left biblioblography: On The Heels Of A Tragedy, The Dogs Of War Will Root Out The Outsiders…

Saturday, November 07, 2009

On The Heels Of A Tragedy, The Dogs Of War Will Root Out The Outsiders…

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

As no doubt some of you are aware, recently a Muslim military psychiatrist went haywire, and shot (and killed) a number of people. Recently, CNN did a report on Hasan’s motive and background, and yes, it doesn’t look too damn good.

Humanity being a species of extremists, the days to come will no doubt illustrate polarization issues. And one of the worst cornerstones of the problem, is this idiocy we term religion, this superstition we are told to nod and murmur over and grant obsequiousness to.

It is no secret that I’m no fan of being told to be quiet when idiocy raises its ugly head. Most of you are like-minded. Those few of us who recognize the ideological blind spot are considered pariahs and told to shut up and sit on our hands, instead of vocalizing our criticisms. Even though 9/11 should have taught us collectively that unrestrained superstition is dangerous in any hands.

And to top off the scare-mongering, I found this deeply disturbing as well:

Within the fundamentalist front in the officer corps, the best organized group is Officers’ Christian Fellowship, with 15,000 members active at 80 percent of military bases and an annual growth rate, in recent years, of 3 percent. Founded during World War II, OCF was for most of its history concerned mainly with the spiritual lives of those who sought it out, but since 9/11 it has moved in a more militant direction. According to the group’s current executive director, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Bruce L. Fister, the “global war on terror”—to which Obama has committed 17,000 new troops in Afghanistan—is “a spiritual battle of the highest magnitude.” As jihad has come to connote violence, so spiritual war has moved closer to actual conflict, “continually confronting an implacable, powerful foe who hates us and eagerly seeks to destroy us,” declares “The Source of Combat Readiness,” an OCF Scripture study prepared on the eve of the Iraq War.

‘Spiritual battle’? We’ve heard that trope before. The troops blared that at the Crusades, the priests trumpeted that during every inquisition, in fact that fuckhead Woodrow Wilson alluded to it in his speech on Manifest Destiny.

Inevitably this ends in tears. Someone somewhere will be broken over the knee of ideology.

But another OCF Bible study, “Mission Accomplished,” warns that victory abroad does not mean the war is won at home. “If Satan cannot succeed with threats from the outside, he will seek to destroy from within,” asserts the study, a reference to “fellow countrymen” both in biblical times and today who practice “spiritual adultery.” “Mission Accomplished” takes as its text Nehemiah 1–6, the story of the “wallbuilder” who rebuilt the fortifications around Jerusalem. An outsider might misinterpret the wall metaphor as a sign of respect for separation of church and state, but in contemporary fundamentalist thinking the story stands for just the opposite: a wall within which church and state are one. “With the wall completed the people could live an integrated life,” the study argues. “God was to be Lord of all or not Lord at all.” So it is today, “Mission Accomplished” continues, proposing that before military Christians can complete their wall, they must bring this “Lord of all” to the entire armed forces. “We will need to press ahead obediently,” the study concludes, “not allowing the opposition, all of which is spearheaded by Satan, to keep us from the mission of reclaiming territory for Christ in the military.”

These people are undermining the SOCAS. They are most emphatically not putting their country first: they’re obviously putting it second to their superstitious drivel. If you’re a soldier, you put the country first. Otherwise, you’re an extremist, and need to be watched very carefully.

Every man and woman in the military swears an oath to defend the Constitution. To most of them, evangelicals included, that oath is as sacred as Scripture. For the fundamentalist front, though, the Constitution is itself a blueprint for a Christian nation. “The idea of separation of church and state?” an Air Force Academy senior named Bruce Hrabak says. “There’s this whole idea in America that it’s in the Constitution, but it’s not.”

Huh. Skipping over the fact that the Constitution states baldly that ‘no religious oath is required for office’, that there’s not one breath or iota of religious rhetoric contained in the whole damn thing, the only people who think that the SOCAS is in it are undereducated (and I’m being kind here).

If the fundamentalist front were to have a seminary, it would be the Air Force Academy, a campus of steel and white marble wedged into the right angle formed by the Great Plains and the Rockies. In 2005, the academy became the subject of scandal because of its culture of Christian proselytization. Today, the Air Force touts the institution as a model of reform. But after the school brought in as speakers for a mandatory assembly three Christian evangelists who proclaimed that the only solution to terrorism was to “kill Islam,” I decided to see what had changed. Not much, several Christian cadets told me. “Now,” Hrabak said, “we’re underground.” Then he winked.

Again, the target isn’t a single religion, it’s all of it. It needs to go. One of the more frightening asides in the article was this:

3. Warren’s bestseller sometimes displaces Scripture itself among military evangelicals. In March 2008, a chaplain at Lakenheath, a U.S. Air Force–operated base in England, used a mandatory suicide-prevention assembly under Lieutenant General Rod Bishop as an opportunity to promote the principles of The Purpose-Driven Life to roughly 1,000 airmen. In a PowerPoint diagram depicting two family trees, the chaplain contrasted the likely future of a non-religious family, characterized by “Hopelessness” and “Death,” and that of a religious one. The secular family will, according to the diagram, spawn 300 convicts, 190 prostitutes, and 680 alcoholics. Purpose-driven breeding, meanwhile, will result in at least 430 ministers, seven congressmen, and one vice-president.

Obviously these ‘numbers’ were retrieved from that mysterious place where the sun don’t shine.

Here’s a high note, though:

Mikey Weinstein, for his part, doesn’t mind being called demonic by officers like Boykin. “I consider him to be a traitor to the oath that he swore, which was to the United States Constitution and not to his fantastical demon-and-angel dominionism. He’s a charlatan. The fact that he refers to me as demon-possessed so he can sell more books makes me want to take a Louisville Slugger to his kneecaps, his big fat belly, and his head. He is a very, very bad man.” Mikey—nobody, not even his many enemies, calls him Weinstein—likes fighting, literally. In 1973, as a “doolie” (a freshman at the Air Force Academy) he punched an officer who accused him of fabricating anti-Semitic threats he’d received. In 2005, after the then-head of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, declared that people like Mikey made it hard for him to “defend Jewish causes,” Mikey challenged the pastor to a public boxing match, with proceeds to go to charity. (Haggard didn’t take him up on it.) He relishes a rumor that he’s come to be known among some at the Pentagon as the Joker, after Heath Ledger’s nihilistic embodiment of Batman’s nemesis. But he draws a distinction: “Don’t confuse my description of chaos with advocacy of chaos.”

I think we need more Mikey Weinstein’s in this world. Of course, the ‘dog loves you unconditionally’ crowd responded with their usual ‘love thy neighbor’ tactics:

But as Mikey’s client base grows, so too do the ranks of his enemies. The picture window in his living room has been shot out twice, and last summer he woke to find a swastika and a cross scrawled on his door. Since he launched MRFF four years ago, he has accumulated an impressive collection of hate mail. Some of it is earnest: “You are costing lives by dividing military personnel and undermining troops,” reads one missive. “Their blood is on your hands.” Much of it is juvenile: “you little bald-headed fag,” reads an email Mikey received after an appearance on CNN, “what the fuck are you doing with an organization of this title when the purpose of your group is not to encourage religious freedom, but to DENY religious freedom?” Quite a bit of it is anti-Semitic: “Once again, the Oy Vey! crowd whines. This jew used to be an Air Force lawyer and got the email”—a solicitation by Air Force General Jack Catton for campaign donations to put “more Christian men” in Congress, which Mikey made public—“just one more example of why filthy, hook-nosed jews should be purged from our society.”

The abuse has become a regular feature of Mikey’s routine in public appearances. There’s a sense in which Mikey likes it—not the threats, but the evidence. “We’ve had dead animals on the porch. Beer bottles, feces thrown at the house. I don’t even think about it. I view it as if I was Barry Bonds about to go to bat in Dodger Stadium and people are booing. You want a piece of me? Get in line, buddy. Pack a lunch.” Mikey sees things in terms of enemies, and he likes to know he’s rattling his.

Charming. Again, there’s religion, bringing out the best in people.

It’s a huge article, so I’ve only quoted snippets. But it’s downright scary – the military should be entirely secular. Mind you, secular, not religion-free – that would be a violation of the SOCAS, to encroach on people’s rights. But the freedom of religion also constitutes a freedom from religion, otherwise the former would be meaningless.

In the meantime, be afraid. Because extremists with guns are taking over the military. And that bodes well for no one except those who march in lockstep with them.

Till the next post, then.

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