Thursday, June 30, 2016


Quotable: Wars on this, wars on that

Police officer: "Hey Major. How is the war on terror going?"

Major Thomas Egan, USAF: "Kind of like your war on drugs."

Source: Good Kill (2015) by Andrew Niccol.

See also: " 'Good Kill' Asks, 'Why Do We Wear Our Flight Suits, Sir?' "

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U. S. Grant on "Moral Courage"

The post below is by Artesian Royalty and is reposted from Daily Kos.

In conversations about US wars I often encounter puzzlement when raising the issue of the widespread lack of moral courage among US troops and their officers in failing to refuse to carry out, prevent, or punish some unethical action or failing to refuse, for example, to participate in an unjust, undeclared war initiated on false pretenses.

People seem to tend to equate courage in a military context with physical courage—the willingness to hazard life and limb in battle or some other dangerous situation. I've encountered this reaction among life-long civilians and veterans. When I was on active duty, I found it among other military personnel who seemed to think that contractual obligation, obedience, or—to put it generously—duty trumped the requirements of moral consideration.

I recently read something by Ulysses S. Grant invoking the concept. Grant is speaking, circa 1879, about "moral courage" in a military context decades before the formulation of, for example, the Nüremberg principles. Here is what he said:
I know the struggle with my conscience during the Mexican War. I have never altogether forgiven myself for going into that. I had very strong opinions on the subject. I do not think there was ever a more wicked war than that waged by the United States on Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign. I had taken an oath to serve eight years, unless sooner discharged, and I considered my supreme duty was to my flag. I had a horror of the Mexican War, and I have always believed that it was on our part most unjust. The wickedness was ... in the conduct of our government in declaring war. ... We had no claim on Mexico. Texas had no claim beyond the Nueces River, and yet we pushed on to the Rio Grande and crossed it. I am always ashamed of my country when I think of that invasion.*
Grant served as a junior officer in the war and was twice promoted in recognition of his bravery in battle. He cites his oath of service and devotion to "duty" in explanation of his failure to resign rather than help wage an unjust war. Despite this, Grant clearly laments and faults himself for having insufficient "moral courage".

The Mexican American War, along with his opposition to slavery, inspired Henry David Thoreau to pen his famous essay  "Civil Disobedience". Grant and Thoreau both remind us that civil obedience is, perhaps, a greater threat to life and liberty than civil disobedience.

*Quoted in John Russell Young. Around the World with General Grant. Vol. II. (New York: American News Co., 1879) pp. 447-448.

See also: "Green Berets: Who's the Coward?"

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Saturday, June 18, 2016


Quotable: Religious but not Spiritual

We have to hear again and again who God is for us and what God has done on our behalf. We must free each other from bondage through our confession and forgiveness.

I think this is why we at House for All Sinners and Saints sometimes say that we are religious but not spiritual. Spiritual feels individual and escapist. But to be religious (despite all the negative associations with that word) is to be human in the midst of other humans who are as equally messed up and obnoxious and foreign as ourselves.

Source: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (Convergent Books, 2015) p. 170 (emphasis in original).

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Monday, June 13, 2016


Gays & Guns

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Quotable: Violence, American Muslims, & Guns

I wish people would promote policies that truly address the real threat we face, instead of ones that promote bigotry and prejudice. It's extremely disturbing to see people take advantage of a national tragedy to score political points or to make a profit at the expense of dividing our nation. I do believe that gun ownership is seen as a central part of American identity for a large group of people, and so by excluding Muslims from that, it reinforces the idea of Muslims as the "other." And that's a big problem. Owning guns is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution either protects all of us or none of us. Our position is that you can't let our enemies win by allowing us to divide ourselves as Americans.

Source: Hassan Shibly as quoted in "This Is What It's Like to Be a Muslim-American Gun Owner" on The Trace, July 29, 2015.

See also:  "Blood, faith unite Muslims, LGBT and others after rampage" by Bethany Rodgers in the Orlando Sentinel, June 12, 2016.

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Pink Pistols Statement on the Orlando Shootings

Pink Pistols Saddened by Attack on Orlando Club

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Philadelphia, PA) June 12, 2016: Early Sunday, around 2AM Eastern Time, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was attacked by an armed individual. Approximately 20 persons were killed and over double that wounded when the attacker, whom police have identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, FL, pushed his way into the club and opened fire on patrons. Weapons carried by Mateen are reported as an "assault-type" rifle, a handgun, and a suspected explosive device. UPDATE: Reports are that the death toll is around 50, with over 50 more wounded.

"It appears he was organized and well-prepared," said Orlando Police Chief John Mina at a news conference on Sunday. Additionally, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said "This is an incident … that we certainly classify as a domestic terror incident." Authorities say the FBI is involved. Preliminary information reveals that Omar Mateen's family is from Afghanistan, though Omar may have been born in the United States. His family is reported to be distraught at the actions and loss of their son.

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the Pink Pistols, an international GLBT self-defense organization, warns people not to jump immediately to the assailant’s guns as the object of blame, but to concentrate instead on Mateen's violent acts. "The Pink Pistols gives condolences to all family and friends of those killed and injured at Pulse," began Patton. "This is exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies our existence. At such a time of tragedy, let us not reach for the low-hanging fruit of blaming the killer's guns. Let us stay focused on the fact that someone hated gay people so much they were ready to kill or injure so many. A human being did this. The human being's tools are unimportant when compared to the bleakness of that person's soul. I say again, GUNS did not do this. A human being did this, a dead human being. Our job now is not to demonize the man's tools, but to condemn his acts and work to prevent such acts in the future."

Patton's concerns are that knee-jerk gun-control efforts may make preventing future events harder rather than easier, as only the law-abiding potential victims will be affected by such laws. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to foresee such an event,” continues Patton, "But if they cannot be prevented, then they must be stopped as fast as someone tries to start them."

Some bars and other establishments that serve alcohol are difficult to protect because many states forbid the carrying of weapons where alcohol is served, but that just as one might have a designated driver who stays sober, one might have a designated carrier with a concealed-carry permit who goes armed and does not drink. "It's sad that we must consider such things, but when there are persons out there who mean us harm, we must find ways to protect ourselves within the law." Patton concludes.

The Pink Pistols is an international organization dedicated to the legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community. Chapters may be found across the United States and Canada. Though the Pink Pistols is for the GLBTQ community, it is not solely composed of the GLBTQ community, and all are welcome to join.

Gwendolyn S. Patton
First Speaker, Pink Pistols International
Ph: (610) 879-2364

See also:

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