MIKEY’s OP-ED – It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see meanspirited bigotry in the armed forces

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A simple perusal of recent events in the United States reveals that we still have a very long road to travel when it comes to leaving behind unabashed, bald-faced, old-school hatred and bigotry.

One need only witness the frenzied hysteria (and traumatizing police detention) that greeted young Ahmed Mohamed after he innocently brought his homemade clock to school to realize that far too many Americans are comfortable and complacent in regards to the myriad forms of dehumanizing prejudice that transform our fellow citizens from neighbors into fearsome stereotypes to be feared and reviled. The disgraceful fact that in 2015 a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, Dr. Ben Carson, would denigrate our Constitution by stating that a Muslim cannot serve as President just shows how mainstream this monstrous sectarian bigotry – often rooted in fundamentalist Christian supremacy – remains.

Tragically, nowhere is this horrific state of affairs more evident than in the U.S. Armed Forces. As the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the only non-profit solely devoted to defending servicemembers of all faiths and no faith from the predations of religious (usually Christian dominionist) extremists within the armed forces, I’ve seen some of the worst of it: anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-LGBTQ hatred, misogyny, unauthorized and coercive proselytizing, all alongside a seething religious zealotry that seeks to merge the identity of today’s modern American warfighter with the bloodthirsty Christian mercenaries of the Medieval Crusades. Predictably, our Muslim brothers and sisters within the armed forces have seen some of the worst expressions of these tendencies, a subject about which I provided Congressional testimony on Capitol Hill in 2011 and 2014, respectively.

It is for these precise reasons that I’m sharing the following heartfelt letter written by a Muslim-American officer in the U.S. military. All personal details have been removed from the letter, due in no small part to the justified fear of draconian retribution and rapacious reprisal experienced, to some cognizable degree or another, by nearly all Muslim servicemembers. Let this poignant and most moving letter serve as a reminder of the sacrifices borne by our compatriots of the Islamic faith who are so honorably serving and sacrificing in our armed forces, the vast majority of whom remain fervently devoted to the cherished promise of religious freedom and equality that remains embodied by the U.S. Constitution.

From: E-Mail Address Withheld

Subject: Mad As Hell

Date: September 20, 2015 at 9:58:54 PM MDT

To: Information Weinstein

Mr. Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF Staff,

Firstly, who am I?

I am a proud American warrior. I am a (Officers rank withheld) in the United States (service branch withheld) and am a (Class year withheld) service academy graduate of the United States (service branch withheld) Academy in (city and state withheld).

I am a married father of (number of son[s] and daughter[s] withheld) and have deployed (number of times withheld) downrange enduring heavy combat and leading American forces against our entrenched enemies. I have been awarded (number withheld) silver star(s) and (number withheld) bronze star(s) and have also been wounded (number of times withheld) and received (number withheld) Purple Heart(s). I have fought with and seen my troops die in battle. More than a few in my arms. I have dealt with the nightmares of PTSD among my troops and been notified too many a time of a suicide from among the ranks of those I commanded. I relive this over and over again when I sleep at night. I want the sacrifice to be worth it for me and all of my troops.

I love America and am (number withheld) generation American.

Secondly, why am I mad as hell?

I happen to be a Muslim-American. I became a client of the MRFF a few years ago because of the widespread hatred and prejudice I and others of my faith face every day in the military. I have read and provided key input into Mikey’s Congressional testimony about this tragedy and encourage anyone who is interested to read what he said to Congress because it still holds, it’s even worse now.

When certain people who are running for the job of our country’s Commander in Chief make the hateful statements they have made over the last few days about “Muslims” not being fit for this or that position it makes my spouse cry and my children ask me for an explanation. My kids ask so innocently but with hurt and pain in their eyes. We live on base and they are often made fun of at school because of their faith.

How can this be happening in my America? Our America?

Have we still not learned enough about bigotry and hatred to call those out when they do and say these things? Not all Christians or Jews or Atheists or Blacks, Whites, Asians etc. are to be held liable for the bad actions of a subset of their ethnic or religious or racial groups. Has America still not learned that hard lesson? Surely some of these candidates for office have not and yet they all claim to be so “pro-military”.

Mikey, please do not let those who practice anti-Islamic racial and religious hatred get away with it. It is tearing our military apart to allow this and especially when they say it is the “Christians” who are being persecuted by the President and his special “Christian Prosecutor Appointee” who is you, Mikey.

On behalf of my family and all of my fellow military members, thank you Mikey and the MRFF for all that you do.

V/R

(active duty military officer’s name, rank, combat unit, and installation all withheld)

Click to read at Daily Kos

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5 Comments

  1. Gunther

    This is like Vietnam all over again except this time it is religious bigotry that is tearing apart unit cohesion, esprit de corps, comradeship, willingness to die for each other, etc. It is also like World War II all over again where despite the fact that Afro-Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans serve with distinction, they were still treatment with disdain and disgust before, during, and after the war. I won’t be surprise if the American military will be a broken machine just like after Vietnam.

  2. John Harvey

    At a time when we need people who know the middle east, speak Arabic, and know Islam it is outrageous that the military does not support service members who have these skills. Would things have gone better if we had had more people who know that part of the world and its people?

  3. Gunther

    I agreed with you Mr. Harvey, considering the fact that we threw out many Muslims, lesbians, gays, and people with Arabic names out of the military since 9/11 but nowadays, its seems that we are scrambling like mad to replace those people.

    There was this lady who work for the FBI who transcript Arabic into English from all the tape recordings that was given to her and was very good about it. The trouble was that she was too good and would finish her work very quickly. The FBI put pressure on her to slow down her work because then they could justified the overtime money that they need to complete the transcripts. She refused and her employment was terminated by the FBI.

  4. izzy

    Guess what? MILLIONS OF SOLDIERS swore the military oath- SOO HELP ME GOD. But apparently thee LEGAL federal oath that MILLIONS of soldiers took is somehow inconsequential to you freaks at MRFF. Shove it. We’re on to your antics.

  5. G

    Izzy, you and the your fellow freaks need to shove it. We are on to your antics.

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