‘Turn off that nigger music’

Michael Yon
Facebook.com
8/30/2010

Something I’ve wanted to post for some time but needed distance from the unit. (As per their request.) In this day of Coalition warfare, some of our allies could benefit from knowing a few things about American combat units. Earlier this year, I was told that a Coalition officer from an allied country (not U.K.) came into one of our tents. He was working with our combat unit. A soldier was playing what probably was obnoxious music, but then the allied officer said, according to soldiers, “Turn off that nigger music.”

Hold on hero.

Don’t say that in front of American soldiers.

The black soldiers seemed to adopt the more noble attitude, “Well that guy is just an idiot,” but it was the white soldiers and others who kept boiling with anger and retelling me the story. (Our higher leadership in that unit was livid. They were the first to tell me.)

This is the serious lesson: no matter what our military was like some years ago, today there is only one color in Combat units. Asian, black, white, whatever. One color. And there are only two types of people: those who are loyal and do their jobs, and those who don’t. Mostly the cohesion is very high. I was told that it was the white soldiers and others who refused to work with that officer. He had to be replaced. (I see some relatively light racism in some rear units, but combat has a way of erasing racism in the “frontline” units.)

Just a fair warning: don’t come to an American combat unit and make a racial comment. The whole unit will never respect you after that… The higher your rank is, the more they will reject you. If you are young and dumb, they’ll probably just try to educate you. If you are more senior, expect rejection.

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