An internal investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Marine Corps has determined that a former commander in Europe violated the Corps' standards of leadership by using a racial slur while addressing troops in July 2020.
According to the investigation report, provided to Star and Stripes, now dismissed Maj. Gen. Stephen Neary "failed to demonstrate exemplary conduct, as defined by the standard, through his insensitive comments and lack of awareness and appreciation for how divisive his use of a racial slur would be on his organization and offensive to his Marines."
The investigation was prompted by Neary's use of the n-word after he says he took offense at its use in a rap song that was being played during physical training that was taking place at a base outside of Stuttgart, Germany.
As Stars and Stripes reports, "On the morning of July 22, 2020, Neary had just finished a run and was at the pullup bars doing physical training when he overheard rapper Big L’s song “Put it on,” which was being played by a separate group of Marines doing PT.
"Neary ordered the Marines to turn off the music with the offensive language, saying that allowing it to be played could give the impression that he and other Marines condoned the words in it."
“You cannot play songs that use the ‘n-word’ in it because it is counter to good order and discipline. ... We have a problem when we think it is acceptable. Look what is going on across our country,” Neary said in his account to the IG of what he told Marines.
Several Marines, however, said they were shocked by Neary’s use of the full N-word and the tone of his admonishment to them. “Neary said (the word) should never be used and it is a word of hate,’” according to a statement by one of the Marine witnesses.
The Marines' statement went on to say that Neary told the group that the N-word “is the reason ‘you people’ are doing riots in the U.S.”
Neary defended his use of the word as being a "teaching moment. The Inspector General's office was unmoved. It said, "the phrase “''you people' when addressing Marines 'under the guise of providing correction,' made the situation worse."
“Neary failed to set an example for how to address the situation properly, without escalating it to the point where he unintentionally offended Marines and, as a result, diminished his ability to command,” the IG said.