American troops are in the market for patches that mock Muslim faith
The patch isn’t Army-issued. It’s not regulation. But lots of troops in the war zone have sewn it on their camos.
A handful of U.S. companies are doing a brisk business selling patches and plastic bracelets that mock the Muslim faith. The “infidel” patch is a big seller, as is “pork-eating crusader,” also in English and Arabic.
Their customers are service members who might or might not be Christian, but who are all tired of back-to-back deployments and the anti-American sentiment they encounter almost every time they go into a village.
And many have become more discouraged — bitter even — in the past month, watching Afghans riot outside the gates of their bases because of the unintentional burning of copies of the Koran and Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s call for an early U.S. withdrawal because of a soldier’s alleged massacre of 16 villagers.
Montgomery explains the patches should be taken as jokes, designed to lift the spirits of troops.
“It’s embracing a s****y situation,” Montgomery said. “If they’re already calling me ‘infidel’ and saying ‘death to America’ every day, it’s kind of a go-with-the-flow joke.”
Academic Jack Shaheen, a Lebanese-American who is an expert on Muslim stereotypes, wholeheartedly disagrees.
“It’s an American joke and it’s not going to be perceived that way,” said Shaheen, who has written several books. “ ‘Crusader,’ ‘infidel’ — that’s about as racist as you can get.”
Montgomery acknowledges joking has limits.
“Wearing it specifically to be offensive, that’s not what we’re going for,” he said. “That’s not why we exist.”
Still, Montgomery said, the patches remain popular with his customers, many of whom are active-duty soldiers.
“ ‘Pork-eating crusader’ and ‘infidel’ have been long-term, strong sellers,” he said, adding he has moved about 10,000 of each patch in the four years since his site went live.
Despite the new tensions in Afghanistan, Montgomery has no plans to stop peddling the Muslim-themed patches.
“In public,” he said, “any religion should be fair game.”