According to Newsweek (via Coturnix), atheist veterans are getting a little tired of being ignored.
There are no atheists in foxholes," the old saw goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors. But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers--atheist soldiers--disagrees. "It's a denial of our contributions," says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq this fall. "A lot of people manage to serve without having to call on a higher power."
It's an ongoing battle. Just last month Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said, "Agnostics, atheists and bigots suddenly lose all that when their life is on the line."
Let's stop here before the obvious next line. According to the standards of he-said-she-said journalism, we all know the author is going to quote a limp statement from an athiest group that says: " we are also good soldiers." Let's go to the tape:
Atheist groups reacted swiftly, releasing a statement that "Nonbelievers are serving, and have served, in our nation's military with distinction!"
Boy, that sure put Gen. Blum in his place. A severly chastised National Guard attempted to save face:
The National Guard said it received about 20 letters objecting to Blum's statement, and said his comments were "intended to clearly illustrate the positive spirit of camaraderie, human understanding and inclusion of our fine men and women in the National Guard."
If you put the two statements together, it almost appears that the unnamed athiest groups are supporting Gen. Blum. Let's look at what Gen. Blum really said. To me, it appears as if he is drawing a moral equivalence between agnostics, atheists, and bigots. And it's not a flattering equivalence. To me, Gen. Blum seems to be saying that even the scum of the earth will pull together when under fire. I'm insulted and a lot of very good and honorable people I know will be insulted to be lumped in with bigots. Imagine if he had said, "Niggers, Chinks, and Klansmen suddenly lose all that when their life is on the line." Do you think we would hear from an official spokesman for the Guard that his comments were "intended to clearly illustrate the positive spirit of camaraderie, human understanding and inclusion of our fine men and women in the National Guard"?
There actually is a certain truth to what he says. If someone tries to kill a group of people, even if that group does not feel that they share anything in common, they will probably pull together in order to survive. However, this is not he truth that Gen. Blum was trying to make. He should only get credit for what he was really saying. That credit is really blame, and he deserves to be condemned as the bigot that he wanted to call agnostics and atheists.
* I stole that title from Coturnix.