or innocents, doesn’t bother me one bit. The enemy has 2 choices, fight and die, or surrender.

    Matt, while turning the other cheek works very well on an individual level is a beautiful principle to live by, it hardly works as long term foreign policy.

    HW, the main reason vets don’t really talk about their war experiences is twofold; they don’t want to be seen as self-aggarandizing, most of us just see it as doing are duty, just like the guys, (and now girls, and I can’t wait to read what some of the female soldeirs will write after all this, but that is another thread) around them.
    Secondly, it is very hard to explain what goes on in a war, so you don’t really talk about it to anyone who wasn’t there, they really don’t understand, and each statement can only raise more questions that aren’t easily answered. For some, it will be so painful, terrifying, possibly thrilling, that it is better to not talk about it.
    It is only now, after more than 6 months since my return, that I can even really, objectively look at what I did and saw and see how it affected me sufficiently to explain to myself, let alone anyone else. I have a feeling it will take a bit longer to really present it to anyone else.

    Tim “Men slapping wives who resist wearing a veil is as characteristic of Islam as men keeping their wives barefoot and pregnant is a feature of Christianity. ” Oh yeah, that is how I pick Christians out of a crowd wherever I go.
    In some Islamic cultures, woman have the choice of wearing whatever they like and not being judged because of it. Unfortunately, those cultures are not prevalent in the same places where radical Islam creates the very threats we are worried about. Veiling is considered an outward sign of virtue b, and there’s the rub. While many Muslim women choose to wear the veil as part of their Muslim identity and duty, some women veil because of the pressure, harassment, even violence directed towards them if they don’t. To a radical Muslim male an unveiled Muslim woman considered shameless, and fair game for abuse, sexual assault, even death. (Honor killings are a feature of some Muslim societies, and either sanctioned or ignored by Islamic courts and that society as a whole). You have to realize that many women in Muslim societies outside the US don’t have the rights and protections they do in the US.

  • Physical abuse of women who didn’t wear the veil was ingrained in Taliban practice. It was expected of men to take disciplinary action against women, including beating women (and we’re talking almost to death) who didn’t wear the veil, and in some cases killing women who were raped. While these extremities happen occasionally in Islam in general, they were institutionalized under the Taliban.

    As for General Mattis’ attitude, my impression from soldiers I’ve known is that some few do find the experience of combat exhilirating and even fun. One has to wonder if they’re just a bit unhinged, and I suspect they’re also the ones who don’t cope terribly well once they leave the military.


  • Men slapping wives who resist wearing a veil is as characteristic of Islam as men keeping their wives barefoot and pregnant is a feature of Christianity. You can observe it in some places where the religion is practiced, but it is not inherent in the teachings and scriptures.

    The dehumanisation of those that they must be prepared to kill, however, is emphatically a universal characteristic of military organisations, in particular of imperial militaries projected far from the home state and culture. Mattis forgot who he was talking to. In future I’m sure he will more conscienciously restrict himself to more palatable descriptions of what American soldiers think about engaging with ‘The Enemy’.

  • HW Saxton

    My grandfather served in the US Army,in
    the Pacific Theater during WW2.No matter
    how much my cousins,brothers or myself
    bugged him about it,he would not tell us
    any war stories.Period.Except to say he
    missed my grandma.

  • Out of everyone I’ve ever talked to who has been in combat, not one described it as “fun.”

    Seems kinda crazy.

    The thing about slapping women around for not wearing veils. Isn’t that more like a Muslim religion thing and not like a Taliban or terrorist thing? I mean, the women in Iraq are still doing it even though they are a “democracy” now, right? Are we trying to convert the Middle East as well? I guess his point over anything is he simply enjoys killing. Seems cold to me. I certainly don’t enjoy it (but oh how I’ve tried to).

    Oh, and I saw where Alan Keyes was running for mayor of Baghdad, I guess since he couldn’t beat Barack Obama and all…

  • David, a TRUE Christian would not be pleased with Mattis’ comments. “To those who show no mercy, no mercy shall be given.” Please cite where in the New Testament Jesus echoes these sentiments. You’re conveniently ditching your Christian principles in deference to your political principles. It’s pathetic.

  • Shark

    Sounds like an egotistical wannabee.

    What a sad example for the American military.

    I’ve never known ONE person who was in combat, under fire and firing at others — who would say such a thing.

    The kind of people who talk about it like this usually have never done it. And those who have done it — don’t talk about it.

    They damn sure don’t describe it as “fun”.

  • SFC SKI,

    Thanks very much! 🙂



    I can understand what they general was trying to say, and I agree as well.

    Very good article.