Failing Memories: December 7,1941 and American Freedoms

The memory of one of the most tragic days in United States history is fading into the fog of old memories. One news article described it as another generations 9/11.
It is the way of life. Events once thought to be of monumental significance pale against the ravages of time.  The numbers of those most affected slowly eroded by mortality.
That day will come for 9/11 as well.
Someday, those of us who lived through that time in history will follow the same path into death.
What I dread most is not my mortality. What I despair of most is what I see happening to this country. Americans that so cherish their freedoms, paid for in the blood of Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Chosin, Hue, Iraq, Afghanistan, would deny the same freedoms to others because of false perception of differences. Such actions dishonor the heroism of those that fought the wars to preserve the freedoms of this country.
Freedoms promised to all by our laws and Constitution.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President that guided the country through that terrible time after the Pearl Harbor attack, once said, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
That fear is now gripping this nation. The once bright shining city on the hill, the beacon of freedom that has served this country so well, would cover the light in order to deny those same freedoms to others because some think we should be afraid.
We did not spend the blood of our men and women in fighting those that attacked us just so someday we would deny freedom to an entire group because we are afraid of a few.
Or do this simply because of a perception that one particular religion is more dangerous than another.
15000 Arab Americans fought in World War II, many of them Muslim. Arlington Cemetery has a number of American heroes who served with valor and distinction earning some of the highest military medals for valor. And they were of the Muslim faith, buried next to Christians, Jews, and Atheists. Americans of all faiths have served this country.
Arlington does not refuse to accept dead Americans by reason of faith or race or ethnic origin, why would America do that the living?
They paid the ultimate sacrifice for the very freedom some of their fellow Americans would deny to others for no other reason but fear..
Where has our courage gone?
Let me be clear about something. Those that seek to destroy us, those that follow some deranged interpretation of religion, any religion, who seek to impose their beliefs on us by force, know well that the US will always win such a battle.
We embrace our freedom. We are willing to share it with those that seek the same and are willing to do anything we have to do to protect it. We will die if we must, but our death will not come without cost.
We will visit death on you if you choose to try to take our freedom and it will be swift and terrible.
What we cannot do is give up any of our principles out of fear. It is not any one faith which poses a danger to this country. It is, as Roosevelt said, fear. A fear which blinds us to the greatness within this nation.
 E Pluribus Unum.
The real danger lies in those that would choose between the right religion and the wrong religion based on their own prejudices and call that being American.
Nothing in more un-American than that.

For (which?) God and (whose?) Country

I just read the New Yorker report on the raid that killed bin Laden.

(http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/08/110808fa_fact_schmidle)

I took a few things away from it.

1st. There is no military organization in the world that can even come close to matching the courage, determination, ability, and competence of the armed forces of the United States.

This is compounded by the willingness of the American people to pursue Justice.

You can hate President Barrack Obama’s policies and politics, but you cannot doubt his courage, his willingness to make difficult decisions, his admiration of, concern for, and confidence in the military.

He risked his Presidency on doing the right thing.

2nd (and this is more troubling)

The article reports the following transmission was sent to confirm contact with bin Laden (known as “Crankshaft” by JSOC group and referred to as “Geronimo” in the broadcast”).

Inside the compound the Seal team radioed;

“For God and Country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo”

This was immediately followed by the words “Geronimo, E.K.I.A.” (Enemy Killed in Action) to confirm he was dead.

The article goes on to describe the tension in the White House situation room.

At one point the article points out “as they awaited word, VP Biden nervously fingered his Rosary”

I was struck by the incongruity of these statements.

It was blind, nonsensical, religious belief that triggered the situation in the first place.

What was the difference? Our praying to a different invisible “God”?

One God sent planes into buildings.

One God guided forces to a house in Pakistan.

Taken in the best light, I guess the “Christian” God is more “surgical” in his vengence.

To borrow a line from a t-shirt I once saw;

“Science flies you to the moon, Religion flies you into buildings”

I do not begrudge people their religious beliefs. I do not doubt their sincerity. As long as it is personal and private.

I am troubled by any of our governmental actions, our elected officials, our powerful military being guided by any religious tenets.

Morality, honesty, and integrity do not exist because of religion, they exist in spite of it.

Studies show humans are evolutionarily “designed” (now that’s Intelligent!) to be moral, empathetic, and ethical.

Religion compels a certain behavior out of fear of eternal damnation or reward of a blissful, eternal life (especially with Seventy-two Virgins).

Humans have an innate sense of right and wrong and most follow that path. Religiosity, a by-product of our evolutionary development, is unnecessary.

If those Seals want to pray to thank God, if the Vice President wants to recite the ‘Holy Rosary’ and go to Mass, if the President wants to acknowledge God’s help in making the decision, I fully support their right to do it, privately.

But not as Officials of the US Government and not using any resources of that government.

I believe the decision to send bin Laden’s remains into the ocean, with appropriate Islamic burial protocols, was a brilliant tactical decision. Equally so, the offer of the remains to the Saudi Government (who wisely declined). But I don’t think they are an endorsement of the efficacy or effectiveness of the religious procedures. Nor should they be.

In the interest of full disclosure and if, in the unlikely event I am wrong and God does exist, Osama bin Laden’s passage into the eternal was dependent our exact adherence to Islamic protocols, I pray we fucked it up!

This will be a better world when the world adopts the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to Religion.