Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Religious discrimination in the Army

At 2 o'clock on a Monday morning, the sound of angry pounding sent Army Spec. Zachari Klawonn bolting out of bed.

THUD. THUD. THUD.

Someone was mule-kicking the door of his barracks room, leaving marks that weeks later -- long after Army investigators had come and gone -- would still be visible.

By the time Klawonn reached the door, the pounding had stopped. All that was left was a note, twice folded and wedged into the doorframe.

"F--- YOU RAGHEAD BURN IN HELL" read the words scrawled in black marker.

The slur itself was nothing new. Klawonn, 20, the son of an American father and a Moroccan mother, had been called worse in the military. But the fact that someone had tracked him down in the dead of night to deliver this specific message sent a chill through his body.

Before he enlisted, the recruiters in his home town of Bradenton, Fla., had told him that the Army desperately needed Muslim soldiers like him to help win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet ever since, he had been filing complaint after complaint with his commanders. After he was ordered not to fast and pray. After his Koran was torn up. After other soldiers jeered and threw water bottles at him. After his platoon sergeant warned him to hide his faith to avoid getting a "beating" by fellow troops. But nothing changed.

Then came the November shootings at Fort Hood and the arrest of a Muslim soldier he'd never met: Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, who is charged with killing 13 people and injuring more than 30 in a massacre that stunned the nation. And with it, things only got worse.

Staring at the note in his hands that dark February morning, Klawonn trembled with panic and frustration. His faith, he believed, had made him a marked man in the Army. Now the November rampage had only added to his visibility.
Read the rest here.

This is a very disturbing story. If even half of what is reported in here is accurate there has been a monumental failure on the part of the Army in general and this young soldier's chain of command in particular. That a commanding officer would respond to persistent reports of religious harassment, intimidation and even threats by suggesting that the soldier move off base "for his own safety" is a direct indictment of the entire chain of command. It is an admission that the CO has lost control of his unit. He should be summarily relieved of command and cashiered. I would also suggest that Non-Judicial Punishment (in the Navy we called it Mast) should be imposed on the more junior members of this soldier's chain of command with reprimands and demotions handed out as appropriate.

As a veteran who had a good friend in the Navy who happened to be Muslim, I am disgusted by this. Heads need to roll and a message needs to be sent. Anyone who can't conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect other people's personal religious beliefs has no place in the armed forces of the United States period.

2 comments:

Wordsmyth said...

Well said brother. Thank you for your service in the military.

Reactionary said...

Liberal society wants to have its cake and eat it too. It recognizes its need for protection by hard, aggressive men, and wants these same men to practice tolerance toward profoundly illiberal worldviews. Good luck with that.