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Monday, 4 March 2013

For God and Country

James Parco LtCol, USAF Ret, has written a position paper, God and Country: Religious Fundamentalism in the U.S. Military, for the Center for Inquiry. This paper is an excellent summary of problems caused by overzealous Christian fundamentalist adherents in the US military. Here is the rather depressing summary at the end of the paper:
 The inappropriate behavior of fundamentalist Christian military leaders will not likely change on its own. Ample rules and regulations remain in place to appropriately separate the religious beliefs of military leaders from their official duties and responsibilities. Most lacking, however, is the social and political will to enforce the existing rules and hold military commanders accountable for breaches of conduct.

The cases outlined in this paper raise the fundamental question captured by the classic Latin dictum, quis custodiet ipsos custodes – who will guard the guards themselves? Based on the evidence presented herein, the status quo remains resilient. Military institutions have shown significant reticence to discipline any of their own who use the power of their official positions to run rampant through the senior ranks of the military simply because it is allowed to do so. After all, every system is perfectly designed to yield the behaviors observed.

The answer to this dictum is that the American people, both elected officials and ordinary citizens, are tasked with guarding the guards. As the previous pages make clear, there is a serious problem with religious endorsement in the U.S. Armed Forces which needs to be immediately addressed and changed. It is up to those with social and political power to demand this action. If this problem persists, members of the military will continue to face hostility and indoctrination, and the U.S. government will continue to experience public relations problems in future military missions. If it is addressed, the U.S. military could become a neutral and safe space for members of all religious backgrounds, and none at all, and the image of the America, as seen through its military forces abroad, could change from one of Christianity to one of a diverse people united for liberty and justice for all.
 Until some group with the political power to challenge the entrenched Christian fundamentalists in the military takes action, there will be not change. This problem will persist until either mainline Christians in the US Military get tired of being treated like non-Christians or the non-Christians become more numerous in the military. And this report also does not cover other troubling developments like the links between the more extreme Christian fundamentalists and religious and racial supremacists in and outside of the military.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Anti-Semitism and the Military Bible Association

There have been several articles and posts online lately about antisemitism in the US military. Most of these incidents have involved the chaplain corps. Last month Justin Griffith posted about finding one of  the antisemitic Manga Passion comics placed on his bunk while deployed. He didn't think much about it at the time. He posted about it online and someone at MRFF found out about it. Later it came out that the comics were being distributed across various bases.

Here are is an image from Bruce Wilson over at Talk2Action which shows Jesus as a sweet white man, his fellow Jews as evil looking, and Judas rather effeminate looking. He also compared Nazi propaganda against the Jews with the Manga comics and the similarities are obvious. Here is an image of the comic where all of this exists in one frame of the story. Look at the top right side of the image, Jesus in the middle, an effeminate red-haired Judas, and in the lower left hand side of the drawing, look at the drawing of the rabbi representing the Jews drawn in the comic. In addition to the rather biased appearance of the characters, they draw Jews as in league with the devil just like they think us atheists are.

Manga Comic

Additionally, there have been incidents of Marines posting Nazi SS flags openly.


Has this always been going on? I was in the US Air Force in the 1980s and early 1990s and never saw anything like this. This simply would not have been tolerated at all. Well it seems that certain military chaplain accrediting agencies may have aggravated this problem. In 2009, I wrote this about the Chaplancy of Full Gospel Churches and their website at the time.
The CFGC is the endorser for approximately two hundred chaplains. This endorser openly denigrates other Christians, Jews, Muslims, and the non-religious. The CFGC also advocates crazy conspiracy theories and the armed overthrow of the United States government. There is even a current chaplain, Army Major James F. Linzey, who is a member of something called the Prophecy Club. This website seems to be some sort of money making site, consisting mainly of ads for videos and their magazine.
COL Jim Ammerman, a retired Army chaplain who ran the CFGC died. But later checking on the CFGC's website finds all mention of the various conspiracy videos gone and no mention of MAJ Linzey. Interesting, only COL Ammerman who died in 2009 is listed as the founder, or was, as I just checked again and it seems that he is not listed any more on the website. I wonder why.

Shortly after MAJ Linze's retirement from the Army, he founded a non-profit called the Military Bible Association. A rather benign name. Somehow my email address ended up being included in his mailing list, The Leader's Bible mailing list. I think after the articles I wrote in 2009, he challenged me to a debate or something, but I did not have time for it and ignored the request. So in June of 2010, somehow I ended up on his mailing list. The email traffic on this list was very low, I thought of requesting to be removed, as I was tired of seeing the God glurge in my email. Luckily, I put off asking to be removed from the mailing list, as you will soon see.

I normally do not post emails that I receive from individuals, but this is different, as the Leader's Bible mailing list is a very large email list with hundreds of entries in it.  Sometime in late 2010, emails sent on the mailing list started to change. I started seeing requests for members to attend rabid  anti-Islamic speakers. Then on July 15, 2011 I received the following email:

Click to Enlarge.
Here is the text for easier reading:
Friends,
The Protocols of Zion is a book written in the late 1800s. I have heard about it for several years. You can probably find a copy of it somehow. Recently, however, I stumbled across a rather strange PDF file which contains The Protocols of Zion. I have attached the PDF file which contains it. I have reviewed The Protocols of Zion in this PDF file and believe it is a document which every American and Christian and human being must read. If you thumb through this PDF file you will find The Protocols of Zion.
In short, I believe you will be thankful that you have read it; but you might be extremely anxious about what you might find in it. I highly recommend reading it.
When you read it, it might be helpful to keep in mind that some theologians differentiate between "Jews" of today and "Jews" in the Bible, though I have no comment on that, except to say that in the Bible "Jew" is considered by many to be an abbreviation for "Judean"--an inhabitant of Judea.
You may forward this file to everyone you know.
Sincerely,
Jim
 HOLY SHIT! Attached to this letter was a copy of a bizarre hate manual (warning hate site link), Subverted Nation's Basic training for Revolutionaries by Adam Austin, a strange combination of an Army training motivational manual with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion embedded within it, along with massive amounts of hate quotes. I did some checking of the origin of this manual and found it located here, at a website called (warning neoNazi antisemitic hate site Subverted Nation.  Author Adam Austin claims that vanity press Lulu declined to publish his little screed. That's probably the only true statement on his little hate site.

You can see in the email that Linzey subscribes to the theory that white northern Europeans are the "true Jews". This is what the Christian Identity movement advocates. Highlighted in red, he seems to think that you have to be an American Christian to be human (probably white as well according to what he has written and said publicly before). Previously I had speculated if he was linked with Christian Identity, and it seems that I was right. I passed this email on to the MRFF as something interesting for them to see. But as of that time, there was no direct link to the military in the email, other than a suspicion that active duty military chaplains were on his mailing list. I wanted him to make a mistake and actually send out emails individually to the list, instead of to the whole list. This way each email would have embedded within it the contents of the Leader's Bible mailing list. 

In August 2012, I received an email from the Military Bible Association mailing list to sign an affidavit stating that his mother was sound of mind and Jim Linzey was  the best person to handle her affairs. WTF? He was asking people to say to a legal court to say that they personally knew that he was the right person to handle his mother's affairs whether they knew her or not. His siblings replied to all the mailing list to say that Jim Linzey was trying to manipulate their mother into giving up all of her assets to Jim. Jim Linzey replied back to his sister and in doing so, replied back with all of the emails on the mailing list sent to everyone who happened to be on the email list. So now I had a copy of the list.

What a treasure trove that was. The email list contained a few hundred active duty chaplains and chaplain staff, paramilitary church organizations, and dominionist Assemblies of God and nondenominational churches. Active duty military personnel are receiving racist and hate material in their official in-boxes (.mil addresses). So this is apparently one source of antisemitic literature entering the military, there should be an investigation about active duty military personnel using their official email to receive and send hate material. Something needs to be done and fast, perhaps naming and shaming. But not everyone on the list may appreciate receiving the hate mail.

Mikey Weinstein over at MRFF wonders if the antisemitism is coming from the chaplain corps or the senior officers. He wrote this in a letter to Defense Secretary Panetta:
It is quite clear, for a plethora of incontrovertible reasons, that these comic books are blatantly anti-Semitic. For instance, one of the main themes of these horrible books is the wretched, age old libel that Jews are directly responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and, further still, that Jews have conspiratorially consorted with the devil in that crucifixion "plot" and other nefarious anti-Christian endeavors. Our MRFF clients do not know whether it is DoD chaplains or our clients’ chains of command who are behind the distribution of these bigoted materials. What MRFF does know is that these "Manga Messiah" comic books have been distributed liberally across all the service branches and on military bases and naval vessels all over the world including the combat zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and at many other U.S. armed forces bases in the Area of Responsibility (AOR).
 I think we have found only part of the problem, chaplains and retired chaplains. The problem may also be both the chaplain corps and an officer corps that looks the other way as long as it is not themselves that are being denigrated. I don't know what will happen if this problem is allowed to fester. I I have a feeling that the situation will continue to get worse and very ugly in the future.

 I've passed the email list to a friend who is very keen to check out the names for links to hate groups. This story is to be continued ...

 Update:

I've been unable to verify that Maj Linzey was running the CFGC after Ammermann's death, so I have update the post.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Alfred Hitchcock's Death Camp Documentary


Over 11 million were murdered in the Nazi death camps during WW2.For no logical reason at all. I had to stop this video about every 5 minutes. That was the only way I could get through it. Alfred Hitchcock made this partial documentary shortly after the end of the war. The suffering and death in this film is beyond imaging. All of those poor people who suffered and died horrible deaths. The film was deemed too graphic for viewing and never finished.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Dipshit Thinks Women Can't Handle Combat

Ryan Smith over at the Wall Street Journal thinks that women can't handle combat. He seems to be preoccupied with women's bodily functions during combat.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.
See Mr. Smith, women don't need to stop at a restroom to take a leak. News flash bozo, women and men take a shit in the same way. I've been in situations where it has been a couple of weeks between baths and was no worse for wear. Perhaps a little smelly, as was everyone else. It sure does feel nice to have a long hot shower after spending a couple of weeks in the woods with no shower facilities, only a rag and a container with about a half gallon of water. You can get fairly clean with this. But somehow, I don't think pissing or shitting is really on his mind. I think the thought of women having periods absolutely scares the living shit out of him. Poor delicate flower.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
 You know women have fought in practically every war that has been waged throughout history. And have performed just as good as the men. When your village or town is getting overrun, no one has time to worry about who is holding and shooting the guns. And why would women automatically be ineffective during combat? You know who I think would be ineffective during combat? A man who is traumatized at the sight of a woman taking a leak, possibly even standing up to do so.
Despite the professionalism of Marines, it would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex, particularly when your body has been ravaged by lack of hygiene. In the reverse, it would be painful to witness a member of the opposite sex in such an uncomfortable and awkward position. Combat effectiveness is based in large part on unit cohesion. The relationships among members of a unit can be irreparably harmed by forcing them to violate societal norms. 
 Women have been taking care of the injured and sick for centuries and have not freaked out at bodily functions. Poor Mr. Smith, is he saying that he will have a case of the vapours at the sight of naked people, especially those of the opposite sex? Grow up.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Land of the Free



Eric Lack over at TPM Muckraker has an interesting story about a group wanting to create an armed survivalist compound in Idaho. Apparently, a group called "The Citadel" (no relation to the military school) wants to build a prepper's utopia on an Idaho mountaintop.
The Citadel, as envisioned and advertised by its creators, is to be a walled community of 3,500 to 7,000 “patriotic American families” who are ready for when The Shit Hits The Fan (TSHTF), i.e. the myriad potential society-collapsing disasters, either natural or man made, anticipated by preppers, survivalists, along with other fringe and breakaway strands of -ers and -ists. The Citadel is to be a place for people who want to be “removed and protected from peril in order to preserve ourselves, our posterity, and Liberty in the event of a national economic implosion.” And in whatever time is to be had before grid-down, economic collapse, The Citadel will provide a place to live “a free/freer life in Idaho (or elsewhere in the American Redoubt) amongst the current strong, self-reliant and Liberty-loving residents of the region.”
 Well, so far it seems that the group has only purchased 20 acres on an Idaho hilltop. I don't see 3,000 to 7,000 people fitting into 20 acres. But they say that they plan to buy more land in the area. The plans at the website look like a cartoon or Disney version of a walled fortress. There is a farmer's market, but no farm. And as for the cost, it cost $208 just to get an application looked at. According to the website:
We plan to purchase land for the Citadel in 2013 and break ground soon after. Even before unveiling our national advertising campaign, more than 200 families reserved space within our community!
 If living in an affordable, safe, well-prepared, patriotic community where your children will be educated in school rather than indoctrinated, consider the Citadel.
Approved applicants receive a Lifetime Lease (paid off in only 30 years). No credit check. No background check. Zero down payment. Zero interest. Zero property taxes.
Click to enlarge

 I love the bit about no property taxes. Of course not, since everyone is only leasing the land, they don't actually own any land at all. The only industry in the area will be the gun factory at the compound, and all residents will be required to train with weapons. Ohhhh, I really love the reflecting pool next to the firearms museum.
Per the project’s Patriot Agreement, which every would-be resident of the community must agree with in writing, an armed citizenry and a trained militia will also be important parts of life at The Citadel. All residents over 13 must be proficient with both rifle and pistol, and each household will have to provide one “able-bodied Patriot” for once-a-month militia training and support. (In its branding and literature, The Citadel refers often to the idea of the three percent or “the III,” an allusion to the idea that only three percent of the Colonial population participated in the Revolutionary War, a statistic the Anti-Defamation League has called “not particularly accurate.”) Every “able-bodied Patriot of age” within the Citadel will also be required to maintain one AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, five magazines, and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. 
So let me paraphrase, all land is owned by a central group and leased to the people, all work is controlled by the same central group, everyone is required to be drafted into their militia (any mental illness exceptions?) and all persons are required to have the same political beliefs. Land of the free indeed. 
Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.
Protesting a bit too much, methinks. So a group of "rugged individualists" thinks this is a good idea. I wonder what will happen the first winter everyone gets trapped in together. In addition, one of the founders of this idea has served time in the past for fraud and extortion. He seems to be a brave fellow, conning a bunch of armed survivalists. The local sheriff and Benewah County official say that they have never even heard of the group. Perhaps they should call the project Griftwood Estates.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Spam Cleanup

I've been too busy lately to spend much time on this blog, and now that I'm back, the spam has sure piled up in the comments. Took some time to clean it all out. Next task is to update my links and post the several stories I am ready to write.