Almost as soon as President-elect Donald Trump announced that he was nominating retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) removed an image from its Facebook
page that portrayed Mattis as a saint. Revered by fellow Marines, the meme is one of many tributes to Mattis. On the Facebook page was an image of the general in the style of a Christian icon of a saint. It was entitled, “Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos.” He is shown hold a hand grenade in one hand and a knife in the other.
Beneath the image of the general, there is a prayer that reads,
“Hail Mattis, full of hate, Our troops stand with thee. Blessed art thou among the enlisted. And blessed is the fruit of thy knife hand. Holy Mattis, father of War, pray for us heathen / Now and in the hour of our combat / Amen.”
MARSOC removed the meme today after receiving a complaint, said MARSOC spokesman Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler. The major said that the intention of the image was to underscore the Marines’ support of Mattis, but not to make a religious statement. Catholics he consulted before posting the meme did not find it offensive.
However, Mannweiler took down the offending image after receiving a single negative comment. "MARSOC is committed to professionalism and supporting our great country," he said. "No offense was intended."
Mattis is famous for his blunt manner of speaking and for his fierce devotion to Marines who serve under him. While most comments about the meme were positive, a person commented that it “was not the right thing to do.” “I don't know but making fun of Jesus Christ on an official page by the government is not the right thing to do,” the person commented, adding “And I'm saying it as my opinion as a Catholic supporting MARSOC and the Marines and the entire military except this type of behavior.”
Others pointed out that the meme was not mocking Jesus Christ. One wrote, ‘’Calm down liberal it'd be a shame if the flying knife hands find your safe space.”
This is not the first time MARSOC has gotten into trouble over its use of social media. In 2014, MARSOC posted a message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day showing an armed Marine with the words: “Don’t be lone shooter #MLK weekend! make sure you’ve got security - stay safe!” MARSOC command then released a statement, saying on Facebook: “When we were alerted to the potential that this military post could be viewed as insensitive or offensive when combined with the historical facts concerning Martin Luther King Jr., we immediately took it down and apologize for any unintended disrespect or misperceptions.”