There are so many weird aspects of this story. Don’t these Marines have mothers, or someone in their lives who told them as children that audible passing of gas was offensive? And the high command has to tell them to cut it out because it offends Afghans, as if such a reaction were different from that of any normal person? And unfortunately, the friendly-fire jihad attacks by Afghans that regularly punctuate the working relationship between U.S. and Afghan troops are not going to be ended by this small gesture in “trust building.” “For Marines in Afghanistan: be careful where you fart,” by Gina Cavallaro in Military Times, August 23 (thanks to David):
Marine Corps Times is a family newspaper and we only rarely have offensive language in our stories.
But this week the word “fart” appears in a story I wrote about the importance of trust between Marines and the Afghan national army soldiers they work with.
I didn’t want to write this little blog entry about farts. It’s not even on my beat. But my colleague Dan Lamothe, whose byline you have seen here quite often, shamed me into it.
“You owe it to all Marines,” he told me.
So here’s the news: audible farting has been banned for some Marines downrange because it offends the Afghans.
I know there are many things in the Afghan culture that don’t seem normal to Americans and it’s hard to spend seven months working in someone else’s back yard. Still, the Marines I saw downrange are doing a pretty good job at trying to do the right thing around the Afghans.
They”re not supposed to cuss because it could be misunderstood (that one goes out the window a lot). And they stay away from talking about politics, religion or girls because those topics could escalate into major disagreements (they can’t communicate anyway because of the language barrier).
But farting? That’s practically a sport. Ok, it’s not soccer, but a good contest could open the door for cross-cultural exchanges, jokes and other gallows humor….