I have taken the time to write a response to Mr. Isaac Bonewits re-write of “Warriors and Soldiers and Cops — Oh My!” since it appears his opinion of Neopagans in military service has continued to deteriorate over the past several years. This is not an effort to change Mr. Bonewits opinion, since he and I know that is not possible, but an effort to offer an alternate view of Neopagans who do serve in the military and an alternate view of the military in general.
His definition of a solder is a biased one coming from the Vietnam era and watching anti-military propaganda during the seventies. He has taken the most extra ordinary cases of war-crime and generalized them to support his idea that all military members would happily rape, pillage and kill small children. His opinion is supported by the modern film industry where we see such crimes committed in war movies. Those are just movies, and anyone in the military who commits such crimes is punished under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. The point is that a solder is held accountable by the UCMJ for his actions while performing his duty.
It should be said it is a crime to kill any non-combatant even in time of war. At the same time, if a leader of a foreign power uses non-combatants as a shield to protect a military site (which is a violation of the Geneva Convention) our military can not be expected NOT to destroy the military site. So the killing of women and children during the Gulf War was not the intention of the US military, but the direct result of an insane man using civilians as human shields. What does this have to do with Neopagans? I know of five Neopagans who served in the sand box as tank drivers, medics and communications.
Isaac goes on to attack military basic training, a school he has only read about and not from sources that reflect the modern training methods. The training does strip down and rebuild the individual but it does not remove his integrity and give him machine like obedience. One thing that the Training Instructors always kept on us about was integrity, it is the most important thing any person has. Group mind and machinelike obedience does not exist. Unless you call a Group mind the intense desire to work well with your unit to ensure mission ready status, or to ensure the safety of your fellow troops during a time of war.
Comparing U.S. solders to Nazi’s is perhaps a far worse crime then my being a Neopagan in the military. Dropping napalm of villages is a bit horrific and everyone has to question the sanity of those orders. Until you talk to some men who saw those villages up close and lived to tell about it. The ones who had small children run up to them for a hug and then pull the pin on a grenade, killing both them self and the solder. The Iraqi’s are the only ones who said that we were killing civilians with the possible exception of when Saddam put civilians in military targets with intent to dissuade Americans from destroying those sites. All sites hit in the Persian Gulf were military in nature. I have seen the pictures of the “milk factory” too, if your willing to believe a man who murders his own people, that is your choice. Do not use that to label us as baby-killers.
He lists some items that are wrong for Neopagans such as: Napalming , defoliate thousands of acres, maim or kill a total stranger. I feel that all of those things are wrong for any human being. However, I also know that without a standing army what little freedoms we have would soon be non-existent. The military may be the tool of a corrupt government, but individually each solder is a free-thinker who knows right from wrong and will not allow themselves to be put in a situation that forces them to commit a crime. For example, though there are many Neopagans who are infantry and in armor divisions in the Army, there are many more who are communication and medical. I do not seen any Neopagan taking a job where they would be forced to turn a key, or drop napalm on a civilian population. There are methods of getting the jobs that Neopagans should have, such as health care or even computer work.
Isaac has made all members of the military to be mindless machines who enjoy killing, raping and destroying life. We are all baby-killers, and nothing we say or do can convince him, or any other like him that they are wrong. We support an evil government that has lied and cheating its people and we are horrible people for doing so. He has even cited foreign newspapers telling about the thousands of women and children that our bombs killed during the Gulf War. This may be true, but I have already gone over some of the tactics used by Saddam Husein to prevent his military factories from being destroyed. He cites movies which sensationalized everything from babies being born to bombs being dropped. He finally sais that it is just his opinion. Which of course is true, but his not so subtle agenda is to prevent Neopagans from being part of the military, and thus not supporting us with Chaplains or even a “good luck”.
Finally, if you are a Neopagan in the military and you agree with Isaac, and I do agree with many of his points, complete your tour and get out. That is what I have done. However, if you break your Oath then you are just as bad as the folks Isaac is trying to make all of us out to be. We took an oath to defend the Constitution and follow the orders of the President of the United States. If we are truly honorable and have integrity we will stick to that Oath. I did, until January 1, 1997 when my 6 year tour was over.