CAMP PENDLETON, CA – The Marine Corps' Scout Sniper community has once again found itself embroiled in controversy this week, following the recent unveiling of a new unit logo which critics describe as a burning cross with the letters "KKK."
The new Scout Sniper unit logo was intended to replace the controversial previous one, a jagged "SS" that some complained resembled the emblem of the Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary organization responsible for countless war crimes during World War II.
According to the designer, Staff Sgt. Nick Harrison, the logo was not intended to cause offense.
"It's just a crosshair from a rifle's optic," explained Harrison. "Come on, we're snipers! We're so accurate that the crosshair is bursting into flames. And the letters 'KKK' stand for 'Kill! Kill! Kill!' which is in keeping with our warrior ethos."
He added, "If you ask me, there are just some full-time offended people out there who see what they want to see. They're going to be upset with anything we do."
The new logo was originally unveiled at an April 4 picnic, which the Scout Snipers denied had anything to do with the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination, saying it was just "random chance."
"Any date is likely to be the anniversary of something horrible if you look hard enough," said Harrison.
According to Col. Harold Tyson, an official from the Marine Corps' Department of Heraldry, the burning cross was actually among the least offensive designs submitted by Scout Snipers as potential replacements.
Inviting reporters into his office at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Northern Virginia, Tyson produced a stack of cardboard boxes simply marked "Rejected Scout Sniper Logos" in black marker.
As Tyson reviewed some of the many rejected logos, he also produced the accompanying responses from Scout Snipers explaining what the logos symbolized.
An image of Lee Harvey Oswald and the JFK assassination came with the caption: "There are many famous Scout Snipers in American history, and we are always standing vigilant to guard our nation's back."
A giant Iron Cross superimposed over the Confederate flag, with the ends colored in to form a swastika was labelled: "A salute to our German and Southern heritage."
"Okay, this one can't possibly be taken as offensive," began a note enclosed with what appeared to be a picture of a Scout Sniper raping a nun.
The note went on to say, "He's hugging a woman in a veil to show how we defend the people, just like those guys in The Boondock Saints. That's also why we added the Latin motto." The motto in question is the prominently-displayed "DEUS VULT," a slogan popularized by Europeans on The Crusades.
The last image Col. Tyson showed reporters was an MRE box received from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where someone had simply scrawled in crayon: "Stop the Jews."
"We're not quite sure what to make of that one," he said.
Phone calls to the Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs went unanswered. However, an automated voicemail contained the instructions: "to report a new outrage caused by the Scout Snipers, press three.............para reportar un nuevo escándalo causado por los Scout Snipers, pulse tres".
Duffel Blog investigative writer Dark Laughter also contributed to this report.