I caused a certain amount of consternation in certain quarters by venturing to say, here, that the U.S. military is not a good place for conservative Christian young men.
I've been meaning for some time to blog this story about Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers. According to Sommers, his superiors in the U.S. army
--asked him to remove political bumper stickers from his private car which were negative toward Obama (they later backed down on this one specific demand, after Sommers got legal counsel),
--told him he could not silently read a book by David Limbaugh or another book by Mark Levin while in uniform or where other military members might see him and be offended by his choice of reading material,
--promoted him but then reprimanded him in a document for featuring Chik-Fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party and mentioning (on Twitter) that he was doing so partly "in honor of" the Obama/Holder refusal to defend DOMA. (He was told that he couldn't tweet anything "bordering on disrespect of the President.")
--personally warned by an officer that his tweets were deemed offensive and that some considered them racist (!)
--received a bad efficiency report, apparently for said tweets,
In the above list, when I mention "tweets" I've had in mind the following:
“In honor of DADT repeal, and Obama/Holder’s refusal to enforce DOMA act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A at my MSG promo reception for Army today.”
He also tweeted to radio host Mark Levin: “@Marklevinshow ‘luv ya, Mark! Fellow Virginian & MSG, Army. Being promoted today, serving Chick-fil-A @ reception in honor of DADT repeal.”
Later, the army dug through his twitter account and dug up a retweet of what someone else had said that did include the f____t word for homosexuals. Sommers admitted that the retweet was a case of "bad judgement" on his part but refused to posture and apologize in general on the issue as a whole.
In the name of full disclosure, I will tell my readers that the army has released the following statement, of which I am quite dubious:
“Accordingly, the Soldier was not prohibited from displaying a political bumper sticker. Instead, the Soldier’s supervisor discussed the appropriateness of the bumper stickers with him and potential perceptions of others in light of the regulatory guidance.”
“The Soldier is not, and never has been, “facing retribution and punishment from the military for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his car, reading books written by conservative authors like Mark Levin and David Limbaugh, and serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party,” the spokesperson added.
I have a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you if you take that to be decisive. Speaking for myself, I believe Sommers. And if being told you can't read Levin and Limbaugh where others might see you (or in uniform!) isn't "facing punishment" in the military, I don't know what is, because in the military you're supposed to do what you're told.
Soldiers don't have the same rights as civilians. I don't entirely mind that. However, when that fact is being used to micromanage their political reading and political views, we have a major problem. I don't actually know the official law on these matters. Sommers has a lawyer. We shall see what happens. It's impossible to read the story about Sommers or this one about the chaplain who was told he needed to "get in line" or resign after the repeal of DADT without realizing the great hostility toward conservatives that is building in certain quarters in the military. That hostility appears to be channeled through the authority structure to punish those who stray into wrong-think and don't stay in the closet about it.
The world darkens.