Sunday :: Nov 6, 2005

For The Birds, Or The Bird Brains?

by pessimist
Lord, guard and guide the men who fly Through the great spaces of the sky; Be with them traversing the air In darkening storms or sunshine fair - The U.S. Air Force Hymn

There has been a lot of talk about the unsavory atmosphere at the US Air Force Academy this year. As a taxpaying American whose taxed wages are spent in part to provide trained aviators to protect this nation from attack by air (when not ordered to stand down for political reasons, that is) I demand that anyone who does choose to serve my nation in this capacity, or in one that supports or military pilots, is allowed to do so without bias. It shouldn't matter which gender ...

Thou who dost keep with tender might The balanced birds in all their flight Thou of the tempered winds be near That, having thee, they know no fear

Despite a recent history of rapes or other sexual assaults happening at the Academy on a too regular basis, and the replacement of the former AFA commandant (who was hired by the Citadel of all places - a military academy that has a history of sexual assault issues of its own, so he will fit in well there!) by another officer who vows a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault, they seem to have a lot of work to do. Will they stand a prayer of a chance?

It depends - which religion's prayer do you have in mind?

Aloft in solitudes of space, Uphold them with Thy saving grace. O God, protect the men who fly Thru lonely ways beneath the sky.

Earlier this year, charges of religious intolerance by Academy 'Christians' was alleged. Sadly, The Air Force was sued for religious discrimination - months after the original complaints surfaced. Shortly afterwards, the Air Force rescinded rules allowing Christian proslytizing, and the plaintiff offered to drop his suit if the Air Force would actively ban such activities. The Air Force chose not to do so (gee, I wonder why?), and the suit continues.

One newspaper took the Air Force to task for ignoring the main object of its rationale for existing - The Constitution:

Editorial: Air Force Academy ignoring Constitution

The academy needs to do an about-face and get religious advocacy out of its command and academic structure, including its chaplains and cadets, as a matter of school policy.

The individual practice of religion is entirely up to cadets, and they should be free to chose. But religion should in no way be imposed, favored or preached by the academy, its chaplains, commandant, officers, instructors or cadets.

The academy is, after all, a federal government institution, and the First Amendment is clear about the free exercise of religion, as well as the prohibition on government imposition or establishment of it.

Evangelicals don't get a pass. Neither does the academy.

You would think that would be obvious at a place like the academy, which is steeped in American tradition and heritage.

It speaks volumes that it is not and that Weinstein has had to ask the court to enforce the Constitution, which the academy and its officers are sworn to uphold.

I suspect that the Academy might also want to include additional classes on the Fourteenth Amendment along with those they need to institute on the first:

Control their minds with instinct fit What time, adventuring, they quit The firm security of land; Grant steadfast eye and skillful hand

Racial sensitivity fumbled at the Air Force Academy

Bringing up race in talking sports always seems a slippery slope. No matter what you say, it tends to come out wrong. That’s why it was surprising to find Fisher DeBerry tripping over the topic recently. DeBerry has been the Air Force Academy’s head football coach for 22 years and presumably knows the ropes. Still, in searching for explanations for a recent 48-10 loss to Texas Christian, he noted that TCU had a lot more “Afro-American players” and that “they ran a lot faster than we did.”

There is a very telling aspect to Coach DeBerry that needs presentation:

A year ago, the academy caught him in another PC lapse with a “Competitor’s Creed” sign posted in the locker room with the line “I am a Christian first and last.” DeBerry is deeply religious with strong ties to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Some Christian! One would think that his 'apology' would have been couched in more appropriate terms:

"It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well," DeBerry said in remarks first broadcast Tuesday night by KWGN-TV in Denver.

ESPN Sports also reports that Coach DeBerry doesn't seem to accept that off the field he is not the ultimate authority:

DeBerry found himself at the center of a controversy last year, too. He hung a banner in the locker room that read in part "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ" a day after the academy's superintendent announced the school would do more to fight religious intolerance.

Football coaches aren't what one thinks of first when an example of intelligence is needed, but they do tend to face up to reality eventually. Coach DeBerry is no exception:

"I realize the things I said might have been hurtful to many people and I want everyone to understand that I never intended to offend anyone," DeBerry said.

"I have made a mistake and I ask for everyone's forgiveness," he said. "I regret these statements and I sincerely hope they will not reflect negatively toward the academy or our coaches or our players and I thank the administration for the opportunity to make this apology."

It's a shame that a certain presidential pretender hasn't learned these words! If Bill Gates can decide that there are more important things his great wealth can be used for, then there just might be hope that King George will see the error of his ways and not lead our military into temptation - nor into perdition.

Copyrighted [©] source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 5:10 PM :: Comments (39) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!