Thursday, May 22, 2008

Was Pat Tillman "Fragged" For Being The "Atheist-In-A-Foxhole?"

In view of the documented hostility of military authorities all along the chain of command toward service members who are regarded as irreligious and/or atheists, or even insufficiently religious enough, I think maybe the question of how Pat Tillman was killed, and by whom, should be regarded further.

Reported last year in the blogosphere if little elsewhere, fundamentalist/evangelistic Right-wing religious organizations have more or less totally infiltrated USer military bases, of all services, all over the world, often with the explicit cooperation of military authorities at the base, Command, and Pentagon levels. Last year, Truthout characterized the situation this way:
The Christian right has been successful in spreading its fundamentalist agenda at US military installations around the world for decades. But the movement's meteoric rise in the US military came in large part after 9/11 and immediately after the US invaded Iraq in March of 2003. At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, soldiers on the battlefield have told disturbing stories of being force-fed fundamentalist Christianity by highly controversial, apocalyptic "End Times" evangelists, who have infiltrated US military installations throughout the world with the blessing of high-level officials at the Pentagon. Proselytizing among military personnel has been conducted openly, in violation of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution.
Until it's existence was problematized by ex.Col Mikey Weinstein (USAF), whose son was essentially shunned at the USAF Academy for NOT being sufficiently ecstatic about Jesus (Weinstein? go figger...)--the Military Ministry had offices in the Pentagon and coordinated with the Chaplain Corps.

There's the case of Spec. Jeremy Hall. Hall's troubles all started when he publicly declined to participate in a Thanksgiving prayer:
An Army Specialist, Jeremy Hall, who is on active duty at Combat Operations Base Speicher, Iraq, is in this dire situation solely because of his atheistic beliefs, and the fact that he declined to participate in a Christian prayer ceremony commemorating the Thanksgiving Holiday.

"Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained because he is an atheist," says the lawsuit filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an organization with an undisputed moral compass that is always focused on assuring that our Military’s might is matched with America’s Constitutional guarantees. ( "The staff sergeant asked plaintiff what an atheist is and plaintiff responded it meant that he (plaintiff) did not believe in God. This response so infuriated the staff sergeant he told plaintiff that he would have to sit elsewhere for the Thanksgiving dinner. Nonetheless, plaintiff sat at the table in silence and finished his meal." Specialist Hall was then told he would have to face consequences because he, in so many words, refused to be evangelized.
Hall subsequently was denied promotion when his CO learned he was an atheist, on the grounds that he wouldn't have the moral authority to command.

Hall sued, through the MRFF, founded by that same ex.USAF Col Weinstein. When news of his suit became known, he was subjected to threats of fragging--any one of dozens of 'friendly fire accidents' known to beset certain troops. Due to the threats, Spec. Hall has been re-assigned to the US, but of course his ordeal continues. Nobody clings tighter to guns and religion than bitter killers.
The death of Pat Tillman has always stunk to me of fragging. The accounts of the events surrounding his death are murky, contradictory, and compromised. In Nam, usually it was an NCO or an officer who was seen as too gung-ho, and likely to get other people killed who were the objects of those lessons. Pat Tillman could have been one of those guys, a kind of alpha soldier who others admired but feared. He explicitly enlisted to 'defend the country,' forsaking an all-star career in the NFL. He had "Pentagon poster-child" written all over him...And they killed him.

Was it because Tillman, the man, was not the model warrior, was critical, was honest and scrupulous, and--worst of all--at least agnostic about faith, and probably a free-thinker, an atheist? What might have been worse for the "Xian soldiers" than that someone as honest and out-spoken as Tillman should reveal himself to deny their God? What I think is that some "good Xian soldier" saw a chance to eliminate someone he might have regarded as Satan's emissary, perhaps even the Anti-Christ, and squeezed of that short burst: bangbangbang. Hallelulia!

No, I don't think it was an accident. Maybe not a plot, but an assassination, certainly.


notwatchingtelevision said...

Hope you're wrong, Woody, but if you're right I hope the truth is revealed someday while it could still mean something.

I'd never heard of Pat Tillman til it crossed my radar via tv that some football hero was passing up a big salary to fight for his country instead. I admired him for that even though as a anti-war non-capitalist neither choice was ideal to me.

Then came his death and all the pr hoopla, which made me sick. And then the revelations that yet another earnest young American had be used as a propaganda toy.

The guy wanted to contribute to something meaninful. If we can get to the definitive truth of what happened to him, we can at least honor him with that. -- SP

FVThinker said...

When doing some research on the circumstances of Tillmans death, I had read one seemingly damning account that Mr. Tillman took three shots to the head or face at close range. While that might outwardly seem like an assasination, one should keep in mind that, at least at one time, military M-16 rifles had a setting that would fire three rounds with on pull of the trigger. I presume that contemporary military firearms have that same feature.

While it would (tragically) work in our favor to bring attention to fundamenalism in the military; this aspect of his death, if correct, may not be what it seems.

Mr. Pelican said...

It could also be said that Tillman's zeal may have been seen as elitist by the bible-thumping less-than-brainiacs which seem to gravitate toward the army. An educated enlisted man is always viewed with suspicion by his colleagues. If you add a dash of hubris to the equation and fully automatic weapons you have a recipe for fragging someone who may have been viewed as a bossy, smarty-pants, too-good-for-us college boy. I seen it things like it happen.

Anonymous said...

Of course he was fragged. Not only because of his religious beliefs, but because he was a reader of Chomsky and Zinn and he realized(too late) that what he was participating in was immoral as well as illegal and he wasn't too shy about saying it.

I still feel bad about misjudging him. I thought he was just a glory hound who wanted to "kill towelheads" for Uncle Sam. How wrong I was.