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A new medal to be awarded to American service members in recognition of their service in the fight against Islamic State militants is being criticized for being insensitive… to ISIS.
The medal unveiled on Wednesday by the Department of Defense depicts an armored hand holding a sword that has impaled a scorpion on one side and an eagle on the reverse side.
But one person’s armor is another person’s chain mail… and for some, including The Atlantic’s Uri Friedman, chain mail harkens back to the Crusades of the Middle Ages. As in Christian Crusades.
Friedman points to a Washington Post article that said the imagery could “be construed to imply religious zealotry—insignia and call signs that invoke armor-clad crusaders have embroiled the U.S. military in controversy before. Last year, two Army units were criticized for using crusader names, shields and imagery in their unit logos.”
For the record, the Department of Defense prefers “armored hand” over “chain-mail hand.”
The Atlantic noted that the DoD pointed to a detailed description of the medal from the Institute of Heraldry that is consistent with past U.S. military iconography:
The armored hand clutching the dagger represents strength and courage in the defense of liberty and freedom. This armored hand is widely used in military heraldry for this purpose. One of the more notable military symbols incorporating the armored hand is [that of] the [United States Air Force] Strategic Air Command.
As for the impaled scorpion — symbolic for treachery and destruction, according to the Institute of Heraldry — Friedman reminds us that some may “interpret the choice of the ubiquitous scorpion as a subtle rebuke to the notion that ISIS, and Islamist militants more broadly, have a monopoly on violent ideological extremism in the world.”
How dare some discriminate against the ruthless 7th century ISIS barbarians in such a manner.
Friedman even regales us with the words of President Barack Obama himself, spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5, 2015, in Washington, D.C.
“Lest we get on our high horse and think [Islamic barbarism] is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama said at the time.
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