US Air Force LtGen Ronnie Hawkins is the new head of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). He is reportedly getting grief over a commander’s call in which he listed the personal “rules” he has lived by since he was a Captain — and they included references to God:
Hawkins, who just took over the directorship of DISA in January, said his presentation has been taken out of context…He stated at the all-hands meeting that “Ronnie’s Rules” were his personal road map for living and he has used it since he was a captain. He said he tries to live by these rules every day.
The context of the briefing LtGen Hawkins cites is important (as context always is). By themselves, the slides have the potential to be confusing, if not misperceived. For example, some of the “rules” use the second person “you” and may seem imperative in nature. On the other hand, the slides are titled “Ronnie’s Rules,” which is hardly what you’d expect to see from a three-star General’s directive. Said the General:
“Those two slides, in particular …were in no way a directive or expectation I have for our dedicated men and women,” said Hawkins…“The rules are my own personal guide posts, or moral compass.”
That seems entirely reasonable. It is not unreasonable that commanders share their personal leadership or life philosophies with their subordinates. In this case, in particular, it was an expanded version of ‘biographical information,’ or giving the members of DISA the chance to find out ‘who the commander is.’
The response, however, has been farcical:
The employee said that he provided the presentation to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group, “in hopes of saving lives.”
The anonymous employee degrades into “the Arabs will hate us” excuse for criticizing public mentions of God in America:
The employee said what might seem like an ordinary presentation to Air Force employees can be easily obtained and used as propaganda in other countries — something he said a commander should know. People in Arab nations for example, might see Hawkins’ comments as a show of support toward one religion by the U.S. government, he said.
This is classic Michael Weinstein, who holds the position that the ability of Americans to exercise their liberties should be determined by those who are offended by those liberties.
For his part, Weinstein doesn’t disappoint:
MRFF’s founder and president, Mikey Weinstein, is calling for Hawkins to be court-martialed for violating his oath to the Constitution.
Nothing in LtGen Hawkins slides violates his oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” nor does anything rise to the level of court-martial even if it was to be prejudicial. But Weinstein gets quoted in the press sounding melodramatic, which is all that matters to him.
It seems Michael Weinstein has succeeded in marketing a hypersensitivity to religious references in the US military, to the detriment of religious freedom. As another commentary pointed out, the environment of religious freedom in the United States, and within the military, has come a long way since General Dwight D. Eisenhower said prior to the D-Day invasion:
let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
And that wasn’t even a qualified imperative to pray to “Almighty God.” Shocking how far the culture has fallen in 60 years.
What remains to be seen is whether the US military treats Weinstein’s hyperbolic vitriol in the manner it deserves.