In a widely reported incident, US Air Force Academy Superintendent LtGen Jay “Tonto”* Silveria took to the staff tower at the cadet dining hall (Mitchell Hall) to tell USAFA cadets that racial slurs had been written on message boards at the nearby Academy Preparatory School, essentially a junior college for those who will eventually join the Air Force Academy.
In a five minute speech in which he notes hundreds of staff and faculty are lining the walls, LtGen Silveria eventually boiled it down to a simple statement:
If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.
Then he walked away.
That’s a call with which anyone can agree. Treating a Read more
US Army SFC Timothy Seppala is a Religious Affairs Specialist, otherwise known as a chaplain’s assistant. He recently wrote a few articles about the chaplaincy and one on “Reconciling your Morality: Finding the Common Ground.”
The article begins with a fairly reassuring statement that morality is “highly objective”, but it soon becomes clear SFC Seppala meant the other word [emphasis added]:
The truth is that morality can come from almost anywhere and is something that is unique to each individual.
As you can imagine, having so many sources of morality leads to many different views on what is right and wrong.
In other words, Seppala mean to say morality is subjective, not objective. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the article on morality.
Seppala goes on to note that social issues divide society — and the US military reflects the society from which it is drawn, even on issues of morality [emphasis added]: Read more
The US Department of Defense is issuing its policies on “transgenders” serving in the military service-by-service. As noted at the Air Force Times, the US Air Force became the latest to release its policies (PDF) on how its Airmen should conduct themselves with regard to grooming, uniform standards, and bathroom usage if they decide they want to be the other gender.
Interestingly, the Air Force made a point of emphasizing “respect” in differing beliefs (as opposed to behaviors) — even reminding transgender troops that they have to respect the “different views and beliefs” of their fellow Airmen [emphasis added]: Read more
The Department of Defense has published “An Implementation Handbook” to “Transgender Service in the US Military” (as a PDF). While apparently trying to be helpful, it contains a lot of “it depends” type answers. For example, will a Soldier get in trouble for using the “wrong” pronoun with respect to someone who is a male but claims to be female [emphasis added]?
Question: What pronouns should I use with transgender Service members?
Answer: This will vary by individual and unit. Transgender Service members should Read more
Continuing his theme of respect, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force General Mark Welsh published his latest Airman to Airman video (below), entitled “Dignity and Respect.”
General Welsh makes references to sexual assault and the common ill of ignoring “inappropriate jokes,” as well as saying some people have made the excuse that the “bad behavior is part of our heritage.” Some of those comments appear to be references to the perception of a plague of sexual assault in the military as well as the complaint that brought about the Air Force-wide scrub of offensive material.
Importantly, General Welsh said Read more
In a commentary entitled “Every Airman Counts: Treating each other with dignity and respect,” General Larry Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, nobly attempted to laud the virtue of respect. He recounts the story of a fellow Airman using the “N word” during a flag football game many years ago:
I was certainly no stranger to harsh language or “trash talk.” However, this was different—and it literally hurt…I was an American Airman and I didn’t expect that kind of verbal attack from a fellow Airman…
Several Airmen, on both sides of the ball, spoke up — forcefully. They chastised the offender and made it clear they did not approve of his outbursts or attitude. The referee, who was an NCO, also stepped forward and not only ejected him from the game, but directed him to report to his first sergeant the following day. The next day, not only did my teammates (on both teams) go out of their way to apologize for this single Airman’s behavior, but the Airman who committed the act also personally apologized.
Gen Spencer later said Read more
The US Air Force Academy is holding a Religious Respect Conference this week, inviting “religious and First Amendment advocacy groups” to meet with cadets and chaplains on the topics of religious tolerance and dignity.
On the topic of training in religious respect, the Academy had a noble goal for its future officers:
“The…goal is teaching an ethic of respect regardless of who people are, whether they follow one faith or another faith or no faith at all,” said Chaplain (Col.) Robert Bruno…”What we are trying to teach is a fundamental ethic of respect. We recognize the inherent dignity of every human being…”
“We agree to disagree agreeably, civilly, respectfully, professionally,” he said.
On accommodation, Jewish Chaplain (Maj) Joshua Narrowe made an Read more
Critics of religious freedom in the US military have sometimes claimed that speaking one’s faith while being associated with the military is forbidden. For example, Michael Weinstein’s MRFF used to have a stockpile of chaplains’ articles from local base papers they would re-publish, often with little comment except shock and the implication that what the military member (a chaplain) was doing was wrong (an implication their acolytes were quick to assume was fact).
MRFF volunteer Rick Baker has gone further, saying uniformed officers can’t even put a religious bumper sticker on their private car. Chris Rodda, Weinstein’s research assistant, has gone so far as to explicitly state it is wrong for officers to “publicly espouse” their religious beliefs on the internet, even when they do so as private citizens. (She’s wrong, of course, but that hasn’t stopped her in the past…)
It is worth noting that these criticisms have been aimed Read more