Those crazy right-wingers keep circulating a video from a Tea Party convention held earlier this year in South Carolina. Finally, it has fallen into the wrong hands: Ours. On January 19, 2014 former Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith got on stage and proceeded to spew forth the usual Teabagger attacks on President Barack Obama and his supposed fellow Muslims.
Then, Smith held a Koran aloft, and flamboyantly dropped it to the ground where it landed with a thump. We’ve come to expect this from wild-eyed right-wing lunatics, but is this sort of religious bigotry appropriate from someone who promotes himself as a former member of an elite branch of the U.S. Military?
Perhaps religious bigotry in our armed forces is more common than we think.
Smith’s horrifying, Koran-dropping speech.
First, Smith lights into Obama, a Christian and centrist Democrat whom these right-wingers bizarrely insist on portraying as a radical Marxist and a Muslim to boot:
“We have an admitted Marxist in the White House with all of the fixings of socialism and communism, but with a heavy stream of Islam as well. And the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Oh, and a Tealiban screed wouldn’t seem complete without accusing Obama of funding the Muslim Brotherhood, so of course Smith works that in:
“They are intent on killing the American dream by giving it away, surrendering it, by funding the Muslim Brotherhood and Arab Spring…”
Smith rants about the Caliphate, a conspiracy theorists wet dream about an Islamic plot to bring the entire world under Muslim rule, mwahahahahahaha!
“They’re all there. All of Islam. The Caliphate. The whole Muslim Spring — the Arabic Spring. Is that not a Caliphate that they talk about in this book [picks up a Koran], the Koran?'”
Smith then dramatically holds the Koran aloft and looks as though he might hurl it into the audience, but lets it drop to the floor instead. The crowd cheers, of course, but not as loudly or enthusiastically as one might expect.
“We’re not at war with Islam, Islam IS AT WAR WITH YOU,” Smith cries. And then he descends into a whirling vortex of religious bigotry and madness.
“Realize that there is over a billion people every single day that put their face down and their @ss up, and pray all of their lives, five times a day, with all of their soul, that the world goes to Islam by conducting Jihad.”
Smith concludes by comparing Muslims to Nazis and sharing his rather peculiar theories on linguistics.
“Like Mein Kampf, which Hitler wrote while in prison, ‘Kampf’ — German [for] “struggle.” ‘Jihad’ — Arabic [for] struggle. They [Arabs and Germans] were allies, Iran means ‘Aryan’ in German.”
Wait, what? Here’s the video so you can see for yourself:
Christian religious bigotry runs rampant in our military.
Smith’s antics would almost seem laughable, if he didn’t represent our nation’s military. Sure, he no longer actively serves, but Smith still capitalizes on the respect we have for our soldiers, especially ones from elite branches like the SEALs.
And here’s something you may not know: Our taxpayer-funded U.S. armed forces have been infiltrated by Christian evangelists who engage in overly-zealous recruiting and religious bullying against their non-Christian fellow soldiers. Furthermore, they’ve flagrantly disobeyed orders and endangered their comrades’ lives in Iraq and Afghanistan with their provocative anti-Muslim taunts.
“Jesus Killed Mohammed,” an 11-page Harpers article that ran in 2009 reports that what started out in World War II as sort of spiritual support network for Christians — the Officers’ Christian Fellowship — has morphed into a malignant tumor since the 9/11 attacks:
What men such as these have fomented is a quiet coup within the armed forces: not of generals encroaching on civilian rule but of religious authority displacing the military’s once staunchly secular code.
Within the fundamentalist front in the officer corps, the best organized group is Officers’ Christian Fellowship, with 15,000 members active at 80 percent of military bases and an annual growth rate, in recent years, of 3 percent.
Former U.S. Airforce officer Michael Weinstein — who is Jewish — first encountered this phenomenon while attending the U.S. Airforce Academy back in the 1970’s. He also happens to be a smart, tenacious guy with a law degree. In 2005, Weinstein launched the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) — a legal and advocacy group — and began fighting back. According to MRFF’s web site:
Over 37,000 active duty, veteran, and civilian personnel of the United States Armed Forces have come to our foundation for redress and assistance in resolving or alerting the public to their civil rights grievances, with hundreds more contacting MRFF each day. 96% of them are Christians themselves.
Alas, the aggressive recruiting continues beyond active service, as these ‘Christian’ zealots prey upon vulnerable military children whose returning parents suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder… on the taxpayers dime. In 2013, an appalled Weinstein wrote in The Huffington Post:
It came as a sickening jolt of shock when we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) learned that a group of savagely opportunistic fundamentalist Christian vultures known as “Club Beyond ” are using taxpayer dollars — let me emphasize that point one more time: TAXPAYER DOLLARS — and Department of Defense property to aggressively prey on these youth, as well as advertising their activities via the official Army.mil website . Club Beyond’s mission, in their own words, is to “‘celebrate life with military kids, introducing them to the life giver, Jesus Christ, and helping them to become more like him,’ while offering youth a chance build meaningful relationships.” [italics added]. All of the foregoing would be just fine and dandy if only the United States military was not subject to the United States Constitution — but it is. Thus, the just-mentioned “sickening jolt.”
Muslim Americans serve, too.
This constant Christian proselytizing and hostility towards Muslims — plus the fact that many of our current opponents practice Islam — makes things uncomfortable for the approximately 3,500 Muslims currently serving in our armed forces. A source who works closely with MRFF reports that 13.2% of all Muslim Americans in the armed services are clients of theirs. A 2011 report by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — of all people — said that least 6.024 people who’d declared themselves of Muslim faith had served with honor in the U.S. military since the September 11 attacks, and that 14 had died in the line of duty.