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“All the weaker people have left. Now I’m the weakest one left.”
January 7, 2012 3:59 PM   Subscribe

US Army Pvt. Danny Chen, 1992–2011
posted by zarq (105 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Multipage article link.
posted by zarq at 3:59 PM on January 7, 2012


FUCK
posted by bq at 4:07 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:10 PM on January 7, 2012


. (out of how many thousand?)

to quote a wise possum, "We have seen the enemy and he is us.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:11 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


That was devastating. (Thank you.)
posted by mdonley at 4:11 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So sad. I hope to a God I don't believe in that I'd be strong enough to kick the bejesus out of someone I saw doing those things to another human being.
posted by Mooski at 4:11 PM on January 7, 2012


.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:11 PM on January 7, 2012


I hope to a God I don't believe in that I'd be strong enough to kick the bejesus out of someone I saw doing those things to another human being.

You can hope, but the greatest odds lie with you actively participating in the degradation and bullying. That says nothing about you and everything about situational morality and how people handle it, and how ultimately responsibility lies with the architects of the situation that produced this outcome.
posted by fatbird at 4:13 PM on January 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


I just don't understand humans at times.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:13 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my peers did a complete 180 in his duty as a combat leader.

Leavenworth would be too good for him.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can hope, but the greatest odds lie with you actively participating in the degradation and bullying.

I know; it's just human.

I want to be better than that, though.
posted by Mooski at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


19 years old? That's just one year older than my little brother. So hard to imagine, and I don't even want to imagine.

.
posted by adso at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


related blog post by someone protesting his death

related racialicious post by the same person
posted by desjardins at 4:17 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just don't understand humans at times.

This implies there are times which you do understand humans. You're that much ahead of me.
posted by LoudMusic at 4:18 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


.

No words.
posted by HostBryan at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2012


.

goddammit
posted by neuromodulator at 4:23 PM on January 7, 2012


A comment from the main article in the post is worth reposting in its entirety, I think. It doesn't have a direct link:
"it’s hard not to cry and feel hopeless as you read this article. so much is so very wrong about what happened.

unthinkably unjust things happen in this world everyday. every second of every day, people are being abused physically, mentally, and emotionally because of their race. too many times, it’s fatal. but once in a while, the circumstances of a terrible incident align just right to give us an opportunity to change the status quo and make a better world, to move our society an inch closer to a more compassionate, sane reality.

as we prepare for the hearings of those 8 soldiers charged in danny’s death and also continue working with the public, media, and elected officials to demand real changes in the military, which sustains an environment that not only permits, but encourages and demands, racist abuse, we need every bit of support we can get. we need every facebook/twitter/tumblr post spreading the news coverage, every conversation, every voice demanding justice for danny and a more just society for all.

in her statements to the press, liz ouyang, president of oca-ny, stated, “It takes a volunteer civil rights organization, plus many other organizations, plus the family, plus the press, to demand the truth and make the system work.”

but the power behind all those elements was the people, who showed up to the march and vigil, spread the news, and made our anger palpable and unavoidable.

please stay plugged in and continue to support. danny died, but many others will not have to."

posted by zarq at 4:23 PM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Also (and then I'll stop commenting for a while, I promise,) this article gives a few additional details about what happened, and how New York City's Asian-American community is responding. There was a rally in Chinatown on December 15th.
posted by zarq at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2012


You can hope, but the greatest odds lie with you actively participating in the degradation and bullying. That says nothing about you and everything about situational morality and how people handle it, and how ultimately responsibility lies with the architects of the situation that produced this outcome.

I say bullshit to that. If you give in to the group pressure, you are one of the problem. It's no different than if you see your peers gang raping a child, (someone helpless and powerless against stronger) and you join in instead of either not doing it or fighting against it. It says everything about you as person. (you meaning who is in the situation)

For the record, i've been on both ends of this. As a child bullied and abused by kids older, no one believed me or stood up for me, and later in life i was beaten by three guys and ended up in the hospital for standing up for someone weaker. Maybe it takes seeing it from the other side to know you have to fight it, or you are part of the problem.
posted by usagizero at 4:28 PM on January 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is literally unbelievable, in the most literal sense of the world.
posted by bleep at 4:32 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


mama don't let yer babies grow up to be soldiers...
posted by kitchenrat at 4:33 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can hope, but the greatest odds lie with you actively participating in the degradation and bullying. That says nothing about you and everything about situational morality and how people handle it, and how ultimately responsibility lies with the architects of the situation that produced this outcome.

No sale. Just because it's really hard to do the right thing in this situation doesn't mean these people are absolved of moral responsibility for driving somebody to suicide. And I say this knowing full well that the odds are good that I would have acted little better, as much as I would like to think otherwise.
posted by eugenen at 4:35 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Know you have to fight it, or you are part of the problem.

Yeah I have to agree with this. I know war is hard and combat zones change a person but you're not supposed to turn on each other.
posted by bleep at 4:35 PM on January 7, 2012


Maybe it takes seeing it from the other side to know you have to fight it, or you are part of the problem.

This is pretty much exactly what Stanley Milgram found in his most famous experiment: That the minority who refused to administer all the required shocks were most typically those who'd already experienced some kind of conflict with authority or a group dynamic, where they'd learned that their conscience can be at odds with the group's and that they have to ability to make a choice between those two.

Nothing in Milgram or situational morality excuses those who participate.
posted by fatbird at 4:35 PM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just because it's really hard to do the right thing in this situation doesn't mean these people are absolved of moral responsibility for driving somebody to suicide.

Not saying it does.
posted by fatbird at 4:36 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I forgot there was a movie about something like this. I also didn't realize it was set in Guantanamo.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2012


.

Thank you for posting this.
posted by Anitanola at 4:43 PM on January 7, 2012


Is it surprising that people who kill other humans for a living might not be nice people?

Do you think it's possible to train someone kill, but never hurt anyone's feelings?
posted by Paris Hilton at 4:43 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not saying it does.

I guess it's the "ultimately responsibility lies" phrasing that made me think you were letting these guys off the hook.
posted by eugenen at 4:43 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am trying to come up with a rational, reasoned response to this story and...no, it's not coming.

So:

.
posted by menialjoy at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2012


You can argue whether situational morality is a mitigating factor for the individuals involved, but one of my continual thoughts about Iraq and Afghanistan and the uglier aspects of them, like Abu Ghraib, is that they're predictable aspects. If you occupy a country with your army, you can expect there to be war crimes committed, which invalidates any "bad apples" defense, and must surely be added to the final tally for the whole thing.

I'm glad the army is prosecuting the bullies.
posted by fatbird at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by flippant at 4:48 PM on January 7, 2012


After reading that, all I've got is inarticulate rage, so

.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by argonauta at 4:51 PM on January 7, 2012


Is it surprising that people who kill other humans for a living might not be nice people?

Do you think it's possible to train someone kill, but never hurt anyone's feelings?


Well okay, get a room with that strawman. But to somewhat address your point, military training and deployment seems to inspire divergent responses depending on the people and the setting. Certainly there are true stories of extraordinary unit cohesion and devotion and heroism to protect fellow soldiers/marines/etc. (The good stories often seem to come from the Marines for some reason; maybe sampling bias on my part or propaganda, maybe not.) Then there are tragic, horrible stories like this one, and like the one recounted in this outstanding book.

So yes, I think it's possible to train someone to kill without driving teenage boys to suicide in the process.
posted by eugenen at 4:53 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Picking on and weeding out the week through harassment and what I would call ritual torture is nothing new in the Army, but in this case it was clearly just horrible racism. The kid wasn't a "weak tit" or a slacker who needed "training", he was Asian.

When I was in the Army in the 80's and 90's hate towards Asians was pretty institutional. Probably a throwback to Vietnam. Much of the higher ranking training cadre back then were Vietnam vets and even though our perceived threat was the USSR, we never sang or called cadences about Ruskies, it was always, and forgive me, slopes, gooks etc. Marching on their burning bodies and so on.

Anyway, I'm sickened by this and I hope the Army does everything in its power to fuck those guys up.
posted by snsranch at 4:55 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gosh, for how many years was it a greater crime in the military to be gay than to be a racist?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Ha, forever.
posted by snsranch at 5:11 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's just one year older than my little brother. So hard to imagine, and I don't even want to imagine.

My little brother is 18 too, and he's definitely still a little kid in a lot of ways. He's in Army ROTC.

What a terrible, sad story.

.
posted by naoko at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2012


.

Hang the lot of them.

Traitors.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 5:20 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Jesus fucking fuck

.
posted by book 'em dano at 5:23 PM on January 7, 2012


Don't those men realize what makes America great? I would like to think that we have a military that understands that it is a better strategy to win people over to your side than to just destroy everything. We should set an example to make soldiers from opposing countries say "Look at how those Americans all work together. Black and white and red and yellow all fighting for something bigger than themselves. And look at how well they treat prisoners never torturing them or mistreating them. Maybe we should re-evaluate our hatred for this country." I guess that's just too idealistic...
posted by ambulocetus at 5:31 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:34 PM on January 7, 2012


Fuck.

How have we, as a society, let things get to this point?

That poor kid volunteered his life for this country and got driven to the point of taking it himself.

.
posted by spitefulcrow at 5:34 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I went through something that reminds me of this, as trivial as it is in comparison to Pvt. Chen's ordeal.

In my situation, the people doing it were teenagers, not "one lieutenant, two staff sergeants, three sergeants, and two specialists" between 25 and 35 years of age, with command authority and guns. I also got to go home every day, instead of being stuck out in the middle of nowhere with these sadists. What Pvt. Chen went through sounds like my adolescent nightmares.

Those letters especially kill me. He refuses to stop believing that they'll come around if he just keeps acceding to them because of a horrible desire for "American" acceptance.

But I can't blame him. Sometimes that optimistic outlook leads to great things. And how could he know he'd be stuck in a situation like this? The Army tells you it's great and that America is great. It doesn't tell you, hey, "Many former soldiers say that, in part because of low enrollment and in part because of enduring prejudice, the military is especially tough on its Asian soldiers." I'm not naive about racism, and I'm relatively well-informed, and I had no idea about this.

Well, young Asian Americans, if you're thinking of joining the armed forces or are in them now, please take note of Pvt. Chen's story. The military doesn't want you, and they'd probably send you to do bullshit that doesn't help anyone, anyway. Stay away or get out.

RIP, Danny Chen.
posted by ignignokt at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


It is basically impossible, I think, to take 100,000+ young men, train them to be extraordinarily violent killers, and not expect some (or even many of them) to become psychopaths. Most of the comments on this thread will be hand-wringing about how our Army isn't supposed to be like that and Where Oh Where Have We Gone Wrong!?!? while ignoring the fact that this is basically how Warriors have traditionally thinned out their own ranks from weakness, Otherness and so forth, for thousands of years.

We, as Americans, want our military to be some kind of law-abiding, wholly trustworthy bastion of decency and good morals who can also -- at a moment's notice and without question -- go joyfully shove a blade into somebody's intestines. I'd argue that's probably an impossible combination.

Instead of trying to perfect some kind of bizarre "peaceful, law-abiding killing machine" we should probably commit ourselves to ending war in general and working towards a world society where keeping thousands of psychopaths on a very short leash is no longer preferable or desirable.

Until then, Abu Grahib. Until then, Danny Chen.

We asked for it.

.
posted by Avenger at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2012 [22 favorites]


RIP

.
posted by scalefree at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2012


Wow. This article makes me want to finish up my application to the Army's Officer Candidate School faster now, just so, if I make it, I can maybe prevent something from this from happening again. (Asian and female here)





RIP

.
posted by astapasta24 at 5:54 PM on January 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


That was devastating. What the fuck, people?

.
posted by wallabear at 6:07 PM on January 7, 2012


So I keep thinking, from the very very little knowledge of Danny Chen which we have here, about what must have drawn him into the Army.

I imagine a desire to get away from home and see more of the world. More than that I picture a want for understood acceptance. This was an American kid from Chinatown, and there's a mythology about the armed forces here that civil rights are forged in the foxholes. I don't think I'm stretching too much to imagine that he figured that if he was in uniform with the rest of them then his race wouldn't be an issue.

And instead this happened.

This may be unseemly, but I want to see the GOP candidates give their thoughts on this. They're asking for the job of running the Army while beating the drums for another war and pounding on the pedal for hate - I want to hear what they think. Almost certainly they'll all just shrug off the question with "what a tragedy" but I sincerely want to hear what they have to say about this sort of bullying racism within the armed forces. I want to hear them call it out and I want to hear them say why they are calling it out.

But I probably won't get to. Danny Chen probably isn't on their radar at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:26 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:27 PM on January 7, 2012


.
posted by schyler523 at 6:43 PM on January 7, 2012


"Growing up, I thought I was white. It didn't occur to me I was Asian-American until I was studying abroad in Denmark and there was a little bit of prejudice."
Maya Lin
posted by 0rison at 7:00 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are there any "success" stories for Asian-American military members?

I have an uncle (from Hong Kong, moved to San Fran in the late '60s) who served during Vietnam, albeit stateside in signals, and never mentioned anything extraordinary about his treatment for being asian during his time in service. Then again, he was a 6'2 240# tank in fighting trim, at the time.

When I was a kid, there were zero visual minorities in the Canadian Cadets. These days in the same city, Vancouver BC, I almost never see a Cadet who wasn't Asian. Contrastingly, as of 2006 "visible minorities" accounted for only 2.8% of the Canadian Forces when they're 12.6% of the national workforce.

The people in charge of training/weeding out recruits during basic should have identified that Danny Chen isn't a suitable Army candidate. There really should be a lot better oversight of the recruitment process - it's well known that there's an official weeding out process as well as a unofficial societal process, both of which are endorsed from the highest levels. I don't have a problem with that, but this system benefits from having some sort of compassionate oversight.

Do people dropping out of basic get a psych ... uh, cooldown/talkdown/ something? before they go home or do they wash out and... just, like, go home? Do recruits currently going through basic have access to some kind of counselor? Like, HR in the corporate world? Of course, I imagine that being seen to be going to one of these will make things worse.
posted by porpoise at 7:00 PM on January 7, 2012


The people in charge of training/weeding out recruits during basic should have identified that Danny Chen isn't a suitable Army candidate.

What exactly made him "unsuitable"? Anyone would become suicidal after months of torture by the people supposedly on your side and watching your back.

He didn't die because he was "unsuitable" - he was tortured to death. If the argument is that he was unsuitable because his skin was a different shade, then the problem was with the army, not with him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


When I was a kid, there were zero visual minorities in the Canadian Cadets. These days in the same city, Vancouver BC, I almost never see a Cadet who wasn't Asian. Contrastingly, as of 2006 "visible minorities" accounted for only 2.8% of the Canadian Forces when they're 12.6% of the national workforce.

In San Francisco, JROTC draws heavily from the Asian community. At one point I knew why, but I've forgotten. It came up when SF was getting rid of JROTC because of don't ask don't tell and the Asian community complained they were being unduly impacted. (If I recall correctly, you could be out in JROTC, but it would rubbish your future military prospects.)
posted by hoyland at 7:09 PM on January 7, 2012


It is basically impossible, I think, to take 100,000+ young men, train them to be extraordinarily violent killers, and not expect some (or even many of them) to become psychopaths.

You know that the military encompasses a couple million people, right ? Plus the retired, inactive, otherwise discharged.

These 8 douchebags do deserve to hang, and high, for forgetting who their enemy is and so wantonly abusing their apparently excessive free time. They do not form a representative sample of the millions of Americans who do their service professionally, capably and then get on with their lives.

I'd be obliged if you'd refrain from slandering the dozens of friends and family members of mine who have served and are serving.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:12 PM on January 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Barely a year older than my kid brother. Unspeakable.

.
posted by pts at 7:21 PM on January 7, 2012


Are there any "success" stories for Asian-American military members?

A friend of mine in high school is a South Korean- born American who obtained his American citizenship senior year. We fell out of touch about 10-12 years ago. He joined Army ROTC in college and went career. I've heard through friends that he's a Captain now and has had a successful career. Last I heard he was stationed in Iraq, having done multiple tours.

To build off of what hoyland mentioned, JROTC's recruiting demographics in San Francisco were overwhelmingly Asian-American, and the reason for that was simple: over half the students in the unified school district are Asian-American, and the JROTC worked hard to appeal to them. A Chinese-American friend living in the SF area complained to me at the time that anti-JROTC opponents were prejudiced against Asian-Americans because of it.

There was quite a bit of controversy about SF's move to ban JROTC within the Asian American community at the time. Michael Wong of Veterans for Peace was an outspoken JROTC opponent. (Second letter.)
posted by zarq at 7:25 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't those men realize what makes America great?

Is it the massive racial disparity in life-chances, the nigh on a million imprisoned black people or the interference with and invasion of other sovereign nations? I find it hard to keep track.

Now maybe that comes off as bitter. After all there truly are many great things about America. But this sort of thing isn't an aberration concealing the truth of America, it's an expression of America's darkest aspects.
posted by howfar at 7:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


They do not form a representative sample of the millions of Americans who do their service professionally, capably and then get on with their lives.

It's not an issue of "these eight are psychopaths, and the rest of those in uniform are just like them". It's that the system that produces a capable army can easily produce a platoon where bullying is a cultural norm that can easily go overboard, to the point where the victim commits suicide.

I remember very clearly from my time in the military that there was a pervasive groupthink that was essential to functioning as a military unit, and that could develop (or magnify) pathological outlooks. In my platoon it was homosexuality that was a the bludgeon used to keep people in line, and there were no obviously "other" soldiers to bully to death with it--but it came close to being me a couple times.
posted by fatbird at 8:03 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


So I keep thinking, from the very very little knowledge of Danny Chen which we have here, about what must have drawn him into the Army.

Maybe a little bit of machismo, that feeling the young have that they're invincible, a desire to prove himself and ceremoniously be pronounced "adult", or maybe even the lack of f*&king jobs out there for a kid his age.

What ever it was, he didn't deserve this.

RIP
posted by BlueHorse at 8:13 PM on January 7, 2012


.

This is no consolation to the Chen family, but I'm going to look at the fact that - not too long ago - this kind of story would be hushed up, with nothing but a slap on the wrist and maybe a wink and a nudge to Pvt. Chen's tormentors. Today they are being court martialed and will, if there is any justice, have their careers and lives ruined. The mentality is changing, and hopefully this story will spur that change along a little faster.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:18 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd be obliged if you'd refrain from slandering the dozens of friends and family members of mine who have served and are serving.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:12 PM on January 7 [3 favorites +] [!]


I would be likewise obliged and wholly honored if you could re-read my comment above and respond to that, rather than the comment in your head that nobody else but you can read.
posted by Avenger at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm impressed that there are actually people being charged with this crime.

It's odd to be an East Asian in North America sometimes, because of the weird sort of privilege that seems to imply. People will tell me that I'm "the good kind of immigrant" - Caucasians, trying to be ironic but achieving only condescension, other immigrants, a little bitter but mostly resigned to their perception of this unspoken hierarchy. When I try to discuss racism in mixed company, often I'm asked why I care, because why is it a bad thing that Chinese people are stereotyped as being smart? Inevitably I'm left to feel like I'm impudent for complaining, because I should count my blessings that my stereotypes aren't always as perjorative as those other people have to deal with, or that the extreme right seems to find "us" less of a threat.

Well, thank you, Danny Chen, for reminding me why I care. Rest in peace.
posted by Phire at 8:41 PM on January 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Are there any "success" stories for Asian-American military members?

I used to work with a Marine, with an absolutely unpronounceable first name, but his last name was "Fun." His Marine buddies all called him "More," and he insisted we do it, too.

He's Cambodian by heritage, 2nd generation, just an easy going slacker-kid... except when it came to duty. He joined up in the late '90s, and was assigned to one of the elite units they trust to guard the nukes. When the balloon went up in the Stan, his was one of the first pairs of American boots on the ground.

He told me stories of what it was like... they'd learned to flick the eyeball of any dead enemy. If it moved, they would grapple them to keep them from releasing the grenade or pulling a tripwire to a detonator. Al Quaeda and Taliban fighters would leave behind the wounded to kill pursuing Americans with IEDs... by pretending they were dead and waiting until there were enough nearby.

His tour of duty was up, and he was studying pharmacology at a local college, but he was worried they would pull him back in for Iraq... we parted ways after that as we both got new jobs. I regret not staying in contact.

Let me say this clearly, though... if the kid had been a member of More Fun's platoon, More would have chewed a rock and spit gravel at the wanna-be tough-guys disrespecting a fellow Corpsman, regardless of race. His devotion to his =co-workers= was intense and inspiring... a true "we're all in this together" spirit Americans like to believe sets them apart as soldiers. He really had it.

If you make it past Basic, if you take the oath, you are a Marine. Before the wars, this meant something.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:56 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It is my sincere hope and prayer that justice be done in this case. Still, there are no words nor any sentence for those responsible that will restore Danny to his family.

.
posted by driley at 9:05 PM on January 7, 2012


Hate hurts.
RIP, Danny.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:28 PM on January 7, 2012


A shocking fact that never fails to sadden me: The suicide rate in the military exceeds combat fatalities. Yes, it's true.

RIP

-
posted by stroke_count at 9:37 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The suicide rate in the military exceeds combat fatalities.

Forced conscription in the United States ended in 1972, when the last group was assigned. Every man in the United States born after January, 1st, 1953, who has served in the US military has chosen to do so voluntarily.
posted by eriko at 10:25 PM on January 7, 2012


They signed up hoping to see the world, to make a difference, to serve their country...or to just get out of whatever dire circumstance they'd been in previously. No one chose to sign up for persistent degradation and humiliation (bullshit machismo about the necessary evil of Basic aside), and certainly no one chose to sign up for ostracism by the very people whom you were meant to be able to rely on to watch your back in combat zones.
posted by Phire at 10:35 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Every man in the United States born after January, 1st, 1953, who has served in the US military has chosen to do so voluntarily.

Well, that's alright then. As long as we remember only to feel compassion for those whom we believe deserve it, I'm sure everything will work out fine.
posted by howfar at 10:38 PM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


.
posted by zennish at 11:12 PM on January 7, 2012


.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:54 PM on January 7, 2012


These 8 douchebags do deserve to hang, and high, for forgetting who their enemy is and so wantonly abusing their apparently excessive free time.

Who is the enemy?
posted by srboisvert at 3:07 AM on January 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:45 AM on January 8, 2012


Are there any "success" stories for Asian-American military members?
Lt. Dan Choi has made a few curious turns, but he sure as hell stands up for what he believes in.
posted by knile at 5:08 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are there any "success" stories for Asian-American military members?

First Asian American Marine Officer Kurt Chew-Een Lee

With the outbreak of the Korean War, Lieutenant Lee found some friction with his new recruits of the machine gun company he commanded by then. Many of them had never seen or spoken to a Chinese man and saw all Asians as the enemy. Lieutenant Lee was also resented for his strict and intense training regimen. However, once his unit entered the war, the troops witnessed his leadership and bravery in battle. “Certainly, I was never afraid,” he says. “Perhaps the Chinese are all fatalists. I never expected to survive the war. So I was adamant that my death be honorable, be spectacular.”

...

Major Lee was fully conscious of his unique position in the bastion of America’s male chauvinism — a pure warrior caste. Racism, he feels, is inherent in the nation’s historical makeup, and it is his nature to meet all challenges, including racial incidents, head on without equivocation. Some may charge that he operates with a big chip on his shoulder, but he says that this is fine as long as people know that the chip is “my teaching tool to dispel ignorance.”

posted by Comrade_robot at 5:28 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


adso: "19 years old? That's just one year older than my little brother. So hard to imagine, and I don't even want to imagine."

19 is my little brother.
posted by theichibun at 7:04 AM on January 8, 2012


I would be likewise obliged and wholly honored if you could re-read my comment above and respond to that, rather than the comment in your head that nobody else but you can read.

You said this :
where keeping thousands out of "100,000+ young men" of psychopaths on a very short leash...
You wrote that. That is what I responded to.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:31 AM on January 8, 2012


.
posted by Fence at 7:38 AM on January 8, 2012


So you are saying you have reason to believe that your friends and family are among the psychopaths? Or what are you saying? Or are you just riding around on your "that's my MUM you're talking about" horse because it needs the exercise?
posted by howfar at 8:07 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lt. Dan Choi was discharged under DADT for being openly gay - I wonder what his experience was re: being Asian. Kind of a double strike, there.
posted by desjardins at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2012


So you are saying you have reason to believe that your friends and family are among the psychopaths? Or what are you saying? Or are you just riding around on your "that's my MUM you're talking about" horse because it needs the exercise?

I'm saying that the idea that "thousands" of the "100,000+ young men" in the military are psychopaths is laughably wrong and pretty deeply offensive.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:38 AM on January 8, 2012


I'm saying that the idea that "thousands" of the "100,000+ young men" in the military are psychopaths is laughably wrong and pretty deeply offensive.

Firstly, if true, it still wouldn't mean that any of your family and friends were among them, or that the comment implied that they were.

Secondly, the estimated prevalence of antisocial personality disorder in the US male population is at least 3%. ASPD replaced and incorporated the psychopathy diagnosis in the DSM, and is what people generally seem to mean when they casually refer to "psychopaths", that is, those who demonstrate a significant lack of empathy and indulge in frequent amoral conduct while being deceptive about it. Hence, even if there were 100,000 young men only, one would expect at least 3,000 of them to be our casually defined "psychopaths". It is possible to visualise a range of reasons why the number might well be higher (and some reasons why it might be lower, of course) but that would be speculation beyond the data.
posted by howfar at 9:03 AM on January 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm saying that the idea that "thousands" of the "100,000+ young men" in the military are psychopaths is laughably wrong and pretty deeply offensive.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:38 AM on January 8 [+] [!]


It's not laughably wrong, it's actually a stastical certianty. I'm sorry that your friends and family members have joined an organization who's main mission is to destroy and kill people, but I find the existence of that organization to be much more offensive than any theoretical feelings that might be hurt from my internet comments.
posted by Avenger at 12:23 PM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


My immediate supervisor on my first ship in the Coast Guard treated me like shit. I did my absolute best at my job, fought constantly with seasickness...but I didn't fit in with the deck department because I wasn't a jock, I didn't care about sports, and I didn't drink. (Nor was I old enough to drink legally, but that made no difference.) The rest of the deck department joined in. I remember several incidents where I literally had people on three or four sides of me all criticizing me in pretty much every nasty way they could come up with. I cried myself to sleep more than once.

I hung in there, and it got a little better. I had a couple moments to shine at macho bullshit things (it bothered me that I got so much respect for my shooting when it was rarely a part of the job, but I took what I could get). Those moments bought only brief reprieves. There was a point when I actually said, in front of everyone, "I used to think there was something wrong with me, but I've realized I'm surrounded by assholes." Thankfully, the chief engineer backed me up on that, because he knew it was true.

The second said supervisor was gone (seven months later), things changed. His replacement realized instantly that I was being scapegoated by my peers. He saw how hard I worked. Things changed. People stopped giving me shit. But I never ever forgot what assholes they were to me just because someone enabled them.

I don't for a second regret enlisting. Later duty stations weren't nearly so bad. But the most heartbreaking thing about my time in the military was the fact that I had signed up to do the job and frequently put my life on the line, to save lives and serve my country and all that stuff, and yet people who'd done the same thing couldn't be bothered to treat me like a human being.

I'm so sorry, Danny.

.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2012 [18 favorites]


statistical*
posted by Avenger at 12:25 PM on January 8, 2012


Avenger, I'm not a cheerleader for our armed forces and I'll be the first to say that the army has some institutional problems (as this and many other cases show), but I think it's deplorable to say that army training makes "some (or even many [soldiers]) to become psychopaths," as you put it. I didn't read your post is saying that statistically speaking, some of the soldiers just happen to be psychopaths. I think a fair reading of your post is that you believe army training turns some/many soldiers into psychopaths. Between that, and your saying that "We asked for it" in reference to this very sad and tragic story, I find it surprising that you don't seem to see why others might be consider your post offensive.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 1:06 PM on January 8, 2012


Forced conscription in the United States ended in 1972, when the last group was assigned. Every man in the United States born after January, 1st, 1953, who has served in the US military has chosen to do so voluntarily.

what are you trying to say here? it sounds like you are saying he volunteered to be harassed until he was so depressed that he killed himself.

un-volunteering yourself, is almost impossible without screwing your life up. Transferring to another unit isn't allowed until you've been in your current assignment for a long time.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:34 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by luckynerd at 2:58 PM on January 8, 2012


the army has some institutional problems

The greatest of which its institutional commitment to killing people. War is a dirty, shameful, disgusting thing. Is there something particularly controversial about arguing that training people to do terrible things will make them more likely to do terrible things?
posted by howfar at 3:40 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first responsibility any government has, is to maintain the borders of whatever land it purports to govern. Without defensible, clear borders, it's only a matter of time before a neighboring government decides they want breathing room, wanders in and plants a flag. When all you have to fight against an incursion is harsh language, you've failed as a government.

As a result, any country needs, at minimum, a homegrown militia present on their land. And that militia needs to be armed and yes, ready to shoot to kill. But in the modern era, you *really* need a standing army (or someone else's in residence). Trained, equipped, professional. And air force. And naval force. If you're suggesting that our military should not need to be ready to kill, that seems counterproductive.

Or were you trying to say that we shouldn't be pursuing war but rather only respond when it comes to us? Be strictly isolationist militarily? To a degree, perhaps. But when we look at what colossal messes isolationist policies have gotten us into in the past, that idea also seems problematic.
posted by zarq at 4:15 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was actually arguing that the 20th century glorification of the military is a sick joke. Soldiering (rather than officering, due to the fact that hypocrisy is hardly new) has only been regarded as an honourable profession for a relatively brief period. If you keep vicious dogs for protection, don't be surprised when someone points out that, for the most part, they're the "scum of the earth".
posted by howfar at 4:40 PM on January 8, 2012


If you're suggesting that our military should not need to be ready to kill, that seems counterproductive.

No one is suggesting this. What Avenger is observing is that there's a statistically predictable number of psychopaths in uniform, and what I'm suggesting (as well as others) is that the nature of military training, insofar as it involves desensitizing soldier to killing and brutalization, comes close to what was done here; that what was done to Danny Chen was a pretty likely-to-occur perversion of the what they trained to do, given the numbers involved.
posted by fatbird at 5:36 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by tipsyBumblebee at 5:51 PM on January 8, 2012


Is there something particularly controversial about arguing that training people to do terrible things will make them more likely to do terrible things?

I don't think that is borne out by the evidence - that they are more likey, that is. Witness, say your average middle school or some people's home lives.

Military training might make them more effective at particular forms of being terrible - Lee Harvey Oswald, or Timothy McVeigh for example. Even at that, the most relentlessly terrible people have no military training at all.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:00 PM on January 8, 2012


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posted by Han Tzu at 1:03 AM on January 9, 2012


I don't think that is borne out by the evidence - that they are more likey, that is.

The question of evidence (warning: PDF) is an interesting one. While military service seems to have little impact on likelihood of imprisonment compared to the age cohort (except a strong reduction of imprisonment in the 25-34 cohort, which may just reflect conditions of service but is interesting nonetheless), the greater prevalence of violent and sexual offences among imprisoned veterans, particularly toward women and minors, is real cause for concern. Obviously one can't draw strong conclusions from general data like these, but there are at least grounds to suspect that military service and training may make it more likely for soldiers to commit violent criminal acts, rather than just increasing their effectiveness at them.

You'd need a more directed analysis than this study provides, however. Really, you'd need information about convictions and severity of crime, because the impact of military service on sentencing may be a significant confounding factor. Always glad of more data.
posted by howfar at 5:16 AM on January 9, 2012


Death of Private Danny Chen: Military Admits Chen was Target of Race-Based Hazing on Daily Basis
posted by homunculus at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2012


No one is suggesting this.

Actually, I think Zarq's reading is correct. Per "I'm sorry that your friends and family members have joined an organization who's main mission is to destroy and kill people, but I find the existence of that organization to be much more offensive ...," Avenger is offended by the very existance of a military. It's not an uncommon opinion around these parts.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:12 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Family members and friends are military, and they are decent people and do a good job. The hazing culture is pervasive though and the people who did this should indeed be punished. This is not the armed forces I want representing me.

.
posted by arcticseal at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first responsibility any government has, is to maintain the borders of whatever land it purports to govern. Without defensible, clear borders, it's only a matter of time before a neighboring government decides they want breathing room, wanders in and plants a flag.

Golf clap, zarq. Except... our military budget is three times the size of the second biggest armed force on earth, even though their population is several times bigger... as is the land they have to protect, and the length of their borders they have to defend. Heck, we don't even have a hostile separatist government a short distance off our shores...

Every country needs defense. Our military is far too big to reasonably be called "defensive", since every other nation on earth gets by on far less. Our military is offensive in nature, funding, and, for decades now, in directed purpose. And that's offensive to many of us.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:19 AM on January 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


This nation will regret the day we thought it necessary to have hundreds of thousands of trained killers at our disposal for our "defense".

I hope I do not live to see that day.
posted by Avenger at 3:51 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most Serious Charge in a Private’s Death May Be Dropped

A military investigator has recommended that the most serious charge be dropped against an American infantryman implicated in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, a Chinese-American soldier from New York City who, relatives said, was brutally hazed by members of his Army unit in Afghanistan and then apparently killed himself.

American military officials announced the investigator’s recommendation on Monday but did not explain the reasoning behind it.


And:

Marine admits hazing California Marine who committed suicide in Afghanistan

One of three Marines accused of hazing a California Marine before he committed suicide pleaded guilty Monday to an assault charge as part of a plea bargain. In exchange, other charges were dropped.

posted by rtha at 8:05 PM on January 30, 2012


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