Saturday, January 23, 2010

Military Iron(y)

One approaches any third rail, metaphorical or actual, with extreme caution. This column is no exception, but occasionally, having come across a story so irresistibly ironic, it goes out on a limb.
Social Security has long reigned as the third rail of American polititics, but that cachet is being challenged on the blogosphere by the perceived infiltration of government and the military by Christian Fundamentalists. This week's flashpoint: Trijicon.

A maker of gunsights for hunters and the military, Trijicon has, for 30 years, been etching biblical citations (e.g., JN8:12, 2COR4:6, etc.) into the base of their scopes. The Pentagon seems (a) not to have noticed, or (b) to have been collusive (depending upon who you read) in the uncritical deployment of several hundred thousand of these devices into the hands of our soldiers and marines fighting an Islamic enemy in the Middle East.

Here we have a classic 1st Amendment paradox wherein the right of free speech collides with the separation of church and state.

But before one rushes to the judgement that -- as conspiracy theorists would have it -- the military is in cahoots with the religious right to proselytize the entire world, we note that General David Petraeus, head of Central Command in the middle east and arguably the most high-profile military figure in the country, has termed the matter "disturbing" and of "serious concern".

The upshot: Trijicon has now "voluntarily" agreed to halt its practice and to pay for the retrofix of all existing equipment.

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