A recent article by retired U.S. Army General and former CIA director David Petraeus published over on Stars and Stripes hits the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to the absolute immorality of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our Armed Forces and on American soil - not to mention the inadvisability, recklessness, and downright idiocy of alienating those who are our allies.
This isn't new - in 2011, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), of which I am Founder and President, helped expose the fact that for 20 years chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base used "Christian Just War Theory" to train those directly in charge of launching nuclear missiles ("Jesus Nukes"). New Testament scriptures were used to assure that these young, impressionable officers were willing to turn the key to initiate nuclear Armageddon for Jesus Christ. The overwhelming majority of MRFF's clients on that matter were Christians. (In fact, for situational awareness purposes, MRFF's client totals currently number in excess of 45,400 armed forces and veteran personnel, about 96% of whom are practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics. Additionally, MRFF represents slightly more than 16% of all Muslim-Americans in the U.S. military and 912 LGBT armed forces and veteran members.)
For we do have allies - both foreign and domestic - who are still willing to work with, and for, our country despite our "Christian" nation's vitriolic aggression towards even our own citizens who dare choose a faith other than the narrow version of Christianity that the Evangelical Dominionists espouse. However, if the powers that be insist on condoning the daily assault - verbal, mental, emotional and often physical - of these men and women, you can count on the result being more hatred, more fear, and more schisms within the ranks of our own military and our relationships with allies abroad.
The ONLY thing that this despicable behavior accomplishes is to make the problem, which it purports so wide eyed and innocently to be against, into an even worse reality. The three E's apply - by painting Muslims with a single brush of "other" (and all of the inherent fear we Americans tend to imbue that concept with), we do the following:
- Eviscerate good order, morale, discipline, unit cohesion, military readiness and mission accomplishment in our own troops,
- Enrage our Islamic allies - both foreign and domestic, and
- Embolden our Islamic enemies, who use this hate to fuel hate in return and to recruit fresh fighters into their ranks.
In fact, the so-called "resurgence of terrorism" over the past two decades can be largely laid squarely at the feet of our own nation when it comes to extremist Islamic groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. Yes, you heard that right. So very much of what is out there, we created; either indirectly with hate speech and discrimination or directly with actual funds, tanks, and guns - and we continue to foster the hate, the fear, the distrust and the rage even among our own ranks by treating anyone who isn't a staunch Born Again believer in the special fundamentalist version of Jesus as an automatic enemy to be despised and maligned.
What happens when all of the discourse regarding Muslims both at home and abroad is couched in terms that divide, denigrate, demean, demoralize, and degrade? It should be so incredibly obvious - any contact with Muslims then turns into a crusade. Either we can (charitably and condescendingly) "save" them, or we can call them out as "the enemy" - and in doing so, ensure the very event we predict will surely come to pass. One of the fastest ways to turn someone into a terrorist is to treat them like one, after all.
And the tenth crusade is exactly what this stultifying mess looks like. When the multitude of fervent pastors and fawning pundits and loudmouth politicians and self-serving military leaders refer to any conflict in nations with a different faith demographic as a "Religious War", when "Jesus Rifles" are supplied with scripture inscribed sights; when the military condones, supports, and even encourages aggressive proselytizing from officers to their hapless subordinates, when a Special Forces unit OFFICIALLY recruits for a "Mission from God"; when the Pentagon sanctimoniously announces that "God is on our side"; when an area to be rebuilt in a primarily Islamic nation raises screams from those opposed to building much needed mosques, preferring erecting gratuitous Christian churches... when all of these things continue to happen, we not only cement the immoral and dangerous idea of "us and them" - we parade our false superiority and triumphalism like a brilliant banner, and we put the dignity, if not the very lives, of those who are not clones of our own ideal to the sword.
When did hate speech become patriotism? When did our nation get dumbed down enough - yes, I said it - that we are willing to accept the spoon-fed tripe from the hands of politicians who steer themselves and their families well clear of military combat and conflict, yet eagerly feed more men and women into the maw of a ravenous war fueled by religious dogma and oppression? How can we disrespect Muslims who actively serve the US in our military, but expect them to "fight the holy war" against those we lump them in with?
The only thing that this idiotic, vitriolic, and downright bile-ridden anti-Muslim bigotry accomplishes is to aid the terrorists that make up an infinitesimal percentage of Muslims worldwide. MRFF has provided testimony to the U.S. Congress on three occasions on this very fact (Written Testimony: 3/28/2011, Written Testimony 12/07/2011, Live Testimony 11/24/14). The only thing that vainglorious pandering to the idea of "Christian Warriors" in our military achieves is disastrously divisive distrust and unbridled fear within the ranks. And the only thing which the echo chamber that is the Dominionist Christian controlled, "military-parachurch-Congressional-corporate proselytizing complex" is really concerned about is constantly widening the divide between "us" and "them."
And if it doesn't stop and stop NOW, we'll find ourselves facing a true foe that outnumbers and outguns us - even if they'll never manage to out-hate us.