Tag Archives: discrimination

Excuse Me While I Go Scream (women should be allowed into the Army Rangers)

I went to work this morning. It was my first day, so I had to wait for my boss to meet me in the lobby. While I was waiting I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and started reading. The article on drivers picking up passengers to beat the tolls on the way to New York City captured my interest, but when I opened up the paper to read the remainder of the article I saw this. And I nearly screamed in anger.

The opinion piece, which I didn’t get to read until I got home, smacks of misogyny and lacks any real logic. The man who wrote it basically says women shouldn’t be allowed in Army Ranger school because they’re women. Seriously.

Kilcullen claims that because one of the major reasons given for opening up more combat and leadership positions to women is to foster military career growth for women, women wouldn’t be selfless enough to be Rangers.

It is this culture of excellence and selflessness that attracts young men to the Ranger brotherhood. The Ranger ethos is designed to be deadly serious yet self-deprecating, focused entirely on teamwork and mission accomplishment. Rangers put the mission first, their unit and fellow soldiers next, and themselves last. The selfishness so rampant elsewhere in our society has never existed in the Ranger brotherhood.

Considering the rigors of Army Ranger training, I can’t imagine why Kilcullen thinks self-interested women would be attracted to the Ranger program. The way I see, opening up the Rangers to women would simply allow those women that are equally attracted to a culture of excellence and selflessness as the young men to join the program.

Women in the military may be asking for more opportunities for career growth, but they’re also asking to be allowed to sacrifice everything for their country if they so choose. They’re asking for the glass ceiling established by rules (not just by culture as in most situations in the U.S. today) be removed.

Kilcullen says,

And that is the secret of the brotherhood’s success. Some call it “unit cohesiveness” but what they are really describing is a transition from self-interest to selfless service. The notion of allowing women into Ranger School because denying them the experience would harm their careers makes Ranger graduates cringe. Such politically correct thinking is the ultimate expression of the “me” culture, and it jeopardizes core Ranger ideals.

Because, you know, women are never selfless. They don’t give up careers to raise children or do the laundry even after a 40-hour work week, caring for the kids, making dinners, and cleaning the house because no one else is going to do it. They don’t leave abusive husbands for the sake of their children. Not that fathers can’t do this, too. It’s just that most of the most self-less people I know are women, not men. Most of the do-anything-to-achieve-a-goal people I know are also women.

As for the physical requirements of the program, no one mentioned relaxing those requirements. Women are capable of meeting physical requirements; sometimes they have to work at it harder than men. That doesn’t mean we’re not worthy, and it doesn’t mean we’ll quit.

The amount of rage coursing through my body from reading Kilcullen’s opinion is hard to describe. I could hardly type straight. This morning, after reading the headline and first paragraph, I almost panicked that in a few brief moments I would have to appear normal and pleasant. That’s how angry I was. That’s how angry I am. I don’t think I wrote this as well as I could, but I need to get it out there. I need for other people to see it. I hope people share this post or post about it themselves. Excuse me while I go scream.

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The Difference Between Chuck Norris and God

What’s the difference between Chuck Norris and God?

Let’s see, one exists and the other doesn’t. That’s not the actual punchline of the joke, but because being an atheist was apparently such a scandalous thing at my high school, I don’t know what the actual punchline is. I don’t much care, either.

One day, I was in Spanish class, and we were all supposed to be working independently when someone asked this question (it may have been one of several Chuck Norris jokes – they were particularly popular my junior year of high school). Going to public school in a relatively affluent suburb of Minneapolis, I thought nothing of responding with my usual frankness.

The students around me were a lot more religious than I expected. In part, I think, this was due to Spanish being a “regular” class and not an “honors” or “AP” class, but that’s just speculation.

I wish I had a record of the conversation, but I have a relatively good memory from having told this story several times.

The response to my answer went something like this:

Other students: What do you mean?

Me: What it sounded like. Chuck Norris exists. God doesn’t.

Other students, scandalized: You don’t believe in God?!

Me: No, I don’t. I’m an atheist.

Other students (after a short period of stunned silence): [Insert typical “well if there’s no god…” questions]

Boy in class (in accusatory, insulting tone): Are you depressed? Do you need to see a counselor?

While that’s about how the conversation went, it by no means conveys the full extent of what happened. Have you ever had an experience in which you felt you alone were at odds with nearly every other person in a room of around 30 people? Even 1 against 20 is usually unnerving, no matter the topic.

I felt alone. Small. Insulted. Attacked for my lack of belief. Attacked because I was different. And extremely unsafe. Not even the teacher put a stop to the, uh, discussion.

The students that spoke up – there were maybe 3 ring leaders – called themselves Christians. I would call them mean, close-minded and unfriendly. Despite my dislike of religion, these aren’t things I usually associate with the term “Christian.”*

The reason I’m telling this story is to share a message. Atheists are a very small minority in the United States, and they are a very disliked minority. Many people seem to think atheists complain needlessly about discrimination and poor treatment; that is, many think atheists do not face problems because we identify as atheists. We do.

Jessica Ahlquist faced death threats because she stood up for the separation of church and state within her public high school. Numerous billboard campaigns across the country have been rejected despite their friendly and innocuous messages because they are atheist messages or are sponsored by atheists. Rather than allow atheists to be members of the Boy Scouts of America, the BSA lost government sponsorship and removed all scouting units from public schools and similar government buildings. Americans do not want their children to marry atheists, do not want to vote for atheists, and, by one study’s estimate, trust us about as much as they trust rapists. Seriously, look up the statistics. They’re disturbing.

I have been told I have no morals. I have been told I must be depressed because I don’t believe in the Christian God. I have been told my life has no meaning. I have been told I can’t be happy. I have been singled out and treated as inferior.

I do not think that what I or most atheists face is anything like what black/African-Americans had to face (and still face at times) during the Civil Rights movement (or before it, for that matter). I am not trying to claim the “most discriminated” or “poorest treated” minority group title. I simply want to share with you that atheists really do face negative treatment based on our lack of belief in a god.

This is why I continue to identify as an atheist. That might sound counter-intuitive, but as a strong, confident, intelligent, and moral human being, I feel it is important to be open about my non-belief. It is my hope that, by setting an example, atheism will lose some of it’s negative connotation. I hope that being open about my disbelief will function in a similar manner to a homosexual being open about their sexual orientation – people who know gay individuals are less likely to be homophobic or hateful toward homosexuals. If “atheist” were an innocuous term without such negative associations I doubt I would bother to identify as such.

*In fact, when I ran into one of these students the following year and I shared with the two people I was with (a friend and her boyfriend’s mother) why I had a poor opinion of him, my friend’s boyfriend’s mother started making excuses for him, saying he had a hard life (alcoholic dad, divorced parents – my parents aren’t together, either). Apparently, some Christians think it’s okay for other Christians to be complete a**holes if they’ve had some tough things happen in life.

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Federal Courts Make Just Decision on Transgender Case

Good thing:

The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Tuesday ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was fired from her General Assembly job after disclosing she was going to make the transition from man to woman.

Bad thing: that the woman was fired in the first place.

I am glad the federal appeals court is taking a strong, just stance on this case. It is terrible that anyone would ever think it is okay to fire a person because they are transgender and/or have decided to make a transition from living as one gender to living as another. I understand that transgendered individuals can make people uncomfortable (my issue is limited to my ignorance as to how to talk about transgender individuals; I end up confusing myself or making stupid gaffes), but that should not have any bearing on employment status.

Nevertheless, it makes me happy that federal courts rule in favor of the fair treatment of transgendered individuals. I believe that is a step in the right direction. This is one issue on which the government, especially the courts, can have an immensely positive effect in the direction that is best for society. It’ll be slow-going, especially in some locations, but we are moving in the right direction!

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More Serious than it Seems.

I can hardly believe this. Who would ever think it is acceptable to put a sign on their door saying a particular group of individuals is not welcome in this day and age? I get that a lot of Christians have a problem with atheists, but that does not give them a right to say an atheist cannot enter their establishment.

Am I allowed to say Scientologists are not allowed to enter my store (okay, I don’t own a store) simply because I think you have to be delusional to fall for that particular group of ideas? No. And would I ever do that? No.

I thought we learned our lessons about segregation during the Civil Rights era when African Americans fought so hard for equality. And I thought that lesson was reinforced by the end of apartheid in South Africa.

We can certainly say things like, “Their loss” because that gelato shop lost a lot of business by putting such a sign on the door, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a rather alarming thing to see. We can laugh it off and do our best not to let it get us down at all, but it is scary to think that there are people thinking it is okay to discriminate on the basis of religion (or lack thereof). I hope this doesn’t become any sort of trend. Rosa Parks and all the heroes of the 1960s deserve a lot of credit for all that they did, but I don’t envy them what they went through, and I don’t want to experience even 1/100th of the ill treatment they received while fighting for their rights.

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