Not only a police officer but a family man and war hero, Nat Small intended to carry his loyalty to a fallen comrade with him everywhere. Quite literally, he tattooed tribute on his arm.
His comrade’s name over their unit’s old, unofficial insignia: A stylized SS reminiscent of lightning bolts. Yes, “Scout Sniper” has SS — however, these particular stylized characters were first used by the Schutzstaffel, Hitler’s private police.
The Marine Corps realized and firmly denounced the symbol. However, Officer Small seems able to bear the double S and its origins with confidence — after all, they were intended to be a constant reminder of the comrade that sacrificed his life for the squad.
The U.S. lost over 400,000 soldiers while fighting Nazism in World War II. A tattoo that, to the entire world (members of the Scout Snipers aside) is seen only as a Nazi symbol, seems an odd way of honoring an American soldier.
The original SS was an integral part of Nazi ideological practices, practices that the military claims to unconditionally revile.
Originally, Walla Walla Police Officer Small, with good intentions, got a tattoo. He learned afterward that the tattoo is a globally recognized Nazi symbol. He then chose to do nothing.
In light of this new information and his choice, his tattoo stopped being unintentional. By all appearances, Small is comfortable with his personal deriving of honor and remembrance from SS, despite the horrifying double meaning.
The life of Nat Small as a private citizen is inextricably linked to his job as a public servant. It is our public funds that enable his private citizen life.
When he covers his tattoo on the job, but ventures to the store, off duty and in short sleeves, the man in line behind him at the store is far more likely to see a Nazi than a Scout Sniper. What if the man is Jewish?
If that man in line hears a bump in the night and calls 911, he deserves full confidence in the WWPD to send officers that are disgusted by Nazis and all Nazi symbology.
Officer Small’s conscious choice to leave his tattoo unchanged after learning of its violent and hateful implications, means that his original intention is now irrelevant.
The WWPD needs to protect and serve the community, not Nat Small’s willful ignorance.