The military’s outreach to Muslims

Leonard D. writes:

I got curious about the number of Muslims in the U.S. Army. So I googled a bit and found … nothing. It is easy as anything to find out many kinds of demographic data about the Army (or the armed forces in general). For example, if you want to know about the racial makeup of the army, Google for: “U.S. Army” black white hispanic. Just take the first hit. It is equally easy to find out information about sex. But what about religion? Surely any report on religion should contain the words, Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant, right? Have a look: “U.S. army” Muslim catholic protestant Nothing. [LA replies: while the U.S. government is very much interested in race, and collects vast amounts of demographic racial data, it does not collect demographic information on religion—at least the U.S. Census does not ask people for their religion. So we have no official information on the number of Muslims in the United States. Therefore it’s not surprising that it’s difficult to find the number of Muslims in the armed services.]

A bit more searching (using “U.S. armed” eventually turned up a 2006 article in the Christian Science Monitor:

Uncle Sam wants U.S. Muslims to serve

As U.S. troops battle Islamic extremists abroad, the Pentagon and the armed forces are reaching out to Muslims at home.

An underlying goal is to interest more Muslims in the military, which needs officers and troops who can speak Arabic and other relevant languages and understand the culture of places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The effort is also part of a larger outreach. Pentagon officials say they are striving for mutual understanding with Muslims at home and abroad and to win their support for U.S. war aims. Among the efforts to attract and retain Muslim cadets:

  • West Point and the other service academies have opened Muslim prayer rooms, as have military installations.

  • Imams serve full- and part-time as chaplains at the academies and some bases.

  • Top non-Muslim officers and Pentagon officials have taken to celebrating religious events with Muslims overseas and here in the U.S.

“There is a message here, and that is that Muslims and the Islamic religion are totally compatible with Western values,” says Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in an interview …

The U.S. armed services don’t recruit by religion, but the Pentagon estimates at least 3,386 Muslims were serving in the U.S. military as of September. No precise figures are available because, while U.S. service members are surveyed on their religion, they aren’t required to disclose it. Advocacy groups put the number at 15,000, saying many are reluctant to reveal their religion. African-Americans represent the largest share of Muslims in uniform, they add.

However uncertain the progress, the military is intensifying its outreach.

(My emphases all.) Recruiting to get Arabic speakers is justifiable. But one might think that when the U.S. is at war with Muslim “extremists,” that the armed force might avoid recruiting Muslims, or at least Muslim extremists, and that they would make efforts to know who the Muslims in uniform are. Or at least the extremists. But no, of course not: that would require discrimination. Unthinkable!

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 06, 2009 11:01 AM | Send

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