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Friday, November 13, 2009

A tall order

I like Ed Koch.  The former Mayor of New York is a bright man who can usually be counted upon to speak fairly to the issues rather than along party lines.  So I was especially pleased to see him weighing in on the Ft. Hood shooting... and agreeing, at least tacitly that it was an act of terror.

However at one point in his excellent opinion piece he falters and suggests that maybe the U.S. military should give Muslim soldiers and officers the option of serving in conflicts that do not involve potentially facing Muslim enemy forces.  As a precedent he points out that Japanese Americans in the U.S. military during WWII were sent to fight in the European theater to avoid putting them in a position where their loyalties might be questioned or they might have to face their cultural relatives on the battlefield.

Only one problem with that idea:  Now that Sri Lanka has defeated the Tamil Tigers (neither side were Muslims in that conflict), the only potential hot spot left in the world not related to Islam is North Korea. 

Personally, I don't see the value in allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military if the only place in the whole world that their expensive training can be utilized is along a 155 mile stretch of the 38th Parallel.  And even there, with North Korea, Syria and Iran being all chummy... well you see the problem.

It seems to me that just as the military refuses entry to people with flat feet and felony convictions,  'Muslim' should be added to the list of other valid reasons for exclusion from serving in the American armed forces.  The US has nothing personal against people with flat feet or felony convictions.  Rather, it just isn't a good 'fit' with life in uniform (although I suppose prison garb is sort of a uniform).

As it clearly states on several US armed forces recruiting sites, "Remember, joining the military is not a right. It is a privilege. Every single branch of the military reserves the right to reject a potential recruit for any reason."

I'm just saying...

Posted by David Bogner on November 13, 2009 | Permalink

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Well put David. Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by: Tehillah | Nov 13, 2009 9:56:33 AM

Don't come back to the States, ever. The PC Police will be waiting for you at the airport. Muslims are a protected class, one must not speak ill of them in any way or the offender will be dealt with....harshly.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Nov 13, 2009 9:58:02 AM

*sarcasm*

Posted by: Karl Newman | Nov 13, 2009 9:58:42 AM

If anyone said Jews couldn't serve in the US military because they might spy for Israel, that would be called antisemitism.

Posted by: Aviv | Nov 13, 2009 12:16:52 PM

Aviv... no, that would be called ignorance, not antisemitism. Israel is a country smaller than New Jersey and is arguably the very last country on earth with which the US is likely to be in an armed conflict. You see the problem with your reasoning?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 13, 2009 12:22:22 PM

The analogy with Japan simply doesn't work. The Army *suspected* the Japanese of not being loyal (we're not supposed to think about this, but they had grounds based on a story from Hawaii during Pearl Harbor) and so *sent* them to Europe. The Japanese didn't ask for that. Koch's argument would be true if the Muslims were sent to Korea, not if they asked to be.

And, as has been pointed out this past week, if the US military can reject homosexuals as a group (not saying it's wrong or right, but they do it and are supported by the law), they can certainly reject Muslims.

Posted by: Nachum Lamm | Nov 13, 2009 1:53:53 PM

In theory this is all good and fine, but in practice it wouldn't work. It wouldn't work because it is just in those Muslim-area conflicts that Muslims (certainly Arabic speakers, but also those with an Islamic cultural background) are desired/required for many of the tasks the military need to accomplish!

Posted by: Mark | Nov 13, 2009 2:56:36 PM

The Jewish analogy is indeed apt. Shouldn't the army suspect Jews of wanting to kill those nasty Arabs in Iraq? Or provoking a conflict with, say, Iran?
It is indeed harder to ferret out the individuals who are not suitable/trainable from within a larger class, but it is actually more effective and socially more productive and less divisive. Same goes for police profiling in New Jersey.

Posted by: cyberdov | Nov 13, 2009 6:18:58 PM

Hmmmm, I don't think that one's religious affiliation should be grounds to be turned away from serving in the military, or all you will have serving in the military are atheists and agnostics. One's faith leads many to serve.

Nor should those that are serving get a pass for conflicts they don't agree with. This goes along with your previous posting that as a member of the military, you lose your "privilege" to protest. Once you're in, you don't pick the battles you fight in. You follow the orders you're given, unless they are unlawful. Now, that opens the debate that being ordered to fight someone of your own faith is against one's holy law, but your course of action isn't to then instead turn on those you are fighting alongside. You lay down your arms and refuse... accepting that you'll pay the consequence for those actions, right or wrong.

All that being said, Major Hasan violated a trust his victims had in him, as a brother-in-arms. This was the basest form of betrayal. What he did was A) an act of terrorism, B) an act of espionage (acting as an agent of another army (a muslim in Jihad) or C) an act of treason. They were his compatriots, not enemies, and he gunned them down.

What I fear may happen is that he be found guilty by reason of mental defect, if the military allows for that (my knowledge of military law falls FAR short), rather than paying the true consequence for his actions, and that would be a true miscarriage of justice.

Posted by: Jethro | Nov 13, 2009 7:18:56 PM

Dave,
I'd like to think that this is what you like to call a "rant," not a serious suggestion, but I'll take a bite nonetheless.
Why would one assume that Muslims can't serve loyally because one whack job (as we say in Jersey) went crazy?
I'm sure there are numerous Muslims in the military who serve with distinction every day. I don't know the statistics personally, but then neither do you.
Homosexuality aside, racial equality and religious tolerance is the cornerstone of the United States' mission, for lack of a better term. I see Muslims on the streets of Teaneck every day. and I do not consider them anything less than trustworthy.
You state that not allowing Jews into the military would be ignorance, because there is no question of their loyalty. That allows for the premise that every group should be assessed for their loyalty and therefore has to prove it.That's not the way it works here.
Besides, your logic would open the door for Jews, among other groups, to need to submit to some sort of "loyalty police" if need be.
Has a Jew ever been convicted of spying for Israel while in the employ of the US government? Can you trust a Jew in the military with secrets? Perhaps they should not handle intel that has miltary use in the Middle East.
Slippery slope...

Posted by: Larry | Nov 13, 2009 8:52:15 PM

Muslims have no problem killing other Muslims(Iran-Iraq,Syria etc.) so I don`t see the conlict for U.S. Muslims.One individual has brought dishonor to his profession, his relgion, and his country,in an act of terror and treason. His business card read SOA,a better description:SOB! He should have been kicked out the Army a long time ago,and I`m sure many others of various religions should also be removed,but as individuals,not as a group.

Posted by: ED | Nov 14, 2009 12:59:04 AM

Am agreeing with those who are saying here that such a policy would be opening Pandora's Box to discrimination and collective punishment other groups, like Jews.

But yes, the US military should profile those with potentially harmful traits --both before and after they join the armed forces. And this should be more than just an academic exercise, as we saw with Hasan, where numerous warning signals were aggressively ignored.

Posted by: Ari | Nov 15, 2009 4:49:27 AM

I totally agree with Ari.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Nov 15, 2009 7:47:16 PM

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