No Need to "Worry About Cultural Trends"

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No Need to "Worry About Cultural Trends"

"We find ourselves in a time when people worry about cultural trends, when the values of discipline and loyalty need explaining ... In such a time, in such a culture, our military and its service academies only seem more exceptional and more admirable."

Vice President Dick Cheney, 2001 speech to Air Force cadets
It's a fair assumption that the Vice President knew little or nothing about the prevailing climate at the Academy when he delivered his commencement speech, but, as it turned out, praising cadets for ignoring or obstructing what he called "cultural trends" (code words for tolerance of diversity, perhaps?) was not what cadets and administrators there needed to hear.

Fast forward 4 years. The Air Force announced this week it is creating a task force to investigate charges of religious intolerance at the Academy. CNN reports:
... a report last week by a Washington-based religious liberty group accused cadets and staff members of creating a climate that discriminated against non-Christians at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"We have concluded that both the specific violations and the promotion of a culture of official religious intolerance are pervasive, systematic and evident at the very highest levels of the academy's command structure," said the report from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

... Complaints ranging from anti-Semitic slurs to teachers preaching in class were mounting with the school's chaplain last summer, according to school officials.

... In another instance, the commandant of the academy, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again-Christian, drew fire from at least one student who said the general put God in front of the Constitution in a speech to students.

So why should anyone give credence to a report by a liberal, Jesus-hatin' group like Americans United? Well, because the major allegations in AU's report are corroborated by data collected by, um, the Air Force itself:

Some 55 complaints of religious discrimination have been filed going back to 2001, prompting school officials to require that all 9,000 cadets and faculty and staff members take a 50-minute course on religious sensitivity ...

... The Air Force has said that a survey of cadets in 2004 uncovered "perceptions of religious bias." Of the more than 3,500 cadets who responded, more than 50 percent agreed that religious slurs and jokes are used.

Conversely, just fewer than 50 percent reported they "never" heard demeaning comments.

Nearly 50 percent of non-Christian cadets surveyed said classmates have a low tolerance for those who do not "follow a religion" or "believe in a divine being."

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