Next week I’ll be heading to Arizona with the Breach Bang Clear crew to learn a new skill: tracking. This is something I’ve never even been exposed to before, I’m going in as a complete noob. If anyone has any advice, please lay it on me.

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“Horses, mules, and donkeys were the original all terrain vehicles. While they’ve largely gone out of style as a mode of transport or drayage in many parts of the world, they remain extremely important in others (and we’re not just talking about pulling beer wagons). Law enforcement and search & rescue units use them in places as varied as Times Square and rugged, remote stretches of the US-Mexican border. Military units use them as well, if only in very specific locations and usually for SOF (Special Operations Force) missions — as they did when ODA (Operational Detachment Alpha) 595 and their attached Combat Controllers mounted up in October of 2001 to hunt down the Taliban.

There only a handful of places the skills needed to successfully, tactically, employ horses can be learned. On of those is (or was) the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, where horsehandling is the purview of Marine NCOs with a background in riding. Another place, is Trails Found.

Trails Found is the training organization of Jim Grasky, a man who has spent a lifetime in the saddle. Laconic, lean, and weathered man,Jim Grasky is old enough to be the great grandparent of nearly everyone he teaches. He’s a former Vietnam Green Beret who became a smokejumper (and then a smokejumper squadleader) after the war, spending some time working abroad in unfriendly areas on behalf of some unique governmental agencies. He is a retired US Border Patrol agent, one of the founding members of the USBP’s BORTAC, was one of the USMC Combat Hunter – based Border Hunter SMEs and one of just a handful of old school mantrackers left in the world.

When specialized military or OGA personnel need to learn horsehandling before deploying to some faraway land, many of them quietly visit Jim in the backcountry of Arizona.

So, we figured we needed to do the same.”
Read more: http://www.recoilweb.com/trails-found-tactical-horses-107950.html#ixzz4JRckk5vs


With the spate of mass shooting attacks the last couple years, I’ve had a few people ask my thoughts on responding to a mass shooting as an armed citizen. Someone else asked the same question on a forum recently, and I’ve decided to give my opinion.

When someone asks, “If I wind up in a mass shooting, should I go after the shooter?”, my answer is, “You’re the only one who can answer that.” Only you know your level of skill, experience, toughness and willingness to act. If you know you’re not skilled enough, don’t engage. If you’re not experienced enough, stay back. If you know stubbing your toe makes you fold like origami, keep your distance. If you’d like to engage the shooter but are worried about missing your favorite TV show later that evening, chances are you’re better off doing what most armed citizens would do: getting yourself and your family the hell out of the area. That’s not what I would do, but it’s not wrong.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume you’re confident in your abilities, you know there’s a big difference between drawing on a convenience store robber armed with a knife versus going pistol against AR-15 in the crowded Pulse Nightclub, but you’re not real clear on what factors are involved with engaging a mass shooter. So I’ll identify a few things I think you should know and consider. My opinion is based on 22 years of police work, a couple trips to war, and some time spent training police officers how to respond to mass shootings. Please read it, decide for yourself if it’s valid, and do what you think is best. The points below aren’t all-inclusive; there are numerous other factors to consider. This is just a brief summary to get you thinking.

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Clackamas Mall, where a concealed carrier advanced on a mass shooter who then committed suicide

POINT ONE: YOU MIGHT GET REPORTED AS A BAD GUY.

A mass shooting is pure chaos. That chaos leads to bad or contradictory reporting. Bad or contradictory reporting means arriving officers don’t really know what’s going on, or even worse, makes them think a good guy is actually a bad guy.

Imagine this: a middle-aged woman with no tactical experience whatsoever is eating lunch at a mall food court. From the other side of the food court she hears sudden screaming, then rapid gunshots. She looks that direction in disbelief and sees a crowd of people running in all directions. Behind the stampede she briefly glimpses a white man in a black jacket standing still, hands out of view behind a table. He’s the only man calmly standing among the panicked crowd, and looks to her like he’s holding a gun. Her immediate impression is “He’s the shooter.”

She makes it outside to her car, calls 911 and reports her description of the suspect. That description is broadcast to responding officers. But the man she saw was actually a victim, shot in the abdomen and clutching his wound in shock. Now every responding cop will automatically lock in on any white man in a black jacket, even if the shooter was actually an Asian man in a red t-shirt.

Multiply that one woman’s report by the number of people who were near the shooter and think they saw something. That’s about how many bad reports can be generated during a mass shooting. Now, if you have a gun in your hand, imagine how many people will report you as the bad guy. Even if you’re doing everything right, even if you’re obviously going toward the sound of the guns, even if you’re directing others to safety, even if you’re yelling for police, some people will see your gun, freak out, ignore everything else and think you’re the shooter.

For you as an armed citizen responding to an active shooter, you have to remember that your actions will make you stand out, and standing out means you’ll likely be reported as the shooter.

How do you minimize the risk of being mistaken for a bad guy? Don’t act like one. Contrary to popular belief, cops aren’t trained to immediately shoot at anyone with a gun. We’re trained to engage those who reasonably appear to be an imminent threat to us or other innocent people. If you’re spraying unaimed rounds, cursing like a sailor, using a gangster one-handed pistol hold and strutting like you just got paroled, you’ll look like a bad guy. If you look, act and move like a professional, you’ll make responding cops think twice.

POINT TWO: DISTANCE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

In most lethal force encounters, you want to create and maintain distance. In a mass shooting, you don’t. Or I should say, you don’t if you expect to take the shooter out.

The average concealed carrier has a small or mid-sized semi-auto in their waist or pocket. Maybe they’ll have a spare magazine. Even if you’re a pro with your CC weapon and hit targets at 75 yards on a square range, your accuracy is going to suffer badly when you introduce fear, tunnel vision, fleeing bystanders and a moving target. Dumping .380 or 9mm rounds at a mass shooter from nearly a football field away will probably result in nothing more than wasted rounds with no effect, but could also cause friendly fire deaths or draw accurate return fire from a rifle-armed shooter.

Yes, it’s possible to make an accurate shot from a distance, even under stress. I’ve even written about a couple instances where it’s been done in active shooter situations (https://chrishernandezauthor.com/2014/12/09/austin-pds-104-yard-pistol-shot-real-or-not/). It’s just not likely, and definitely isn’t what you should expect.

If I’m ever unfortunate enough to be present in an active shooter situation inside a structure, my plan is to send my wife and kids running in a safe direction, draw and keep my weapon in sul (tucked against my chest muzzle down) covered with one hand, and bound from cover to cover until I’m close enough to mag dump on the shooter. Or if he’s moving toward me, I’ll set up somewhere I can ambush him, the way a brave Turkish cop did in the Istanbul airport.

But I won’t stay far away and expect to Glocksnipe him. That’s a fantasy. In some situations it makes sense to keep distance and just report, but if your plan is to put “bullets on bone”, you have to close distance. 

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Virginia Tech, where an untrained but completely unopposed coward murdered 32 innocent people

POINT THREE: GO FASTER, YOU FRIGGIN’ SLUG

Unless a cop just happens to be close by, you can expect several minutes between the beginning of an active shooter incident and the arrival of the first officer. There is a world of difference between the first officer arriving to find you standing over a dead shooter with your weapon safely concealed and your hands over your head as you yell “The suspect is down!”, versus the first officer turning a corner and seeing you shooting at something the officer can’t see. So if you decide to act, act fast. Try to resolve the situation before officers arrive. The best way to avoid being mistaken for an armed bad guy by responding officers is to not look like an armed bad guy when officers arrive.

No, you should never rush into anything blindly. Yes, it’s always better to assess for a moment before acting, and especially before shooting. But in this case, you need to minimize assessment time and maximize speed. The best way to do that is to have a plan, wargame situations, and get ahead of the curve by knowing how to react before you have to react.

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Jeanne Assam, a former cop who shot an active shooter at a Colorado church

POINT FOUR: SPEAKING OF HAVING A PLAN…

My biggest worry in an active shooter situation is my family. Of course that’s everyone’s worry, but mine is a bit bigger because I have an autistic son. Because it’s sometimes difficult to get my son to do what we want him to do, I don’t plan on ordering my wife to drag my autistic son a quarter mile out of a mall to the car while a madman is shooting at her. So my orders to her are to get to the nearest safe place; in a mall, that’s usually the employees-only area in the back of a store or restaurant. An active shooter is searching for the largest number of easily-accessible victims, not looking to clear back rooms.

On the other hand, most businesses probably tell their employees to immediately go to those back rooms and lock them. That’s another reason to react quickly. Most untrained people will have “normalcy bias”, which significantly extends their reaction time. That is, when something out of the ordinary happens, their first reaction is to convince themselves it’s not what they know it is.

I saw this when I responded to a shootout between a cop and a bank robber, in broad daylight in a residential area, and heard witnesses say “I thought someone must have been filming a movie or something.” I’ve also experienced it myself, when I walked up to an apparently undamaged car at an accident scene, saw a decapitated child’s head on the back seat floorboard, and tried to convince myself the child was just stuck in a weird position so I could only see his head. When shots first ring out, untrained people will freeze, look toward the shots, and spend precious moments telling themselves they’re not seeing what they know they’re seeing.

You’re not untrained. You’ve taken the time and training to get a concealed carry license, you’re reading articles like this to help you better prepare for a lethal force encounter, and if you ever face a mass shooter you shouldn’t waste precious seconds denying you’re actually seeing what you’ve trained for. If you see it and hear it, react to it immediately. Implement your plan. My plan is:

  • Send my wife and kids to the nearest safe place. Force a door open if I have to, but get them out of view and behind cover.
  • Draw (if I haven’t already) and briefly assess the situation from behind cover. By briefly, I mean within seconds.
  • Threat scan for secondary shooters.
  • Bound from cover to cover toward the sound of the guns, or toward the identified shooter if I can see him, staying low and trying not to be seen. I’ll also keep my weapon in sul and covered by my off hand if I don’t have a target. Keep bounding until I find the shooter.
  • Engage from the nearest accessible covered position until he’s down.
  • Threat scan again, reload as necessary.
  • Separate weapon from shooter (kick it out of arm’s reach).
  • Holster my weapon.
  • Communicate by phone and wait for arriving officers.
  • Hold hands high and announce that the shooter is down as soon as I see the first officer.

Of course, no plan survives first contact. That’s fine, I’ll adjust as necessary. But when I hear the first shots, I won’t be bumbling around wondering what the hell to do.

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The Umpqua, Oregon Community College, where at least one concealed carrier chose not to force his way into a classroom to engage a mass shooter

And lastly, the most important thing to remember…

POINT FIVE: EVEN IF YOU DO EVERYTHING RIGHT, YOU STILL MIGHT GET SHOT BY A GOOD GUY. ACCEPT IT.

Cops aren’t supermen. In a critical incident we’re making life-and-death decisions, based on a tiny amount of often-wrong information, in an incredibly short amount of time. Since we’re lucky enough to not have daily mass shootings in America, we can assume that officers responding to a mass shooting will never have responded to anything like it before. They’ll be high on adrenaline. They’ll be confused. They’ll suffer from survival stress reactions like tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and critical incident amnesia. They’ll know that every shot they hear could mean another innocent life lost, and they’ll be in a rush to find and engage the shooter. They might be experienced veterans who’ve heard thousands of shots fired in anger overseas, or terrified rookies who’ve never dealt with anything scarier than a parking violation.

And they might make a very human mistake.

I could follow all the steps of my plan, ensure I’m moving and acting like a cop instead of a criminal or terrorist, fire only a few accurate shots, clearly communicate my identity and intentions, and still get shot by an officer (or CCer) who mistakes me for the bad guy or is acting on bad information from a panicked witness. A mass shooting is a crappy situation, and all you can do is reduce but not eliminate the suck. In that crappy, sucky situation, an officer under stress can make an understandable error. If you’re willing to accept the risk of being shot by a cop in addition to the risk of being shot by the bad guy, you should take action against a mass shooter. If you’re unwilling to accept reality and irrationally expect perfection from people struggling to do the right thing in the worst situation they’ll probably ever face, keep your distance and only worry about yourself and your family.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


When the Dallas PD officers who died in last week’s ambush were publicly identified, one of them, Lorne Ahrens, looked familiar. I thought he must have been a friend of a friend on Facebook, or maybe we knew each other from the military, but I looked into those possibilities and found nothing. Two days later it hit me: Lorne and I attended a five-day firearms course together in Waco ten years ago.

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Instructor on left, Lorne center, me on right

I was already angry about the Dallas ambush, but finding out I had a personal connection made it worse. At work on Monday my sergeant and I made plans to go to Lorne’s funeral. Another friend we used to run patrol with joined us, and on Wednesday July 13th we sat in the pews in a huge church’s highest balcony, with officers from all over America plus two foreign countries, honoring Lorne’s life and grieving his death.

After the service we sat in our patrol car in the church parking lot, in a sea of patrol cars, waiting for the procession to start. My phone vibrated. I picked it up and read a message.

Have you seen this?

A link was attached. I clicked it. And was taken to a Huffington Post article titled Slain Dallas Cop Might’ve Been A White Supremacist: Still A Hero?

What the hell?, I thought. I quickly read the article‘s first paragraph :

“Last week five Dallas cops were killed by Micah Xavier Johnson, a Black man who was allegedly motivated to take such drastic action after continually watching the US legal system refuse to hold killer cops to account. Naturally, bootlickers across the globe are unquestioningly celebrating the slain officers as heroes, innocents, and protectors. But what if one of those dead cops was a white supremacist—is he still a hero? And I don’t mean a white supremacist in the sense that all cops are enforcers of a classist white supremacist order, which they are. No, I mean the more common use of the term. The one we associate with Klansmen, neo-Nazis, Skinheads, and your average Brownshirt wannabe.

Meet Lorne Ahrens.”

I told my friend I was at Lorne’s funeral. He called me a liar. I sent him a picture of the long line of police cars ahead of us. Then I read the entire article.

I was familiar with the author, Jesse Benn. He recently wrote an essay justifying violence against Trump supporters just for being Trump supporters. As soon as I read the first paragraph and realized Benn was the author, I knew I was in for a hysterical rant.

Benn didn’t say he’s certain Ahrens was a white supremacist, but laid out what he considered strong circumstantial evidence:

1) Lorne had a Maltese Cross tattoo on a finger;
2) he had a “Crusader’s shield” tattoo on one forearm;
3) a California police department where he previously worked as a civilian was reportedly found to have white supremacist officers;
4) a white supremacist blogged that Lorne was a “white nationalist”; and
5) Lorne’s Facebook cover photo was a “Thor’s Hammer” symbol in front of an American flag;

Benn didn’t offer as “evidence” one single racist quote, one single racist act, or even one unquestionable symbol of racism, like a swastika tattoo. To be fair, regarding his evidence he did admit, “Is all of that convincing beyond a reasonable doubt, probably not.” But that lack of proof didn’t stop him from slandering Lorne’s memory. For whatever reason Benn chose to attack Lorne, who was doing literally nothing wrong when he was targeted by a violent racist mass murderer, rather than attacking the racist mass murderer.

Many of HuffPo’s readers, of course, loved the article and used it to confirm what they already believed. Since HuffPo published this inflammatory nonsense and obviously won’t defend an innocent murder victim, I’m standing up for Lorne.

If Lorne Ahrens was trying to establish white supremacy, he did a pretty bad job of it during the week we trained together. Only eight of us were in the class, and nearly half were minorities; I’m Hispanic, a friend from my department in the class is ethnically Chinese, and there was a black officer from Louisiana. I didn’t notice any signs of prejudice from Lorne, nor did my coworker, and if the black officer noticed anything he didn’t tell us about it.

Lorne didn’t act any differently than anyone else. He did what most cops do when we’re among our own: tell war stories, make fun of each other, and compete to see who’s the best shooter/driver/whatever. After class Lorne hung out with the instructor, my coworker and me, talking about guns and comparing police departments over dinner. Some of the other students kept to themselves and didn’t join us after hours (I didn’t even remember some of them until my coworker sent me the class picture), but Lorne was outgoing and friendly.

So my gut reaction was that Benn was full of crap. Of course, I thought Benn was full of crap before he attacked Lorne, but that’s beside the point. His accusation that Lorne was a white supremacist didn’t fit with the little bit I knew of Lorne.

Then I examined each of Benn’s pieces of alleged evidence. And I found out Benn is even more full of it than I first thought.

The Maltese Cross tattoo

Benn points out that the Maltese Cross (he calls it an Iron Cross, but it looks more like the 8-pointed Maltese Cross) is used by white supremacists; however, he points out that it’s also “popular amongst bikers, skaters, and a host of other groups in the United States.” He goes on to say there’s no indication Lorne was a biker or skater. However, I was a motorcycle enthusiast when I met Lorne, and I recall talking about motorcycles and outlaw bike gangs with him.

Then when I saw our class picture I noticed Lorne was wearing an Orange County Choppers shirt.

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Maltese Crosses are rife in the motorcycle world. But more than that, they’re a centuries-old symbol of bravery, and have been adopted by many fire departments. The New York City Fire Department’s web page explains why:

“As the crusaders [Knights of St. John, based in Malta] advanced on the walls of the city [presumably Jerusalem], they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths.

Thus, these men became our first firefighter and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters…The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago.”

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After 9/11, when hundreds of firefighters died trying to save others, many across the nation embraced firefighters’ symbols of courage and sacrifice. I find it far more likely that Lorne got the Maltese Cross tattoo in that spirit, rather than anything racial.

The Crusader’s Cross tattoo

I’m certain this never occurred to Benn because he’s never believed it, but some people (like Lorne, and me) actually believe our culture and country are worth defending from radical Islamic terrorism. Our enemy often refers to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as “crusaders”, and some people proudly adopt that intended insult as a “screw you” back at Islamic terrorists. Again, I’m sure in Benn’s view the Crusades are just another example of White Evil, but some people look at things called “facts” and come to a different conclusion. It’s kind of hard to view the Crusades as pure European aggression against innocent Muslims when you consider that Muslim armies first raided Christian lands 400 years before the first crusade, and that Jerusalem was Christian before conquest by Muslim invaders (and that the historic Blue Mosque in Istanbul used to be a Christian cathedral, and Muslim Istanbul used to be the Constantinople, seat of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and for a time under Ottoman rule even the Parthenon in Greece was converted into a mosque, and so on). If the situation was reversed, and Muslims had embarked on crusades to free their land from Christian invaders, I’m fairly certain Benn wouldn’t be rallying against the evils of Muslim crusaders.

After 9/11, the Beslan school attack in Russia and other major Islamic terrorist attacks, many American cops adopted the “sheepdog” or “warrior” mindsets and crusader symbols.

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Police “crusader” tattoo

Sometimes it made sense, like when we trained for the school shootings that have become so common. Sometimes it got stupid, like when cops told people they were sheepdogs and wore t-shirts with crap like “a sheepdog doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of the sheep” or “to the sheep, the wolf and sheepdog look alike”. I found a lot of that irritating, especially after coming home from Iraq. But it’s there, and it’s not uncommon among cops. Benn admits that the crusader shield tattoo “might just be the mark of a hyper-masculine Christian, who believes his faith shields him from evil in some sort of ongoing biblical conflict”, but says when added to other “evidence” indicates Lorne was a white supremacist. What’s far more likely is that Lorne adopted the symbols of the fight against Islamic aggression, as many other cops have since 9/11.

Lorne’s previous department reportedly had white supremacist police officers

Benn cites two reports of white supremacist officers at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, where Lorne worked as a technician from (as near as I can tell) 1992 to 2002, when he came to Dallas. One report is from 1991, when a judge reviewing police brutality complaints accused white supremacist officers of violating suspects’ rights. That was before Lorne was hired. The second is from 2013, when two deputies filed a lawsuit accusing fellow deputies of being white supremacists (one of those officers had been arrested for DWI after “turning to alcohol to cope with the pressure” and was trying to clear his name, so his accusation is slightly suspect). Lorne had been gone more than ten years before that lawsuit was filed. And he wasn’t a cop there anyway, he was a technician, which means he wouldn’t have been out beating or killing minorities.

If Benn has actual evidence about Lorne, rather than unfounded allegations about other officers before and after Lorne worked at LASD, he should list it. But he didn’t list it, because he doesn’t have it.

A white supremacist blogger claimed Lorne was a “white nationalist”

Who cares? The blogger operated under the same lack of evidence Benn did. He didn’t claim Lorne belonged to any organizations, took any actions, or said anything to indicate he’s a white supremacist. The blogger cited the tattoos and Facebook cover photo, and Lorne’s baldness, and concluded he was a white nationalist. I’d like to think Benn and the Huffington Post have a higher standard of proof than an anonymous white power blogger, but obviously they don’t.

Lorne’s Facebook cover photo was “Thor’s Hammer”, another racist symbol

Here’s the picture in question.

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It comes from a t-shirt marketed to “real Vikings”, and most likely was designed to appeal to white racists. The picture, however, has floated around the net independently of the shirt. Again, the symbol isn’t inherently racist; Thor’s Hammer indicates strength, courage and toughness, none of which Benn would have the slightest understanding of.

However, Thor’s Hammer could indicate something that would horrify Benn. I’m going to write what that is, but you have to whisper when you read it.

Lorne might have been proud to be white.

It’s true. Lorne may have been proud of his roots. He may have had the gall to feel pride in his ancestors’ scientific and cultural achievements. I know, I know: pride in whiteness is automatically racist because all whites have ever done is oppress and conquer. It’s fine to be proud of, oh, Aztec heritage, because Aztecs were very kind when they raided neighboring tribes for prisoners to cut hearts out of during religious rituals. It’s also fine to be proud of, say, Zulu heritage, because the Zulus had the utmost respect for the numerous other African tribes they conquered and enslaved. It’s just fine to celebrate Mongolian heritage because they never hurt anyone. But pride in any white heritage? Racist.

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Oh yeah, did I mention the name Ahrens could be Jewish?

Benn says, “…if someone wants to target white supremacists, starting with cops is a good bet.” He didn’t so much as mildly criticize the actions of the actual racist murderer in Dallas, who said he wanted to kill white people and white cops; no, he chose to attack Lorne, an innocent victim. Benn didn’t mention that one of the slain Dallas police officers, like me, was Hispanic, which would sort of suggests he wasn’t a white supremacist. He doesn’t mention DPD Chief David Brown, a black man who probably isn’t a white supremacist either. But for some reason he attacked Lorne, without offering evidence that Lorne ever said or did one single thing in furtherance of an imaginary white supremacist plot.

I didn’t know Lorne well. I can’t say he was or wasn’t anything except a cop. I can say there is no actual evidence he was a white supremacist. And I can also say there is plenty of evidence Jesse Benn is a gutless coward, who justifies racist mass murder while attacking innocent victims.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


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Slaying Daesh: An Interview with an American Advisor in Iraq

Chris Hernandez
I once read a novel about a Vietnam veteran’s life after homecoming. In one scene he’s alone in a bar in April 1975, transfixed to a TV, drinking away anger as he watches the last helicopter lift off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon. Later I told a fellow Iraq veteran friend that I was pretty sure I’d be in a bar someday, drowning my sorrows in iced tea and watching the last helicopter abandon the American embassy in Baghdad.

About two years later, ISIS hit Iraq. Mosul fell after a not-even-halfhearted defense. The Iraqi Army fled Fallujah without a fight. Baghdad came under threat, and Iraqi troops seemed incapable of defending it. One day as I read yet another report of the Iraqi Army retreating in disarray, my Iraq veteran friend sent a text.

“You picked out a bar yet?”

The Iraqi Army – now there’s a term that’s struck terror into the heart of many an American fighting man. Not in 1991 when we stomped it into defeat during Desert Storm, nor in 2003 when we used it as a speedbump on the road to Baghdad; no, the terror came later, when we tried to fight alongside it. I personally had little direct interaction with the IA, but many who did came home full of misgivings, frustration, and visions of impending collapse. When ISIS swept much of the IA aside with barely a fight, many of us Iraq vets felt our “US embassy in Saigon” moment was at hand.

Helmets abandoned by IA troops fleeing ISIS

Helmets abandoned by IA troops fleeing ISIS

Yet, two years into the fight against ISIS, the Iraqi Army seems to have at least improved. It stopped the ISIS advance outside Baghdad (with our help), took back areas on the outskirts of Mosul, took Hit, took Ramadi and parts of western Fallujah, and is preparing to retake the rest of it. Recently we’ve seen video of an IA helicopter door gunner calmly smoking a fleeing ISIS vehicle, read reports of a lone IA Abrams tank nicknamed “The Beast” whacking ISIS all over Hit, and seen video of another IA Abrams hitting a moving VBIED (car bomb) at long range.

As a former tanker, the stories about IA tanks really got my attention. And while I was encouraged, I also cringed. Is the Iraqi Army really capable of using Abrams tanks? I wondered. And if they are, isn’t that knowledge and capability bound to reach ISIS?

So I was pretty happy when I recently met a US Marine Corps advisor to an Iraqi armored division. This officer deployed twice to Iraq as a tanker, and made trips to Afghanistan to see how tanks were being employed there. Policy prevents me from identifying him, so I’ll call him Brad.

Why did I choose "Brad" as a pseudonym? No reason, just a random name.

Why did I choose “Brad” as a pseudonym? No reason, just a random name.

Brad and I spoke by phone for over an hour. He’s assigned to a base in Anbar province that I used to run convoys to back in 05, and the troops he advises are in the thick of the fight against ISIS. He’s got direct visibility on the capabilities of today’s Iraqi Army, and had direct visibility on the IA during Operation Iraqi Freedom. If we want to know the truth about today’s Iraqi Army and especially their tankers, he’s a good person to ask.

My first question for Brad was whether or not he was going with the Iraqis on missions. In Iraq I was a TWAT (Tanker Without A Tank) on a convoy escort team, and never fought in a beloved Abrams. In Afghanistan I was around French light tanks in firefights, and had one fire its main gun close enough to rock my Humvee, but never connived my way into one for a mission. Some Americans are outside the wire in the ISIS fight, but what about Brad and other tankers?

“We don’t accompany the Iraqis. Mostly, they’re doing it, they don’t need us,” Brad said. “It’s like the old parable, ‘what you expect of people they tend to deliver’. If we don’t accompany them, the Iraqi Army realizes they need to do it on their own. The only thing we really have a problem with is that they move at their speed, and we want them to move faster. But when it comes to the rubber really meeting the road…

“I was part of an operation earlier this month. They were clearing a road, and it was heavily defended by Daesh. They ran into several problems, they lost one of their senior leaders, they had issues where certain units weren’t performing as well as others. But they adjusted their scheme of maneuver on the fly, they provided relatively accurate reporting, they were relatively responsive to our requests for information while they were in the middle of the fight. Their problems now lie in basic soldierly proficiency. They’re in the war now, and they don’t have time to focus on just basic soldiering. They have to keep everybody on the line, they have to keep everybody attacking.”

Reuters photo of Iraqi SF fighting ISIS in Ramadi.

Reuters photo of Iraqi SF fighting ISIS in Ramadi.

Basic proficiency is a big deal though, especially considering all the complex tasks that go into running a tank. So where are they as far as being able to perform basic tanker tasks? 

“I mean, are they US Marines or American Army? No. Those are the two finest fighting forces in the world. But they adapt to changing tactical situations, they continue to press despite casualties and IEDs. Are they incredibly proficient at accurate fires and all those thing? Well, they’ve got some work to do in that area. But when it comes to behaving like a professional army, they’re making great strides every day, actually. It takes decades to produce the kind of culture and institutional knowledge the US Army and Marine Corps have with their tanks. It takes going to gunnery twice a year, year after year, it takes officers who have been to multiple gunneries, the Master Gunner program, you know, all those things they just don’t have time to do. They are at just a basic level of proficiency. I think the biggest thing to say about this is…they’re not us, but they’re resilient, and they don’t give up. The fighting spirit’s really there.”

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/slaying-daesh-in…or-iraqi-tankers/

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


During recent debates with social justice types, I’ve run across something I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, the definition of racism I always accepted is wrong.

I thought racism was “a belief in the inherent superiority or inferiority of a race”. Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; racial prejudice or discrimination”. Oxford’s definition is “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior; the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”.

So according to me, Merriam-Webster and Oxford, racism is an individual trait. Anyone can be racist if they believe their race is superior to others. This would seem true, since people of every race have committed horrible crimes based on racial hatred. I’ve personally had the misfortune to meet whites who hate blacks and Hispanics, Hispanics who hate blacks, and blacks who hate whites and Christians. I know an Asian raised by hillbillies who told me Asians consider pretty much everyone else inferior. I know a Hispanic man who refuses to have anything to do with his own grandchild because she’s half black. I met a Hispanic college professor who asked “what kind of a f**king Mexican marries a white woman?” Once I walked past a white child in a grocery store who suddenly blurted “You’re colored!”, then got really nervous when I stopped to talk to him about it. In Kosovo I had a very depressing conversation with someone who advocated killing every last member of an opposing ethnic group: “The adults committed crimes against us, the old ones used to commit crimes against us, and the young ones will commit crimes against us. So they should all be killed, from one until the end.” And I knew a lot of people from the other ethnic group felt the exact same way.

Racism, to me, seemed to be an individual trait that could be held by anyone. However, SJWs (social justice warriors) tell me I’m wrong about racism. Racism has been “redefined”, and now must include “systemic”.

A few days ago a comedian and CNN commentator explained to Stephen Colbert that blacks are literally incapable of being racist:

“We can be prejudiced, but racism implies power and institutions behind it. I can be prejudiced, I can be like, ‘I don’t like white people,’ but I can’t, like, not hire them or not give them their voting rights — you know what I’m saying? So it’s a very different thing.”

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This isn’t racist. And you’re racist if you think it is! P.S., the guy’s shirt says “Unlearn white skin as the default”.

When I started researching the new definition, I ran across this 2009 Daily Kos article:

“Therefore, according to this institutional power definition, it is not possible in this country for black people to be ‘racist’.  Yes we have a black president, and a few second/third generation black leaders in majority black areas, but African Americans and people of color do not have institutionalized power, established over centuries, to impose their prejudices and preferences on the majority culture.” [emphasis in original]

Even before that, the University of Delaware was teaching students that whites are automatically racist, while minorities are incapable of racism:

“A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination. (This does not deny the existence of such prejudices, hostilities, acts of rage or discrimination.)”

So minorities hold no institutional power, which means they cannot be racist no matter what they personally believe, because racism is systemic. If it’s not systemic it’s prejudice, or discrimination, but not racism. Clear enough?

The new “systemic” definition of racism seems to be taught as unquestionable truth on some college campuses. And a LOT of white people are not just accepting it, but embracing it. Just in my personal experience, quite a few whites have told me that since I’m Hispanic I can’t be racist no matter what, but they can be since they’re white, and they probably are racist but just don’t know it, and they’re sorry for their white privilege, and if they don’t fight white privilege they’re just as guilty of racism as any white supremacist. On the extreme edge of that white guilt are people like these, in a video made by a flamboyantly annoying black racial activist.

(If you think that video is too insane to be real, think again. As near as I can tell, the “Uhuru Solidarity Movement” is a thing. If you’re white and want to “join and pay reparations,” please visit their site.)

The backstory on the following video is a little murky, but it pretty clearly seems to be two minority college students challenging white college students to explain why their lives matter. “Our argument is that white life is wrong. Our argument is that we should never affirm white life.” Remember, telling a white person their life doesn’t matter, because they’re white, isn’t racist.

So this whole redefinition of racism got me thinking. If only whites can be racist, what do you call a black person who actually calls for genocide of white people?

I find it sorta difficult to understand how someone can say white people should be killed, and even specifically talk about killing white infants, yet not be considered racist.

This man, a member of the New Black Panther Party named “King Samir Shabazz”, also said, “We gonna need preachers going into the cracker churches throwing hand grenades on early Sunday morning when the cracker got his hands up, ‘please white Jesus!’ Well we gonna throw a bomb in that God damn church, burn up the cracker, burn up the cracker Jesus, and burn up some cracker white supremacy…drag some of these god damn rusty dusty ass crackers out of their homes, skin their asses alive, hang their asses up by some damn rope in some trees, drag them up and down the streets by God damn trucks, sick the pit bulls on them, pour acid on their asses, dump them in a God damn river, bring them back up, bust them in the head with a rock.”

But remember, that’s not racist. According to our friendly SJWs, even if King Samir Shabazz al-Qaddafi X (or whatever name he gave himself) actually did throw hand grenades into a white church while busting a white infant’s head with a rock and yelling “Kill all white people!” it wouldn’t be racist.

But Shabazz was just speaking hypothetically. So let’s look at a real case of racially-motivated murder that wasn’t racist (honest!).

In San Francisco in 1973 and 1974, a group of black radicals murdered at least fifteen people, almost all whites, and tried to murder eight more. One of these white victims was kidnapped, bound, and dismembered while still conscious. Two more victims, a husband and wife, were kidnapped and hacked with a machete after the kidnappers fondled the wife. The group responsible was “a splinter group of the Nation of Islam, called the Death Angels, [which] required the murder of several ‘blue-eyed white devils’ for membership.”

Wrap your mind around this: according to the modern redefinition of racism, the black radicals who kidnapped, bound, and chopped a conscious man’s limbs off because he was white weren’t racist.

Since racism must be systemic or it isn’t racism, I’m curious about something. If a KKK Grand Dragon is kidnapped, put on a plane and dropped into downtown Tokyo, is he no longer racist? After all, there is no systemic racism again the Japanese in Tokyo. Presto, Mr. Grand Dragon is no longer racist. Right?

I’m Hispanic, a minority which automatically “has no power”, and can’t be racist. So I could change my name to Chris Herndriotti, claim I’m Italian, join the Klan, burn crosses and lynch black people, but I still wouldn’t be racist. Right?

If a black man named John Smith and an otherwise-identical white man named John Smith joined forces to beat an Asian man to death while yelling “We hate Asians!”, did the white John Smith commit a racist murder but the black John Smith didn’t?

What about biracial people? Is President Obama automatically racist because he’s half white, or automatically never racist because he’s half black?

I’m so confused!

What I love (and by that I mean hate) about the SJW movement is its desperate quest to define people by racial, ethnic or religious identity. The very same people who say they oppose treating people a certain way because of their race treat people differently because of their race. Non-white SJWs have defined away their own racism, while white SJWs have embraced their own irrational white guilt and labeled themselves practitioners and beneficiaries of racism even if they personally have done nothing wrong. Individual actions and beliefs mean nothing to these people.

Perhaps these SJWs have a valid point hidden somewhere in the stupidity; maybe they’re reasonably pointing out that blacks have suffered worse than others, and that many whites don’t recognize advantages most of them have. Those things are true. But SJWs, like activists everywhere, dilute their own message with hysterical overreach and hyperbole, and create conflict where none is needed.

I’m not educated. I’m just a community college non-graduate who spent almost 27 years in the military and is still a cop after over twenty years. I’ve lived with, worked with, and served in combat shoulder to shoulder with people of different ethnicities, religions and races, in several countries. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Racism is an individual belief. Redefining racism so that “no minority can be racist” is a transparent, convenient, self-serving way for minorities to be racist without having to admit it. Minorities who hold all whites accountable for past wrongs are just as racist as a hillbilly Klansman with a swastika tattooed on his neck. Yes, systemic racism exists, and blacks have historically borne the brunt of it in America. Yes there are white racist douchebags. Real racism, especially systemic racism, needs to be exposed and defeated.

But plenty of “oppressed minorities” are also racist, and the endless search for a white racist under every rock only perpetuates racial tension we don’t need. Dammit, can’t we admit things have gotten better? Can’t we at least acknowledge that we’ve come miles from the systemic racism of the Jim Crow era, light years from slavery, and that all whites aren’t the eternal enemy of all of us with darker skin? The experience my parents had in the 60’s in north Texas, when they were kicked out of a restaurant – while my father was serving in the Air Force – because “we don’t serve Mexicans here”, hasn’t and won’t happen to me. And if it did, the public backlash would be so intense the restaurant would shut down. This country is better now than it was then.

I’m grateful that my country is better. I’m grateful to all the people, even the whites, who fought and sacrificed to make it better. I won’t poison my children’s minds with the lies that the system is rigged against them, or that all whites are their enemies. And I damn sure won’t tell them that if they become racist, they’re somehow better than white racists.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


This was published April 18th on BreachBangClear.com

Eating Tacos is Racist [The Deadly Scourge of Cultural Appropriation]

Chris Hernandez

You may have heard of the recent, tragic incident that horribly traumatized many innocent people. It made national news, disturbing video of it has been shared on social media, and it’s had an impact far beyond the people immediately involved. This incident and the evil behind it threaten to destroy the very fabric of our society.

What? No, not the latest terrorist attack. I’m talking about something far worse.

A white kid wore dreadlocks in college.

A white kid with dreadlocks! Run for your lives!
A white kid with dreadlocks! Run for your lives!

 Yes, Cultural Appropriation has reared its ugly head in America. This white college kid had the gall, audacity, and White Privilege to steal dreadlocks from African culture (dreadlocks were also Egyptian, Viking, Greek, Spartan, Indian, Sufi Muslim, Aztec, and maybe even Jewish, but whatever). Despite the horror I’m sure you’re feeling, please muster the courage to watch the video. If you dare.

I know what you’re thinking: “That evil racist deserved far worse for what he did.” And many people agree, the white victim of harassment and assault was 100% to blame. Sure, maybe the black woman technically assaulted him, but come on. He appropriated her culture. And that’s unforgivable.

There have been other egregious instances of cultures being wrongly appropriated. Miley Cyrus dared to twerk. Coldplay and Beyonce made a video set in India. About 684,000 white celebrities pissed off Kareem Abdul-Jabar by wearing cornrows. Justin Bieber won the crown jewel of racism by wearing cornrows and dreadlocks. College students in the UK ordered gay men to stop stealing women’s culture by dressing in drag and acting like black women. A white couple stole black history by jumping a broom at their wedding, even though Europeans used to jump brooms at weddings too. And as another observer noted, the black male student in the above video appropriated Inspector Gadget culture.

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Here’s a definition of Cultural Appropriation (CA), from racerelations.com:

 “Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects.”

Notice the definition includes the terms “unauthorized use” and “without permission”; you see, if black people had told white people “It’s okay to have dreadlocks”, there wouldn’t have been an issue. And that’s where the entire silly, stupid, racist concept of CA falls apart, and the point I can’t even sarcastically pretend to take it seriously anymore.

Like many far-left ideas, CA requires us to stop thinking of people as individuals and instead lump them together by race or ethnicity. “All blacks/Mexicans/Koreans/whatever minority think white people need permission to use any symbols of their culture.” That’s pathetically stupid and overtly racist.

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/cultural-appropriation/

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

 


After every attack by Islamic terrorists, we hear what’s become a rote response: “But those aren’t real Muslims. Islam teaches peace. No real Muslim would murder civilians.” This optimistic-but-empty platitude is repeated by everyone from horrified peaceful Muslims to naïve college students to jihad apologists deliberately lying about the attackers’ intentions. It’s so common and so wrong it may as well be titled the “No True Muslim Fallacy”.

After the Benghazi attack and “Innocence of Muslims” video that didn’t spark it, Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America, wrote, “No practicing Muslim would advocate violence in any form in response to cartoons or films, no matter how offensive.” After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Piers Morgan wanted Muslims “To denounce [the attackers]  as non-Muslims, to urge REAL Muslims – the vast majority who loathe these extremists as much as we do – to rise up against them, alienate and marginalize them, root them out of their society.” Islamweb.net informs us, “if any Muslim kills an innocent person, that Muslim has committed a grave sin, and the action cannot be claimed to have been committed ‘in the name of Islam.'”

So apparently thousands of people who mistakenly think they’re Muslim have been shooting, beheading, burning, or blowing their enemies up lately. These non-Muslims-who-think-they’re-Muslims have killed over 50,000 people, mostly “real” Muslims, in the last two years. Somehow these people, most of whom were raised Muslim from birth, have misunderstood Islam so badly that they’re doing exactly the opposite of what Islam says.

See this terrorist? His name is Moner Mohammad Abusalha. Dr. Bukhara, Piers Morgan and others might think he’s not really Muslim, but in fact, he is. Or at least, he was. He blew himself up in a suicide attack on a restaurant in Syria.

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He was Muslim because he believed in a certain type of Islam that’s existed for hundreds of years, and has been studied and validated by many religious scholars. Not every Muslim agrees with this version of Islam, but this guy did, and millions of other Muslims do.

You know how I know this guy was Muslim? He told us.

He didn’t care if you don’t think he was a “real” Muslim. He didn’t need your permission to call himself Muslim. He was positive he was Muslim, and he thought others Muslims who don’t massacre their enemies aren’t real Muslims. He was supported by millions of other Muslims who either directly armed, trained, fed and housed him, or gave tacit support to his actions. Whether or not you gave him the “real Muslim” stamp of approval made no difference to him. It probably never crossed his mind.

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By the way, Abusalha grew up in a gated community in Florida, graduated from high school and spent some time in college. All suicide bombers are poor and uneducated? Yeah, not so much.

In the end, denying his or any other terrorist’s religious faith is meaningless. Because our opinion about their faith means nothing, either literally or philosophically.

We need to realize something: we don’t get to decide what makes a “real” Muslim. Nobody needs our approval to label himself any religion he wants. Two western Christians (or atheists, or agnostics like me, or Muslims, or whatever) can argue for years about what makes a true Muslim. Who cares what they think? Do Christians need approval from Afghan Muslims before calling themselves true Christians? Do Baptists need approval from Catholics?

The definition of true Islam has been debated at least since the Sunni/Shia split in the 7th century. Sunnis and Shia have been killing each other for apostasy for 1400 years, and some Sunni extremists refer to Shia as  “rafidha (‘rejecters of the faith’) and majus (Zoroastrian or crypto-Persian)”. Other strains of Islam, like the Sufis, have risen and sometimes been brutally oppressed by more powerful Muslim sects. The “what is true Islam” debate has been violently raging among Muslims for over a thousand years; why does anyone, especially non-Muslims in the west with no real understanding of Islam, think they can smugly decide what a real Muslim is?

If I’m curious about an avowed jihadist’s religious affiliation, I might do something totally crazy: I’d ask him. Because, you know, he and his buddies are screaming to the world what their religious beliefs are.

I know, I know. Someone’s about to say it. Some people have probably been screaming it since the first paragraph. So go ahead and let it out.

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Now that you’ve shocked us with that newsflash, guess what? We already know that. Of course all Muslims aren’t terrorists. If I believed all Muslims were terrorists I wouldn’t have lived, worked and socialized with them in Kosovo, served in combat beside them in Afghanistan, invited them into my home, or taken one to a range to improve his pistol skills. Most Muslims are nothing like ISIS, and would rather kill an ISIS fighter than join him. You literally have to be stupid to believe that every last Muslim is a terrorist, or condones terrorism.

But you have to be even stupider than that to think none of them are, or that it’s just a tiny handful. The suicide bomber threat isn’t over because the suicide bomber I mentioned earlier was the only one ever. ISIS isn’t a small organization, and it’s funded by many Muslims all over the world.

Even our government tacitly admits jihadists are Muslims. Our President might be loathe to use the term “Islamic terrorism” (his people apparently even censored French President Francois Hollande’s use of the term at a White House meeting), and politicians like Cory Booker might outright refuse to even say the words.

But if our elected representatives truly didn’t believe jihadists were Muslims, they wouldn’t have terrorists like Osama bin Laden buried according to Islamic law. The military wouldn’t have temporarily banned female guards at Guantanamo from offending a war crime suspect’s Islamic beliefs by touching him while moving him from the prison to legal appointments. And if the rest of the Muslim world didn’t believe those terrorists were real Muslims, Muslim scholars wouldn’t have complained that bin Laden’s burial at sea violated sharia law and warned that Muslims would attack Americans in retaliation. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)  wouldn’t have complained of guards at Guantanamo Bay force-feeding prisoners on hunger strikes during Ramadan. If nobody believed bin Laden or terrorists at Gitmo were real Muslims, why would our government, Muslim scholars and CAIR be so worried about offending their Islamic sensibilities?

Everyone knows not all Muslims are jihadists, but everyone with an understanding of reality knows jihadists are actually Muslims. So please, stop claiming you know what all real Muslims think. Nobody cares. At least, the Muslims who believe Islam commands them to slaughter people don’t. If you’re positive you know what “real” Islam is, find your nearest ISIS fighter and argue with him about it. Because wasting time trying to convince me that “real Muslims would never be terrorists” doesn’t stop your so-called fake Muslims from murdering people.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).