Humor in Iraq

Michael J. Totten: Black Iraq Humor

Video shows a Marine (with a shotgun) talking to a taxi driver at a checkpoint, asking him to drive into town and tell the insurgents to stop being cowards and “come out and shoot at us.” Preferably within an hour, because then the Marines will be moving on.

Totten writes

My sense of humor darkened considerably when I lived in Lebanon. Beirutis, especially, have learned to laugh at things that would make the average American suburbanite’s blood curdle. It’s a coping mechanism, and I acquired a bit of it myself.

and notes that the same sort of thing happens in Iraq.

A lot of civilians are appalled by the types of gallows humor and grim flippancy expressed by troops in the war zone, and anti-war and anti-military types latch onto such displays as proof of the inhuman mentality of our military personnel.

But it’s not all that different than the jokes and sarcastic comments made in any regular workplace in the civilian world to help deal with the day to day grind. It’s just kicked up a couple of notches in Iraq because the environment in Iraq is kicked up a couple of notches. If this sort of thing wasn’t going on, it would be a sign of trouble.

But those who don’t make the slightest effort to understand the military or the war have trouble understanding the humor of those in the military during a war. Like the Hadji Girl song. It was originally reported to be a song about a Marine celebrating the murder of an innocent Iraqi family, but anyone who took the trouble to listen to it would have quickly realized that that wasn’t quite the case. Now, these sorts of things can easily be used by our enemies (foreign and domestic) and I wouldn’t mind seeing the troops keep things a little more under the radar, but I certainly am not going to lose any sleep over it.

Also, recall Marines can find irony in anything from December, 2004.

And, once again, my favorite, from Tarawa in WW2:

Has anyone else noticed these are all Marines?


  1. …it’s not all that different than the jokes and sarcastic comments made in any regular workplace in the civilian world’ Shah, spoken to anyone who works in a hospital lately? Catch a doctor or nurse in an unguarded moment to tell you some of the gruesome sh*t they laugh about in a day.

  2. I’ve never laughed harder or more often than my active duty times in the Marines. Drill Instructors are the funniest people on Earth once you get it – they made us they way we are – that’s why we love them. Full Metal Jacket is hilarious. There was the time in Boot Camp a recruit fell off an obstacle called the ‘Dirty Name,’ broke his leg, and started cursing at it – and the whole platoon laughed at him. And the time before bed when everyone in the platoon was order to remove his underwear – pass it to his left – and put on the new pair. Everyone obeyed without comment. Laughing half delirious at people passing out on 30 mile long marches in the heat at Lejune. Laughing at Iraqi soldiers running around with their underwear on a stick in the desert. Laughing at the Iraqi who happened to be in a hole in front of Task Force Ripper’s breech and was run over by half the Corps. Our 2 week AT in Pendleton where a Sgt had a bimbo living in the laundry room of our Quonset hut. Damn, I need to do some PT and re-enlist.