Archive for September, 2007

It occurs to me that I could potentially have done Spc Jeremy Hall a wrong.  Maybe.

A commenter huffed and puffed that I didn’t KNOW Spc Hall, so I couldn’t know what was going on in his head.  Maybe, maybe not.  But I CAN make a few educated guesses.

The way I see it, this could have gone two ways.

One, J. Hall gets his knickers all in a twist because his Bible-tumping CO  keeps stepping in the middle of his plans for setting up the Atheists and Free Thinkers Club.  So he makes a decision to turn this into a national event, and goes out with premeditation and aforethought to find the most egregiously partisan group he can find to prosecute his case.
Perhaps he sees himself as a valiant crusader who must defend the cause of Atheists everywhere, while already assuming the mantle of much-maligned martyr. Which would make Spc. Hall a prime candidate for membership in Code Pink, and likely a lifetime listener to Randy Rhodes.

Or…

Two, young Master Hall is genuinely hurt, angry and confused that his boss won’t let him set up his club, and so tries to find legal redress, believing (however incorrectly) that his chain of command won’t help him.  Only, no one will take the case.  He searches and searches, but no self-respecting lawyer, military or otherwise, will touch this baby.

Until Mikey gets wind of it.  So now Mikey (really now-“Mikey“?!) Weinstein has got a cause d’ celebre on which to hang his banner, and he’s off and running.  So now instead of Weinstein supporting Spec. Hall’s cause, Spec. Hall end’s up being a tool for promoting Weinstein’s cause.  Sort ofwhat Cindy Sheehan became to the anti-war set.

And so now he’s an outcast, living in fear, trembling in his bed at night.

Don’t know, haven’t talked to him.  Maybe he just wanted to go after Melborn, and then this Weinstein guy says, “No, wait.  Even better.  We’ll sue the Secretary of Defense too!  What a splash that’ll make!

And Jeremy is all, like, “Uh, well, okaaayyy, I guess so.”

I suspect the truth is somewhere in between.

 I dunno, like, Ghandi maybe. 

Now that Hall has gotten himself painted as this poor, persecuted minority, even going so far as to say that he fears being the victim of a “hate crime” while he sleeps, he’s managed to create an environment where ANYTHING that happens to him can be interpreted as discrimination or persecution.
 
If he’s told to clean the latrine, it’s not because he’s a snuffy, low man on the totem pole and it’s his turn…it’s because he’s a dirty, rotten ATHEIST! Ptooie.
 
If he doesn’t get promoted, it’s not because he violated the chain of command, exercised poor judgement, or is just plain a bird…it’s because he’s an ATHEIST!

If he experiences dirty looks or verbal abuse from his peers, it’s not because they resent the spotlilght he’s turned on their unit, or the way he’s turned himself into an Army of One…it’s because he’s an ATHEIST!
 
Maybe he can hang out with Scott Thomas and they can commiserate together about the trials of being a free-thinker in the intellectually stifling and repressive mire that is the military.
 
And since there is no draft, maybe they can figure out just what exactly it was they were expecting when they voluntarily joined the US Army?  During a time of war, no less?

Oh, and here’s a juicy little nugget.  A quote from Mikey Weinstein, Spec. Hall’s defense attorney:

“We’re fighting the Christian Taliban. That’s who I tell people we are fighting,” Weinstein said.

The Christian Taliban.  Meaty.

P.S. – Oh, and in case you missed it, I guess it was the unit’s chaplain which helped Spec. Hall set up his first meetings of the Free Thinkers. The c-h-a-p-l-a-i-n.

Military probes atheist GI’s harassment claims  

Perhaps you’ve heard of this guy, a one Spc. Jeremy Hall who has up and decided to sue his commanding officer and, yes, the Secretary of Defense.  That’s right.  E-4 Specialist Hall is suing the Secretary of Defense.  Although, to be honest, I’m not sure how an Atheist files a lawsuit for religious discrimination.

Nuance.

I’m very suspicious of this lawsuit. I’ve been serving in this man’s Marine Corps for over 14 years, and I’ve never seen any pressure to conform to any specific faith.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I’ve experienced quite a few deragotory comments toward Christians, not specifically directed at me, but made in passing, almost like is was some sort of conventional wisdom.  Christian chaplains, both Protestant and Catholic are available in the military.  They even go to the field. However, when they hold their services, they are usually attended by about 30% of the Marines.
 
So I find it very difficult to believe that this individual is facing persecution because of his lack of religious faith.
 
In my Reserve unit, we had a guy that up and decided he was a conscientous objector because of his Wiccan beliefs.  That’s right, Wiccan.  And we thought the guy was a turd.  Not because he was Wiccan.  Sure, we kind of smiled and rolled our eyes when he talked about being a Warlock, or saying that he needed some time off during a field op to go perform some Wiccan ceremony (which, by the way, we let him do).  We thought he was a turd because he decided half-way through his enlistment that he was a C/O.  We figured it was a dodge to get out of completing his tour.  So, we didn’t let him carry a weapon, what with him being a C/O, and all.  And yeah, he got a lot of shitty little details and jobs to keep him busy…not as punishment for being Wiccan, but more out of the fact that although he wasn’t getting out of his contract, he wouldn’t fight or train, so what else do you do with him?
 
I don’t know Spc. Jeremy Hall from Adam, but I suspect the harassment he is getting is not because he’s an atheist..trust me, there are lots of them out there…but because he’s a turd.  He’s making a huge stink out of something I suspect would otherwise be a non-issue if he hadn’t decided to file a lawsuit.  Trust me, taking that action has made him far more unpopular than merely taking an atheist stance ever would.  The military puts a strong emphasis on taking care of its own business.  Spec4 Hall had a lot of avenues open to him to get him concerns addressed…within his chain of command.  Taking it to the Big Tent instead, and pulling some dumbass stunt like suing the SecDef definitely puts young Mr. Hall in the “shitbird” category.
 
I’d really like to find out more about this guy’s case.  Why would you hold a meeting for atheists?  Let’s all sit around a talk about all the things we don’t believe about God?  When did he want to hold these meetings?  During duty hours?  It doesn’t say, but that could be a contributing factor.

What so many of today’s pampered youth fail to realize, as they wallow in their misguided sense of entitlement, is that you voluntarily give up a lot of your freedom of movement, so to speak, when you join the military.

Newsflash there, Specialist:  your chain of command owns your sorry ass.
 
That said, today’s PC military is also very sensitive about any type of accusations of discrimination.  The mere accusation of sexual harassment is enough to put your career to a grinding halt sometimes.  There are myriad resources this SPC could have used to address his issues. However, my suspicion is that he’s less interested in defending his beliefs/lack of beliefs, than he is in making a name for himself.
 
Unless I hear different, I put this character firmly in the same category as Michael Newdown, that atheist blowhard in California who got all pissy about “under God” in the Pledge.
 
Look at the “Urgent Issues” section of the group handling his lawsuit: Military Religious Freedmom.org.   Several links to the always balanced, totally non-partisan “Truthout.org.”  Links to titles like “An Evangelical Coup in America’s Military; An In-Depth Interview with Mikey Weinstein” or “Crusade and a Holy War in the US Military.”  Tell me there isn’t another agenda at work here than defending poor widdle Jeremy?

I suspect that the books deals are already lined up, not to mention the radio spots on Air America and the docudrama by Michael Moore.

UPDATE:

Let me gell it down here.  I’m sure it’s entirely possible that this individual might be or might have suffered discrimination at the hands of a particular misguided CO.  But to suggest that there is some sort of institutional bias against atheists, or some sort of radical Christian cabal infusing the US military is simply laughable.  And for someone in his position to sue the Secretary of Defense over it is just, well, stupid.

Dropped Koran Leads to Mob Violence in New Delhi

Things I Don’t Understand

Posted: September 20, 2007 in Blitherings

A list, in brief, of some of the things in this world that I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around:

  • Towels you aren’t supposed to dry hands with.
  • Soaps you aren’t supposed to wash your hands with.
  • Couches you aren’t supposed to sit on.
  • Rugs you aren’t supposed to walk on.
  • Candles you aren’t supposed to burn.
  • Non-alcoholic beer.
  • Someone getting upset because you got food on the tablecloth.  Isn’t a tablecloth supposed to keep food off the table?  If you don’t want to get any food stains on it, why is it on the table, underneath the plates?
  • Pillows you aren’t supposed to sleep on.
  • Grass you aren’t supposed to walk on.
  • Trees you aren’t supposed to climb.
  • A girl who has clearly put quite a bit of time, effort, and no small amount of padding, trusses and straps into setting her cleavage ever so tastefully on display, but then gets all huffy when I look.
  • Guy is talking on a cell phone.  In the middle of Starbucks.  I snicker at something he says into the phone.  He gives me a dirty look, puts the phone against his shoulder and huffs, “Do you MIND?” like I invaded his privacy or something.  And then goes back to talking on the cell phone.  In the middle of Starbucks.

There are undoubtedly a lot of 9/11 posts out there today, some deeply emotional, some cavalier, even dismissive.  Some perhaps actively cynical.  And then there are the Truthers.

I believe that this date will always be a significant one in the hearts and minds of those who lived through those hours of disbelief and horror.  I belief that we should never forget those who died, or those who did the killing.  I agree with Jeff that we shouldn’t become mired in that one day, or allow it to continue to define us, or we risk becoming as ideologically myopic as those against whom we fight.  But I also agree with those who, even six years later, cannot quite bring themselves to see September 11th as just another day.

These are all rational, human responses.  And then there are the Truthers. 

I just don’t understand these people.  Ace has a collection of videos from that day, showing the strike on the second tower.  I don’t see how you can watch a full-sized airliner, plow full-speed into the middle of the building, see the giant gaping hole in the side, or how it burned for nearly an hour, and suggest that it took anything more than that to cause massive structural failure. To suggest that, not only did our government plan and condone the attacks, but wired the towers to blow as a backup to the plane strikes.  Or that someone fired a cruise missile at the Pentagon.

Or that the hundreds of passengers on those planes didn’t really die, and are in some witness protection programs somewhere.  Or, even worse, that the passengers DID die, just not on the planes…if you know what I mean.

So, I guess my suggestion for rememberance on this day is to remember who the enemy is.  No, sorry to say, the enemy is not George Bush.  Or Ted Kennedy.  Or Nancy Pelosi or Dick Cheney.

The enemy is those who would seek to destroy this country, who want to kill its citizens, and force it to conform to their way of life by violence and coercion. 

The Truthers want you to believe that “The Administration” is every bit as much to blame as Al Qeada.  Perhaps more so.   I say these people need help.  And they distract from the real issue.

As a nation we became complacent.  We became conceited.  We saw ourselves as untouchable.  And we were proven wrong.  Let’s not forget that.

But more importantly, let’s not forget that with great power, comes great responsibility, to both the world, and to our citizenry.  Our position of leadership and strength is a stewardship, one which we must wield with the greatest of discernment, courage, and equanimity. 

We did not “deserve” 9/11, as some would suggest.  No more that we deserved to have the barracks in Beruit bombed, or the Cole attacked.  The radical muslims do not hate us for what we are, but for what we aren’t.  We aren’t them.  We don’t want to BE them.  And so, we are the enemy.

So while this sober stewardship we hold should lead us to consider the ramifications and impacts of our actions, so also does it place a burden on our leaders to ensure the welfare and common defense of this nation.   We cannot allow a misguided sense of cultural or racial guilt to place us in a position of vulnerability.  Caution and considered action should not translate into squeamishness or cowardice.  9/11 was not a righteous judgement, but a wake up call to the costs of appeasement and capitulation.

We do not have to be brutal, but we must remain strong.  We can remain compassionate, without becoming soft.  We must remain vigilant, without becoming paranoid.  We must remain morally certain, without becoming imperious.

I would suggest, as well, that it would be deeply to our credit to refuse to give wackos like the Truthers the time of day.  Instead of thoughtful consideration or shrugging indifference, we need to laugh these wierdos off the stage.  These people are a cult, and should be treated as such.  They are not speaking the truth to power….they are waiting for the mothership to come in the tail of the next comet and beam them up.

Never forget….but remember the truth.