Yesterday my eldest, soon to be 19 and trying to find his way, visited the local Marine Corps recruiting office, much to my dismay. They suggested that he take their entrance exam, just to see if he would pass it. For this they took him into a back room. He said the room was splattered with red paint, like blood. On one wall there was an image of a skull and the slogan “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”
The quote is a paraphrase of the advice the Cistercian monk Arnald Amalric gave to Simon de Montfort, who was suffering scruples as he prepared to sack a French town during the crusade against the Albigensians. Comforted by this counsel, Simon and his army proceeded to slaughter some 20,000 men, women and children. The slogan has been invoked in one form or other to justify indiscriminate killing ever since.
The Pentagon, of course, professes to observe international law regarding conduct in warfare and claims to attempt to minimize civilian casualties. Either that is dishonest, a PR ploy, or this is a local aberration, the proverbial bad apples, apparently intent on recruiting sociopaths. But it is hard to believe that no commanding officer ever saw that room.
I intend to write to the commandant of the Marine Corps and tell him what my son saw. I’ll let you know if I get a response.