Cadets who complain about “unwanted” proselytizing need to grow up and learn tolerance
By Seth Richardson
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein often discussed tolerance of diverse culture and religion in his novels, and he said “If the natives rub blue mud in their belly-buttons, it’s polite to rub blue mud in your belly-button.”
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that 41 percent of Air Force Academy cadets participating in a religious tolerance survey who are non-Christians “were subjected to unwanted proselytizing at least once or twice last year.”
What a bunch of panty-waist crybabies. This does not reflect well on the character of those who complained.
Using data obtained from the Air Force Academy under a Freedom of Information Act request, Post reporter Dan Elliot analyzed the results of a survey taken by the Academy on religious tolerance. Eliott writes, “In a survey in 2004, religious tolerance became a sensitive issue at the academy with a finding that many cadets heard slurs or jokes about other religions and that some felt ostracized because they weren’t religious. Gould, who was not at the academy at the time of the 2004 survey, has made it a priority to improve religious tolerance, launching new programs and frequently reminding cadets, faculty and staff of the need to respect others’ beliefs, or lack of beliefs.” The Post reports that 19 percent of cadets who “participated” in the poll were subjected to any sort of “unwanted” proselytizing.
But the real questions are, do cadets have a right, or even a justifiable expectation of being free of “unwanted proselytizing” from their fellow students? The answer is no, they categorically and constitutionally do not. Should they welcome attempts by others to proselytize as opportunities to engage their fellow cadets in respectful and substantive discussions about religion and religious tolerance? Absolutely. Should they be free to walk away from such discussions? Sure, but it’s better for them if they don’t. Should cadets feel “ostracized” because they are not religious? No, only children whinge about being excluded, not military officers. Should cadets learn how to tolerate and celebrate religious freedom because that is one of the things that they will be putting their lives on the line to defend?
These future military officers need to learn how to listen politely to the opinions of others, no matter how offensive or outrageous, and learn to engage in reasonable, reasoned discussion and debate about any subject, including religion, because they will certainly face such discussions as officers.
By the same token, if a cadet becomes aware of expressions of religious bigotry or intolerance on the part of other cadets, it is that cadet’s duty under the Honor Code to report such moral and ethical lapses to the proper military authorities for investigation. Offensive religious bigotry in the form of demeaning or deprecating “jokes” about other religions, or lack thereof, cannot be tolerated. Such bigotry is beneath the dignity of the Corps of Cadets and it demeans the Air Force Academy and the United States. Those who show signs of such bigotry must be carefully examined for fitness to remain in the Academy and must at the very least be counseled and instructed in proper deportment for military officers. For an officer in the Air Force to take an arrogant, intolerant, insensitive, bigoted and dismissive position when confronted by a religious belief that he or she does not subscribe to is failing to fulfill that officer’s duty to represent the United States of America to the best of their ability. Cadets need to be held to this high standard. This should be as iron-clad a rule of conduct in the Honor Code as the prohibitions on lying, and in egregious or repeated cases, should be cause for expulsion, and that is all that the Commander needs to say about it.
To suggest that our future military officers need to be protected against the free exercise of religion by their peers is ludicrous, and worse, it’s detrimental to their development as competent military officers.
Radical anti-theists like Mikey Weinstein, who go into a tizzy any time religion comes up in the military, are doing great harm to the intellectual and moral strength of our Academy cadets with their interference, and it’s time the Air Force tells Weinstein and his ilk to go pound sand, and that Air Force Academy cadets are expected to be tolerant and able to hold their own in any discussion or debate, be it about religion or anything else, just as they are expected to be able to demonstrate intellectual prowess, rhetorical excellence, superior reasoning, and extraordinary tolerance and respect in all situations.
Far too much attention is being paid by the Academy to this politically-correct anti-religious crusade that Mikey Weinstein is on. He has managed to strike fear into the officials at the Academy with his self-aggrandizing grandstanding. How disappointing. How harmful to the efficiency and effectiveness of our military.
It’s time for the Academy to dis-invite Mr. Weinstein’s interference with the proper training and education of our future military officers, and it’s time for the juvenile whiners who complain to either suck it up and act like the military officers they hope to become, or muster out of the service, where they can engage in all the anti-religious bigotry and whining they like.
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