Tony Perkins of the hate group known as the Family Research Council is upset that a gay pride flag was run up a flagpole in Afghanistan. He says it endangers American soldiers. Posting on the FRC site he had this complaint to make:
The Obama administration doesn’t typically run its agenda up the flagpole, but at a military base in Afghanistan, the soldiers did it for them. There, in the dusty desert of war, an Army outpost saluted the colors of the homosexual lobby by flying a rainbow flag in place of Old Glory. Back home in America, a woman named Nicole Jodice posted the picture on Facebook, praising her husband for promoting, not the stars, but these stripes.
Somehow, President Obama is personally responsible for this gay flag and somehow, because Nicole Jodice posted the photo of the flag raising and praised her husband for it, she is anti-American because, I guess, she should have been praising the Stars and Stripes instead? One has nothing to do with the other – praising what the gay pride flag means does not mean that one denigrates or holds any less dear what the Stars and Stripes mean.
But Perkins isn’t through with his false equivalencies and he shows that it’s never the wrong time to put on the tinfoil hat:
And the troops aren’t the only ones feeling the whiplash of the military’s new policy. Just three weeks after President Obama publicly apologized for offending the Islamic community with the accidental Koran burning, this base is pledging its allegiance to an act that is nearly as incendiary. Where is the concern now for angering Afghan Muslims, who vehemently oppose homosexuality? The issue is as much an issue of military security as it is of religious morality. After February’s accident with the Korans, American lives were lost. What price will we pay because some want to use the military to show their gay pride?
Accidental “Koran” burning? Yes, I’m sure when soldiers toss the Qur’an on a fire that it’s accidental. Wonder what Tony would say if a Bible “accidentally” got burnt? I mean, I know that’s a fire pit and I know that’s a Bible but when I threw it in the pit I didn’t really expect it to burn. Makes all kinds of sense, right? Go ahead: in the interest of science this is one we can test – repeatedly. Send your test results to Tony.
And pledging allegiance… So…if American soldiers raise a flag, they are pledging allegiance to what it stands for? What does this flag say then, Tony Perkins?
Or is this one okay because the Marines are also boasting a U.S. flag? It’s okay, perhaps, to pledge allegiance to National Socialist values if you are also pledging allegiance to American values?
The two, hopefully, are mutually incompatible, though episodes like Abu Ghraib (and Perkins’ own attitudes) make us wonder. To my knowledge, Perkins was not outraged by this display of National Socialist values by a unit of Marine snipers of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Apparently, this does not endanger American soldiers. We fought against Nazi ideology once – now we’re embracing it? Thank you, but we’ve had enough Nazi-like behavior from our troops in Afghanistan.
Perkins goes from his false equivalencies to outright deceit as he builds his presentation of Obama as a Muslim-loving, Christian-hating gay-sympathizer:
The decision to fly the flag is even more of a head-scratcher when you consider the Defense Department’s obvious scorn for the Christian cross. Last November, in Afghanistan’s Camp Marmal, soldiers were ordered to tear down a cross that marked the chapel’s entrance because it was, in Commander William Speaks’s words, “a distinctly religious symbol.” The camp’s occupants were stunned. “[S]eeing the cross is a daily reminder of my faith and what Jesus accomplished for me.” Yet the President, who couldn’t apologize for the Koran burning fast enough, never uttered a word.
Tony Perkins links the Politico article in which the “tear down a cross” episode is related without bothering to mention that the article also explains that the cross was against existing U.S. Army regulations and not an Obama-directed, politically motivated attack on Perkin’s avowed religion – he simply presents Commander Speak’s words as an “opinion”. Here is what Politico actually had to say:
Pentagon spokesperson Commander William Speaks confirmed the cross was removed and told POLITICO, “The removal was, in fact, in accordance with Army regulations” and pointed out that the Army chaplain manual prohibits permanent display of religious symbols.
“Distinctive religious symbols, such as crosses… will not be affixed or displayed permanently on the chapel interior, exterior or grounds,” reads the manual.
If harm has been done to America’s cause in Afghanistan it has been done by overt displays of “Christian” piety by the U.S. military, from open proselytizing to Qur’an burning to the handing out of Bibles and Marine mass baptisms. Essentially, Perkins wants the army to serve as a crusading Christian force and is upset to the extent regulations still forbid that behavior. It isn’t the gay pride flag that reflects badly on our country but Marines urinating on enemy dead or flying Nazi flags representing a criminal organization, the SS, the guardians not only of Hitler himself but of National Socialist ideology.
Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) had it right with regards the SS flag: “That flag symbolizes the vile ideology of Hitlerian fascism and sends a menacing signal to religious minorities within the United States armed forces.” But Tony Perkins, who himself heads a hate group, has it completely wrong when it comes to a gay pride flag raised by a heterosexual soldier. But then, without use of false equivalencies and either/or fallacies, the position of the Religious Right would evaporate and collapse under the weight of its own abused logic.
The insistence that they are a persecuted minority even while they are crusading throughout the armed forces and through the armed forces throughout the world, while legislating their religion in violation of the U.S. Constitution in community after community, in state after state and at the federal level, is laughable.
To claim that rules do apply to them just as they apply to the rest of us – a Thor’s hammer on a chaplain’s tent would also have been against regulations – is not an attack on them, on Christianity or even on Tony Perkins’ pseudo-Christianity. It is simply an acknowledgment that according to the laws of the land, no religion is better than any other religion and that we must all obey the same rules.
It is time for Tony Perkins to quit saluting the flag of hate (see a full accounting here), because that is most definitely not what the Stars and Stripes are about, and his own allegiances are all too plain.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.