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Pipes' wishful thinking?

Reader comment on item: Nasser Abdo: The Full Story

Submitted by John in Michigan, USA (United States), Jul 17, 2011 at 08:17

"Allowing Abdo this status implies U.S. government endorsement that being Muslim and a loyal American are incompatible."

I have to wonder if this isn't a case of wishful thinking?

During the draft era, the USG routinely granted conscientious objector status to members of other religious groups, such as Quakers. It was never interpreted as an endorsement of the position that being a Quaker and a loyal American were incompatible. Rather, it endorsed the idea that certain people or groups were pacifists, whose conscience dictated that they could not participate in any war whatsoever.

In the post-draft era, the main basis for CO status is that someone joins the military with a clear conscience, but then undergoes a profound and sincere change of heart and becomes a pacifist. This is rare (and hard to prove) but it happens. Abdo's case is different. The ABC News report describes a man, PFC Abdo, who became disenchanted with the military, not someone who became a pacifist. You don't get to pick and choose. You don't get to bow out with honor if your life in the military sucks, or if you find yourself missing your old life, or if you object to some wars but not others. Even if he is cleared of the child pornography charges, he should receive a less-than-honorable discharge, or a court martial.

Even more problematic: There doesn't appear to be a policy of inquiring of potential Muslim recruits if their faith would prevent them from serving fully. If the purpose of the USG is as you say, wouldn't policies such as these be a no-brainer?

Rather than a rejection of sharia, Abdo's case represents, as far as I know, the first endorsement by the USG of the concept of selective conscientious objection, a concept which the courts have so far rejected for good reason.

It appears that under the new policy, Muslims who object to certain types of military service or certain wars may join the military, accepting all the training, benefits, status, and honor that comes with that, and then receive an honorable discharge when called upon to earn that honor. This is an insult to all Americans, particularly those few moderate Muslims who freely choose to serve their country without reservations in the military. It is bad for morale. Worst of all, it seems like an open invitation for Islamists who want to fight America to join up, be paid to receive the best training in the world, gain insider knowledge of which of our enemy's tactics are most effective...and then resign and proceed to fight against us...all while casting a pall of doubt on moderate Muslim service members who are loyal Americans.

"This has portentous implications" is true, but I think not in the way that you mean.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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