Friday, May 10, 2013

A Christian soldier suffers anti-Muslim bigotry

I'm not only ashamed for my country, but absolutely infuriated by this report from Yahoo! News.

Sgt. 1st Class Naida Hosan is not a Muslim — she's a Catholic. But her name sounded Islamic to fellow U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and they would taunt her, calling her "Sgt. Hussein" and asking what God she prayed to.

So before deploying to Afghanistan last year for her second war tour, she legally changed her name — to Naida Christian Nova.

This did not solve her problems.

Instead, matters escalated. Nova complained to her superiors about constant anti-Muslim slurs and jokes. She says they responded with a series of reprisals intended to drive her out of the Army, leading her to consider suicide.

"My complaints fell on deaf ears every time," said Nova, 41, a member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C. "Any time I would say something about it I was treated like I didn't know what I was talking about or that I'm an idiot or that I was a Muslim sympathizer. It was just a very lonely feeling."

Determined to remain in the service for at least eight years, until she is eligible for retirement, Nova recently re-enlisted. But she agreed to tell her story to The Associated Press because "I don't want this to happen to anyone else if I can help it. It's a horrible to feel like people are against you when you are supposed to be on the same team."

There's much more at the link.  Go read the whole thing - including the official harassment and legal actions involved - then hang your head in reflected shame at how the members of our armed forces treated one of their own.

I've written about such attitudes in the past.  If you're interested, see these articles, in the order linked below:

It's attitudes like those discussed in the articles linked above (and sometimes exhibited by some of those who commented on them) that lead to precisely the sort of moral atrocity perpetrated against SFC Nova.  This is totally, completely and utterly unacceptable conduct on the part of her erstwhile comrades-in-arms, and even more so from her superiors and the entire chain of command.  I can only hope against hope that the heads of those responsible will roll, career-wise . . . but I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.  Anti-Muslim xenophobia is too deeply entrenched in the 'system' right now - and the 'system' notoriously protects its own, whether they're right or wrong.  We saw that confirmed last month.

How can our armed forces claim to represent and defend the 'land of the free' when they imprison one of their own behind the bars of their unthinking, illogical, false, misguided prejudices?

Walks away, shaking head in disbelief and despair . . .



tweell said...

What on earth did you expect? Stupid, yes, but inevitable; part of those unintended consequences that will happen.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims... and the administration goes with the Religion of Peace chant. When the official word is 'hands off' and the common soldier has no official recourse (note that there were plenty of complaints about that psychologist, but since he was Muslim, he got a pass) this sort of thing will happen. They will hound anyone they have a shadow of suspicion about until that person is gone.

Our soldiers go out and patrol among folks that smile to their faces and shoot them in the back, they will not tolerate being blown up or shot by one of their own. Not any more. You were in a military, what would your buddies have done if someone had been placed in your unit that was (possibly) Angolan? Cuban?

Wrong? Yes. Also inevitable. Hey, she didn't get fragged. We are getting better, believe it or not.

Peter said...

@tweell: I did fight alongside former Angolan and Cuban soldiers. It was a routine thing for us. We judged them, not on their appearance, nor on their language, nor on their past, but on their performance in combat. Like every newbie, they were tolerated until they'd been 'up the sharp end' and we'd seen how they conducted themselves. Thereafter, the losers were ostracized and mostly moved out. Those who kept their s*** together, even if they didn't do all that well on their first outing or two, were accepted. Those who did well were embraced.

It was all about keeping each other alive. In a combat force, nothing else matters. That also gives me grounds to suspect that SFC Nova ended up among REMF's. Their behavior certainly suggests that they weren't worth much. If I'd been there, I'd have been facing charges right along with her, for cleaning their clocks.

There is no justification whatsoever for deliberate, willfully chosen ignorance; for misdirected bigotry and hatred. We're supposed to be better than our enemies - or had you forgotten that? Those responsible for this cannot possibly be excused, no matter what their previous experience of Islam and Muslim, because the simple fact is that they weren't dealing with a Muslim. A simple check of SFC Nova's dog-tags would have shown them that!

Mikael said...

Atheists face much the same, or worse, persecution in the army. The army has become a de facto christian fundamentalist(mainly evangelical) organization, I'm sad to say.

Comrade Misfit said...

When I was in the service, a soldier/sailor/airman's religion was his or her own business. Anyone who pulled the sort of shit that was done to SFC Nova would have been brought up short and, if necessary, busted in rank.

Times have changed, and not for the better.

tweell said...

Ah, very good. Now, what would a loser Angolan who got ostracized in your military say? Hmm?

You have one side to the story. The other side isn't available, and I doubt that it will be any time soon.

Anonymous said...

There's something a little "off" with the reports of this incident. A Sergeant First Class having issues like this, and not being able to deal with them appropriately? A senior NCO is supposed to be able to cope with this kind of thing, and the fact that she didn't makes me wonder what the hell was really going on inside her unit, and what kind of leader she was.

This kind of complaint, and the manner in which she's playing victim might well be appropriate were she some junior NCO or Private Soldier, but a mid-career senior NCO? By the time you get to that point, you should have either learned to handle this kind of thing and enforce that it won't be tolerated, either directed at you personally or some other Soldier.

In short, I'd buy this as being legitimate were it some random young troopie. A senior NCO? I can't. She's either an extremely weak leader, and shouldn't have been promoted to this level, or she's playing octopus and blowing ink to provide cover for something else--Which is sadly the usual ploy whenever a weak minority leader gets into trouble. I've seen it happen repeatedly, over the years. Some fool gets a DUI, and the first thing you hear is how they were treated poorly in their unit because they were black, which led to their alcohol problems, and the DUI. I'm not saying this case is similar, but there's something very "off" about it.