Enough with the ‘infidel’ stuff. Seriously, stop.

[Update 16 July 2013: I've addressed this topic again in a post titled Infidel Redux.]

[Update 19 October 2012: It looks like removed the article I've linked to. I found the article here in this forum, so if you're interested, you can read it there.]

I keep a list of things I plan on writing about and they sit and wait for me to get to them. One of them that has been sitting there for awhile is a blog post about the way some troops embrace enthusiastically the title ‘infidel.’ Well, I missed the ship on this one and there was actually a great article on this topic over at It’s worth the read and I’d be happy if you stopped here and just read that article, but there are a few things I would like to add.

First, this is a topic that I naturally gravitate to because it sits at the intersection of my two lives: the infantryman and the Middle East Studies student. Without question, Middle East Studies and studying abroad has made me more sensitive to things in that orbit. And having been an 11B for five years, I feel confident that I understand how the infantryman’s culture works.

Second, I see this stuff everywhere. Bumper stickers on post, t-shirts in the gym, posts on Facebook. Without question, there are a number of people in the military who enthusiastically embrace the term ‘infidel.’ And there are a host of companies out there ready to cash in on the trend.

I get it. The word infidel sounds cool, and there is something neat about repurposing a supposedly negative title and owning it. When I speak with people on the subject, enthusiasts of the term usually speak in generalities (“That’s what we are to them, infidels. So it’s not like we’re saying anything outrageous.”) The problem is that when people say “them” they are usually referring to jihadists (a problematic term itself). But enthusiasts are using a term that is generally religious but not necessarily tied to Islamic terrorists. Yes, there is an Arabic word كافر and it means a number of things to different people, with varying degrees of intensity. That is, just like there is no such thing as one Islam (just as there is no universal Christianity), there is no one way in which the idea behind the term ‘infidel’ is understood or used.

My problem with this phenomenon is twofold: 1) whether people mean it or not, the word casts a conflict in religious terms, which is what we don’t want, and 2) the brand is worn to be antagonistic, not simply factual.

More importantly, what are people trying to communicate by wearing a t-shirt that says كافر or a bumper sticker, like the photo above, that says ‘Major League Infidel?’ The word كافر (kafir) can mean a number of things: irreligious, unbeliever, infidel, atheist, ungrateful (Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1976). Since I haven’t seen any shirts with the word ‘atheist’ or ‘unbeliever’ paired with كافر, I would assume most of the time people are aligning themselves with the word infidel: “a person who does not believe in religion or who adhere’s to a religion other than one’s own.” (Oxford Dictionary). So by using the term, the person is declaring themselves an atheist or some religion other than Islam, since that is where this is directed.

The word is completely wrapped in religion and doesn’t belong in our discourse on war, officially or unofficially, seriously or playfully.

Just like Vibram Five Finger shoes (104 comments!), this is a topic that attracts strong emotions. Look at the hundreds of comments and some of the vitriol over at the article on It’s bad. Why is this the topic that people want to get excited about or hold strong feelings on? I don’t know the answer to that, but it must get to something at the core of people to pull such bitter feelings.

I’m doubtful that this will be going away anytime soon. I’m hopeful though that people will keep writing about it and exploring the topic. I know I will.

About these ads

268 thoughts on “Enough with the ‘infidel’ stuff. Seriously, stop.

    • Ssgt Rydzewski

      Have you been deployed, are you a Muslim or foreign national, or even a sympathizer? If not what do you care? If it motivates or bonds a unit together let it be. If you are not part of it or understand it in full zip it. As for this patriot that wrote this, serve with a forward deployed unit under combat?

        • Joshua MacDonald

          Think what ya want I got the tat lol I like it. Kinda have 2 now… and hell bud if ya deployed and got a cib you can think whatever you want about grunt culture. You lived it dog. follow me.

      • Zachary

        It doesn’t matter if he’s a Muslim, or if he doesn’t believe in these conflicts.

        What matters is having a conversation and some open dialogue about whether or not the use of this term is accurate (metaconversation: words communicated with regard to words themselves); clearly, those using it haven’t thought that far ahead. Which is typical of Militarist/warlike mindsets.

        And yes, I would know. I was in the Army. It’s NOT a philosophical arena. While I was in: I also woke the hell up to the dogma permeating the air. It’s sad. The times and honor that went along with the serving have long vanished since the days of World War II. Now the military serves the cooperations.

        This silly logo is one of so many ways we fuel the dishonest propaganda ourselves on the Civilian side of things. Until we decide life is too short to live in servitude, and expecting young people to die for rich psychopaths, this type of mindset will dominate how we treat our neighbors on this floating hunk of rock.

        • If you think the military of World War Two didn’t also sever the corporations, you have a bit more waking up to do. Sounds like you are on the right track but keep walking. WWII never had to happen, it was a direct result of WWI which also never had to happen. Both built the military industrial complex of today.

          For a real wake up google

          ig farben prescott bush

          Read the first article that comes up. All of it is true and verifiable via public records.

          Also investigate how we ended up in WWI, the sinking of the Lusitania. Reported as a malicious attack on a passenger ship killing many Americans, used to rile us into war. Noble cause, NOT. Google the following

          german advertisement lusitania

          You will find public record that the Germans put out a full page ad in the New York Times! When she left New York for Liverpool on what would be her final voyage on 1 May 1915, submarine warfare was intensifying in the Atlantic. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom to be a war-zone, and the German embassy in the United States had placed a newspaper advertisement warning people not to sail on Lusitania. In fact they ran the ad in the times on the page next to the announcement that the ship was about to depart New York.

          It is also a matter of public record that the ship was carrying war munitions. The ships route was also public knowledge. For as long as there has been war there have been war profiteers. As long as their have been war profiteers they have been starting wars to serve their own agendas. They care not who dies or who wins, they make money on both sides of the table.

          Before anyone asks, I am a US War veteran myself. Having served as a US Airborne solider in the first Gulf War and in Panama. I am not some hippy that “hates my country”, I am a patriot who has been willing to learn the truth about my country and want to require that my nations match her actions to her marketing.

      • Stan

        Kafir means atheist or pagan. I was an Arabic linguist in the AF for 20 years. Islam teaches that Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in the same God. If you are going to proudly wear a word, you should know what it means. Or else you look like an ignorant dumbass.

        • Carl

          No, the root k-f-r is most definitely “unbelief” or “disbelief.” Atheists/pagans are certainly kuffar, but so are Christians who believe in the Trinity (at least by some Muslims’ lights) and so on. Ibn Taymiyya even went so far as suggest that some Muslims could be kuffar. While “infidel” carries a certain Western baggage, k-f-r is not nearly so specific or limited as to mean only “atheist” or “pagan.” Wehr and Lane are both instructive here. There’s really a huge body on scholarship on this topic, little of which supports your implied point that a Christian cannot be termed a kafir. But perhaps none of that is as useful to make the point as the Qur’an itself:

          “They surely disbelieve ( كفر ) who say: ‘Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.’ The Messiah (himself) said: ‘O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers.'” 5:72

          (I’d paste the Arabic, but I’m not sure it’ll come out R-to-L. It’s easily available online, however,)

          • Caoimhin

            I really appreciate reading constructive discourse.

            I’m going to comment directly to the post but I also wanted to comment to your comment.

            Before telling the linguist that he is wrong consider your very educated and academic understanding of the words. Now also consider how many English speakers have that level of understanding of the words they use. I would propose that the linguist learned Arabic as understood by the average speaker. That would probably mean the average speaker equates k-f-r with an unbeliever and not one of the people of the book.

            I once had “nefilim” on my license plate. I was asked by a Hebrew linguist why I had “dead people” on my license plate. Not being a Biblical scholar (or just well read in the books), she didn’t recognize that I was actually referencing Goliath and his ilk. Understand, I am truly pagan. Unbeliever actually applies to me. But I like to test those who propose to be betting their eternal souls on the contents of books they haven’t actually read.

            So I might suggest that you (like me) have a more correct but less common understanding of the word. And by “less common” I mean that native speakers don’t commonly have your understanding of the term.

            Thank you for the civil and informative discussion.

            • Carl

              Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head: what is the common understanding of the word? While I obviously disagree with Stan, I think we would both agree that this equation with “infidel” is actually the least common usage. :)

    • Carson Willingham

      I purchased a hat with the Arabic infidel patch on the front after being deployed to Iraq. The reason for the purchase was to encourage people to ask what that means or for a person that reads Arabic to feel so inclined I’m here to facilitate an answer to your questions. Born and raised a baptists Christian I never questioned what was taught to me and strengthened only by faith. I currentlydo not believe in any religion. I’m a believer of science, evolution and the understanding that this universe and the cosmos are far greater than anything our ancient religious predecessors could have ever fathomed. The Sunni and Shiite still fight to the death over their religious beliefs. Freedom to believe in whatever you want, enjoy life and love living to the fullest. I was a protector of the Iraqi people from themselves. I wear that hat to show pride in my belief that we are not significant but merely another living organism on our planet. Radical Islamist May never understand science and the revelation that lies within but I’ll continue to share my story of hope for all nations and the disregard for radical Islamists that foolish terrorize their communities.

    • infidel

      “Why is this the topic that people want to get excited about or hold strong feelings on? I don’t know the answer to that, but it must get to something at the core of people to pull such bitter feelings.”


      You of all people should know better……

        • infidel

          “More importantly, what are people trying to communicate by wearing a t-shirt that says كافر or a bumper sticker, like the photo above, that says ‘Major League Infidel?”

 about “fuck you you animals”?

          How do you spell that in Arabic?

          If you have a better word/image/patch/tattoo… to describe defiance and disgust against such human atrocities
          (ISIS et al..) and their beliefs, please let the rest of us know….

          • Another proud American Infidel

            This is exactly why some of us have embraced the word. If your religion tells you to decapitate innocent people, I am proud to be a non-believer in your eyes. It’s our way of inviting the terrorists into constructive discourse about their asinine religion.

    • Adam

      The author of this blog is a pampas idiot who comes across like some kind of well traveled and experienced scholar who is facilitating a lecture at some local community college. I am not even going to entertain this thread by offering some unverifiable war credentials or my current rank. If you are an 11B you must be in the national guard or something because you speak about things you blatantly and obviously know nothing about, and you think you sound like some kind of unbiased master of clinical critical thinking skills. It’s definitely people like you that would walk up to a city of insurgents with only a fist full of flowers to put in the barrels of their AKs. If you are so open minded why don’t you let the people who want to wear whatever the hell they want to wear without criticizing them. Good luck with you senior thesis paper too. I just know your intellect and overwhelming open mind will change the world.

    • reid

      I’ve been proudly wearing my INFIDEL (in Arabic) shirt for about a year now. Those fluent in Arabic seem to be split into two groups, those who immediately “get it” (and love the message) and those that do not (usually older people who have difficulty with anything beyond basic concrete thinking). In a world where large swaths of Islam, considers the rest of humanity (let alone other Muslims who fail to submit to their barbaric 7th century worldview ) to be deserving of subjugation and annihilation, I make no apologies for the message that in the face of horrifying evil, there are those that recognize it and are willing to push back, even if it’s just a message on a T-Shirt.

      • When you say “large swaths of Islam considers the rest of humanity to be deserving of subjugation and annihilation” I am assuming you mean militant Salafists. Considering there are over 1 billion Muslims in the world, the relatively small number of militant Salafists doesn’t qualify as a “large swath of Islam.” If they all wanted “us” annihilated, it would probably be so.

        I respect your right to wear an Infidel t-shirt and this post and the series of infidel posts are meant to point out that the word and the way it is branded is caught up in an extremist, reactionary ideology that pits “us” against Islam, and for currently serving troops, it’s punishable under the UCMJ. For everyone else, it’s counter-productive to the war on terror.

  1. Arguably though, didn’t the other side start this war, casting it in religious terms? And would they not continue to see it in religious terms, regardless of how we view it? After all, their religion is their culture. Even to those friendly to us (an increasingly flexible term from what I’ve been hearing) we are still a bunch of beard shaving, pig eating, non-believing infidels. It won’t matter if our troops wear it on their shirts or cars, or don’t. A very large number are still going to see us as the Infidel Invader.

    • Travis

      Well said, Lucius. And Don, I would like to read a C&C by you between US service member’s use of “infidel” and the African American’s use of “nigga.”

      • Actually, that sounds like a really good idea, especially in light of the Comanche indians doing the same thing with the word Comanche, or say the Pagan and Heathen religious communities using those terms, which have long been used as insults by Christians and Muslims. It’s all taking words of hate against you and making them words of power for yourself.

        • Diana

          I’ve been thinking the same way. I want to get this on my wrist. To remember all of our people who have died, because they/we are viewed as such. To support our troops.

    • What is “the other side?” Islamic terrorists? All Muslims?

      Are you arguing that since “they” see this conflict through a religious lens, we should return the favor? That’s not how the military works.

      • well, in a larger sense, it is “all Muslims” since we meet the definition of “Infidel” by not being Muslim.

        As for “returning the favor” of seeing it as a “religious conflict” well…that’s a bit more complicated. It is a religious conflict, because it is certain Muslims doing this because of their religion against everyone who is not of their religion. Our Military might not work it as a religious conflict, but covering your ears and going “lalalalala it isn’t religious alalalalala” isn’t really going to change the fact that this is, in a very large way, about religion. Much as we might wish it not to be.

      • Adam

        I’m an old-school Cold War 4th generation vet. I enlisted with a pragmatic view of my time in. It bothered me to see the new guys coming in with a religious crusader attitude towards the enemy. I’m glad it’s not a universal thing. With the old wars, we knew that when combat operations ended, we’d have to live with our former enemies. Dehumanizing the enemy has always been part of the process. But eventually that has to stop. Now, the wars are perpetual cuz nobody knows what Victory looks like. Some here have suggested that profiteer corporations are behind it. That means they benefit from a permanent religious-based conflict. Your mentality is being shaped by these people too.

        • Thanks for your comment. I agree, dehumanization is a part of war – it’s not a good part – but it does happen. I continually question what the motivation is for a young man or woman to go to war to fight against whoever when there really is no direct interest. The “why” has become abstract and if you can reach and grab something from religion, it probably helps get you through the day.

            • Shane

              The definition:
              1. ‘One who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.’ (Merriam Websters)
              2. ‘The word originally denoted a person of a religion other than one’s own, specifically a Christian to a Muslim, a Muslim to a Christian, or a Gentile to a Jew. Later meanings in the 15th century include “unbelieving”, “a non-Christian” and “one who does not believe in religion” (1527).’ (Wikipedia, in August of 2014)

    • I can’t believe people still think it’s about religion. It’s not. It’s about money and politics, simple as that. Muslims would not give a shit about you Americans if we didn’t invade their lands, get involved in their politics, and make ourselves an enemy of them for decades on end. Why are Muslims largely not in any conflict of warfare with Asians, Africans, Europeans, Hispanics, or any other non-Muslim groups? I’ll give you hint, Coup d’etat of Iran, Six-Day war, Desert Storm, Iraqi, and every other incident in which we got involved in their lives. Just listen to some of the things our enemies say, like Osama, Saddam, or Ahmedinejad, and I mean actually LISTEN for once, and you might understand a thing or two, whether or not you agree with them.

      • Jeremy

        Pretty sure our only involvement in the Six-Day war was getting a Navy Vessel nearly sunk by the Israelis. Maybe you should actually READ for once before making your rants.
        And btw, what money or resources are we stealing for Afghanistan? It’s not about money or politics. There is nothing there for us to take.

  2. Don I started reading your comments on a VA website and haven’t stopped reading. First, congrads on Distinguished Honor Graduate and Distinguished Academic Graduate. Wow. I’m a Vietnam 68/ 69 L Co 75th Rangers 101st Abn trooper who extended his tour mainly to avoid Orders for the 82nd (we hear rumors you had to spit shine your boots and jump out of real airplanes. I figure it was safer in Nam.
    Almost everything you wrote strikes a cord with me. I’ve just turned 64 but my life has been identified with being someone who served in Vietnam War as a LRRP and am proud as hell about that. I’m also a writer. I wrote a book called Recondo- LRRPs in the 101st about 5th SF group Recondo School. Keep up the good writing. I’ve been working on a book on how to convert your military experience into a civilian narrative that employers understand, value and hire! I wish you luck.

    Larry Chambers

    • Hi Larry – thanks for the great compliments and I’m happy that you found my blog. Thank you also for your service!

      And yes, it’s true what they say about the 82d – but I’m not sure I would have extended to stay away!

  3. Sam S

    I love your blog, Don, but I think this article fell short of what I wanted it to say or thought it might say. The title was the only risk taken– and what caught my attention, like YES, an Army leader is finally going to say what needs to be said– but the article itself did not say stop to anyone, really. It gave some reasons why the word might not actually mean what military members think it means, but it did not say that it’s completely inappropriate for soldiers to don. It did not mention professionalism, maturity, discuss the culture of us vs. them that is pervasive in the military (and is the opposite of what a soldier’s supposed job is of helping keep peace/liberate, not mock) or how leaders in the Army should step up and not promote these stickers/t-shirts etc. I know you are just exploring this topic, so I hope you keep pushing the envelope in the future. Glad to know a 2LT is thinking analytically.

    • Thanks, Sam. I originally planned on exploring this topic further on all the points you mentioned. The reason I didn’t was the article at nailed it pretty well. I thought I was going to be the first to this topic, and since I’m second, I just mentioned a couple of things.

  4. Wes Morgan

    It is not just U.S. troops. I remember embedding with a platoon (“troop”) of Royal Marines in Helmand a while back, and noticing that several had كافر tattooed, branded, or scarified on their bodies.

  5. Pingback: This “total war on Islam” nonsense | Carrying the Gun

  6. Randall

    I love mine on my arm and I hope it does piss off any Hajji that see’s it. Makes me wonder about you though.

    • Randall

      Maybe you’ve forgotten these people (using the word lightly), are the enemy. They’re trying and in a lot of cases, killing us. Do you honestly believe I care if I offend them? I fought them, my son has been deployed and was injured from an IED. So really!?

      • bob

        Well said! Amen to that. The ones who argue the term infidel perhaps haven’t had the durkas on the other end of two way firefight against them, or haven’t saw the destruction first hands of them attacking our guys on the ground. I don’t give two craps about what they “feel” after doing my time outside the wire.

  7. Pingback: One year of Carrying the Gun | Carrying the Gun

      • Ceij

        Firstly, I’d like to say, you used over 500 words to say maybe 60 words of content that almost makes a statement in a mollifying passive tone. People from the drive pass region of the fly over zone find this format of expression condescending and insulting. If you have an opinion, OWN IT. Say it directly and say it succinctly. Sifting through 90% throw away words to find the 10% content is the writer’s job not the reader’s job.

      • Ceij

        Secondly, you almost, but not quite, express the opinions that 1) regardless of the infidel wearer’s intentions, the effect is an insult on all Muslims, friend and foe. And 2) insulting Muslims is definitely not in America’s best interest. Yet, you provide absolutely nothing to support these assertions. Did I inaccurately weed out your opinions? Did I fail to sift out your supporting arguments for these opinions?

        • Thanks for the comment. I’m sorry that you had to sift through my words to get to the point.

          So you are not angry about the content, but the way I write on my blog?

  8. Ceij

    Take your blog entry to the writing center at the college you are attending and ask for their help in tightening up your writing style. I can tell already that spending my evening pushing string or nailing jello to the wall will be more productive than a conversation with you. I am insulted by evasiveness. You started the conversation. Own it or sit down.

    • Evasiveness? I wrote a blog article. You said I didn’t get what the stickers are really about. I asked what they are about. You commented on my poor writing ability. I apologized and questioned whether you were angry about my writing ability or the content. You replied by saying (again) that you are insulted by my evasiveness and writing style.

      I’ve been trying to move the conversation forward. You never specified what these stickers are about. If you think might writing sucks, that is fine. This is a blog, not an academic journal. I’ll take your criticism and channel it into my future writing (I’m not in college, I don’t have a writing center).

      Why not answer my original question to you?

      • Ceij

        Your rambling attempt at an opinion clearly shows you don’t get it. It is necessary that you articulate what you do think about the stickers, directly and succinctly, before I can even begin to understand precisely what you don’t understand, so I may have a chance of making it clear to you. My suspension is your evasiveness is not the act of an unclear mind, but a tactic, which would mean any attempt at a dialogue with you would be absolutely pointless. Own your opinion like an adult or sit down.

        • I think it is pretty clear what I think about the stickers, since I enumerated it:

          “My problem with this phenomenon is twofold: 1) whether people mean it or not, the word casts a conflict in religious terms, which is what we don’t want, and 2) the brand is worn to be antagonistic, not simply factual.”

          I’m trying to have a conversation with you about it. I’m a pretty reasonable guy.

          My guess is that you don’t like the fact that I’m against these stickers. It bothers you. I know lots of friends and colleagues who also like these stickers. I have buddies who have it tattooed on their bodies. Part of the reason I wrote this is to learn more about it. People get very emotional about this topic, and I want to learn more about why. The only way to do that is to talk about it.

          So instead of just insulting me and my writing ability, talk to me. Tell me why you think these stickers are appropriate, especially for professional soldiers engaged in a war where perception is often greater than reality. If you can convince me I’m wrong, I’ll happily agree and write a blog post saying how my opinion on the matter has changed.

      • Ceij

        You state “1) whether people mean it or not, the word casts a conflict in religious terms, which is what we don’t want, ” I said, so? What’s your point? What does it matter that the definition of Infidel is ambiguous or un precise? You say we don’t want that ambiguity, why? What difference does it make? Why would we care if others outside our circle understand what this sticker means to those who wear it? You don’t explain.

        You state “2) the brand is worn to be antagonistic, not simply factual.” I disagree, antagonism is not the goal, but it may be an effect on others outside the movement, so what? How does that hurt and not help us? You don’t make your case.

        For those who wear or display this sticker, weather they are capable of articulating their reason or not, wear this badge for same reason. I will explain:

        Throughout history the Jewish population has been required by law to wear the “yellow badge” most notably in Nazi Germany.

        The following is a quote from Wiki:
        “The yellow badge (or yellow patch), also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments to mark them as Jews in public. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with antisemitism.[1] In both Christian and Islamic countries, persons not of the dominant religion were intermittently compelled by sumptuary laws to wear badges, hats, bells or other items of clothing that distinguished them from members of the dominant religious group.”

        These sticker are our yellow badge. We do not wear it in shame, we wear it with proud. We don’t wear the yellow badge to be antagonistic, we wear it to show our defiance. We wear the yellow badge to show our solidarity with other like minded infidels. We wear the yellow badge to protest the current capitulating White House administration. And we wear it to tell anyone willing to hear that “whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender” to Nazi Islam.

        And when Nazi Islam comes for some small segment of Infidels that falls outside of the definition of Infidel that defines me, I will not be silent. I will speak out. I will yell at the top of my lungs, because an attack on one infidel is an attack on ALL Infidels.

        Because some people among us are not aware enough to recognize the pattern, history is in grave danger of repeating itself.

        The first time I saw a giant infidel sticker in the back window of a pick up truck I knew instantly how profound the statement it made. And that may be the problem, It CANNOT be explained. You either get it or you don’t.

  9. Randall

    Additionally you are using the incorrect term as there are at lest 2 definitions for the word, that I know if, sure there are others. In the singular that is most often seen, it is met to be offensive. I have never met an 11B which was my primary mos until I changed it to 19D, have a cultural appreciation for hajji’s much less be
    concerned about offending
    one. You deployed at some point? Just didn’t notice so I’m asking.

  10. Randall

    Don, you’re playing a game is what you’re doing. If you where an 11B and deployed twice, you know why we do what we do and you know what it means to us. So, why Don are you trying to write a BS blog you know the answer too? You may have non-military personal fooled, but if, what you say is true about yourself then you’re full of crap. The point of the stickers, shirts tattoo’s or whatever, is met to be an offensive statement, that’s the point (which you know)! There are only 2 reasons I can think of that you would want to study this culture, 1. You want to know your enemy, or 2. You empathize with them, much like Patty Hurst did with her captors. There is always a 3rd option I guess, you enjoy reading what you write and you get a rush from trying to belittle people. I honestly thought that if you served, maybe you could just be a POG or FOBBIT, but, if your truly an 11B I would highly doubt that, Something is seriously wrong with you and your reason for asking a question you know the answer to.

    • Ceij

      I agree with you Randall. I pressed as hard as I could thru the forum to get him to come clean. The blog entry is irrational and poorly written. It screams hidden agenda. But Don refuses to tell the truth. His blog is obviously a tool in a bigger con game, as an aid or a prop, or both. Whatever the case, I feel certain Don is not an honorable person.

      • Okay – so let me try to understand this. The fact that I think it is counter-productive for professional soldiers to display openly antagonizing gear when we are engaged in a long, low-intenstity counter-insurgency war where culture and perception is important indicates to you that I have a hidden agenda, empathy for “the enemy” and/or I am a dishonorable person?

        In the blog post, I wrote that I get why people wear infidel gear. I really do get it. I just don’t think it is professional. If you disagree with that, that’s fine, there is no “rule” against it and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even soldiers are entitled to free speech. It is my opinion that it does not do us any favors in the information war.

        I respect your choice to be into this stuff, but I don’t have to agree with the messaging.

        • Randall

          Where you an 11B FOBBIT? Because honestly I can’t even understand your thinking. Did they let you be a solider when you deployed? Did you see or have friends killed by these savages? How can you say you don’t understand and then try to convince people how smart you think you are?


      • Where you an 11B FOBBIT?

        Did they let you be a solider when you deployed?

        Did you see or have friends killed by these savages?
        -I have friends who were killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

        How can you say you don’t understand and then try to convince people how smart you think you are?

      • Look guys, I’ve known Don both personally and professionally. I am prior service and I spent a considerable amount of time with Don during IBOLC. I can tell you that his credibility is above reproach and he is the most squared away soldier that I have ever met.
        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I would encourage both of you to be less critical of his character and focus primarily on the substance of the argument.
        His position is apparent to me as well as other readers. If you can’t decipher it, then maybe you should move on and read “Guns & Ammo.”

        • Randall

          You’re doing the same thing you’re accusing others of doing. When you read someone is disagreeing you’re assuming the opposing positions by anyone other than those that agree with your idea are ignorant…go read guns and ammo. Not only are you insulting the person with the opposing view, you insult a whole culture that you infer to be inferior to yours. If you want to have a civilized conversation, then do so, but when you don’t you will get a reply like the one I gave. So far all you’ve done is point out that your little group is a self-righteous think tank.

    • Donnie

      He has deployed, he served in the Infantry and his article is 100% correct. The arguement above of either you get it or you dont and it is equal to the Jewish being made to wear a yellow badge is absurd and disgusting. No government, Nazi, US or any other made you wear this badge or peice of cloth to identify yourself, you chose to.

      It would seem more since we use the term Hadji to describe our enemies which has great offense to many in the Muslim culture, we too should also have offense to a word used to dehumanize us to our enemies as well. Not embrace the idea and label ourselves as the enemy to all muslims. If you do this, then you would be in a strange manner labeling yourself as a racist proudly, because the meaning at this point is that you killed and fought muslims because you dont believe in God and therefore any Muslims belief is pointless because you’ve been to war.

      If you are not worried about the overall effect of such things in the larger picture of the war, you will not win. We are not going to launch nukes to finish the job because 2400 US Servicemen lost their lives. If we fail to readjust the perception of the population you will ultimately lose the war and that environment will go back to being what it was before, and we will be back there again losing more lives. Your neighbor can be the most passive person on the block but if he feels very strongly about his religion and you continuously bash and defame it, you WILL create an enemy. If he is so engrained in his beliefs because of decades of teaching, you cannot change that overnight. You are not going to sell your opinion of his beliefs and change them, but by being considerate to his beliefs and slowly working towards an understanding with him. Not by saying I’m an atheist and your a dumb Christian.

      Also Don does not usually have a hidden agenda, he does ask questions to gather a better understanding, so sitting here calling him dumb does little to allow the leaders of todays Army to have a better understanding and more acceptance of the trend.

      • Randall,

        You are 100% correct. My “guns and ammo” comment (jab) was consciously meant to be an insult to you on a personal level. It was rendered only as a response to your personal attack on Don which you delivered without warrant. “If you take fire, the first thing you do is return fire”.

        Please understand that I value and respect your position. I can tell by your well reasoned points that you are an intelligent person who cares deeply about this issue.


      • Jeremy

        “No government, Nazi, US or any other made you wear this badge or peice of cloth to identify yourself, you chose to.”

        True, there was a choice was to wear the cloth. However, there was not a choice to be labeled as an Infidel. That happened long before the start of the war. Don’t mistake the symbolism of the yellow badge for the literal piece of cloth we choose to wear. In addition, many Jews still wear the yellow badge, not because they are forced to, but because of pride of their religion.

        Yes, it is meant to be antagonistic. But do you think that anyone from Iraq or Afghanistan is going to think, ‘Hey, those American aren’t infidels because they aren’t wearing an infidel patch / shirt / whatever’. I’m pretty sure they’re going to think of us as infidels as soon as they see someone wearing ACUs (or ABUs, MarPat, or Multicam) walking through their country.

  11. I’m an 11C with three deployments to Iraq and I too find the “infidel” gear to be unprofessional and in poor taste. Why boastfully antagonize the very people we are supposed to be protecting, the non-radical muslim? Ever heard of “quiet professionalism”? Why be proud of a label that alienates you from 1.2 billion people in the world? If you want to be proud of something that militant radical Islamists hate, why not be proud of the United States and its military? A giant “infidel” decal on your truck doesn’t identify you as a patriot, or a fighter of oppressive ideology, it simply identifies you as a bigot who doesn’t understand the war he’s fighting. I understand that Joe in your average line unit won’t understand this, and that’s okay. It isn’t expected that he understands the complexities of population-centric counterinsurgency strategy, but it should be something that their NCOs and officers do understand, and its up to them to correct.

    • Ceij

      My post is in reference to Infidel stickers in the United States. I have no Military experience and can’t speak to any military issue regarding Infidel stickers, badges or tattoos. However, your assertion begs the question why should Muslims who call us infidels be offended that we also call ourselves infidels? Are you assuming the non jihadist muslims, or for that matter any Muslims, are offended by infidels calling themselves infidels, or is this assertion based on RELIABLE data?

      Don, people who talk in circles generally prove themselves to be untrustworthy. Especially when you give them ample opportunity to talk straight.

      • It’s apparent you don’t understand the Muslim perspective or have much background in Arabic. Let me explain: “Infidel” is a translation of the Arabic word kafir. In general, Muslims do not call non-Muslims kafirs because it is extremely negative. It’s only the radical Islamists, the jihadist, the takfiri that use that term to describe people who they think they should be allowed to kill. Al Qa’ida and their ilk use it to describe Americans and moderate Muslims alike. On the contrary, if a Muslim were to describe a Christian it would be “Ahl al-Kitab” or People of the Book (meaning the book of the God that Muslims, Jews, and Christians all share, the Old Testament), an encompassing term that unites Christians and Jews with Muslims.

        It’s not the Islamic fighters that we’re worried about offending, after all, we ruthlessly hunt and kill them with extraordinary global reach. It’s your mainstream Muslim being terrorized by them that we’re worried about offending, especially over something as easily avoidable as this. It’s your local neighborhood Muslim families, the Muslims in the countries the U.S. military is active in that we are supposed to be protecting. If you can’t tell the difference between them and the radical fighters, then you have some reading to do. American soldiers wouldn’t drive a truck, wear a t-shirt, or get a tattoo that says “baby killer” and they need to understand that “infidel” is its equivalent in the Long War.

        • bluesingincat

          And who is equating the term “infidel” with baby killers? If any Muslim equates that term with baby killers, when that term is specifically given to anyone outside the screwed up, hateful ideology of radical ISLAMISM, then why should we be sensitive to a misnomer? This is a silly argument and more counter productive than the author’s original argument.

      • Donnie

        The lack of operational experience is also why there is confusion, because the term infidels was brought out in a warzone and embraced by the American population because a few Soldiers displayed it after their return from a war zone. As with everything in the US and the government services it quickly became a trend. A trend mainstream America followed suit on that displayed their support for American troops and our fight against our enemy. However, after many years at war, it shows our lack of understanding of the culture and fight we seek to win.
        Richard you repsonded very well and show a clear understanding of what it will take to win, I hope you found or will find yourself in a senior position able to influence the young trendy minds of the future.

      • Ceij

        Donnie, I, as an American, was not exposed to the word infidel by soldiers returning. I first became aware of the word kafir and then infidel by watching American documentaries about the techniques Arabs use to teach small Arab children to believe in the intrinsic superiority of the Arab and to hate non-muslims, Jews in particular. These words are pejoratives in Arab culture. They are meant to be offensive. If soldiers in these regions are engaging in overtly racist ways with Muslims, and in particular non combatants, that is deplorable and should be stopped. I still believe your are bumping this particular form of expression in the other racist behavior of soldiers and it does not belong there in total. It is a separate action, with separate intent, and a separate impact.

    • Ceij

      Richard, I disagree.

      I know many white Americans who call themselves racists. They aren’t racist, but that word has been so abused and misused that it’s meaning has been destroyed. If Modern Muslims don’t use the word Infidel at all then it can not mean the equivalent of ‘baby killer’ for every society has baby killers. I believe, instead it is the equivalent of ‘nigger’ for the American black community, who began calling themselves ‘nigger’ to take the power of the word from whites. I have yet i hear anyone 1) with proof the modern Muslims are personally insulted that Americans call themselves infidel, and 2) weather it offends any Muslim, does it move the political ball in the West’s favor, much like American blacks moved the ball in their favor by using the word nigger when talking to each other?

    • Jeremy

      A giant infidel sticker on my truck isn’t going to antagonize anyone one in Iraq or Afghanistan, unless they visit the U.S. and bump into me. Hence the reason for POV vs. GOV.

  12. I also find the “infidel” gear unprofessional as well as derogatory and the people who claim the title and promote this stereotype are just as ignorant as the ones who call non muslims this term. If you understood the culture (the real culture and not some fanatics ideology) then you would not appreciate it. For those wondering if I ever served I did. G 2/9 then G2/4 1st MARDIV 4 years as an 0311 from 93-97 then joined the army in 99 till present as an 11B 101st, 1st ID, 25th ID. I have deployed twice to Iraq, in Tikrit and then again near Baghdad all in line units. I have engaged in close combat and seen close friends get hit by an IED. But since this is America and you can say and wear what you want, then by all means put yourself into that ignorant stereotype and continue to breed the idea. As far as Don’s intellect and his ideas go, he is one of the smartest and most patriotic soldiers out there. So Don keep up the good work, and continue writing thought provoking blogs.

    • Ceij

      So what I hear you saying, Randall, is no. No there is no study, no collection of data. Often in conflicts, this style of propaganda is beneficial. I do understand how this sort of symbolism could be counter productive in specific situations. But the general idea that infidels embrace being called infidels would seem to have a propaganda advantage. What experience do you have in PSY/OPS?

      • Randall

        I was a Scout Ceij, we did a lot of different things. I did not get any military tattoos while in the military, because it might have been counterproductive if I would have been captured. I waited until I was out of the military. My training was in Intel was varied and I was able to participate in many different area’s, but I would not say I was an expert in the field of Psy/ops as I believe that would be misleading and disrespectful to the folks who do it daily.

  13. Jenn


    I find your writing to be concise and your argument well reasoned. I’m surprised that tattoos that say “infidel” aren’t covered by the 670-1 guidelines against tattoos that are ‘indecent or extremist’, I think there certainly is a case for them to fit in that category. Just because they’re in another language doesn’t make them ‘okay’. As a Civil Affairs NCO, if I saw a soldier with that tattoo, or even that sticker on their vehicle, I would be seriously concerned about their ability to be an effective CA asset.

    Perhaps you can write an article about the necessity in war to dehumanize the enemy, and in a counter insurgency the enemy can be anyone, and how it works against the effectiveness of a counter insurgency campaign. I’d like to hear how you overcame the training to “dehumanize the other”.

    I’m glad to know that there is one 11B with a brain out there. :)

    Keep writing. Haters gonna hate.

    • Jeremy

      “or even that sticker on their vehicle”

      Really? You would go that far. What about a Yankee Doodle sticker? That’s what the British called Americans in the early years of our country. No one got pissed about that. Or will Infidel be fine in the future. You know there are extremist militias in the US that use the American flag as their symbol. Would having an American flag make you “seriously concerned about their ability to be an effective CA asset”? And BTW, how the hell is a sticker on their vehicle gonna be counter productive in the AOR? Are we gonna start driving our POVs to combat? I know we’re facing budget cuts, but damn…

      And you think other people’s ideas are extreme….

  14. Randall

    This is what happens with a generation of soldiers who have been dumb downed due to political correctness. Good move getting some of your pacifists friends to join the chat. If you guys really believe what your writing, you’re an embarrassment to our country and the military, you make me sick! Haters keep hating, really? You guys are jacked up and should’ve joined the Peace Corps, no kidding. Are we on the same planet, dehumanizing? People who dehumanize each other, cut our troops heads off? I know they don’t fly plains into buildings or kill Ambassadors either. There is no way in hell you guys are in the military and if you where you have to be a bunch of section 8’s! Civil Affairs? WTF, you guys are doing some kind of weird experiment claiming to be in the military. I have never read such bullshit in my life! Your ignorant because you hate your enemy? Our country is official screwed with people like this.

    • This discussion is about wearing proudly the term ‘infidel” not the branding by one culture to another. To questions someone about their military service because they have different opinions than you is ridiculous. Makes me take pause and wonder if you were a fobbit yourself or have even served? When Jenn was talking about dehumanizing others, its because it makes it easier to engage your target. But you’d know that if you fired your weapon in real life.

      • Randall

        Ya that must be it, a 19D fobbit rofl. Guess I’ve been found out. I’m questioning your thought process, as I’ve never heard a fellow combat vet espouse these positions, so if I respond as if I’m in shock, its because I am. On a side note. I should not have said what I said about ones service and for that I do apologize.

  15. Ceij

    Jay, no you’re not doing it right. Blacks are essentially doing the same thing that infidels are doing. Whites called blacks the n-word for a long time. In protest and in defiance blacks began calling themselves the n-word, taking the power of the insult of the word away from whites, reducing whites to actually use the phrase “the n-word.” An incredibly effective strategy, wasn’t it? I’m white, i don’t get offended when blacks call themselves or other blacks by the n-word. But apparently the, um, gravitational pull is different in the Middle East, which effects how Arabs think. I guess. I would love for someone to explain the difference between these two issues. Anyone?

    • Ceij

      I really think Jay brought up an incredibly valid point. Those of you who think infidels calling themselves infidels does not move the ball in our direction, please, explain the offense the problem. I think the comparison to Black taking the word nigger is exactly the same recipe and incredibly effective. How are these two issues different? They seems identical to me. Anyone? Anyone at all?

      • Jay

        It’s a bit disingenuous to presume that the black population has successfully “taken it back”. If it were an effective strategy the hateful overtones would not be present, and anyone could use it casually to refer to anyone else.

        This is just another case lending to the blatant racism associated with much of the front line (or less so) troops. Want another example? Soldiers refer to arabs as Hajjis, with contempt. We successfully took a word associated with great respect in the arab culture and twisted it to dehumanize our enemy. Need examples through history? Ask the krauts, nips, and gooks.

      • Ceij

        Jay, troops using the word Hajjis may be an example of racism, and I would agree with you, however it’s use bares no resemblance to the use of the word infidel exchanged between two or more non Muslim Americans. Theses two words have a completely separate non tracking history. Apples and oranges. However, my understanding is that Hajjis is just a name. It’s not a word of great respect. The equivalent of someone referring to all westerns as Johnny in a derogatory fashion. Any word aimed at another person in offense is bigotry and unacceptable. This behavior is not the topic of this blog entry. Apples and oranges

        Almost all words defamatory words move from use to obsolescence, sometimes via becoming inert or becoming eradicated. Small circle of society are using the nigger in social circles with white and blacks. When this started happening, activist spoke out against it, trying to get the word eradicated. The word persists. I believe in another decade that social circle of people who use this word inertly will grow and “anyone could use it casually to refer to anyone else.” After a handful of decades it will become obsolete. In short word has not live it’s full life, yet. However, the predominate use of this word is in casual circle from friend to friend.

    • Donnie

      Actually I’m white and offended by the use of the word on either side, much like you would be if someone called you cracker and you rose to accept it without fail. Then the person who labeled you as a cracker then went to court to sue you for their ancestors being oppressed through slavery because you accepted being called the “Whip cracker”, and therefore condoned slavery.

      • Ceij

        Blacks calling blacks nigger and anyone calling a white a cracker bare no resemblance to each other. they are not comparable because as a word they have completely separate non tracking histories. apples and oranges.

      • curtis

        This whole time I thought it was because white people were the same color as a regular saltine cracker. Hmm…there is my “learned something new everyday” fact.
        Fwiw, I don’t think “non-extremist muslims” would be offended by a kafir tattoo on someone. Idk though. I’d go on to explain why, but my battery’s low. And nigga and nigger are two different words in the black community, and is slowly becoming such in america in general. Yes nigga evilved from nigger, but the ideology behind the words are so totally different.

  16. In light of my humble insignificant ososignificant opinion, I suppose I should toss a strange and foreign word on the table: ‘professionalism.’
    Right, wrong, religion, offense, etc.–all these ‘issues’ can be written off as unimportant, if one examines this infidel hubbub in terms of professionalism and duty.
    I could get into defining professionalism, describing the relationship between the size/importance of a task, the character of the entity undertaking the task, and the expectations of all parties involved,
    BUT, end of the day, soldiers working for the biggest, most badass country out there are expected to be professionals. Any American or foreigner would be a fool (literally, stupid) to disagree. And why do people end up flipping shit and hating American soldiers/policies/etc?–unmet HIGH expectations.
    …Tattoos, skulls, crossbones, fireball explosions, kaafirs, natural born killers, single man army good-ol ass-kickin is HOLLYWOOD. WAR is no trivial affair. Inviting hollywood glam bullshit to tag along with war is UNprofessional, which slaughters good expectations.
    The unprofessional manifests itself in both material and attitude. Same with that pink ponies bullshit. A uniform is not supposed to look badass, or be an expression of individuality. A uniform is supposed to strip a person of his/her individuality so they may integrate seamlessly into the group as a whole: to uphold the much larger duties and values that are expected of them (task, professionalism, moral fortitude).

    As far as this humble insignificant civilian is concerned, when the soldier clocks in for that gravest of jobs–war–they should have only a flag, nametag, and the mission in mind.

    Beyond this, it looks like a leadership problem.

    Oh yeah, Randall, I am no pacifist, and they are most certainly not ‘dumb downed’ (sic [as in I'm quoting a dumbed-down typo])

    Don, I like your mini smiley face at the bottom. He compelled me to write.

  17. Randall

    These day’s everything seems to be raciest if you say or imply the wrong word or action’s. To say those of us who chose to recognize our enemy as or enemy by wearing a shirt that says infidel or get a tattoo, is a personal choice and the great thing about our country is we can have opposing views. Granted, I came off strong armed on this topic, and I apologize for that aspect of my replies, but I do feel strongly about my thoughts as strongly as you feel about yours. I have never talked to or met anyone with this position, surly you can see it at lest from that point. Calling someone a raciest because that want to refer to themselves as an infidel isn’t anything the enemy doesn’t already call us. I do not agree with your assessment of the term infidel, the enemy is not using the the word as a term of endearment or just a literal word. It’s met to be used as inflammatory. I personally want the enemy to know I’m against Islam and what it teaches. If you want to call me a raciest, then I guess I am if that’s your qualifiers. Those of you who disagree certainly have the right to do so, but I believe calling people raciest is stepping over the line. We all have reasons for what we do and believe, it’s personal given our life experiences. Muslim’s can certainly believe what they want in our country, in there’s you being an infidel will get you killed, that’s what makes our country truly great. That also means I do not have to like, agree, embrace or condone what they believe. Again, if that makes me a raciest, I can live with that.

    • Ceij

      Randall, I don’t think you hate the Islamic religion. I think you hate the Muslims who use their religion to make the case the you are inferior and don’t have the right to live. Not all Muslims interpret the Qu’ran in that fashion. I believe you hate the haters and are angry with the moderate Muslims’ show of depraved indifference for allowing Islam to be used to murder innocent people. Do you disagree?

  18. Ceij

    I’ve been contemplating the different voices and strong emotions expressed on this blog and I’m trying to organize the individual themes. One item that has stuck me is a sense from the postings here that war is geographical. I see absolutely no acknowledgment to PSY/OPS or propaganda. Can any soldier here speak to that? What are your thoughts on the battle for resolve in this conflict?

  19. wv12

    Exactly …. I’m not Islamic and they believe Islam is supposed to be over the whole world; therefore that is me with my privately or publicly owned gun making sure that doesn’t happened where i live. It is very simple

  20. SD

    According yo Marriam Webster and infidel is, ” one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity”. My sister in law’s boyfriend has a sticker on his car (he is ex-marine) with a machine gun for the “I” in the word infidel with the Arabic under it. To me, it is saying that the Middle-Eastern people are infidels because they are not Christian. If it means us, why would there be a machine gun integrated into the design? I find it so unbearably offensive to people in general as it perpetrates the idea of violence for violence’s sake. Thank you for writing this.

    • Ceij

      To me the machine gun means the wearer of the sticker will defend his/her right to exist with force should Muslims come to kill him for being an Infidel as the Islamic religious teachings tell the Muslim he must do to be a good Muslim. Infidel is not a Christian word it is an Islamic word. Websters is being PC. Its definition is not the real world application of the word infidel.

      • Dylan

        Actually ‘Infidel’ is a Christian word. Muslims do not use Latin words for Islamic religious terms. It simply means someone who has no religious beliefs. Using it otherwise is ignorant. I know of Christians who actually have that sticker on their car, which is funny because THEY ARE CHRISTIAN AND BELIEVE IN GOD.

        • Randall

          Really!? “Actually ‘Infidel’ is a Christian word…” Where in the world did you receive your education and understanding of Christian doctrinal beliefs? There is no such implication of the word “infidel” in the Christian faith and the word itself is an indicator that one is not a Christian. There are certain words in “Christianize” that trigger a flag that tells me that person is a Christian, just as much as hearing other people using other catch phrases that indicate that person(s) interests or beliefs will be clearly obvious to the listener if you know what they’re talking about. Some people will purposely throw words out to troll in such a way as to find out if the other person will respond in kind, as if saying yes I know what you’re talking about or believe as you. I was a Christian most my life and even wanted to be a youth pastor at one point, studying apologetic’s from one of the greats of his time, Dr. Walter Martin of CRI. After my tour in the Middle East and having returned to the US I lost my faith and so as not to be a “hypocrite” I chose not to refer to myself as a Christian (much to my families shock). My point is, I’m very aware, even in my absence in church what means what as well as what is and is not in Christian doctrinal beliefs. There is no such use of this word in Christian teachings. I have no idea if you yourself would be a so called believer of Islam attempting to cause a a riff or just uneducated, in any event your statement is ridiculous, at best.
          Kafer, ” According to Oxford Dictionary of Islam the word ‘Kafir’ means: ‘Unbeliever. First applied to Meccans who refused submission to Islam, the term implies an active rejection of divine revelation. In Islamic parlance, a kāfir is a word used to describe a person who rejects Islamic faith, i.e. “hides or covers [viz., the truth].”
          All four major Sunni schools of thought hold that whoever follows another religion besides Islam is an unbeliever (kafir).[4].
          [4. Kufrul-Juhood: Disbelief out of rejection.This applies to someone who acknowledges the truth in his heart, but rejects it with his tongue. This types of kufr is applicable to those who calls themselves Muslims but who reject any necessary and accepted norms of Islam such as Salaat and Zakat. Allaha says: They denied them (OUR SIGNS) even though their hearts believed in them, out of spite and arrogance. [Soorah Naml (27), Ayah 14]

          Conversely, The Hebrew cognate root includes ‘kofer (כופר), or “apostate,” and kefira (כפירה), “apostasy.” This is the same word(s) Christians will use. If, you’re going to jump on the band wagon, know what you’re talking about. I am, an INFIDEL and proud of it, and yes I have a tattoo saying such, which I had done (after I ETS’d out of the military). I hate Islam and everything it believes/stands for and if you don’t like that, it’s your right in the US to believe what you want, as it is mine. But wow, get your facts straight. At lest I don’t have to worry about being stoned for being an infidel in this country, well not yet anyway.

      • Dylan


        My statement is not ridiculous. I am actually an atheist and just curious about different things so I researched the origin of ‘infidel’. First off, I said ‘Infidel’ not ‘Kafir’. ‘Kafir’ is a different word than ‘Infidel’ and has different meanings. So if you wan’t to call yourself ‘Kafir’ then that is a whole different story because that is the true word you are looking for. ‘Infidel’ is in fact a Christian word. Muslims do not call non-believers, ‘infidel’. They use the word ‘kafir’. Below are several links showing you this:


    • Randall

      SD, point of interest here for you, should you run into any other “Marines”. For the record I was not a Marine, I was in the Army. There is NEVER an Ex-Marine, they refer to themselves as former Marines or Veterans. Is it unbearably offensive when “Middle Eastern” people (for violence’s sake) torture and kill our troops? Keep riding your unicorn over that rainbow and fart pixie dust because you don’t have a clue about the real world and what these savages believe. While you have every right to believe what you believe, it’s people like you who make me want to puke!

    • curtis

      The tattoo and word are kafir. “Infidel” happens to be the word in English that closest encompasses the ideal of kafir. You’re sister in law’s boyfriend is not espousing anti christianity. Interpreting it as such is wrong on the interpretter’s fault, not the bearer. If anything, the ideal behind the stickers or tattoos is the exact opposite of what you’ve interpreted.

  21. Will

    I was an 11b for 6 years, have done 2 tours in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan. I’m 90% disabled, with multiple purple hearts. Point being… If I want to call myself an infidel, Go fuck yourself if you don’t like it. I’m sure my 9 dead brothers would say the same.

    • Dylan

      I hope you realize ‘infidel’ means someone who doesn’t believe in God.

      People are aloud to not like what you call yourself just as much as whatever you want to call yourself.

      • Carl

        No, that’s not what “infidel” means. Regardless, “infidel” is only an approximation for كافر. The word is better understood when one realizes it refers to a person who commits “shirk”—”associating partners” with God. Belief in the Trinity is “associating partners”—shirk—so Christians are “kufar” (sing. “kafir”), as are Jews, atheists, etc.

        If you spend a bit of time with older newspaper in the Muslim world, you will find that “infidel” was the commonly-used term to speak of non-Muslims (that is, “Two Infidels Killed in Car Accident”). It is used as a matter-of-fact descriptor (if you’re not a Muslim, you’re an infidel), but is offensive to non-Muslims for obvious reasons.

        • The obvious reason being unfamiliarity. “Infidel” sounds ominous to our ears. But if you grew up around it, it’s just a word that means anyone that pretty much isn’t Muslim.

      • Carl

        No, I think that’s not entirely fair. A Muslim who refers to a كافر knows what he/she is saying. An informed non-Muslim may as well. Again, كافر is an explicitly religious term. It refers to one who commits the ultimate sin. While it would foolish to assert that every use of it intended as a slight, it would also be foolish to assert that the theological baggage is minimal. Much like the road signs directing non-Muslims away from Mecca and back to Riyadh, we are dealing with a mixing of religion and politics that many misunderstand. Some make too much of it; others too little. I think you’re wrong to dismiss it as “just a word,” much like we’d be wrong to dismiss the use of “heathen” in British imperial discourse. There is a reason Arabists do not translate كافر as “non-Muslim” and Saudi road signs don’t translate “non-Muslim” as كاقر.

      • Carl

        Of course you wrote the post. That doesn’t mean that referring to كافر as “just a word that means anyone that pretty much isn’t a Muslim” isn’t still dismissive. You’ve made good points in your post, but this isn’t “just a word” or a “supposedly negative title” we’re speaking of here. It’s clear to me (at least from your writing) that you’re underestimating the importance of this term, which may well be as much an insult to Muslims as to (some of) the soldiers who’ve responded here.

        • I think too much power is ascribed to it in general. But I think the term means more to those who brandish it as a scarlet letter than those who use it in every day terms as an unbeliever.

          Anyway, glad to have you following the blog! I enjoy the discourse.

          • Carl

            Glad to follow the blog!

            Sure, I can get on board with your “too much power” comment. That’s a good way of putting it. My point (made a bit less forcefully now) is that, just like the use of “heathen” in British imperialist discourse, once a word becomes commonplace there’s still a subconscious sense that of a certain superiority. The use of كافر may be an everyday term, but it’s still an everyday that implies a hierarchy. In the context of war (ill-conceived or not), this hierarchy is only going to be magnified.

            Whatever, though. I’m probably straining at gnats here. :) In the end, I sense that there’s not much space between us here (though i would carve out separate spaces for those currently serving and vets).

            PS The threading here is a bit confusing, so you can ignore the response I just posted (11:57am). I didn’t notice I had already responded. (Even better, delete it so it’s not a distraction.)

      • Carl

        “…means more…”

        Ah, now that’s a good point! I think’d say it has a more *conscious* meaning for U.S. soldiers and that, for a Muslim, it’s buried deeper, but still there. Still, I agree with what I take to be your point that, at least for most Muslims, it’s much more of a theological debate than the deep insult some soldiers take it as. Might as well get upset over Catholics who think Protestants are outside the Church. :)

        And yes, I like the blog. It’s always good to ponder the intersection of military and religious questions.

    • Randall

      Thank you for your service brother, ditto on your commit, the PC police are everyplace and need schooling by true hero’s like you.

  22. SD

    It is actually a French then Latin word, trickling down to us. The point was, from an academic point of view it down not make sense to use it against Muslims or people from the Middle East because they are very religious. It is a misnomer and used as an inciting word to create a feeling of hate and violence in people’s minds. It is ignorant to use it because most people in this world we live in are not very educated and think about things based on emotions, not facts or reality, or the true etymology of a word. Which, by the way, in one of the other definitions of “infidel”, meaning non-believer, could apply to a number of people in this country. Does that machine gun on the car sticker apply to those people (in this country) too if they are “non-believers”?

  23. So, how do you feel about someone that actually is a “Major League infidel” using one of those patches? As in I truly am an atheist and I thought this patch would kind of fun to have, seeing a lot of other patches are tying in to christian or other religious beliefs.


    Right! It was always confusing when I saw the word “infidel” written on stickers and shirts. I do like the logo, just not that they associated it with the word. The logo reminds me of what ESDJCO did with the turntablist logo.

  25. GI Joe

    Here is another fine example of our great country, and its freedoms. All have a right to an opinion and to express it. 95B20Z6…US Army MP K9. I am a veteran MLI.

  26. 11C-asshole

    I wear it because i am proud to be in a Free country, with freedom of religion and according to”them” as you say i am an infidel an atheist, sacrilegious and whatever the hell else you said it means. So you where an 11b so fucking what that doesn’t mean jack shit. And a middle eastern studies student who gives a fuck. Its my fucking right tore-purpose the word “they”used to refer to me in a call to action to kill me, that i personally had to listen to for 15 months. So hell yeah Im damn proud to say Im an infidel. Funny thing is, Im writing this as I have the Arabic spelling for infidel tattooed on my right forearm. Someone needs to kick you in the balls with a spiked combat boot.

      • Deathw1shot

        Everyone seems to be living in a world in which idiocy rules? I personally served seven combat tours all over the world. Seen and done things for my country that an infantry man couldnt even begin to imagine. Not because I found it fun or exciting, but because when I took the oath of enlistment, I was willing to put my life on the line on the basis of protecting life, liberty and anyone who threatens it. After 13 years of active duty Marine Corps service and now serving as a law enforment officer one thing has remained constant. “Freedom of speech”. Anyone who tries to restrict that or any of the rights given to us by our founding father’s should be charged with treason. To restrict or prevent people from expresing themselves and or what they believe in is a crime. We don’t live in the middle east. People have the freedom to express themselves and just because you felt free enough to post such a stupid blog and empowered enough because you served in the Army, does not give you the right to infringe on anyone else’s rights to express themselves in a free manner. Many men and women lost their lives and were called and treated like infidels. Americans were onced called rebels by the CROWN and we took pride in that. Lets support each other now instead of feeling empowered by the internet and creating more problems because we are starved for attention or need a cause to be noticed so that we can validate our existence. Support all service members regardless of what they want to be called. They have earned it.

        Semper fi infidels,
        Semper fi…

      • Think, Marine. Think.

        @ Deathw1shot:

        Looks like you’re confusing a few things here. First, if you fought to defend freedom of speech, then surely you meant *all* freedom of speech, right? Like Don’s post here? Or did you bring up the specter of treason just because you thought it was funny? Oh, I get it. Freedom of speech is OK only so long as you agree with it. If not, it’s bad speech, and you’re less interested in actually defending it. I mean, suggesting that maybe professional soldiers shouldn’t wear infidel patches, well, that’s high treason for sure!

        Then again, on the points of infringing on people’s rights, I’m rereading Don’s post and, well, I just don’t see where he advocated for that. As far as I can tell, he’s making an argument that it’s unprofessional to do so. Perhaps you could enlighten me with a quote from above? Because I definitely missed that part where he was talking about passing laws to restrict your free speech rights (because we all know that the UCMJ doesn’t restrict soldier’s free speech at all). But let’s just say he is. Well, that’s certainly not something that will stand in the Marines, right? I mean, there is absolutely no way Gunney’s gonna tell you what you can and can’t wear. You want to wear pink leotards and a tu-tu because it’s your right, well, Gunney’s totally fine with that. After all, if the Marines are built on anything, it’s certainly NOT a uniformity of appearance that keeps individuals from doing dumb-ass things like wearing yellow bandanas in combat.

        I guess I’m the only one who finds it ironic that you went from the Marines—where the UCMJ literally tells what freedoms you’ve given up—to the Police—the second most professionally-dressed organization (after the Marines, of course)—and you’re ramping up treason charges in response to an opinion piece on what amounts to a point of dress code. Wow. One too many hits to the k-pot, eh?

  27. Freedom of speech means I get to piss you off with putting my beliefs out there & you get to piss me off just the same. Maybe if more people actually read the constitution instead of just glossing over it the average american would not be a bunch useless “sensitive” jackasses as most americans are…. luckily enough there are still enough of us that believe in the constitution & will stand up for our rights no matter how many of Fauxbamas lackeys want us to be “understanding” of the muslim culture. How about I will be “understanding” of others religions when I can express that I am an atheist in public without some religious nut bag giving me shit about burning in hell because I do not believe that there is a man in the clouds sending babies to “hell” because they did not receive water on their forehead from a pedophile before they died

  28. I have also observed this trend amongst members of the US military (particularly among its elite troops), but I’d like to weigh in with a counterpoint to this article’s argument. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the US’s fight against al Qaeda is inescapably religious. Al Qaeda pundits are making it a religious fight by bathing their propaganda in religious rhetoric, even if the entire coalition in the war on terror carefully avoids such metaphors. In that light, the “infidel” meme is actually quite incisive. Even if the wearers and propagators of infidel memes can’t actually verbalize their feelings in the following words, I suspect that they would agree with the following statement: by labeling oneself an “infidel,” a person (especially a soldier) is rejecting the idea that any sort of religious motivation is a morally sufficient reason to take a human life. It’s a clever way of reinforcing and highlighting the difference between “us” and “them” in rhetoric taken from “them.”

    With that in mind, perhaps the infidel meme isn’t such a bad influence on military culture. It is a reminder of why we’re fighting this war, and of the fact that we do, in fact, hold the moral high ground in this conflict. And though I have never worn any sort of infidel patch up to this point, now that I’ve thought it through, I think I might.

    • So I was reading back through the previous comments and I think “11C-asshole” may have expounded this argument first (though in “slightly different” words…). A valid line of logic, nonetheless.

  29. greg

    Thanks for wasting more space on the internet trying to logically explain something that people will never agree on, ironically just like what you bring up as a reason. Religion. If people want to wear an infidel shirt and you’re the one bitching about it, then it seems to me that youre the only person who really needs to answer the question you ask. Why do you have such strong feelings on it?

  30. Mostapha

    As a Muslin myself, I never really cared for the “infidel” signs on bumpers and windows.
    I don’t see how a Muslim can be offended that an “infidel” is calling himself an infidel..
    That’s like a racist white person seeing a black person calling himself a nigger.. You’re not going to be offended, nor are you going to care.. At least you shouldn’t.

    I’m originally from Iraq. I was born in the 80s and grew up under Saddam’s rule. We (my family and I) migrated to the US after the 1991 Golf war because my father was a rebel fighting against the Iraqi Army and was on the US side. Thus, the Americans pulled him here so that he will not be executed when the US pulled out of Iraq. I left the country when I was fairly a child. But back then, we never used that term, unless we were reading some old stories of early Islamic times where Muslims were labeling none-Muslims at the time as infidels (We’re talking 600s A.D. here..). That term is not common.. At least not by moderate Muslims.. Perhaps Extremist use it. But if they do, you can bet they’re referring to people like me as well as Christians alike lol.
    I have many close American friends who have served in the US military and have been to Iraq. Yet they never mentioned anything about that term. Some have been back since 07 and I have yet to hear all of their stories and experience there..

    Nonetheless, great article.

  31. james m.

    This is just hilarious… after reading this I am more than glad I got this tattooed in nice big bold arabic on my arm. Now all you hippies can cry about how I am such a bad person. Funny thing is I have shed blood for this country on more than one occasion, so me fighting for you to say how bad we are also allows me to say how stupid you are and you should cry about something else… Semper Fi

  32. Randy

    Are you kidding me? Get out of here with your Arabic sensitivity. It’s a joke regardless if it is cynical or not. And technically it isnt even a joke, by your Oxford definition we are using the term correctly. People like you are the reason why we are so soft.

    • Randy, somebody spent too much time drinking the PC Liberal Kool-Aid. You sir are on point! I read these posts and wonder how we got to our current demise. I seriously doubt any Muslim would find it offensive by definition. I suppose it would depend on who is wielding such a word. I personally could care less if someone had the word Atheist or Satanist tattooed on their foreheads. Perhaps I would pray for them, but My God says that all men should seek their own salvation with fear and trembling. We were given free will. Unfortunately, their true believers don’t see it that way. It’s their way or the highway. This is the rub. I will not compromise my faith nor should I have to for any reason.

  33. Why don’t you stop by Egypt and help out the Coptic Christians that are being persecuted because they are considered “kafir” or “Infidel”….Perhaps some of you knuckleheads should read the Koran and get a clue. There is no room for Christians and Muslims at the same table. Arab Spring … Supposedly Muslim countries striving for Democracy, Destabilize on dictator and you have another one who is more radical than the last. Syria has been at it for awhile. Turkey is next. Then they will continue west across europe. You knuckle-heads are worried about being politically correct? Really?? When I hear Muslims collectively criticize Jihad and radical terrorist organizations, then I will digress. I am a Christian first and by their definition I am an infidel. I will never believe the words of Muhammad or the Koran. Therefore, I am! Some more food for thought…Welcome to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. If you can fog up a mirror, you are a witness! Chew on that for a minute.

  34. Hi. I am a 46 year old woman who’s never been in the military and probably have no business posting, though I would like to take this opportunity to THANK EVERYONE WHO IS/HAVE SERVED. You are ALL HEROS. My young neighbor (who DID serve) recently gave me an “armed infidel” sticker, knowing that I’m pro NRA, carry a gun myself etc. Too embarrassed to ask her the meaning, I had to google the term which is how I landed here. I can honestly see value in BOTH sides of the argument but ultimately the Christian in me will not allow me to display the sticker. I DO understand that the use of “infidel” is “tongue in cheek”, but what I am MOST proud of in America is that I’m FREE to declare myself a Christian & i feel that I’m insulting God to do otherwise, even jokingly. Just my humble non-military opinion. Why doesn’t some brave soul market an “ARMED CHRISTIAN” sticker/t-shirt/tattoo? I’d proudly rock THAT in a heartbeat!! Thank you for listening, and again THANK YOU TO ALL WHO SERVE(D)!

      • trevor


        Somehow i ended up on this thread. I must have read 8 months worth of banter and man…to me there is something about being the bigger man, being the professional, and certainly not announcing your ignorance to the world that should keep this from being trendy. I would think our deployed men and woman would care less about hurting the enemies feelings and more about. putting rounds through their madulas. I use the term trust me loosely (because i am unknown to anyone reading) when i say that i would be first to wrap my hand up in a terrorists beard, pull violently and tell him that Satan sent me here to kill you and there is nothing you can do about it before gaining much pleasure in sending him to the next world with his mother watching. But i for one, and this is just me, would not choose to embrace a derogotory term just because someone or even an entire population of people choose to call me names but would rather walk softly and carry a big stick. Or in another analogy, would not decide to start acting like an asshole because someone that killed my friend called me an asshole. God bless our enlisted men & God bless ‘Merica.

      • Clayton

        **Civilian alert** I am not, nor have I ever been, in any branch of our military. I have many friends who were or are, and I have nothing but respect and gratitude for all who have served or are currently doing so. I’m a card carrying member of the NRA, a valid CHL holder, an avid hunter, and every now and then I hit what I’m aiming at. ;-) A very dear friend of mine; a Warrant Officer in the Army who did 2 tours in Iraq, who now flies border patrol for the National Guard, first introduced me to this “Infidel” concept when he showed me his Major League Infidel sticker on the back windshield of his truck. This man is one of the most patriotic, honorable, professional, and Christian soldiers I’ve ever known. That said, let me get to my point. This is how I understand this issue and what it means to me, and I’ll put it in the simplest way I can: The people we are fighting call us Infidels. They mean “faithless” or “Godless”. They label ALL of us as such, no matter what our religious or theological beliefs or convictions are. This shows THEIR ignorance, not ours. It is in pure sarcasm and facetiousness that we agree and proudly present our stickers and t-shirts and hats and tattoos and brands. It’s like when someone who doesn’t know you calls you a baby killer because you’re a soldier. It’s so outrageous and ridiculous that you just say, “Yeah, I’m a baby killer.” It’s a way of saying, “You’re an idiot” without saying “You’re an idiot”. I may be insensitive, but I do not care if my calling myself an Infidel, in defiance of those who would label me as such, offends any unintentional recipients. What happened to the days when we would get embarrassed or offended or get our feelings hurt and just brush it off? Nobody likes a cry baby. People are offended so easily today, and those same people think they’re entitled to some sort of protection from it. It’s just sad. You have to know, if you’re a Muslim, that there are nutjobs out there, claiming your religion, who are killing people. Expect some flack for that. There are people, claiming Christianity, doing things that are the opposite of what it teaches, and atheists LOVE to point it out. I get it. It comes with the territory of being a Christian. The facts are these: The enemy (the people killing us) are Muslims (misguided as they may be). They call us Infidels. The last thing one of those guys (if I ever encounter one) is going to see is my American Flag Infidel sticker on my jeep before I put 2 in his chest, and I will pray that God forgive me when it’s over. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but I’m not in the eggshell-walking business. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who have served or are serving now.

        • JKD

          But here’s the thing, Christians aren’t considered “godless” in even some of the strict countries. It’s far better to say you’re Christian than an atheist, that’s for sure (then you really are “godless”). Yes, the extreme crazies think this stuff, but huge and vast majority and moderates don’t.

    • I'm-encrypting-my-entire-hard-drive!

      Why do you feel the need to excuse yourself though, or otherwise predicate your comments with a big disclaimer about the fact that you were never in the military? What – only trained, professional killers can comment on military topics? I thought the entire military establishment itself was nominally subservient to the civilian (non-military) gov’t? Hardly seems that you or any civilian should have to do anything other than post your comment and share your insight. Respect is earned, and patriotism isn’t established simply by enlisting oneself into the service of the State monopoly of Force…

      • Clayton

        I believe you have to establish yourself in a conversation so that your point of view is understood. I just wanted everyone to understand that my point of view is absent of any actual experience on the ground in any of the pertinent countries where the radical Muslim culture is prevalent.

  35. Emma Burns

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article and its follow up comments. Whether I agree with the commenters or not I must admire the over abundance of IQ points floating around here!

    I, too, have issues with throwing the term infidel/kafir around. I have a military background and used to live in the city of Bradford which experienced catastrophic race riots. I was also brought up in a country torn apart by religious intolerance (Northern Ireland). The moral patches etc. with that printed on I have to admit make me feel uneasy as I think it promotes mistrust amongst moderates on both sides. There are other ways to embrace that sense of self. Though I’m not a huge fan, if you want to play on the them and us thing, try the jokes about eating babe! Even my Muslim friends don’t mind that kind of ribbing.

    I tend to consider the ‘infidel’ tattoos in a different sense. That’s something that is done as a lasting memory and a permanent reminder of what they’ve been through and the friends that have been left behind. That I have little to no issue with.

    Thanks guys, keep those cogs turning that makes for a better informed general populous and therefore a better I formed military

  36. George St-tevens

    Here in the UK the term Infidel is used in the main by those who support hard line Islamism.
    and the Bulk of Peaceful devotes of Islam are just as against these so called “terrorists” or though the number who are prepared to actually act in violence are few compared to the number of devotes of Allah.
    in the same manner that the orthodox Jews cause considerable grief and conflict for many Israeli people who are happy to live with the “Arabs” and get along without conflict.

    and as such the term “Infidel” is adopted by many here to show that we will not curtail to the so called Radicals and allow them to impose any sort of fear and concern by their antisocial and pathetic attempts to impose their beliefs onto us with violence.
    there is no “open” insult to peaceful law abiding followers of Islam or any other religion. and in the main this is understood.

    we do not assault or threaten Muslim Women Children and old folk. but are prepared to come down on the Radicals who feel it is OK in the name of Islam to do so on the same people who choose to not bow down to their ways and actions.

    since the actions of 22nd May there is a huge movement growing in the UK to ensure they are aware that the British people be they Black yellow Brown or White will not accept the actions of these so called “Radicals” and this is being shown with the displaying of “infidel” and related symbols.
    if this offends them then so be it.

    • Thanks for the comment and a perspective from the UK. Especially timely given the recent attack.

      My point is not meant to be apologetic. It is about professionalism. And I certainly wouldn’t hold the standards of conduct of a civilian to the same standards of conduct as a soldier.

      All the same, I think brandishing and celebrating the term ‘infidel’ does nothing for the cause – whatever it may be.

  37. curtis

    Well, I don’t have degree in middle east studies, so all I know is the word kafir. No matter what else it may mean, I know one is that a person doesn’t believe in islam. A lot of servicepeople happen to be christian, and would be proud to be recognized as such by arabic speaking muslims. And if the term is so broad, why does it bother you or any muslim? Also, the difference between different christian denominations is way less than the difference between sunni and shia, and you don’t hear of presbyterians bombing methodist churches. Lastly, there is nothing to compare kafir or infidel to nigga. We blacks have tried to make it plain as day that nigger and nigga are two different words with different meanings, so you can’t compare someone embracing the title of infidel to someone embracing the term/title of nigga. Damn

  38. Pingback: The Miracle of MREs | Carrying the Gun

  39. Stop your whining. If you americans had covered your geography and history; you’d have known not to screw around with these blokes. Likewise Christians of european and african decent have nothing to celebrate in the arival of mass migrants from the Arab world. The Ottoman empire made the british empire look like disneyland, dont forget.

  40. I'm-encrypting-my-entire-hard-drive!

    Just came across your blog. Interesting post. Truly astounding for this non-military professional to learn that soldiers fighting in the service of the USGovt in Afghanistan would wear insignia/logo that provide such an obvious potential to cause offense, and/or create antagonism b/w our forces and the local populace (who Western troops probably think of as “the Other(s),” no?)!

    No wonder we lost Iraq and are losing Afghanistan (not like either conflict was predicated on truth, honest intent [except the intent to rapaciously make $$] or genuine national interest anyway, so maybe not…)

    • Norman

      Cause offense??? Are you stupid? I’m offended by your stupid comment!!! Take it off!!! Be tolerant of others and their feelings!!! We lost the dam wars because of people like you!!

  41. dustin gard

    So what you are sayin is that we shouldn’t b proud that we are not islamic and live in mud huts idk where u get off saying anything about the freedom my brothers and sisters gave their lives for us to have!!!! If u want to go study their culture leave the US and go live in there country its people like u that is killin our moral so with all do respect go fuck your self and ur sand niggers goats out in the middle east post that to your next article fag!!!

  42. Greg

    Islam IS war. You can not separate Islam from war because it spreads through violence and oppression. Everywhere large populations of Moslems come into contact with non-Moslems there is violence, and it almost always originates with the Moslems. People who proclaim themselves infidels are putting the Islamists on notice that they know what Islam is about and are not going to submit to the will of Allah.

    • Carl

      “You can not separate Islam from war…”

      Of course you can. Hundreds of millions of Muslims do so everyday. Just because there is a history of violence it doesn’t mean there is no other path. If that were true, Christianity would be in dire shape. One need only go to Africa for modern-day examples of how horribly violent Jesus’ followers can be…

  43. Pingback: Two years of Carrying the Gun | Carrying the Gun

  44. Pingback: Infidel Redux | Carrying the Gun

  45. Larry Banks

    I wear the stuff as a protest directed against the women in hijabs at my local Starbucks, sucking down laties before they go to a CA State college at reduced tuition. They don’t like the shirt and that’s enough for me.

    • Is there something wrong with a woman wearing a hijab, drinking a latte and going to CA State College at reduced tuition that warrants antagonizing?

      • Think, Marine. Think.

        Of course. They’re wearing a hijab. Duh. He’d protest the women not in hijabs at his local Starbucks, sucking down laties before they go to a CA State college at reduced tuition, but they’re harder to spot. ;)

    • JKD

      Wow, you sound like a really insecure dick. Way to completely prove Don’s point too, that this crap is primarily intended to antagonize/intimidate others.

  46. Travis H.

    Greetings. I’ve been reading through some of these replies. It seems that most of the folks here that are offended by the infidel stickers & shirts are trying to bring peace & harmony to all religions and are of the opinion that violent muslims and islamic terrorists are such a slim percentage and are separate from most of the islamic and muslim populations and that if we (Americans) represent ourselves as “infidel” that we are offending world peace and other religions. Well guess what. A bunch of folks came over here to start their own country, and when the British tried to invade, we took them out. We formed ourselves a God fearing country. We have been the infidel from the founding of our country. Whenever I have a conversation with a low information liberal, they always point me to the crusades, and somehow try to say that what is going on right now with terrorists is no different, and therefore anyone playing the “God” card is a hypocrite. I’m here to tell you right now, when someone says that, you immediately know that their level of thinking or brain activity is so low, you can’t ever have a meaningful conversation with them because their base level understanding of history is just not there.

    The fact of the matter is that I keep finding news about Christians getting their heads chopped off, little girls and women being constantly raped and women in general being suppressed in these arabic regions. This never makes it to the low information mainstream media outlets here in the states, but you will find it in plenty via international news outlets. Anyone who would oppose islam is the “infidel” and those people over there are proud to call the rest of the world their enemy.

    I think MLI is great. The world needs to embrace this and come together and agree that we do not have a war on terror on our hands, but rather a war against islam. But the world refuses to acknowledge a war against a religion. We live in such political correctness now. We are so open minded that our brains are falling out.

    We live in a country (U.S.) where women’s rights are front and center these days, yet nothing is said against a religion that encourages raping and mis-treatment of girls and women. How is that?

    You’re darn right I support the MLI movement.

  47. Steve Philpot

    As a middle eastern studies graduate and infantry soldier of 12 years this article shows that you clearly have no understanding of the military culture, nor truly the context of infidel or for that matter the real true motivations of the Islamists we are fighting. Go watch Obssesion and Third Jihad (both required at Army Anti-Terrorism school) and then maybe you’ll finally get it!

    • Strange. I’m a Middle East studies graduate (MA, School of Oriental and African Studies, 2011) and also an infantry soldier with combat deployments to Iraq, yet somehow we’ve come to different conclusions. I’d prefer not to get into a pissing contest.

      So, the floor is yours, Steve. Tell me how I’ve got it wrong.

      • Carl

        As a Ph.D. student in Religious Studies with a focus on Islamic Studies, I’ll say that Obssession and Third Jihad don’t come even remotely close to presenting the subject fairly. In fact, it surprises me that an MES grad would find them to be much more than glaring cases of demogoguery.

        (Makes me sad to see that Zuhdi Jasser got sucked into Third Jihad. Generally speaking, I like him.)

  48. My Info

    I just finished reading a years worth of back and forth. Coming out on the tail end of it it seemed the questions being asked were completely ignored by most in favor of combat resumes and angry emotional responses to imaginary arguments.

    Is it bad ass? Does it proudly display solidarity? Defiance towards an enemy?Yea its all those things. The author says several times he “gets” why someone wears it, gets it permanently inked, etc. Symbolism means different things to different people.

    The question (mostly unanswered and ignored) is/was, “is it professional?” It isn’t about Jody sporting the bumper sticker or Joe Schmuckatelly wearing the t-shirt to Applebee’s.

    The question (as I understood it) was how displaying this to non-combatants indigenous to the area you’re in might interpret it. If you’re the person asking the village elder where the insurgents are at whats better…a bunch of guys in our uniform and thats it….or a bunch of guys sporting various “im an infidel” regalia…while in uniform….

    No it isnt professional. The only symbols on your uniform should be the ones issued to you. Period. Anything at all that might hurt the mission in anyway should ALWAYS be avoided whenever possible however slight it may be. Do what you want when you’re at the house. “Freedom of speech” arguements only apply off duty. Not even then in some cases. You know it. Being infantry and in combat zones is not an excuse to make people think you’re an asshole when you’re trying to earn their trust.

    This is the question I read. It wasnt initially about dissecting its meaning, all of its religious and political implications, whose a veteran, whose a combat veteran, and is this guy trying to tell you that you shouldnt wear your infidel leg warmers ice skating with Mary Sue..Go for it. I never interpreted anything written as against anyones rights to do so. It isnt “professional” and if you dont care then dont care.

      • Wriggley

        Exactly! As military people we have so much to be proud of that extra tat is unnecessary. The vast majority of my shirts are about beer and computer games i include those in the same category as inappropriate for work wear, even if not deemed insulting (regardless of the intention) I’d just look like an immature tool

      • Caoimhin

        First, let me admit, I came across this blog because I was looking for an MLI sticker. That being said, I’m actually an infidel. Truly. I am a strong agnostic (meaning I don’t just say ‘I don’t know’ but I don’t believe it’s possible for others to know either). I find it bewildering that Christians would use the term infidel to describe themselves.

        I am only mildly familiar with the Arabic language but I am very familiar with Christianity and Islam. I am less familiar with Judaism. In a short reply above I explained that I kind of like pushing religious buttons (I admit to this). I used to have a license plate that read “nefilim.” I’ve never done it maliciously. Rather, I’ve done it to point out how little quite a few believers actually know about the books upon which they are betting their immortal souls.

        That being said, I am very happy you wrote this. I’ve had other discussions with veterans where I’ve tried to get across that the mark of professionalism and patriotism is that one defends and supports our country without having to demonize others. But then, I, personally, don’t need religious crutches to support my ethics. I guess some people have to find a way to make their duty palatable. I don’t hate them for it but I do recognize their weakness.

        Don, I don’t know your religious affiliation. I’m not trying to offend you personally. I’m fairly certain at this point you get my context. I must also say that you are one level headed human being. Your responses should be studied by people with anger management issues.

        For the record, I’m an EOD veteran of the first Gulf War. I will still sport infidel stickers but I know what it means. I find it funny to watch Christians wear them. Does their God only speak English? Although I will still put up the stickers I will never carry them overseas or brandish them haphazardly. I try to communicate purposefully.

        I started to ramble but mostly I wanted to say thank you for providing a forum for the discussion and being the vanguard for those of us that don’t adopt the “us vs. them” mentality. “Them” changes too frequently. But I guess you have to be old to understand that.

        Oh, one last thing, some of these Marines need to revisit the USMC suggested reading list and read “Ender’s Game;” really read it.

        • Cao – thanks for the explanation. Yours is the first that I think has such a nuanced reason. I’ve never argued against someone’s right to call themselves infidels – I’ve only ever stated that in doing so, if that person is a member of the Armed Forces, they might be in violation of the UCMJ.

  49. Fatimah Kelly Grill

    Thank you for your insights on the word Infidel. The majority of Americans I meet in person or online immediately attack Islam or anything related to it, if I broach the subject. You are right, the response is as if all Muslims are jihadists. Most disturbingly, there is no room for discussion or exchange. What I receive is regurgitation of Western sound bites. I receive extremely angry and rude comments. I converted to Islam as an adult. I am an American, born in the USA. I am very disappointed by my fellow Americans, who seem to believe everything they hear and read (if they read at all).

  50. Pete

    I would not want to wear a suicide belt so that I might kill myself along with innocent women and children and random others that might even share my beliefs In hopes that I will go to a beyond that is stocked up with a bunch of virgins for me to ravish. (I can’t believe they buy in to this.). If I am an Infidel because I strongly believe that practice to be wrong, criminal, heinous, psychotic and anti-social, not to mention cowardly, rude and stupid, then so be it. I am not just an Infidel, I might just be a contender to be the most committed infidel there is. I can’t believe that this is even a discussion. I can’t even begin to believe there is a God that thinks this is a good idea, but rather that there are some typing errors that lots of otherwise, nice people, have simply fallen victim to. Even when I read the Bible I come across stuff that is just so wacky that I just use common sense. Give that a try. Perhaps the intent was “Piñata” – a belt stuffed full of hard candy? Give that a try. Well, now I’m starting to ramble, I am very old. I’m going to order one of those “Infidel” patches though. I’ve got this jacket with my old Viet Nam patches and my old biker patches, and that might look pretty cool mixed in there.
    Hey, you Guys that are caught up in this current war: God bless you and be careful – those bastards really sound crazy.

  51. I have an tattoo on my arm with the word infidel on it and whether I agree or disagree with what Don says about said tattoo, I agree with him about it can mean just about anything one can infer. I have mine not as a gesture of offense and honestly I don’t care one way or the other because if someone seen my tattoo and got pissed at me and wanted to harm me for it then job well done for me because those are the people i want to see it. the reason it is in Arabic is because it is actually pretty well known (not just by muslims) and to me it does mean something completely different than what i have seen anywhere on this blog and that is if I am to be labled as evil or damned because I do not share the same beliefs then shame on the person calling me evil, they do not know me at all how can they make that assumption. It is common for a Muslim to think someone is evil if they are a disbeliever exactly what Kafir means in Arabic. My tattoo is a simple staetment of dont judge me according to “YOUR” beliefs becasue really at the end of the day that is exactly what they are “YOUR” beliefs. If someone says that I am a stupid ignorant moron for not sharing an idea or opinion then I will gladly live up to thier belief and defition of me bieng a “moron”.

  52. Anthony

    it is INDEED a religious or ‘holy’ war. i have not served on a military branch, but i do; however, want to extend my gratitude & honor to those who have & currently are fighting for America. maybe one day we can get BACK to core set of values as a country.

    but for now, a heart-felt thank you.


  53. I am a Pagan, Wiccan, and proudly refer to myself as a heathen, yes it’s tongue and cheek, and being a former Marine who had fought in the gulf I take pride in my Pork eating heathen ways, there fore I am an infidel and see no problem wearing this moniker. Now the fat slob at the range who has never served a day in his life let alone in the sand irritate the shit out of me. I see your point and respect it, I just don’t feel your point fits me, or maybe I’m missing something.

  54. Pingback: The “Infidel” knife – dipped in pig’s blood during the forging process | Carrying the Gun

  55. Pingback: Infidel in Arabic | Carrying the Gun

  56. J.R.

    Don is shaved and maybe smells good too…BANG! He exploded. I’ve been eating the other white meat since I was capable of chewing it and I was called INFIDEL in Iraq. I like the term, and we were slaves to them for 500 years. Our language contains over 2,500 words from Arabic, they were forced not adopted. I will die an INFIDEL.

  57. Pingback: Infidel | Carrying the Gun

  58. Pingback: Infidel Patch | Carrying the Gun

  59. Pingback: Budweiser Hangover | Carrying the Gun

  60. I am neither Muslim or Christian and personally don’t give a shit but may be those that are should know this, Infidel means Christian. Period, that is what the Koran says, that an Infidel is one who believes in the Christ and thinks he is god. So if you have a problem with the word infidel you have a problem with the word Christian.

    • Carl

      Cut & paste from the relevant section of Hans Wehr. (Ignore the poor OCR conversions):

      kafara % (ifeo/r) to cover, hide (a;
      — (fcu/r, jl^iT kufr&n, jjjf JcufUr) to
      be irreligious, be an infidel, not to be-
      lieve (*»b in God); Jib jjf also: to
      blaspheme God, curse, swear ; to re-
      nege one’s faith, become an infidel; to
      be ungrateful ( j» for by or with); to
      grant remission (* j* to s.o. of his sins) ;
      to forgive (^ or J * to s.o.), grant
      pardon (j^ or J * for to s.o.); to
      make (• s.o.) an infidel, seduce {♦ s.o.)
      to unbelief; to accuse of infidelity, oharge
      with unbelief (• s.o.) IT to make (• s.o.)
      an infidel; to call (• s.o.) an infidel,
      accuse (• s.o.) of infidelity

      So what Don said.

      • So one slur that mentions infidel as part of the slur invalidates the actual meaning of the word itself? Again in Koran 5:17, it says, “Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, son of Mary.”

        I am sorry but when a term is religious I will choose to use the religious books definition of the word. Again I do not personally care as I am neither Muslim nor Christian but I do think people using this word of saying others should not use this word should know what it means.

        So if you want to argue with what infidel means, argue with the Koran, not me.

        • Carl

          Q5:17 reads, “They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” (Pickthal) You’re not even quoting the Qur’an. Did you actually open on up? You’re quoting an article by Raymond Ibrahim (or an article quoting the article by Ibrahim), who was translating a speech by Ali Gomaa, who actually just read the Arabic expression, which is best translated as I just pasted it. You’re commenting from ignorance, so I have absolutely no interest in arguing with you (I need not argue with the Qur’an, because I know what it actually says). Go to Ali Gomaa himself and ask him. Ask Ibrahim if he’s translated precisely. Heck, ask your elementary English teacher if “Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, son of Mary” even means no one else can be an infidel.

          Here’s every instance of KFR (the root) in the Qur’an: Now, ask yourself why the term “infidel” doesn’t occur anywhere on the that page. Could it be because the correct translation is actually “disbeliever?” You know, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians?

        • Carl

          Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Ibrahim’s translation works. It’s by no means the best, but I’m willing to make the case using your own “quote” from “the Qur’an.” Could I say the following?

          “Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, son of Mary. Infidels are those who declare Brahman is the source of all being. Infidels are those who declare that suffering comes from desire.”

          Do those three sentences contradict one another? Look, just because Q5:17 offers one example of an “infidel,” it doesn’t mean it’s offered *all* examples of an “infidel.” This is basic English 101 that any red-blooded American knows (or should, if they really care about speaking our language). Perhaps an example that fits a bit better here in the good ole US of A? Seattle Seahawks are those who have won the Super Bowl. So now, did I just say that the Patriots are not those who have won the Super Bowl?

          This is why KFR is better-translated as “unbeliever” or “disbeliever.” It’s a far broader term than “Christian.” The Qur’an is saying Christians are unbelievers, sure. Then again, it says any non-Muslim is a disbeliever. The Qur’an has a phrase for Christians. KFR—”infidel” as so many insist on translating it—is far less discriminating. That a few think-headed jihadis think “kufar” just means “Christian” shows that they’re complete morons. If they were really interested in killing the kuffar, they’d be targeting Buddhists too.

    • JKD

      Why would somebody so hung up on religion and faith also be so hell-bent on adopting all this Oh So Edgy infidel gear and being a big rebel instead of just being a good and observant Christian? Guys that served I get but all comfy at home it seems like a whole lot of fronting if all you have to back up the shirts and patches with is “but I’m Christian”. Way to simplistically twist this into a situation where Don is against your religion, LOL …

  61. “Yes, there is an Arabic word كافر and it means a number of things to different people, with varying degrees of intensity. That is, just like there is no such thing as one Islam (just as there is no universal Christianity), there is no one way in which the idea behind the term ‘infidel’ is understood or used.”
    But I know what it means when I use it, and most people will also know what I mean. Those few who might be legitimately concerned through misunderstanding will just have to man up and accept that they don’t like everything they read. I don’t hate people (except two or three who have personally earned it, and I haven’t yet worked it through, but all things will come in time), but I do hate HATE hate some ideologies, and one of them is all wrapped up in calling me Infidel. And killing me.
    So I’ll just have to man up and accept that I don’t like everything I read.
    So It Goes.

  62. OTOH, because it is a policy statement and because it’s not the military’s policy, folks shouldn’t tie the two together in a public fashion. If it’s on your hat in a bar in Kansas, I might buy your beer. If you’ve tattooed it across your forehead, you’re a dumbass.

  63. JJ

    The meaning of words evolve over time, gay used to reform to being happy, not so anymore. If you look and understand how dictionaries determine word definition you will come to understand it picks the meaning based on popular use of the word at hand and then ranks them 1,2,3 if their are multiple meanings. I respect your opinion but when the same pieces of garbage who tried to kill me everyday for a year call me an infidel, I wear it with pride knowing they failed in their attempts.

      • it would appear sir that your excessive amount of butthurt has lead you to rant about things that just dont matter. i have the tshirt…i bought from an Iraqi….in iraq….go figure. I also have the sticker on my rear window. It just so happens i dont believe in religion but thats another topic. Youre saying we shouldnt celebrate what makes us hated publically by thouse asshat hoji bombers but what about the people burning flags in the street? What do we do about fhe mosque beside the fallen towers? Nothing. Its America and att he end of thed ay pur freedom of expression lets us do as we damn well please regardless of who does or doesn’t support it. Write about something that matters.

  64. Pingback: america’s new kaffirs: insecure white folks | THE STATE

  65. jorge hernandez

    i never served but will not disclose reasons. anyway, i wear an infidel t-shirt to say FUNK terrorist. had it not been for them dummarses, i probably would’ve never heard the term!!

  66. Pingback: Babies, guns, and infidels | Carrying the Gun

  67. Infidel1

    I fought for 20 years and am DiasbledVeteran now, I have lost 17 close personnal friends defending the right to have the opinion you have posted! I have also fought for and am Disabled for the right to express mine. Mine is simple… If you dont like it, dont PHUCn look at it! It is as simple as that! DO NOT DISRESPECT THOSE OF US THAT HAVE SHED BLOOD AND TEARS!!!!!!!

    • Carl

      You say that as if you think those of us pointing out your idiocy didn’t also shed blood and tears. Don’t forget, we fought and died so you hide behind a fake name on the internet and generally give combat vets a bad name. We fought for your right to express your opinions like a 12 year-old who just discovered the Internet and you fought for our right to discuss important topics like grown men.

      Looks like we got the short end of the deal.

      • Infidel1

        feel free to come and back up anything your are feeling! I am sure the short end of the stick that you are reffering to will be strategicially placed so you can keep one of your opinions closed. Im located in san diego, more specifically on Coronado Island. Just go to the gate and ask to speak to Infidel and I am sure you be welcomed by more than one. Maybe your opinions and thoughts can be expressed to the many. Also. if you died how are you responding. Quote “we fought and died so you hide behind a fake name on the internet and generally give combat vets a bad name. We fought for your right to express your opinions like a 12 year-old who just discovered the Internet and you fought for our right to discuss important topics like grown men.”

        I’d take an Im sorry and thank you for your service!

        • Carl

          Oooo. Big man on base! “Come say that to my face.” Wow.
          Also, you’re not very smart, are you? All of us fought, some of us died. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

          PS You’ll get an “an Im sorry and thank you for your service!” when I get one.

    • Yes, I saw this. It’s interesting how powerful the whole infidel thing is. It’s a subject that gets people worked up. Some people “get it” while others are oblivious. So strange.

      • Carl

        Yeah. I have a good buddy in the Marines (Lt. Col.) who did a few tours in A-stan. He and I have had some thoughtful discussions on this, but I count his ability to discuss this rationally to be an exception, rather than the rule. I know how combat can color things, but it’s more than a bit troubling to see the level of vitriol above. It’s like people take leave of their senses when this topic comes up (that, or only trolls read this post). There are obviously two sides to this issue, but I have to wonder why there haven’t been any thoughtful defenses of the so-called “Infidel Gear” here (that I’ve seen). Sad, too, because I do think there’s a solid case to be made for appropriating the term.

        • That is actually a really good point. I would love to find someone to write a thoughtful defense of the gear to post. Mostly, I get comments that bash or slander.

          If anyone wants to take a stab at it, email me. My email is on the About page.

  68. Pingback: Three Years of Carrying the Gun | Carrying the Gun

  69. Mi5ael

    A Moslem woman wearing a headscarf is also antagonistic. It sends an unmistakable signal that she dissociates herself from the society she lives in and its values. Can we expect an article denouncing that practice, too?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

    • JKD

      Yup, glorified novelty t-shirts and people’s lifelong religious headgear / cultural practices = totally the same thing, man.

  70. Teddy S.

    Oh, it’s antagonistic? Oh golly gee – I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I guess I’ll keep my expressions that may or may not be offensive in my back pocket.


    PS: please send Bergdahl my regards.

  71. Pingback: Inifidel t-shirt | Carrying the Gun

  72. Matt

    Its just owning a term that was meant to be offensive towards american military in afghanistan. It means to reject the blessings of god, or to be godless. People who wear this don’t do it because they are atheist or ungrateful for the blessings in their life. Its meant as a badge for those who served in afghan and fought against the radical islamists using the term to insult american military. It isn’t really that complicated of an issue. Words are only as powerful as the listener allows them to be.
    USMC 09-14 OEF11.2-12.2 Rah

  73. Pingback: Return of the Infidel | Carrying the Gun

  74. Pingback: Having Your Cake and Eating it Too: Oscar the Grouch and Veteran Branding | Carrying the Gun

  75. Don is a dumbass

    Fuck you, Don. You are a dumbass. Some Americans choose to own that name because its a slap in the face to the piece of shit terrorists who wish us harm. Up till now I haven’t taken part in the fad but after reading your dumber-than-shit article Ill be buying a tshirt just to slap you in the face.

  76. I would have to agree, what kind of Dumbass, would even remotely subvert an American iconic statement like this one. Just today I see on CNN where in Oklahoma a woman beheaded by some muslim Piece of SHIT and is still alive!!!!?? Proud to be an “American Infidel”, here pal. Hey its America and you have the right to say what you want. But expect a few to kick you in the teeth when you post shit like this

  77. Gene

    Wow, I was at the Gadsden and Culpeper web site looking for an American flag patch and I saw a patch which had Infidel written on it. I know what the word means but I didn’t know in what context it was being used. So I googled the words “Infidel Patch” and came across this Blog. I’m glad I found this Blog because it was cool reading all of the different opinions on the subject. This is what’s great about this country. We can have passionate, even heated debate, but in the end we are all still Americans. If you want to wear the patch or t-shirt, wear it! If he bothers you to see people wearing the patch or t-shirt, ignore those people. This subject has no “right” or “wrong” perspective. It doesn’t matter in your in the military or not. It’s about Freedom of Choice.

    Long live the Republic!

    • Thanks for the comment. And I agree that one of the great things about America is our freedom of speech. If you read through some of my other posts on ‘infidel’ though, you’ll see that for military personnel wearing or branding themselves as ‘infidels’ isn’t simply a matter of freedom of speech (something that is restricted in the military, anyway).

  78. Sean

    Look, to the extremist Muslims… really ISN’T about being atheist. The Christians, (women and children at THAT) they beheaded & slaughtered, most certainly WERE NOT atheist. These animals are all about you living their extremist ways or die violently. F that! We gotta stop being so p.c. and touchy feely, these guys would behead your wife and child while you watched.
    Infedel until I’m 6 feet under.

  79. sas

    British sea air service. Got interested in this discussion as I have a heretic tattoo. Simply because one of my ancestors was killed by the inquisition.

    So I get the term being a way to control a negative word.

    but really I’m not sure it does any good when ur trying to build trust with a village elder. Don’t think they would be offended. Just would not take you seriously.

  80. sas

    Not being pc about this

    But would u take a black man with nigga and swastika tattoo seriously?

    Personally I’d be terrified that he would automatically assume I’m racist if I talked to him being white.

    So probably any muslim seeing someone with infidel tat will assume that they view all muslims as jihadis

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s