6/2/16 COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON OP-ED – The Travesty in Kansas

[Mikey Weinstein]: This guest Op-Ed is from my dear friend, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) Advisory Board member, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.). It comes in light of MRFF’s righteous demands which succeeded in having Islamophobic, homophobic and fundamentalist Evangelical Christian fanatic Lt. General Jerry Boykin (Ret.) removed as the honored guest speaker at the Fort Riley Prayer Breakfast, as part of the 1st Infantry Division’s “Victory Week.

Boykin_Cartoon

When I was asked to become a member of the advisory board for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) by Mikey Weinstein, the organization’s founder and president, it was to replace Glen Doherty, the former Navy SEAL who had been killed in Benghazi in 2012. Though I had deep respect for Glen and thought him to be a reasonable person, I had concerns about the mission of the MRFF. I simply did not recall a substantial problem with religious zealots from my 31 years of military service. What I did not realize was how those zealots—clearly now composing an American equivalent of the Taliban in south Asia—had infiltrated the U.S. Armed Forces since my retirement.

Almost weekly, proof of these zealots’ nefarious activities has poured into my computer from sources all across the country. The latest in that regard is particularly egregious because it involves an individual with whom we had to contend when I was secretary of state Colin Powell’s chief of staff, a man whom secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, for some inexplicable reason, chose not only to keep around the Pentagon but to appoint to the position of undersecretary of defense for intelligence—Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin. With Boykin in that slot, the U.S. might as well have given up on maintaining a proper posture in the so-called Global War on Terror.

Amazingly, even while serving for Rumsfeld as an undersecretary, Boykin could not keep his mouth shut. In 2003, for instance, he spoke at several churches and said such things as the U.S. was “a Christian nation” and was in a “spiritual battle” against an enemy that hated the U.S. “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian.”   He even compared his Christian god to the Muslim god and found the latter severely lacking and not a true god like Boykin’s god.   All this Boykin did while dressed in the uniform of the United States Army.

Not content with being a profoundly destabilizing force in the military and defense establishment, Boykin, whose first wife left him because, according to Boykin himself, he was “a religious fanatic”, left the Pentagon and became Vice President of that stellar group of religious bigots, the Family Research Council (FRC), a group the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group. From the top tier of the FRC, he continued to spew forth his demeaning and dangerous rhetoric. For example, in May 2012 Boykin opined: “The continent of Europe is dark, it is hopelessly lost and it is going to get worse. Every expert will tell you that by the middle of the century the continent of Europe will be an Islamic continent, and they can’t reverse it, they can’t stop it. It is because they took Jesus out of their societies and it’s [sic] been replaced by darkness.”

Later, Boykin pontificated on the so-called “Rapture” when, according to some Biblical texts, Christ will descend with a flaming sword to slay the unbelievers. Boykin corrected the texts, saying that Christ would be carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. He then instructed every God-fearing Christian to go out and get his or her own AR-15. Not yet content, Boykin then attributed the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment to Jesus Christ.

Why do I even bring up this reprehensible man? Hasn’t Boykin been put away by the Armed Forces—however belatedly—hasn’t his despicable influence and dangerous rhetoric been consigned to the lunatic fringe of America where it clearly belongs?

No, it has not. Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, US Army (Retired) is scheduled to address the First Infantry Division Victory Week Prayer Breakfast held by the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division—“the Big Red One”—on the 72nd anniversary of D-Day in Europe, 6 June 2016, at Ft. Riley, Kansas—celebration of a D-Day invasion, I might add, that could have gone awry easily, particularly if the war-hardened veterans of the Big Red One had not participated.  Imagine, if you will, how General Dwight Eisenhower, overall invasion commander on that fateful day, might feel today were he to stumble across this event in Kansas.   Ike would be appalled, just as any sane and sober American should be.  As President in 1953, he referred to the massive military build-up for the Cold War as “not a way of life at all, in any true sense…it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”   The religious imagery is quite apposite here: it is assumed that Jerry Boykin would be delighted to hang much of humanity from such a cross.

One hundred and thirty-one members of the First Infantry Division and the Ft. Riley community have weighed in with the MRFF in protest of this speaker.   These men and women are Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Native Americans and members of the LGBT community. They are members of the U.S Armed Forces and supporters thereof. Their common bond is a belief in the Constitution of the United States and their fear of what Boykin as a representative of their Army, their country and their community implies, their fear of what a proselytizing, intolerant, and abusive evangelical zealot might mean for their religious freedom, for their security, and for the “good order, discipline and moral” of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Commanding General of the Big Red One, Major General Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., has so far refused to take the telephone calls of the MRFF, demonstrating, apparently, his complicity in this event and its invited speaker.

This is a travesty, one that demands correction by Army leadership immediately.

Click to read on Daily Kos

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4 Comments

  1. SSG Hoffman

    Apparently, only anti-christian bigotry is allowed nowadays because whiny bitches from the MRFF can’t tolerate the same tolerance they request from others.

  2. Connie

    SSG Hoffman,

    Please explain what exactly the MRFF is not tolerating? Hatred? Racism? Misogyny? last time I checked those were admirable things to fight against.

    Boykin** is a self professed enemy of the USA (God first, Constitution second). How exactly are we to tolerate such people who refuse to follow the laws created to ensure everyone is treated equally? What actions should be taken against someone who vows to protect the Constitution and then trashes it at every opportunity? I have some thoughts but I’m interested in your point of view.

    It is clear to me you need some education as to what exactly the Constitution and Bill of Rights says and does not say. Spoiler alert – the MRFF is on the correct side of this debate.

    **I know Boykin has a title. I know he served his country. I also know his mindset is exactly what the founding fathers described when talking about our enemies – domestic and foreign. Since Boykin has trashed his vows, he gets no titles from me.

  3. G

    SSG Hoffman. I thought religion was to bring brotherly love for all people; however, it is now apparent that it has failed despite being around for a long time especially for the major religions which have been only around for only 2,000 to 3,000 years.

  4. @SSG: Secularism is for grownups.

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