Thursday, May 03, 2007


By Robert C. Koehler
Tribune Media Services

Sixteen words may be all that stand right now between the apparatus of government and the Founding Fathers’ worst nightmare. And those words are starting to give.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”

When George Bush, in the wake of 9/11, puffed himself into Richard the Lionheart and declared he would lead the country in a “crusade” against terrorism — you know, crusade, as in slaughter of Muslim infidels — turns out . . . oh, how awkward (if you’re on White House spin duty) . . . he may have been speaking literally.

What’s certain, in any case, is that a lot of people in high and low places within the Bush administration — and in particular, the military — heard him literally, and regard the war on terror as a religious war:

“The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we’re going to destroy him,” a lieutenant colonel, according to a BBC reporter, said to his troops on the eve of the destruction of that undefended city in post-election 2004.

“I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol,” Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jerry Boykin notoriously boasted a few years back, speaking of a Muslim warlord in Somalia. And by the way, George Bush is “in the White House because God put him there.”

And, of course, just the other day, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, who conducted the first official investigation into Pat Tillman’s death, opined that Tillman’s family is only pestering the Army for the, ahem, truth about how he died because their loved one, a non-believer with no heavenly reward to reap, is now “worm dirt.”

Until I read the newly published “With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military” (St. Martin’s Press), Michael Weinstein’s disturbing account of anti-Semitism at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I shrugged off each of these remarks, and so much more, as isolated, almost comically intolerant noises out of True Believer Land. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do . . .

Now my blood runs cold. Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Academy and former assistant general counsel in the Reagan administration, and a lifelong Republican, has devoted the last several years of his life to battling what he has come to regard as a fundamentalist takeover of the Academy, turning it, in effect, into a taxpayer-supported Evangelical institution. He charges that the separation of church and state is rapidly vanishing at the school, which routinely promotes sectarian religious events, tolerates the proselytizing of uniquely vulnerable new recruits and, basically, conflates evangelical interests and the national interest.

If you think this is just a fight over some abstract principle, with ramifications only for atheist, Jewish, Buddhist and other cadets who may be “offended” by fundamentalist God talk, I urge you to check out Weinstein’s book or website ( He documents a chilling phenomenon: The whole U.S. military, up and down the chain of command, is coming to be dominated by members of a small, characteristically intolerant sliver of Christianity who truly regard themselves as Christian soldiers, on a God-appointed mission to harvest souls and battle evil.

Weinstein, whose family tradition of national service is pretty impressive, does not do battle lightly with those who now run his alma mater. One of his sons is a recent graduate of the Air Force Academy and the other is still a cadet there. His eldest son’s wife, a Christian, was his son’s classmate at the Academy, and Weinstein’s brother-in-law, also a Christian, is a grad as well. And his father graduated from Annapolis.

The fact that both sons endured anti-Semitic harassment initially spurred him to take action. But this goes deeper than disrespect for other faiths. The attitude he has encountered in his attempt to hold the institution, and the rest of the military, accountable smacks of a coup: “The Christian Taliban is running the Department of Defense,” he told me. “It inundates everything.”

Can you imagine a contingent of religious zealots, with their contempt for secular values (and such manifestations of secular order as the U.S. Constitution) — and with their zest for holy war — in control of the most potent fighting force and weaponry in human history? Is this possible?

Well, said Weinstein, consider the 523rd Fighter Squadron, based at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., which calls itself The Crusaders, and whose emblem consists of a sword, four crosses and a medieval knight’s helmet. Check ‘em out at, which reports that the payload on the F-16s they fly consists of “a wide variety of conventional, precision guided and nuclear weapons.”

And listen once again to Commander-in-Chief Bush, speaking in 2003 to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.”

If this is a religious war — a “clash of civilizations,” waged by competing agents of God’s will — victory may be indistinguishable from Armageddon. God help the human race.

- - -
Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at or visit his Web site at
© 2007 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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Then I went to sleep again, and dreamt what I have told you. That the dream process is a rapid and momentary one seems to be true for the perception through consciousness of the already prepared dream content; the preceding parts of the dream process probably take a slow, fluctuating course.. One candle in three rooms is drearier than darkness anyhow.. Yessuh, breakfus', reasserted Babe, coming entirely into the room and looking curiously about him.. Although familiarly known as Colonel Lampton, and although of Kentucky, he was not merely a Kentucky Colonel, for he was actually appointed Colonel on the staff of the governor of Kentucky.. This five hundred dollars he was adding to an unreckoned sum of about two thousand, merely as extra fortification against a growing sense of gloom.. She then proceeded to name a gallant general, with his elegant wife and accomplished daughter; a celebrated commander in the navy; two highly distinguished members of Congress, and even an ex-president.. Who are you, pray? said I with much dignity, although somewhat puzzled; how did you get here? and what is it you are talking about? As vor ow I com'd ere, replied the figure, dat iz none of your pizziness; and as vor vat I be talking apout, I be talk apout vat I tink proper; and as vor who I be, vy dat is de very ting I com'd here for to let you zee for yourself.. What-all's yo' name? The girl giggled deliciously.. Apart from individual symbols and the variations in the use of what is general, one never knows whether an element in the dream is to be understood symbolically or in its proper meaning; the whole content of the dream is certainly not to be interpreted symbolically.. The very tone in which Prue had spoken convinced me that he might.. I--oh--I--darn it all! there goes the second bell.. [2] Nor will I further investigate the difference in the play of the psychic forces in the dream formation and in the formation of the hysterical symptoms, for to do this we ought to possess a more explicit knowledge of one of the members to be compared.. The danger of their disturbing sleep must, however, be avoided.. And that were answer enough to hurt his feelin's. I've thought for some time that you were getting a little overtrained.. The gentle sweetness of his wife melted every heart into love and sympathy.. Now look here, drawing from his pocket a paper.. Tables, set tables, and boards are women, perhaps on account of the opposition which does away with the bodily contours.. This cerebral anaemia produces a transformation of character, demonomaniacal hallucinations, and very violent nocturnal, perhaps also diurnal, states of anxiety...

2:22 AM  
Blogger Rich Rodriguez said...

4:30 PM  
Blogger david78209 said...

I'd really like to look this up in the original (unless it's not in English; but George Bush must have said it in English if he said it).
"And listen once again to Commander-in-Chief Bush, speaking in 2003 to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.” "
Can you find a reference for this?

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9:11 PM  
Blogger Kirk H. said...

Concerning “disinviting” Franklin Graham from speaking at the Pentagon for the National Day of Prayer observance, the Pentagon tried to defend that decision by saying, "We're an all-inclusive military." But to be "inclusive," as they now define it, apparently is to exclude Christianity and what it believes? This is blatant discrimination. Do you think Rev. Graham feels particularly included at this point?

The recent efforts by Muslim activists (like members of CAIR and other Islamic groups) to shut up Franklin Graham and prevent him from speaking at public functions is an absolute disgrace to this country. Let me tell you why:

The people bringing the complaints are Muslims. This is the absolute height of hypocrisy, as Islam is one of the most discriminatory thought processes in the world. Islamic organizations like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) talk a lot about inclusiveness, but then they fight tooth and nail to shut up people they don't agree with (like Franklin Graham). They whine about discrimination against Islam, and yet they continue to defend it, even though it openly discriminates against women, it discriminates against people who don't believe in Islam (“infidels”), it discriminates against Jews and Christians, it discriminates against the West (calling it "The Great Satan" and the like), and it discriminates against anyone who refuses to follow their incredibly intolerant Shariah law. We allow Muslims to freely come into this country all the time, and build all the mosques that they want -- but just try to go to an Islamic country like Saudi Arabia or Iran carrying a Bible, and see how “peaceful” and “tolerant” these people are. Or try to enter Saudi Arabia if you are a Jew or a Christian. Both are forbidden there! All religions but Islam are forbidden in Saudi Arabia! Is this a “peaceful, tolerant” religion? To believe that is irrational, illogical, and just plain brainless.

Most Americans are not fooled by this kind of two-faced hypocrisy that protects Islam and discriminates against all other religions (Christianity in particular). And anyone who participates in this charade only makes themselves look stupid, irrational, and totally contradictory by doing it.

I think maybe it is past time that the Pentagon start telling groups like CAIR to just “shut up”!

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10:31 PM  
Blogger FSUScotsman said...

This is nothing more than a crusade against anyone that wants to, practicing their religion as they see fit. The First Amendment works for everyone and it is the freedom OF religion not FROM religion. Weinstein is a sad little man that is mad at the world. He can't get over the fact that he may have been offended. Guess what? We ALL get offended. I'm tired of people like him. He is the Michael Bloomberg of religion....he tells everyone what they should do, and it offends everyone. Not it will be my job to help stop him.

2:13 PM  

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