Is it Just Poor Manners

In the time since my prior posts on the the pope I have received a number of comments and several messages regarding Benedict and what he might do and why I should be more concerned about him.

I want to make clear that my position as a Jewish man is this. I have not forgotten 2000 years 0f persecution and antisemitic acts. I am well aware of the roll that the church has played and I had thought that I had made this clear in my prior posts.

For those few of you who know me in person you are aware that I am not a diplomat. I have little to no compunction to telling you what I think in terms that are designed to make your toes curl and your skin turn black. So it goes a little against the grain to be more politic in my comments.

However, I consider myself to be a realist and here is what I know to be fact. You attract more flies with honey and to begin a relationship with an attack is not a good way to open a dialogue. This is why I want to give Benny some time to speak his mind and to see what and where he intends to lead.

On the topic of poor manners and things that piss me off I want to give a little nod to Dov Bear who pointed the following story out to me.

Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment

Here are a couple of excerpts:

“AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

The 4,300-student school recently started requiring staff members and cadets to take a 50-minute religious-tolerance class.

”There are things that have happened that have been inappropriate. And they have been addressed and resolved,” said Col. Michael Whittington, the academy’s chief chaplain.

More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.

”There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, `If you don’t believe what I believe you are going to hell,”’ Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said.”

This is what I would call an example of Tyranny of the Majority.

“The superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, conceded there was a problem during a recent meeting of the Board of Visitors, the civilian group that oversees the academy.

”The problem is people have been across the line for so many years when you try and come back in bounds, people get offended,” he said.

The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ”do not check their religion at the door.”

Other critics point to a series of incidents, including:

–The Air Force is investigating a complaint from an atheist cadet who says the school is ”systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity.”

–The official academy newspaper runs a Christmas ad every year praising Jesus and declaring him the only savior. Some 200 academy staff members, including some department heads, signed it. Whittington noted the ad was not published last December.

–The academy commandant, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, said in a statement to cadets in June 2003 that their first responsibility is to their God. He also strongly endorsed National Prayer Day that year. School spokesman Johnny Whitaker said Weida now runs his messages by several other commanders.

–Some officer commission ceremonies were held at off-campus churches. In a letter dated April 6, Weida said the ceremonies would be held on campus from now on.

Rosa and other academy leaders say some among the large number of Christian cadets — nearly 2,600 are Protestant, some 1,300 are Roman Catholic, and about 120 are Mormon — may not realize that evangelism is unwelcome among their fellow students. The corps of cadets also includes 44 Jews, 19 Buddhists and a few Muslims, Hindus and others. There are 15 chaplains and one rabbi.”

One of the key lines in that story is “may not realize that evangelism is unwelcome among their fellow students.” It just blows my mind that it wouldn’t occur to people that telling others that if they do not share the same religious beliefs they are going to go to hell is unwelcome and or offensive.

That is a load of crap, but it is an example of how the majority can run roughshod over others with little to no thought or consideration about how the behavior impacts others.

I keep coming back to a few places.

  • One, it is reasonable to be vigilant about the world around us and how people are treated.
  • Look, but do not leap until you have a plan of action.
  • Dialogue is preferable to action, but do not be afraid to take action when necessary.

I have to return to the task of performing my normal employment functions so perhaps I will return to this later.

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