Today the Washington Times published an op-ed from Retired Admiral James A. Lyons arguing that the decision of the Army to allow a Muslim soldier to acquire conscientious objector status shows it has "embraced" the worldview of Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan:
Now it seems the Army has embraced Maj. Hasan’s position in an incredible decision made last month by the secretary of the Army to grant conscientious objector status to Pfc. Naser Abdo. He is a 21-year-old soldier, a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., who refused to deploy to Afghanistan, claiming that Shariah law prevented him from killing other Muslims.
The fact that Shariah law is totally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and has no legal basis in the United States was somehow overlooked in the Army’s decision process. Shariah is a totalitarian legal-military-political system that is designed to control every aspect of an individual’s life and is antithetical to our concept of freedom and democracy. By its dictates, Shariah is seditious.
By using the phrases "totalitarian legal-military-political system," and decrying "stealth jihad at its finest" Lyons identifies himself as a member of the sharia panic crowd which discredits him almost immediately, but let's unpack this anyway. While I don't believe the onus should be on American servicemembers to halt America's wars by resisting deployment, I have no objection to people becoming conscientious objectors. Better they realize they're unable to fulfill their commitments now than post-deployment.
Lyon's argument about Sharia and the U.S. Constitution however, is a red herring. According to the guidelines, " The most important consideration is whether applicants' "asserted convictions are sincerely held," not the means by which they have come to hold them.
Lyons writes that "tacitly accepting a key tenet of the Islamic doctrine of jihad." Hardly.The guidelines specifically state that "Care must be exercised not to deny the existence of beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one’s own." It would not surprise me if the review board found Abdo's selective objection to killing Muslims unethical (I do), but that's really irrelevant to the question of whether or not Abdo's "asserted convictions are sincerely held." Moreover, it's unclear to me how the Army as an institution or any mission to which Abdo might be assigned is served by keeping on someone who feels they are unable to follow orders. Such a decision could compromise the safety of others in his unit, and all for the purpose of spiting Muslims.
Private Abdo's choice of religious faith is irrelevant, except as it relates to his convictions. Lyons is arguing, in effect, that had Abdo somehow become a committed Christian who had disavowed violence and therefore could not serve, he wouldn't have any objection. It is Lyon's argument--that conscientious objector status should be prohibited for American Muslims whose beliefs we find distasteful--that is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, since it demands that the Army discriminate based on religion. This is the case with almost all of the conservative anti-sharia arguments, which are less about regulating law than belief itself.
Meanwhile this is just sad:
The U.S. military is the finest in the world. It represents the best of America. We have many Muslims serving honorably in the U.S. military and their service should not be tainted by Pfc. Abdo’s conscientious objector designation. His discharge from the Army is currently on hold because he has been charged with possession of child pornography. That should not be surprising: Shariah sanctions marriage of girls 9 years old and younger, in effect, legalized pedophilia.
Because without Islam, child pornography wouldn't exist right?
UPDATE: One last thing--there's something deeply absurd about accusing the Army of endorsing the worldview of a conscientious objector because they're granted conscientious objector status. It seems obvious that the whole point of being a CO is that your moral convictions are directly at odds with what the Army is asking you to do. By definition, the Army does not adopt the worldview of COs.
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