Saturday, May 28, 2005

Air Force- Academy or Finishing School

With the recent uproar at the U.S. Air Force Academy over so-called religious intolerance, I wonder what they are teaching there. I think that we can often learn as much or more from what is taught outside the classroom as from what is taught in the classroom.

According to the Washington Post:

Last week, the Washington-based group Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued a 14-page report charging that there is "systematic and pervasive religious bias and intolerance at the highest levels of the Academy command structure."

The report said that during basic training, cadets who declined to go to chapel after dinner were organized into a "Heathen Flight" and marched back to their dormitories. It said the Air Force's "Chaplain of the Year" urged cadets to proselytize among their classmates or "burn in the fires of hell"; that mandatory cadet meetings often began with explicitly Christian prayers; and that numerous faculty members introduced themselves to their classes as born-again Christians and encouraged students to become born again during the term.

Also per the Post- Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, a White House attorney in the Reagan administration who graduated from the academy in 1977 and has sent two sons there, said yesterday that "a colossal failure of leadership is resulting in a constitutional train wreck" at the school.

"The place is being held hostage in a vise grip by evangelical Christians, and people are terrified to come forward," he said.

Aren't we being a bit overly dramatic here "Mikey"? So, you want Christians to just shut up and not share their faith, huh "Mikey"? How in the heck did this guy make it through?

This is the second major investigation at the academy in two years. In 2003 an investigation focused on the claims of several female cadets that the academy was guilty of rampant cases of sexual harrassment and asualt.

While there were a few cases of individual sexual assault and harrassment proven at the AFA, it was a far cry from being pervasive or approved behavior. Never the less it prompted an entire overhaul of its policy toward women.

Now we are going to see another investigation that will, most likely, show that some overly zealous evangelical cadets, and officers shared their faith openly. But where is the crime?

I am going to just assume that some upper class cadets did harrass underclassmen by forming a "heathen" flight. But remember that this is a military academy, is that not what upper class cadets do? Is this not a time honored tradition, finding things to harrass plebes with?

Furthermore, if an admonition of the Bible is to "make disciples of all men," would a chaplain not be disobeying his or her faith in not encouraging other to do the same? What does the term evangelical mean anyway? Those that evangelize.

Religious persecution and true bias would be if, there were no oportunity for Jewish, Islamic or other faiths to express themselves in worship, or were forced to attend Christian chapel. It would also be if these and atheists were denied promotion or actually punished for their lack of Christian belief.

It is not being confronted by another faith or being made uncomfortable by the discussion of another faith. So someone is told they are going to hell if they do not convert. That actually happened to me in college. A guy told me I was in danger of going to hell if I did not accept Jesus. I responded that I might go to hell, but I was surely going to send him there if he did not get out of my face. End of story.

If being made to feel uncomfortable in the academy is too much I question whether a person is fit to lead others in combat. Are we developing men and women to become mature, hardenened, tough minded fighting machines and leaders, or charming diplomatic wimps?

I grew up with a big nose. Others let me know I had a big nose. I suffered abuse due to my big nose. But my big nose made me the man I am today. I survived inspite of and possibly because of my big nose. It made me a survivor.

If one cannot survive verbal insults from within the circle of those that are closest to them, they will certainly crumble under pressure at the first attack from without. This is not the type of person whose leadership I would want to entrust my kids life and my nation's survival to.

Further more, I send a warning of being careful of what you wish for, as you might one day get it. You might well remove all Christian influence from the military, and all Christians as well. Of course we have already seen what happens when we have that. It was called the Soviet Union, Red China, and the Viet Kong.

We have seen what kind of military these nations produced free from any and all religious belief. Is this what we want?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Selective Outgrage

For more than a week now our newspapers and television sets have been filled with images of a hostile and rioting Muslim World, reacting to a Newsweek article that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet by interegators at Guantanimo Bay's detention facility. Newsweek has now retracted the story stating that it was an "unfortunate" error, (Unfortunate error, are you kidding me?) but the Muslim street is not buying it and now feels that Newsweek is succumbing to White House pressure and covering for them.

There are enough angles in this story to launch a thousand blog sites. We have already seen and heard, and I am sure that we will be seeing alot more stories on the Newsweek angle. But I want to deal with this from another angle. That is the angle of the selective outrage. Why is it big news that Muslims are outraged at the flushing of a Koran? What would the story be if a Bible or Torah, were flushed, burned or desecrated by Muslims I wonder? Would it even be a story or would we even hear about it? I doubt it !

The fact is that not only are Bibles burned and destroyed on a daily basis in the Muslim world, and we never hear of it, but Christians are persecuted and abused on a regular basis as well and the media world remains silent. In fact just after writing this post I was sent a link to a Worldnet Daily article called:

Palestinians Used Bible Toilet Paper

The article states that: "While Muslims have responded with deadly outrage to the now-retracted report by Newsweek of alleged Quran desecration by U.S. interrogators, there was little outcry three years ago when Islamic terrorists holed up in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity reportedly used the Bible as toilet paper."

On a more personal note, in 1981 I was in Morocco on a missions outreach. We had been there for several weeks when we stopped for gas one evening. A young station attendant came to our van and after finding that we were Americans told us of how he loved America and that we were his American friends. Feeling that this was a warm and friendly young man, one of the ladies with us handed him a Christian tract, in Arabic, telling of the Father love of God. After reading just a bit of it he became very agitated and threw it back into her face and began cursing and ranting. So much for our being "his American friends." We were told by another attendant to leave before the police came, and we did so. We did not stop until we were across the border in Ceuta, Spain.

A year later several of our friends went there again but were not as fortunate as us, they were arrested and imprisoned for a few months for having Christian literature, in Arabic, in their possession. They were only released after there was a threat of a major media push to expose the arrests in the wake of a UN meeting, in Rabat, the capital city.

Since then things have not only not gotten better, they have gotten worse, and the general reaction to this is only that Christians should respect those cultures. There are countless stories of Christian persecution in the Muslim, and Hindu world as well, but the media remains silent.

Why are we supposed to respect those cultures and they not respect ours? We not only allow but invite Arab Muslims and other nationalities and faiths to come and freely worship and express their faith here, and would be castigated for anything less. Yet, Christians are attacked for any attempt to express a faith that has liberated billions and given a message of hope for all mankind.

I do not expect things to change, but I do expect recognition of the selective outrage.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Equal Opportunity Offenders

Here is one that will upset White men and Black women all over the world.

Afro-British singer Seal and German, Victoria Secret model Heidi Klum were married, on a beach in Mexico, Tuesday.

People are already shocked & pissed off that academy award winning actress Rene Zelwigger and Country singer Kenny Chesney were married, also on a beach, in the Caribbean , last weekend.

Is there a pattern here? Maybe the couples were together recently, got drunk and said "let's see how many minds we can totally mess with this weekend."

I guess if we see Cowboy Troy's "Hick Hop" release, "I Play Chicken With The Train" hit the top of both Country and Hip Hop charts, Rodney King's work will have been done. We will all finally be able to "just get along."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Redefining Hypocrisy

The other day I was participating in an online discussion on a chat list that I participate in. The discussion revolved around Republicans in Congress proposing a bill that would exempt pharmacists from having to sell the so-called “Morning After” pill, if doing so violates their personal beliefs. Essentially the discussion evolved into one post after another expressing the hypocrisy of the GOP members of Congress and the “religious right.” Although no specific examples of this hypocrisy were named, the usual, general examples of priests molesting children and/or various preacher and moral people’s indiscretions were cited. This made me think about the merits of these claims.

As I thought about it, and it did not take long, or a lot of thinking to realize that these typical examples of hypocrisy are not truly examples of hypocrisy at all, and that these attacks are really misdirected for a couple of reasons. Let’s look at the so-called examples of hypocrisy cited above; a priest, a pastor, or a typical person of faith failing to live up to the moral standard they preach. They would call this sin, and they would be guilty of violating the very standard they preach. But failing to live up to a moral standard, or any standard is not hypocrisy; it is simply failure or coming up short. This is, in fact, a part of the very message they preach. They simply become tragic examples of the human condition. Hypocrisy, on the other hand, would be if that person were to say that there is a moral standard, but that it does not apply to them. Or, that same person trying to find some loophole, which makes the rule or law apply to others, but not to them. Enter the Democratic Party.

People on the “Left” are quick to point to examples of Newt Gingritch, and a few select others who have had moral failings as supreme examples of the hypocrisy of the GOP. But if we look at every example of a Republican caught in a moral indiscretion from Sen. Robert Packwood, to Illinois Congressman Frank Ryan, who was forced to give up a Senate run against Barak Obama due to a personal matter between himself and his wife, in each case the Republican has paid a price. As mentioned, Bob Packwood, Newt Gingritch, Asa Hutchinson, Frank Ryan, each received swift condemnation from their own Party and supporters. Each also accepted their punishment and left office. Where is the hypocrisy? If one wants to look at true hypocrisy we need look no farther than the Democratic Party, who have refined it, and made it a fine art.

Let’s look at some of the fine examples in that Party. We can go back to the examples of Massachusetts Congressman, Barnie Franks, Hawaiian Sen. Daniel Inouye, and of course who can forget President Clinton. In each case there was a strong defense of the action, a strong denial, or both. In no case was any of the above mentioned punished for their actions.

Basically the difference between the Left & the Right, the GOP and the Democrats, is this: the “right” and the GOP say there is a standard, and even thought we may fail to always uphold it, it is a standard nevertheless. The “Left,” and the Democrats, on the other hand, while wanting to make those on the right live up to a standard, deny that there is a standard when it comes to them. Each of the cases mentioned above involved harassment, with subordinates, and even criminal acts, but were swept aside and ignored by those on the “Left.” Sometimes this is so blatant that it is sad.

In 1996, while the Monica Lewinsky matter was being played out before the American public, there was a lightly reported military courts martial taking place at the same time. This military trial involved 5 African American Army personnel who had had sexual relations with subordinate females. One of the strange parts of this trial was the fact that the Sergeants were being accused of rape, when there was no actual accusation of rape by any of the female subordinates. The females made a very loud protest, in fact, that the consensual acts were being made into something more. After thinking about this for a bit, it became pretty clear why there was a need by some to make the acts appear more severe than they were. There was a need to distinguish these acts from the very same thing the then sitting President had done with a female subordinate. This attempt failed, however, yet the result of the trials was very different. While each of the 5 soldiers were removed from the armed forces, having lost all rank, and retirement benefits, with some doing prison time the President’s, the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, actions were defended as being his personal business and not worthy of disciplinary action of any kind.

Fast forward to 2005 and the cases of Tom Delay, John Bolton or the Senate hearings regarding the nomination of appellate court justices and we see the very same M.O. In each case a very different standard of judgment is being applied to the each of these individuals than is to Democrats and those on the Left. In the case of Republican nominees, we have the Bork or Thomas standard, while with Democrats we have a very different, or no standard.

There is one final and blatant bit of hypocrisy on the part of the Left & the Democrats I want to address. That is the hypocrisy in the use of the words “ Freedom and Choice” by those on the Left. When it is convenient, such as in the case of abortion, the Left lifts the word choice high. Even children are somehow capable of making a “choice” in cases of abortion and sexual orientation without the need to involve parents, or the state. When it comes to the right to protest against or to present any anti-American, anti-religious speech, or to publish any type of sexual pornography, the Left loudly proclaims the right to individual freedoms and decries censorship. However, when it comes to spirituality or questions of creation vs. evolution, the same children are incapable of making a choice and the state is must to make the choice for them. When it comes to saving for retirement, individuals are incapable of making a choice for themselves on how to invest for their retirement. The state must do this for us as well. Yes, there is hypocrisy in abundance, and the Left has taken it to a whole new level. In their world there are only rules for those who try to live by them. For the rest anything goes, it is only win at any cost.