not just a jacket.

Here’s one thing that bothers me every time I walk into my local Borders:


Now, I am not the world’s greatest Glenn Beck fan, to put it mildly, but it’s not his face or the title of his book that chaps my hide in this case—it’s the thing he’s wearing.

For those not familiar with foreign NATO uniforms: that’s a German Bundeswehr dress uniform jacket (the kind that would be called a Class A in the U.S. Army.)  More specifically, it’s a Heer (army) dress uniform jacket, complete with rank shoulder boards and collar devices.  The rank on this jacket is that of an Unteroffizier, NATO rank E-5.  It’s really familiar to me because that was my rank when I was last wearing a jacket like that. 

The collar tab background and shoulder board piping are canary yellow, which would make him an Unteroffizier in the Fernmeldetruppe (signal corps).  At least they’re not piped in gold/yellow (recon), or silver/grey (army aviation), which were the two color schemes I wore at various stages in my career.  Still, the man is wearing a jacket adorned with a rank he does not hold, in a manner that is disrespectful of the uniform, and that bothers me a little. 

Is it illegal for him to wear it? No. But he’s wearing the uniform that took a lot of sweat and effort to earn legitimately, and he’s adorning it with inappropriate fashion items that simply don’t belong with that field-grey smock.

(For the record: it wouldn’t bother me to run into a reenactor wearing that uniform, as long as it was properly dressed out and adorned, even if the wearer didn’t earn the rank.  As a piece of goober fashion, however, it bothers me more than just a little.)

What say you current and former service members, and general audience?  Am I being a little too pedantic and easily offended here?  Would it bother you if Glenn Beck wore the Class A or equivalent of your current or former service on his book cover in the manner depicted, or is it just a piece of clothing at that point?


99 thoughts on “not just a jacket.

  1. MarkHB says:

    I’d be irked if anyone wore uniform or rank devices they didn’t earn or own. The oak leaves you gave me way-back-when are in a jewelry box someplace since I realised it was improper to wear rank device one hadn’t paid in the proper currency for, for that matter.

  2. Beck probably meant to provoke an emotional response, you’re likely getting for a different reason than most.

  3. Laughingdog says:

    I don’t think it would bother me to see that, unless they were wearing it in an attempt to convince people they had served when they had not. It would probably also do it if I felt like they were wearing it in a manner that suggested that they were trying to mock the uniform I had worn. But that probably wouldn’t be because it was one I had earned as much as it would be an insult to my country and everyone that has sacrificed so much while wearing that uniform.

  4. JAFO says:

    Honestly, you’re being pedantic.

    He’s not wearing the uniform claiming to have earned it.

    I did 6 years in the US Army. Infantry, to be specific. Wouldn’t bother me a bit to see him wearing that uniform.

    Do you get offended when people wear military uniforms in movies, too? I don’t see any reason this is different.

    What’s the problem with Beck? I don’t follow anyone blindly, and am curious of your reasoning for apparently disliking him. He makes many good points about the current regime’s direction.

  5. Heath J says:

    It’s a joke, dude. .

    Beck isn’t playing at being a real German army man.

    Your writeup on the uniform itself is pretty cool though. .

  6. 3boxesofbs says:

    I agree with you. I would be upset to see him or any one wearing the uniform that I wore — for the reason he is wearing it.

    It isn’t to honor the uniform, it’s to sell books.

    It isn’t to honor the people who wore the uniform, it’s to make a buck.

    Sorry but that is something that I want to condone.

    I had thought of buying his book or at least getting it from the library. Now I’ll do neither.

  7. pdb says:

    I can’t even figure out Beck’s angle on this. If you’re trying to sell a book about limited government, why don an authoritarian symbol? If he’s trying for satire, then why not something more recognizable like a WWII German or Soviet uniform (and thus daring the left to make something of it)?

    I find this ambiguous use of military symbols pretty distasteful. I don’t even like wearing BDU pants, pro-military shirts or bomber jackets lest someone think that I served.

    • aczarnowski says:

      BDU pants? They’re too cheap and practical not to wear and nobody notices anyway; every fashion shop in the mall sells cargos. Flight jackets are a bit “weird militant” but, like aviator sunglasses, some people can pull them off.

      I draw the line an insignias and other markings. If I don’t know what a patch/pin/etc. means I certainly have no business wearing it.

  8. I don’t like him wearing it for the reason he’s wearing it. It seems to me to be trying to evoke a fascist image by wearing a German uniform and the stereotypical visage of an smug Aryan. And I’m not sure why Hollywood has perpetuated that since in the six years I lived in Germany I never met any like that.

    And if that had been my uniform I too would feel offended.

  9. Tam says:

    I’m trying to figure out how that melange of title, subtitle, and cover photo got signed off on by everyone involved.

    It’s a confusing hash of mixed metaphorical something-or-others.

  10. Tam says:

    (Then again, this remains my favorite Ann Coulter review, so maybe I just don’t get Glenn…)

  11. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    I wouldn’t bother arguing with Glenn either, never argue with an idiot, they pull you down to their level and beat you with experience.

  12. Kevin S says:

    Well, I understand where you’re coming from, and if he were out to imply that he’d earned it then I could understand. It doesn’t really bother me in this case, any more than it bothers me to see actors in war movies who most likely haven’t earned that right either, but then again, I’ve never served.

  13. Dr. Feelgood says:

    Yeah, it bothers me. Beck has no military bearing and it shows. When I wore the USAF uniform I was acutely aware of the people I represented, and I comported myself accordingly. Actors who don the uniform usually pretend to do the same.

    Beck has put it on for some kind of political effect. The goofy look on his face demonstrates that his use of the uniform is farcical, and he’s therefore unworthy to wear it. It’s as if he’s saying, “I have a point to make, but even I’m not sure what it is.”

    To my mind, the improper use of the uniform is the antagonizing factor here. I have no problem with non-service members wearing it so long as they do so with proper authorization and in a manner befitting.

  14. Gerry N. says:

    First off, it’s the uniform of a foreign army and as such, to me is only a costume. I’d feel differently if it were a US. service uniform. Secondly, I see no intended disrespect. Third, I can’t figure for the life of me what in hades the message is he’s trying to send. No, it doesn’t offend me. It does, however, confuse me. Perhaps he explains it in the book. As soon as my copy arrives, I’ll read it and know. On another note, I love how Beck makes progressives’ heads explode. That alone gets him some major slack around my house.

    Gerry N.

  15. williamthecoroner says:

    It’s tacky. One should not wear the uniform (particularly the honours) that one did not earn. Or to make a political or satirical point. Though it’s tacky, it’s also protected speech. I agree, I find it distasteful.

    Yes, being a reinactor (or an actor) is different. I played an Obersturmbanfurer (and I think I left out an umlaut, there) and wore that uniform for that play. The difference is, that wasn’t to shock, or make a point; I was playing a role. Those who cannot distinguish between war movies and this political commentary, as some commenters have, are being deliberately obtuse.

    (Deliberately obtuse on the Internet? Oh, NOES!)

    • Kristopher says:

      So … you objected to Chaplin wearing a bogus gestapo uniform while satirizing Hitler?

      I will support the right to satire. Period.

      As long as he isn’t claiming to be a former German army officer, I have no problem with the theatrical use of uniforms.

      Theatrical includes both book covers and re-enacting, IMO.

      • Rick R. says:

        No problem with the use of uniforms.

        The use of the uniforms of the Good Guys (complete with insignia) to depict the Bad Guys, becuase you don’t know the difference is out of place.

      • Rick R. says:

        I forgot to add — It’s out of place because it is a insult to the Good Guys who WORE that uniform.

  16. tjbbpgob says:

    Dr. Feelgood, since when is an USAF uniform mean someone is really in the military?(joking) The other thing I get peeved about is all the hippie types who wear parts of the uniform they distain. I assume this happens in Germany too. The worst thing I have seen lately are these Medal of Honor playstation games for sell allover the place. As if playing a game would give the same feeling as being there. I also think those games are an insult to those who were there.

  17. Ian Argent says:

    I’m with Tam – the message is more than a little mixed. (For one thing, the (West) German uniform and the Cyrillic reversed R just cause me to twitch slightly in cognitive dissonance; and would even if it was a DDR uniform).

    (And now I wonder how many young people would think I’m referring to the video game?)

  18. perlhaqr says:

    Offensive, no. Confusing, yes. But I was never in the military, anywhere.

    If it had been a U.S. military uniform, it would be more offensive, simply because he’s a U.S. citizen, and the implied statement would be that members are idiots.

    But since he’s not German, I’m not sure what the hell he’s trying to say. Especially with the faux-cyrillic ya.

    I seem to recall that (and this has all the integrity of an J. Random Internet Rumor) Germany banned their military guys from wearing their uniforms when not actively on duty, because it might offend the lefties. Now, if that’s true, I suppose this might be some sort of very obscure hint at that, but holy crap, that’s fucking obscure.

    • BryanP says:

      I’m not sure what the hell he’s trying to say.

      That’s a common problem, based on the few times I’ve tried to watch him. The attitude has to be an act, nobody could be that moronic in real life, right?

  19. dave says:

    Pointing out he didn’t “earn” the uniform seems pedantic to me, since he obviously can’t earn it given his nationality (unless I am mistaken).

    Like others pointed out, the idea he’s trying to convey with the uniform mixes weirdly with the faux-Cyrillic at the bottom. I suppose that Germany and Russia are probably the first 2 countries one would think of when the subject of (readily-recognizable) fascism comes up, but it seems like it confounds the point more than it illustrates it. Tacky as though it would be, I think using a swastika in place of one of the “T” would have made the ideas a bit more…erhm, uniform…as it were.

  20. theflatwhite says:

    Given the satyrical context, yea I think you are being a tad pedantic.

    What about Beck irks so much?
    Is it his anti-beaurocracy, pro-Constitution message or just the way he delivers it?

    • Tam says:


      Given the satyrical context,

      I think Beck’s message is more appealing to those who confuse parody with fucking like a goat.

      • Dr. Feelgood says:

        I’d add that the context of the photo is only satirical if he intends to satirize the German military. I’m not even sure I’d call this parody. It’s really just posing.

        …unless theflatwhite meant to imply that Beck is a goat from the waist down, in which case I agree that the context makes focusing on the uniform a bit pedantic.

        Having never seen, heard, or read anything from Beck I’m lacking any supposed context. In this case, that objectivity is a credit to my judgment of his book cover. I see a snide and confused little boy playing dress up. Regardless of who’s idea it was, Beck chose to wear it, photograph it, and stick it on a book cover with his name in 60 point font. The buck stops there. Either way, he’s a tool.

      • theflatwhite says:

        Wow, Tam. That really added to the discussion.

        • Tam says:

          It’s okay; I’d be bitter if I’d left myself open for a bitch-slap like that, too.

        • theflatwhite says:

          Oh, that’s what you call irrelevant, crass fight-picking? I’ve seen four year olds fight over a toy in more mature fashion.

          Seriously, what gives? Was I even talking to you? Did I curse you out in a prvevious post? Did I run over your kitten?

    • theflatwhite says:

      Marko, I’m not challenging your recollections of German military dress, but there’s nothing particularly unique about that jacket and collar.

      The expression and pose suspiciously model this:

      And, although you can’t see them fully the red badges on his jacket lapel recall WWII fascist Italy although the double lightning bolts are missing (double bolts not unique to Germany).

      It’s unfortunate that the shape of the rank insignia is that of the German military, but if you examine a high-res version of the book cover, it looks more like that of an Oberstleutnant except the center embroidery is missing.

      The hat bears a striking resemblance to a WWII era SS officers’ hat minus the death’s head (red trim, grey braid), but you get the point.

      The uniform is a bit of a hodge podge and probably done so on purpose. The whole point of the cover and book is to evoke the image of some generic fascist government, associating it with so called “progressives.”

      Just sayin’ … really nothing to strain at.

      • Marko Kloos says:


        I know what the jacket looks like. I also know the rank shoulder boards in question, and the collar tabs. They’re unaltered Bundeswehr uniform effects as described in the original post above.

        The hodge podge is what makes it offensive. It’s disrespectful of the uniform. I wouldn’t have a beef if he had stripped off the collar tabs and rank devices before pinning on all the stuff that doesn’t belong. It wouldn’t even be all that offensive if he had chosen an unaltered uniform without the communist ribbon add-ons and the non-matching hat.

        But leaving the branch tabs and rank shoulder boards in place, and then dcrewing up the uniform with stuff that doesn’t belong really bugs me.

  21. ATLien says:

    One: I would bet money he had little input on the design of the cover. They probably told him the idea and a mock-up.

    Two: he was more than like dressed by someone from an art department who was told to put him in a uniform that made him look vaguely like he was in the cold war. And that person probably has no idea that the uniform is German at all.

  22. Caleb says:

    The problem with Beck is that he’s gone absolutely off the goddamn deep end, yo. Anytime anyone says “FEMA concentration camps” with a straight face, that’s pretty much the end of their street cred.

  23. Ian Argent says:

    A swastika would have uncomplicated the message at the cost of complicating marketing… (And, well, complicating the message on a much higher plane).

    I’m going to go with half witty art directory

  24. LittleRed1 says:

    First, Beck would look odd in any military uniform, IMHO, and if he’s trying to make a point, I lost the thread of his argument somewhere.

    Second, I agree with the “half witty art director” hypothesis. I’ve heard enough stories about academic press publishers doing funky things with book dust jackets and titles that I can easily see someone at a popular press saying, “hey, didn’t you say that you had an old army jacket with ribbons and stuff on it laying around your accessory collection? How about . . .”

  25. LittleRed1 says:

    And I can see why you’d get upset, Marko. I didn’t wear a leather jacket until after I got my pilot’s license. I didn’t want to look like a poseur. My brother and I never touched Dad’s Navy things either, even though he was not on active duty by the time we were old enough to know what they were.

  26. keith says:

    I served and am not terribly uptight about wearing articles of military clothing or insignia. I won’t wear anything with an “elite” insignia on it, including a jarhead globe’n anchor. But other than that restriction, it’s all good. Heck, if someone wants my dress blues from the USN (and I can even find em), I’ll send them. I sure as hell ain’t fitting into them again any time soon.

  27. Eric says:

    I’m with ATLien – they probably took Beck down to wardrobe and that was the only military dress jacket that fit him.

  28. aczarnowski says:

    I haven’t served but I think I know where you’re coming from Marko. I have an engineering degree, mechanical, that took a lot of effort to achieve. Custodial engineers, sanitation engineers and every other foo that gets engineer appended to their title because it sounds important bugs me.

    (Though I’ll admit there *are* individuals out there who earned their engineer status though beating the real world into submission.)

    If Beck’s cover bugs you, I’m not going to tell you that’s unreasonable.

  29. Chuck Hayes says:

    Marko, as a retired petty officer of the United States Navy, I can say with whole-hearted conviction, that you are right on the mark. In answer to your question, hell yes it would bother me and has bothered me in the past so much that I gave the offending party my unsolicited opinion of their heritage. In my honest opinion, if you didn’t earn it, don’t wear it. The only exception to that rule, and yes it’s only my rule, is an actor or re-enactor as long as the uniform is correct and worn with the proper respect.
    This is for any country’s uniform, for usually, if you are wearing the uniform you are willing to lay down your life for that country.
    The “blood stripe” on the US Marines’ dress uniform pants has traditionally been thought to represent all the blood spilt in battles for this country. How many thousands of lives have been laid down on the earth by people in the various uniforms of thier country? To wear one in a lacksadaisacal, narcissistic manner is disrespectful to anyone who has ever worn a military uniform. Just my humble opinion.

  30. retiredmaj says:

    Marko, if I had a dime for every time some idjit in a movie wore the AF Security Forces beret like a damn pizza hat, I’d be a rich man. One more reason to love Stargate SG-1…at least they DRESSED properly. Or portrayed a 20 year-old Master Sergeant (E-7), or displayed a set ribbons they might *actually* earn….

  31. JimmyT says:

    I go with he missed the mark here, he should have been in the uniform of the former USSR, or maybe with the Imperial Russian Army back when they did have Czars, to go with him being portrayed as a “Book Czar”. So, the mixed messages I think hurt, plus what does being a Czar hve to do with Idiots anyway?

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  32. Rick R. says:

    Wrong uniform for what he was apparantly trying to do. Aw-shit on makeup and costuming for that. Aw-Shit on Beck for not ensuring (or having his minions ensure) that the costume (and that’s what they were using it for) for teh photoshoot wasn’t inappropriate.

    Had it been a uniform from a totalitarian governemnt, fine. Use a Red Army or Third Reich uniform, fine. We get the idea.

    Had they taken a military jacket with all insignia stripped off, and pinned a bunch of typical totalitarian-looking crap on it, fine (tacky, but fine).

    To take a NATO uniform, geek it up with weird stuff, and then wear it to apparantly represent a totalitarian dictator — dumb, insulting, and counterproductive.

    Especially since you can tell the artsy types in costume & makeup figured it looked like a Nazi uniform, and they couldn’t tell you the difference between Nazi Germany, the DDR, the BDR, and the Pennsylvania Dutch.

    • Rick R. says:

      “BRD”, damnit.

    • MarkHB says:

      Or the costume director figured Beck for a hollow posuer with delusions of relevancy and decided to make him look like an utter twat for anyone who can recognise a current-use uniform. I wouldn’t rule that out, either.

  33. Tony says:

    Never heard of the guy before. The cover didn’t really do anything to me as I didn’t recognize the clothes as actual military items with decorations, from the photo. But yeah, now that I’ve heard it is an actual part of a specific uniform with specific decorations, it bugs me too. So no, I’d say that is not an overreaction.

    (…Said he, wearing a German military surplus shirt over a US Army surplus t-shirt. 🙂 But hey, I took the German flags off the shirt before I started wearing it. I do wear a lot of “military style” or actual surplus clothing – I get the stuff cheap, it’s durable and usually has a sufficient amount of pockets. Without insignia, they’re just clothes. (It still bugs me when I see berets worn like bloody chef’s hats, though… 😛 ) But when you add the insignia, they become something more. Wearing the insignia as some kind of fashion statement is just plain disrespecting.)

    (And in case anyone is keeping count, former Finnish Army conscript here, now in the reserve.)

    • Rick R. says:


      I’m not an expert in the decorations of the Federal Republic of Germany (or their service uniforms in general — before Marko spoke up, I thought this was a DDR uniform), but the medal he has pinned on has a ribbon suspension method that I’ve always associated with “Russian” and “ComBloc”.

      So they took an actual uniform of a allied, free nation, and tried to dork it up into a tinpot dictator uniform — in fact, the pose, hat position, etc., are plainly supposed to look “Nazi”.

      Bad idea.

      Had they stripped off all recognizeable insignia, and then tossed a bunch of tack crap on it to make it look like a typical dictator uniform, fine.

      Had they taken MY old service uniform (US Army), stripped it of all insignia, and then dorked it up from scratch with a bunch of typical tacky totaltarian crap, fine.

      But, AS EXECUTED, this wasn’t much different from having him in a BRD uniform issuing the Nazi salute.

      The unconscious implication, to anyone who recognizes the uniform, is that it is still a BRD uniform, and that he is implying that free Germany is a totalitarian state.

      Given that he almost certainly DID NOT intend that message, the use of the uniform is a huge FAIL, and an insulting one at that.

  34. PlanetCaveman says:

    Sweet Fucking Christ! What the hell is wrong with you people?

    It’s a prop! He’s using the uniform to convey an idea, it wouldn’t make sense to use a uniform of a defunct regime because his message isn’t about Nazi Germany or the USSR, it’s about current regimes turning into bad immitations of the former tyrannical ones. A modern uniform conveying aspects of Nazi/Soviet feel is completely appropriate.

    The cover portrays Beck as a nazi-esque charachter and it’s called ‘arguing with idiots’, I wonder if there’s a connection, maybe the idea is that the “Idiots” are the people who see small government advocates (like Beck) as Nazis, when the truth is that the left is advocating national/international socialism, kind of ironic considering that the left uses a term to slander people who believe the complete opposite of said term.

    Of course, I doubt all of the people who slander small governent advocates understand that, many are simply going along what’s done without any thought to what’s really going on, Lenin referred to them as “useful idiots” but they’re idiots nonetheless. On that note, to everyone here who bashed Beck, what is your gripe with him?

    Is it that he’s done extensive specials trashing the “global warming” non-science being pushed as religous dogma, is it that he’s has been criticizing the 2 parties equally, or that he passionately believes in the Republic as the founders intended? Please, I’d love to know why you feel like bashing him.

    I think some people just want something worthless to complain about, instead of getting offended about the stuff your government is doing that has a very real impact on your life (which Beck brings attention to) it makes so much more sense to complain about something that doesn’t impact it at all, like a fucking uniform a guy probably wore for 10 minutes while he had a picture taken for a book.

    Marko, you made a great point a while back about people who are essentially religious about the flag that they completely miss the mark about what the flag means when trying to ban people from burning it, I think you’re making the same mistake by getting upset at the way Beck is trying to convey a specific message (with a uniform) and not giving any thought to Beck’s message itself.

    • Rick R. says:


      The problem is that Beck allowed himself to be shot in a current-ally uniform in a manner where it’s supposed to look “scary fascist”.

      It’s no different than if they had used a set of USMC blues with a Klan hood.

      If they’d have stripped off all the insignia until it was just a dorky looking grey jacket, and then pinned on a bunch of fake shit until he looked like Miss Fascist Dictator 2009, that would be fine.

      The fact that he didn’t realize where the uniform came from doesn’t absolve Beck of responsibility. Subtle visual messages only work when the message is UNAMBIGUOUS — so you have your minions CHECK OUT SHIT LIKE THIS before you do a planned photoshoot with it.

      I’m neither for nor against Beck — I tend to avoid the opinion TV shows, and his comes on before I’m home from work and ready to watch the boob tube anyway. Other than being vaguely aware that he advocates smaller government, I don’t know much about the guy, nor am I interested enough to study up on him. What little I’ve seen of him reminds me of Bill O’Reilly, only less populist.

      The mesage he CHOOSES to send on the cover of his book IS important. It will drive many people to decide whether or not to buy the damned book in order to read it or not.

      Marketing fail = still a big fat FAIL.

      • PlanetCaveman says:

        Marketing fail? Do you know how many copies he’s sold or did you just want an opportunity to use the oh so cool internet phrase “fail”?

        “It’s no different than if they had used a set of USMC blues with a Klan hood.”

        Is the USMC making policy that is more and more similar to what the Klan endorses? If they were it would be appropriate. If he used a Nazi/Soviet uniform it probably wouldn’t bother people nearly as much, but why are you bothered by that image but not getting upset at the policies being enacted which are taking our country in that direction?

        Maybe you should try reading books instead of making a fuss about a damn cover.

        • Rick R. says:

          try reading the whole post you;re venting about, first.

          HERE is why what’s ON the cover is important:

          “The mesage he CHOOSES to send on the cover of his book IS important. It will drive many people to decide whether or not to buy the damned book in order to read it or not.”

          If the message ON the book turns people away so they they never BUY the book, it’s a failure.

        • PlanetCaveman says:

          He’s sold quite a few books, since we’ll never know the net difference between the people he’s turned away and the people who wound up buying because they were provoked by the image we can only go by his gross sales, which are rather high.

          I think he’s sold a lot more books than you so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

        • Rick R. says:


          It doesn;t matter how much you like the guy or agree with his policies.

          By implying that Marko served with the Nazis, he was inappropriate.

          Becuase that is what this photo does — that isn’t a Third Reich uniform, it’s a CURRENT German uniform.

          And it could have been easily avoided. Hell, if he wanted to avoid going full out with an SS uniform (and I can understand why he might not want to go THAT far), Communist German army uniforms are readily available for peanuts on eBay every single day. And the DDR WAS a totalitarian state.

          A fuck up of that level, which could have been solved with 10 minutes effort by one of his assistants is a FAILURE TO PLAN.

        • Rick R. says:

          Note also that the German Army (the CURRENT German Army) is NOT making policies that are more and more similar to what the Nazis endorsed.

          Thus, in YOUR OWN WORDS, you illustrate the problem.

          By using THIS uniform, it was inappropriate. Because this is NOT a Nazi uniform — it’s the uniform of the GOOD GUYS. The Bundeswehr is VERY anti-Nazi even today, and has been since it’s inception.

        • Kristopher says:

          The guy ain’t military. His photographer ain’t military.

          The uniform was a prop, probably purchased from a company that specializes in photog props, who got them from a surplus dealer cheap.

          All this outrage seems misplaced or a bit forced to me.

          If it bugs you, write him a letter.

          If you think he’s off the deep end, then attack his actual statements, instead of this junk. Lord knows Beck has actually said plenty of silly stuff.

        • Rick R. says:

          So what if neither Beck or the photog is “military”?

          Beck is a political commentator, working on teh side that the OTHER side likes to portray as rascists, Nazis, idiots, etc.

          When you have a chance (and in this case he certainly DID), you send your minions out to do a little legwork, to make sure you don’t unintentionally do something that either pisses off some of your potential buyers (audience), or makes you look like a fool.

          Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Perfromance

  35. Sebastian says:

    I understand why you would feel offended. I think that his cover is meant to be a vague allusion to the police state, which that uniform was never a part of. In fact, the Bundeswehr was committed to defend against that kind of ideology, even when it meant turning Germany into a nuclear battlefield.

    If he had worn a KGB uniform, or even an Stasi uniform, it would at least be in the proper context. It still wouldn’t be a very good cover, though.

    • Kristopher says:

      Yea, but neither Beck or the photographer would know a Stasi uniform of they were strangled with one.

      • Rick R. says:

        Again, the word you are looking for is “intern” or “productiuon assistant” — or even “gofer”.

        As in, “Hey, college kid — go find out what kind of costume they’re gonna stuff Beck into, and what all that crap means. We don’t want to find out LATER that we stuffed him in a unifrom with a medal for ‘burning the most Jews in his regiment’.”

        This way, your principal doesn’t get tripped up by accident, ignorance, or malice.

  36. Boat Guy says:

    Jeez folks,
    I’ll admit I was a little confused by the uniform on the cover of a pretty good book, but really don’t see the need for anyone – even Marko – to take offense. I’m fairly sensitive to “Stolen Valor” issues and I certainly don’t see one here.
    I guess I’ll allude to my “uniform creds” too … 32 years, enlisted and commissioned, two uniformed services.

  37. Rick R. says:

    It’s not a “stolen valor” issue.

    It’s a “I’m in the uniform of the BAD GUYS” issue, when he’s wearing the uniform of one of the good guys.

    How would you feel if it was YOUR old service’s uniform, worn with a Klan hood?

    • PlanetCaveman says:

      The people who used to be good guys are becoming bad guys, the people that actually are good guys are smeared as though they’re bad guys, and the idiots are the ones who can’t tell the difference.

      But why would you know that? You’ve made it clear that you haven’t read the book and won’t, yet you want people to respect you’re opinion like yuo actually know what you’re talking abuot.

      • Rick R. says:


        I haven’t commented on the contents of the book. for all I know, it’s the finest piece of philosophical literature the English language has ever seen.

        It is, however, NOT RELEVANT TO THE DISCUSSION.

        We aren’t discussing the CONTENTS of the Goddamned book — we’re discussing the ham-handed and misguided MARKETING.

        You do not think that UNNECESSARILY and GRATUITOUSLY insulting a certain segment of your potential readership (many of which will be buying the book based PRIMARILY on how they feel looking at the cover) might not be a dumb idea?

        Especially when there were multiple options, some of which could have been done mere MINUTES before the photoshoot, that would have avoided the issue altogether and STILL given you the same cover, but without the implied insult?

        Switch uniforms to a widely acknowledged enemy of freedom, or alter THIS unifrom so that it isn’t recognizeable as being a “firendly” uniform, and the problem is avoided altogether. Without insulting ANYONE who would be a potential buyer.

        Who would be buying this book, that WOULD NOT have bought it, had an actual Commie uniform (or a completely made-up uniform looking like the typical Fascist or Commie uniform) been used instead?

        NOBODY. Therefor, the insult was 100% unnecessary and avoidable. Beck gained NOTHING by using THIS uniform.

        If they don’t read the book, you don’t get your message across. PERIOD. Failure to get reader = MARKETING FAIL.

        And chances are, if they don’t BUY the book because the cover turns them off, they won’t read it even if offered it by a friend.

  38. Tony says:

    PlanetCaveman, you seem to be arguing that anybody who criticizes the cover of the book must immediately be a brainwashed statist or something along those lines. A very binary, black-and-white way of categorizing people. “Either you are a drooling fan boy or you are The Enemy.” Can you seriously not comprehend that some people simply dislike the cover of this book and choose to discuss the matter on the Internet? And that this discussion in no way reflects the opinions of those people on the contents of said book, their opinion of the author, or their philosophical and political views in general?

    The book might very well be a very good one. (I have no idea of knowing since this is the first time I hear about it, or the author for that matter.) But no matter how good it is, in my opinion the cover still sucks. And while the old adage did indeed say “do not judge a book by its covers”, that doesn’t mean that the cover can not be discussed. Hell, the actual topic of the discussion isn’t even this individual book, but rather someone wearing a uniform with insignia that the wearer has not earned the right to wear.

    • PlanetCaveman says:

      I’m not arguing anything of the sort, I just think the reasons for the criticism are lame.

      The uniform is a prop, nothing more. He’s not strolling up to Starbucks trying to pick up women in that uniform, if he was “wearing” it in an effort to make people think he’s in the military I’d agree with you, he’s doing it to make a political/artistic point.

      Do you get upset with actors who play soldiers in movies, I rather doubt most of them have ‘earned the right to wear the uniform’?

  39. Kristopher says:

    A lot of argument over not much of anything.

    I won’t read the book … because I can’t stand listening to beck for more than a few minutes on cable, even if I do agree with him.

    Not because a couple of non-military people pulled a surplus foreign uniform out of a prop closet.

    • Rick R. says:

      The problem is that he should have had some kid go find out WHAT all that crap meant before deciding to wear it for teh shoot.

      Becuase that’s how you control the message — by knowing WHAT the message (in this case, the cover) means.

      • Kristopher says:

        Ermmm … I think the set of buyers who are also Bundeswehr veterans is pretty small here.

        He’s offended you and Marco. Write him a letter then.

        He is not required by any US law to research the snot out of a photog’s prop … and I doubt the fact that the prop used to be a Bundeswehr uniform will effect sales in the slightest.

        Any US buyer of this book, with very few exceptions, is just going to see Beck wearing a foreign looking uniform, and making some joke about arguing with leftists.

        • Rick R. says:

          Didn’t say he was “required by law” do do squat.

          Didn’t say that the error was so huge that he could never possibly “rehabilitate” himself from it.

          Didn’t even say that the error would cause a huge segment of his potential audiance to refuse to buy.

          What I have said, repeatedly, is that it was a wholly avoidable error.

          What I have said is that it is offensive (not to me, personally, since I didn’t serve in the Bundeswehr, I’m merely ANNOYED on behalf of the fine German soldiers I have known).

  40. tjbbpgob says:

    Rick R how does this cover imply he even knows who in the fuck Marko is and Marko you need to give Rick R a reacharound. All you people need to get a fucking life, me included. Sweet Baby Jebus I had 60 something emails about this simple book cover which I am now going straight to Amazon and buy now. I watch GB quite a lot and listen on the radio too and I can’t remember ever having heard him mention “fema concentration camps”.

    • Rick R. says:


      I didn’t say that Beck knew Marko personally, nor was he individually singling him out.

      But by using THAT uniform in a recognizeable format, _in_that_manner_, was a direct (if unintentional) insult to EVERYONE who ever wore it.

      Including Marko.

      A VERY similar incident occurred a couple of years ago on a show called “So you Think You Can Dance”, where, on the obligatory antiwar night, one of the judges wore a USMC uniform blouse with the chevrons reversed.

      The fact that she wore it, defaced, on teh very night they were doing the whole “War is bad” theme night was perceived as a personal insult to all Marines, current, former, and dead.

      I’m certian she didn’t INTEND insult, and just thought it was a pretty costume.

      The difference is Beck should have put more effort into getting it right for the cover of a book that will likely be in print for several years. And just as that clueless judge, he failed to do so.

      • PlanetCaveman says:

        Did it ever occur to you that Beck might have known the cover would create come controversy and ruffle some feathers, and that factored into his decision? And we all know that controversy never helped sales of a product.

        Beck has sold a crapload of books, how many have you sold?

        • Rick R. says:

          So, offering gratitous insult to part of your potential customer base is GOOD?

          I call bullshit — I don’t think Beck did this INTENTIONALLY.

          Oh, he wanted the buzz of controversy all right. But I seriously doubt he INTENDED to offer THIS insult.

          I’ll bet the thought process began and ended with, “Let’s make some buzz, we’ll use a German uniform all dolled up so I look like a Nazi.”

          Without stopping to think that while all German uniforms have similarities, they aren;t all Nazi or Communist.

          Controversy that drives sales — GOOD.

          Controversy that just annoys people WITHOUT creating additional sales – BAD.

        • theflatwhite says:

          Um…everybody…the uniform isn’t THAT recognizable…probably intended that way.

          It’s actually a bit of a hodge-podge.

          (I have a post awaiting moderation due to some links).

        • PlanetCaveman says:

          How do you know he didn’t create additional sales?

        • Rick R. says:

          Flatwhite —

          It IS that recognizeable to anyone who ever wore that unifrom. As Marko says above, he recognized it instantly, but would have had ZERO issues with it if it had been stripped bare and then made up with “Bad Guy” stuff.

          Hell, most Americans wouldn’t recognize if Beck used a real American uniform — wouldn’t have made that better.

          Caveman —

          Right. I’m sure there is a large market segment of people who hate Germans so badly that they never would have bothered to buy the book UNLESS Beck wore a Bundeswehr uniform with some extra shit pinned to it.

          Look, we get it. You like Beck, you worship the ground he walks on, and anyone who challenges your Messiah must be burned at the stake.

        • theflatwhite says:

          The shoulder boards and colar tabs are recognizable modern German army. I’ll grant that.

          The rest is a bit of a hodg podge – WWII Italian, WWII German SS Hat (minus death’s head), and the cut of that dress jacket shows up in multiple armies. …just sayin’

        • theflatwhite says:

          And ohbytheway:

          Does anyone remember East Germany? Communist East Germany?

          Looks like the book cover designer could have been going for that too.

          So, this does seem to be a bit of an excuse to rip Beck for … whatever the reason it isn’t quite clear.

        • Rick R. says:

          I do remember East Germany. That would be the “DDR” we keep mentioning.

          And that uniform looks VERY different than the uniform they actually used for the book cover.

          Not surprising to ANYONE with half a brain is the fact that the two Germanies had similar uniforms, considering that they started from the same military culture. Just like the Heer uniforms of the Third Reich looked an awful lot like ethe Imperial uniforms before them.

          I realize “All them Krauty fellows look the same” to some people. But there ARE differences.

          But there are still differences.

          Hell’s Bells, they could have rented a repro W-SS uniform (which wasn’t the blacks of the General SS so beloved by Hollywood directors), or even gotten a Beck fan who happens to be a reenactor to LOAN him a repro uniform of an honest-to-God “fascist state” force. (Camera crews routinely do this on 24 hours notice or less. That’s what your PROP GUY is for — to know where to drop ONE eMail and get a couple dozen responces in a few hours. Hell, I’ve been recruited for FILM shoots in a historical uniform on 24 hour’s notice, and we had to not only provide our own uniform, but kit, ammo, etc…)

          Or they could have even taken the uniform they HAD, and removed or obscured the insignia that was present, so it became just a grey jacket of military cut, suitable for pimping out to the photog’s delight.

          They took the lazy way out, and didn’t bother to do basic research on a key part of the message they were putting out there. WHAT your principle wears in a photo shoot for a book jacket is a HUGE part of the message that book cover sends.

        • theflatwhite says:

          I’m sorry.
          You saying it “looks very different” does not, in fact, make it look very different. The world just doesn’t work that way.

        • theflatwhite says:

          I’m sorry.
          You saying it “looks very different” does not, in fact, make it look very different. The world just doesn’t work that way.

        • Rick R. says:

          Well, some people think that USCG and USAF service uniforms look the same, because they have a similar basic cut and color.

          Hell, most Americans couldn’t tell a British Army Major General in No2 Dress (“Class A’s” to US vets) from a Marine Corps warrant officer.

          But anyone who knows the uniforms has no problem distinguishing between them.

          Just as the Bundeswehr and NVA (that would be the National People’s Army of East Gemmany) have similar color and cut (they are both German uniforms) — they DO look very different.

          If you know the uniforms. More importantly, the INSIGNIA.

          I’ll admit, I didn’t notice at first — but then, I paid the book little mind when I saw it in the bookstore. Mostly becuase I wasn’t looking in the political commentary section at all.

          Of course, I was about 20 feet away. . .

  41. ATLien says:

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity [or sheer ignorance.] – Bunch of Heinlein lovers should know this.

    In other words: calm the fuck down already.

    Those people probably don’t even know what the MONEY they use in Germany looks like.

    • Rick R. says:

      I’ve never attributed it to malice.

      I have continually said it’s a screw-up, NOT an intentional insult.

      The funny thing is that the guy who thinks it WAS done intentionally. . . is the rabid Glenn Beck sycophant.

      (Note — “sycophant” isn’t a judgement call on Beck. Even Jesus had sycophants.)

  42. Ted says:

    Bugs me, but he’s just another talking head. Sacrifice and military service probably don’t make a lick of sense to him.

  43. Clint says:

    It’s satire. He is poking fun at those (idiots) who want totalitarianism and socialism. He is also setting himself up as a devil’s advocate, possibly in the vein of “I tried to see your point of view but after I shoved my head that far up my….. “

    I haven’t read the book, aside from an excerpt or two, so I have no idea if he follows though on the imagery. And the American audience is “supposed” to see that uniform as Communist Dictator. Most of us see it as Russian. With the red background and the backwards R, I thought it was Soviet and am genuinely surprised it is WEST German.

    Especially since the theme is about commies, not nazis.

    Try emailing the author and see what his take is \ when you point out the error.

  44. Velcro8ball says:

    Okay, I didn’t read through the 79 previous comments, but would you be this bothered if he were wearing DDR uniform of the same rank. I think for the point he was trying to make it would have been a better fit. hee hee

  45. Brian Dale says:

    I think that Rick R. has put it very well. I’m not current or former military; I’m part of the general audience. I can see three reasons to wear uniform articles:

    1) You’re an actor portraying someone. Make every effort to have everything correct for that character.

    2) It’s surplus, purchased on the open market and worn as obviously civilian clothing. Climbers, geologists and field biologists have a long history of wearing military surplus clothing–always with any insignia removed, in my experience. I have a pair of boots from a surplus store in Fayetteville, NC; they were new, marked “Irregular” and had glue slopped on the toes. I paid $40 for what would have cost me closer to $200 in a civilian boot of similar quality. If it’s wrong to do this, then governments need to quit selling surplus clothing. OK, hippies and “artistes” did this, too, though many of them fall into the next category.

    3) You want to piss off or alienate quite a few people, for reasons that you might not understand. One drawback is that it’ll be difficult for you to predict which people they’ll be.

    Mr. Beck seems to have taken Path Number Three.

  46. Jenny says:

    1. The man was doing “for the troops” rallies as early as 2001, and has repeatedly referenced an immediate family member in theater. He understands and honors military service, even if he’s obviously ignorant of the finer details of German military fashion (like most civilian Americans, I imagine).

    2. His beliefs lie pretty much right in line with the conservative end of the libertarian spectrum. He’s gotten more conspiratorial in the last couple years (which is offputting, I admit)…. but by and large hasn’t said anything you won’t regularly see from long-time TFL members. Heck, he’s one of the first (if not only) more or less mainstream commentators I’ve ever seen who could and WOULD lay out the whole Constitutional RKBA case in public.

    3. Given his Jonah-Goldbergish shtick of the last couple years, I’m personally convinced it’s a mistake of the “find me something vaguely fascist-looking from wardrobe” variety.

    4. Given his tendency to be VERY public about his mistakes, I bet if you could somehow get a message to him along the lines of “hey dummy, that’s the uniform of an ALLY you’re mocking” you’d get a heartfelt apology, quite probably public.

    • Rick R. says:

      #3 — DEFINATELY #3.

      I sincerely doubt it was malice — more like, failure to ensure the uniform was vetted.

      Which, while it does fall into Beck’s ultimate responsibility (it’s his face on his book), is a job for a flunky — like that nice young intern who’s so eager to prove his worth.

  47. Justin says:

    I have seen various idiots wearing USMC Dress Blue jackets in an inappropiate manner and with items that do not go on it, and yes, it pisses me off. I think you are correct in your feelings.

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