Wednesday, March 01, 2006

'Haji' opinion evokes interesting responses

My opinions have had a long history of ruffling feathers, so it's no surprise to me that my commentary on the Army's use of the word 'Haji' has gotten such a response. A few weeks ago I sent the article, which first ran in the Anaconda Times in January, to Army Times in the form of a letter to the editor. It ran in the Feb. 20 edition of Army Times, page 52 under the title "Calling Iraqis 'Haji' offensive." It was even complemented by a nice photo, which I did not take. Here are the letters I have received:

SPC Case,

Interesting article. One thing to include in any future continuations would be suggestions or recommendations for replacement words.


CPT Travis Cain
7th Bn, 101st Avn Regt
Battalion Signal Officer

Specialist Case,

I read (online) your article about the use of the term "Haji" for the Iraqi locals, whether friend or foe. That is a term that has been around the Army for many, many years, and your assumption that it stems from the term for those who have been on the Hajj may be in error.

I don't know for sure where/when it started, but the opinion of most older soldiers I know think it came from the old Johnny Quest cartoon program. Haji was Johnny's little brown-skinned buddy(hence its use for almost any southwest to east asian person). I would guess that more soldiers are familiar with that cartoon than with Islamic customs.

You are correct, however, in that the term is usually used in an unflattering way, and when we used to brief the COSCOM commander there at Anaconda (during OIF 1) using that term was a sure ticket to a butt chewing.

Hope all is well for you there. SUSTAINING THE LINE!

Steve Larson
LTC, USA (Retired)
PO Box xx
Livermore, IA xxxxx
Cell xxx-xxx-xxxx

Dear Specialist Case:

I hope that you will continue your writing and research because you have a gift for it. You are obviously an intelligent and well-educated man, but you have "come of age" during the era of "political correctness." I would also suppose that President Clinton was the President you knew of as you were growing up.

Your letter was very well written. But I cannot disagree with you more!

First, I'm unsure if we should even care whether we call Iraqis Haji or not! Consider, for a moment, what we might have called them!

Secondly, the story of Islam is a history of violent military conquest. Moslems were finally defeated in Europe near Vienna about 1712, and this ended, for 300 years, their attempts to conquer Europe.

Thirdly, Moslems are committed to the defeat of Western civilization as we know it, and the murder or forced conversion of Christians to Islam. It is not a religion that can successfully co-exist with a democratic or republican form of government.

Lastly, sooner or later we all choose sides and I can easily foresee in the next few years a union of all Moslems committed to the destruction of not only the State of Israel but also Christian civilization. As an American Soldier you have already made a commitment to defend the Constitution and the United States of America. I sincerely hope you will not abandon that commitment!


Robin M Cathcart
(I looked this guy up, he's a retired captain)

Well, there you have it--more proof that the Army needs to be enlightened by me. It's a rough job, but somebody's got to do it.


Blogger Bryan said...

Well done- You know you're on the right track when you've pissed off a lot of people, but still have a large following in the agreement category. Surely this means that you are giving a voice to the "silent majority".

1:22 AM  
Blogger Marshall Thompson said...

As Justice Brandeis once said, the truth is the best antiseptic. Using people's own words makes a powerful point. It reminds me of the "Why We Fight" movies by Frank Capra, except, obviously, on a smaller scale. Cool stuff.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Dakota said...

Ahh Spencer...

Tried to find your email address somewhere to contact you but to no avail.

I came across your blog and your posts about the Haji comments while online doing research for a possible EO (Equal Opportunity) case regarding the use of the word "haji" in the Army.

I'm an American (and an soldier if you haven't guessed) and my spouse is from the Middle East and is, of course of Middle Eastern and she joined not too long ago.

Guess what slur raised its ugly head?

Yep... Haji.

Yes, I know a Haji is someone who has made the Haj to Mecca and all that.

But when used in the way that 90% of my fellow soldiers use it... it's not different that Nigger, Kike, Dink, Gook, Raghead, etc...

Racism is alive and well in the USA.

10:38 PM  

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