Racism and Resentment: Life in the Army

or starters, he’s against the war.

Deploying U.S. troops to Iraq has more to do with oil, money and power than it does with freedom, terrorism and democracy, Army Sgt. Dana Taylor said.

"If it was about protecting the U.S. I would be highly motivated. But that is not the case," said Taylor, a 34-year-old father of three from Hammond.

So it's not the worst deployment to serve in Qatar, a mostly flat and barren peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. The country -- slightly larger than the eight counties of Northwest Indiana -- is strategically located near major petroleum deposits.

There, at Camp AsSayliyah, Taylor serves with the 938th Military Police Detachment, deployed from Michigan City in November. The camp is swarming with officers, many using the facilities for three-drink maximum, rest-and-relaxation weekends.

"My job is to maintain law and order," Taylor said.

racism and resentment

But Taylor said he has experienced another form of R-and-R in the Army -- racism and resentment.

"The Army has more racism than I have ever seen," said Taylor, a biracial soldier who, admittedly, looks more white than black.

Because of this, other white soldiers don't censor or edit their discriminatory thoughts or words against minorities, he said.

"They don't realize the things they say, or who they say them around," he said.

Partly because of this Taylor has become a loner at camp, especially since most of his unit's 45 members were deployed to nearby Saudi Arabia. The remaining MPs from his unit work 12-hour days, four days on and one day off in Qatar, he said.

"I don't have anyone to talk to or anything to do," he said.

This gives him more time than other soldiers to remember what he's missing back at home -- his wife, Amy, his three daughters, his mother, uncle and two cousins, and also his civilian job with the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

"I miss everything," he said.

He especially misses life's subtle pleasures, like holding his wife's hand at church during prayer, or having his daughters jump onto his bed on his days off.

"You don't realize how much you have until you don't have it," he said.

Making things worse, Taylor said he's being forced to stay in the Army against his will through an extended deployment, into 2006. He calls it a backdoor draft.

"I don't understand how most regular Army tours of duty are six to nine months, or a year at the most. And the (Army) Guard and Reserves have to do 18 months," he said.

On the upside, he will be returning home for a short leave this summer.

Still, considering his sentiments against the war, the racism he said he's encountered, and the fact he may be serving Uncle Sam for another year or so, Taylor has seen better days, he said.

"I'm miserable."

BY JERRY DAVICH 219.933.3376

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