He was the first Marine Guard hostage in the Iran crisis. He was shot, tortured and sentenced to die.
Needless to say, if anyone should get a right to complain about Iran, it’s Ken Kraus.
But when he took to social media over the weekend to suggest we should “bomb Iran back to the stone ages”, he found himself in social media “jail”.
“This comment goes against our community standards on hate speech”.
Kraus, who went on to become a police officer for 23 years after leaving the military, was referencing the current state of affairs with Iran in his comment on social media.
It comes after the U.S. announced it is sending an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East ahead of schedule. Over the weekend, the Trump administration warned Iran and its proxy forces are showing “troubling and escalatory” indications of a possible attack on American forces.
On Sunday night, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the U.S. was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.
The purpose is to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on American forces or allies.
“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” he said.
But according to social media, suggesting bombing a hostile country is now “hate speech”.
Let me tell you a little bit about the alleged “hater”.
In February, 1979, Ken Kraus was working at the American Embassy in Iran. The incident that happened actually pre-dates what everyone knows as being the formal Iran hostage crisis.
(Above: Ken Kraus featured in video about his time in Iran.)
Kraus says they started hearing sustained machine gun fire, and then crackling over the radio.
“They’re coming over the wall, they’re coming over the wall. It took a few minutes to realize holy hell, we’re in a gunfight here, what the hell is going on?”
Kraus ended up being shot with his gun. He was then taken by the Iranians to an aid station.
In the middle of the night, insurgents came by, ripped the blood and IV from his arms, handcuffed and blinded him and then took him to a makeshift prison.
“For eight days, they kept me in a dungeon downstairs.”
Kraus, along with Iranian prisoners, were tortured over the course of the week. Then came time for his murder trial.
“I was put on trial for shooting Iranians, which we did – it was a firefight. When I came back to my cell, the other Iranians that were there, I seen a real lull come over everybody. People just shook their heads, shoot their shoulders. I said I don’t understand. They said the council found you guilty. You’ll be shot.”
Kraus said a deep depression came over him.
“I thought, I wonder what it’s going to feel like for those bullets to rip into me.”
Minutes before Kraus was to be executed, a Red Cross representative came in and told Kraus his release had been negotiated.
“He said we have found a way to get you out of here. I stood up to hug him and I’ve never hugged a man so hard in my life and I just broke down crying. I said, ‘I’m not going to die today’ and he said, ‘not today’”.
Kraus went on to become a police officer and served in the Atlanta area for decades after that.
(Above: Ken Kraus shares more details about his experience in Iran on “Behind the Uniforms”.)
He said the lessons he learned as a hostage and then as a police officer set him up for a lifetime of serving and protecting others.
“There’s three things. You have to be physically prepared, you have to be mentally prepared and I believe you have to be spiritually prepared.”
That preparedness, he says, is desperately important for what’s happening in America.
“To me there’s nowhere better in the world to live. There’s no better people to be around. We feed half the world, we support half the world, we are the freedom, the light and the beacon for everybody. And if that has to be defended with my blood and my sweat, it’s worth it, and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and my sisters in the street to do it.”
Kraus is no stranger to being put in “social media jail”. He’s got some pretty strong feelings about where society stands today.
“We are divided between those who uphold the law and those who seek to destroy the law,” he said. “I’m not afraid to talk about that on social media. I’m not afraid to stand behind those who, like myself, have dedicated a lifetime to serving and protecting others.”
Social media has clamped down on those loud voices. Recently, the major platforms banned a number of individuals who they say are “dangerous” and promote “hate speech”.
But how do you define hate speech? Is it limited to a political party? A certain religion? An ideology?
“I’ve reported post after post that call for attacks and violence against police officers, and I’m told they don’t violate community standards,” Kraus said. “It seems to me like a double standard.”