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Armies of the Night
October 18, 2004 5:20 AM   Subscribe

FORCE Ministries "IN 1998....the Lord began opening doors to the SEAL Team community and to military installations nationwide." : "[ Our] Defining passage : "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." ( Matthew 11:12 NIV ) : An all consuming fire for Dominion. "They are My Special Forces Unit. They are called by My Name. They are called Kingdom Warriors. They are those I have been grooming since birth. They will be sent out against satan's hoard." (more inside)
posted by troutfishing (52 comments total)

 
"...Recently I found myself searching through the “contacts page” at the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s web site.[60] To my surprise, I found links to Navy Seals and to Lt. General Richard E. Carey of Rockwall, TX and General Richard Shaefer of Nashville, TN as well as to the Adolph Coors Evangelistic Association and Tom Cole at Headquarters of the Republican Party in Oklahoma City.
 
In following the link to the Navy Seals I came upon one of the blackest ministries on the web—literally—it’s called, “FORCE Ministries.” " - Kathleen Yurica.
_____________________

What is Dominion Theology? - Google Search

"Born in Christian Reconstructionism, which was founded by the late R. J. Rushdoony, the framers of the new cult included Rushdoony, his son-in-law Gary North, Pat Robertson, Herb Titus, the former Dean of Robertson’s Regent University School of Public Policy (formerly CBN University), Charles Colson, Robertson’s political strategist, Tim LaHaye, Gary Bauer, the late Francis Schaeffer, and Paul Crouch, the founder of TBN, the world’s largest television network, plus a virtual army of likeminded television and radio evangelists and news talk show hosts.
 
Dominionism started with the Gospels and turned the concept of the invisible and spiritual “Kingdom of God” into a literal political empire that could be taken by force, starting with the United States of America."
__________________

In response to two decades' worth of pervasive televangelist calls rallying the faithful to the cause of Dominion Theology, a new spirit of Christian militancy has arisen - the actual number of "Kingdom Warriors" is unclear, but the rise of Christian Dominionist militancy can be viewed in Christian martial arts schools, the recent rise in "Kingdom Warriors" and "troopers" forming squadrons and battalions, and paintball teams

"This Day We Fight" - "Beloved, we are in a time of war.  The Spirit of God is calling us to fight for our families, cities and nations.  Indeed, God's word reveals that "The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies" (Isa 42:13).  Is that fight in you?  Is there a war cry in your spirit?"
posted by troutfishing at 6:01 AM on October 18, 2004


Sounds like Jesus's little warriors are itching for a fight.

Love how they use the Old Testament scriptures to justify their campaigns of hatred.

Whatever happened to turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile and giving them your cloak also?
Jesus was the ultimate in passive resistance to unjust authority.
These folks are a sick perversion.
posted by nofundy at 6:48 AM on October 18, 2004


"hoard."

With faith, speling is unneeded.
posted by mwhybark at 6:50 AM on October 18, 2004


This is what happens when you mix abject poverty, WWF, crystal meth and fundamentalist bigotry.

Yea verily our trailer parks overfloweth.
posted by squirrel at 6:55 AM on October 18, 2004


nofundy - did you catch that bizarre flash presentation in the first link ? There something to note about the site too : as of when I linked to it, it had only 6000+ hits on the site counter (which you see if you turn off enough browser functions, like flash, Java, ect.)

The FORCE Ministries flash intro is such an awful spectacle of a PR debacle - I wonder if Metafilter traffic will convince them to pull the site now that it's been outed : it's obviously a recuiting vehicle, but it doubt it will play very well to non religious far right America.
posted by troutfishing at 6:56 AM on October 18, 2004


non religious far right America.


Is there such an animal? I've yet to meet anyone on the far right/ neocon side of things who wasn't also pretty zealous about their faith. Almost all of them are Christians...but I know a number of Zionist Jews who fit the bill as well.

I would venture to say that there are very few religious free-thinkers who are also far right on the conservative scale. I could be wrong, I speak this not as fact, but as my opinion based on observance.

As to Troutfishing's spooky links...I'm officially spooked. I really worry about the rise of "righteous" religion. I fear living in a theocracy where laws, customs and opportunities are based an a proclamation that one religion is the only true religion...especially when it's espoused by people who seem to have the message wrong.

I don't remember who said this originally, but the quote goes something like: Jesus is like Elvis to me....Love the dude...but the fans are a little scary. (Maybe Bill Hicks?)

I'm terrified of what will happen if the neocons with a Messiah complex are allowed to run unhindered for another 4 years. I shudder to think what other rights they can take away from the non-believers, and how their evangelical base will cheer them on as they bathe the earth in blood in an attempt to force the End Times.
posted by dejah420 at 7:37 AM on October 18, 2004


Creepy...then again, I went the other direction.
posted by tetsuo at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2004



posted by troutfishing at 7:49 AM on October 18, 2004


Not even the Book of Revelations threatens a plague of vengeful yahoos.

- Hunter S. Thompson
posted by squirrel at 7:58 AM on October 18, 2004


Shit. I think I'll go Dominionist hunting today. I understand a dose of logic and reasoning stuns them into submission. (along with a stungun).

Here's just a smattering of quotes from Pastor Downey link 4:

When a White man rejects the good news of his God given identity, he also rejects the divine mandate for taking dominion.

Imposing God's Law would be a blood bath. We're looking at very messy logistics with, say, one million queers in this country. But capital punishment has got to be part of taking dominion,

You cannot separate God from government

I....seemed to easily slip away from reality down the slippery slope of charismatic insanity

OK, that last one may have been taken just a little out of context. )

Great links. Great post.
posted by Cedric at 8:02 AM on October 18, 2004


Cedric - thanks, but I think I made a mistake in posting the REALLY far-right "White Power" Dominionist links - lest anyone think Dominionism is on the political fringe.....it's NOT :

"Born in Christian Reconstructionism, which was founded by the late R. J. Rushdoony, the framers of the new cult included Rushdoony, his son-in-law Gary North, Pat Robertson, Herb Titus, the former Dean of Robertson’s Regent University School of Public Policy (formerly CBN
University), Charles Colson, Robertson’s political strategist, Tim LaHaye, Gary Bauer, the late Francis Schaeffer, and Paul Crouch, the founder of TBN, the world’s largest television network, plus a virtual army of likeminded television and radio evangelists and news talk show hosts.

Dominionism started with the Gospels and turned the concept of the invisible and spiritual “Kingdom of God” into a literal political empire that could be taken by force, starting with the United States of America." - OK, now turn to pending legeislation in CONGRESS :

"the bill was drafted by former Judge Roy Moore's lawyer, Herb Titus. Those who have read The Despoiling of America will know that Titus was the first Dean of Pat Robertson's School of Public Policy and is a known Dominionist who has advocated the abolition of the government's licensing powers. He has argued that government oversteps when it licenses lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc. Also, an earlier bill titled "Religious Liberties Restoration Act," S. 1558 dated July 21, 2003, specifically authorizes the display of the ten commandments and other religious references and exempts such items from judicial review by the U.S. Federal Courts. Our question is: What is actually intended by the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004?"
posted by troutfishing at 8:21 AM on October 18, 2004


I'd suggest that NOT thinking of these shits as complete and dangerous racist loonies is a big mistake. They are not interested in saving the "darkies" and the "gooks" and the "fags". Look at the rhetoric of hate for what it is: another take on Nazi race politics.

Don't be fooled by these fuckers. Hitler rose to power through legitimate means, and then turned an entire continent into an abbatoir.

I'd say nip them in the bud. NOW.
posted by mooncrow at 8:28 AM on October 18, 2004


In an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too. —Saul Bellow
posted by rushmc at 8:33 AM on October 18, 2004


mooncrow - easier said than done. You may have two weeks in which to publicize this absurdly neglected aspect of American culture so as to make an appreciable impact in the upcoming election and so prevent George W. Bush from soldifying and locking in the gains of the Dominionists.

That's precious little time - and if they win the election, they'll start ramming theocratically inspired legislation through Congress so fast it'll make our heads spin.
posted by troutfishing at 8:36 AM on October 18, 2004




posted by troutfishing at 8:29 AM PST
posted by troutfishing at 8:39 AM on October 18, 2004


I've yet to meet anyone on the far right/ neocon side of things who wasn't also pretty zealous about their faith.

It depends on what you mean by "right". I've found a disproportionately high incidence of atheism/agnosticism among Libertarians (and anarchists, for that matter). Objectivists are by definition not believers in the Christian god. I would expect something similar to be true of bona-fide neocons. Those are all pretty rationalist idea-system, though.

I've known, I think, five ex-SEALs. Of the three I've held conversations with, one was agnostic, one was a non-evangelistic Athiest, and one was what I call an "observant cultural-Catholic". All were highly opinionated, and utterly confident of the correctness of their position on every subject. But, true, that's a really small sample. I would say, though, that of the SEALs I've met, they all fit a personality type: Tightly-wound, high energy, very sensory-focused (Myersian "S" vs. "N").

Another thing to look at here would be what the penetration is in other parts of the Special Forces. I'd expect a deeper penetration of this kind of thing amongst SEALs because they do tend to be much less "N" [Myersian "introspective", supposed to indicate that they focus more on analyzed data than raw data] than "S". That's something I'd like to know about: What's the proportion of Delta/Green Berets who go for this stuff, versus SEAL (and Ranger/Marine Recon, which I guess are "officially" Special Forces, now).

FWIW, some of my conjectures are based on a study that I read about a couple of years back, that did personality tests on Special Forces members. I never bookmarked it, and apologize for not posting a link now. The Army wanted to know if their own subjective testing methods could be corroborated by more precise and empirical methods. I'm guessing they were pleased; results showed that the short-mission actors, like SEALS, tended to maintain a higher than normal activation state, with rapid increase and fall-off; Rangers and Marine Recon guys didn't show such high fall-off, which is (relatively) bad because it has a negative impact on long term performance. (Presumably the SEALs were accustomed to high activation states, so long term stress might not have as much impact.) Deltas and Green Berets provided the most interesting results. They showed a resting activation state that was similar to population baseline, with very rapid rise -- but most remarkably, also very rapid fall-off. In other words, they were well-suited to long-term function in environments that could pose sudden, short-duration environmental stressors.
posted by lodurr at 8:52 AM on October 18, 2004


Just wanted to add this link to the dominion thread.

Gotta be a Baptist to teach ESL at public college in TX

Faith based funding at its finest. Time to put a halt to this!!
posted by nofundy at 9:55 AM on October 18, 2004


I, for one, had a hard time believing this isn't a joke. It's like the Crusades got their own web site. With Flash. Wow.
posted by fungible at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2004


I probably should have mentioned above that the Texas GOP has dominion theocracy statements in their party platform.
posted by nofundy at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2004


Another thing to look at here would be what the penetration is in other parts of the Special Forces

Minor quibble: "Special Forces" is the Green Beret groups who traditionally act as force multipliers, training indigenous insurgents to be surrogate armies. Of course, their mandate has enlarged and blurred somewhat since everybody (SEALs, Rangers, Force Recon) started being part of USSOCOM.

I would be surprised if recruiting/evangelism is going well within the SpecOps community. My take on special-operations people is that they have a more sharply honed sense of bullshit detection than the average GI. This far-right-Christian-warrior thing is the kind of groupthink that doesn't seem readily embraceable by people who are selected in part for their smarts and creativity at problem-solving.
posted by alumshubby at 10:07 AM on October 18, 2004


My God (ha ha, but not funny), trout! Great link but it scared me shitless. It looks like some Americans live in this nasty comic book story, and they are about to drag everyone else in it! I'm speechless! I appreciate some of the other MeFites' attempts at humor in this thread but is this something DEAD SERIOUS or is my paranoia getting the best of me?
posted by acrobat at 10:17 AM on October 18, 2004


"Blackest"? "Blackest"?

See, this is why I find Ms. Yurica troubling--I admire her persistence and diligence in researching crazy theocrats, but then she writes something like "one of the blackest ministries on the web--literally--FORCE ministries" and I wonder about her language and reasoning skills.

What does she mean by "blackest...literally"? Most of the principals in FORCE ministries are Caucasians. Does she mean "black" as in "black ops"? Or does she mean "black" as in "most evil" (in which case she certainly doesn't mean it literally)?

Or was she talking about the design of their web site (joke)?


But, acrobat, these people are, indeed, scary. And serious.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2004


sidhedevil - I thought the choice of words was unfortunate : blackest ? most evil ? - Yurica's rhetoric is a little rough, yes.

[ Which raises the issue of "Becoming Evil" (a groundbreaking study by the academic researcher James Waller, into the means by which average people become accultured and acclimated by - among other things - hate speech that dehumanizes the "other" to the point that they committ mass violence and genocide, and the most unspeakable atrocities (Waller relies heavily on first-person testimonies of survivors) themselves.

Waller's point ? - Such atrocities tend to be committed by average people, not by deviants and psychopaths. ]

_______________

alumshubby - Hitler's SS was quite good at problem solving too. Are you conflating intelligence and ability with sanity ?

acrobat - you and that wild-eyed partisan leftist, Walter Cronkite.

"I am deeply disturbed by the dangerous and growing influence of people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on our nation’s political leaders." – Walter Cronkite, January, 2004

"The 'wall of separation between church and state' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned." -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 1996

"According to ratings of key organizations of the Religious Right, members of Congress who support their agenda overwhelmingly dominate the Republican Party. Since the Republican Party has majorities in both houses of Congress, Republican leaders, ie the Religious Right, set the agendas and chair the committees. They decide what bills will and won't come up for a vote."
posted by troutfishing at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2004


sidhedevil - also, in case you missed it : "Katherine Yurica recorded and transcribed 1,300 pages of Pat Robertson’s television show, The 700 Club covering several years in the mid 1980’s. In 1987 she conducted a study in response to informal inquiries from the staff of the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representives, which was investigating whether television and radio ministries were violating their tax-exempt status by conducting grass roots political appeals, endorsing candidates, and making political expenditures as defined under Section 527 of the IRS code. The Subcommittee on Oversight published Katherine's study in Federal Tax Rules Applicable to Tax-Exempt Organizations Involving Television Ministries on October 6, 1987, Serial 100-43. (Published in 1988.)"
posted by troutfishing at 10:58 AM on October 18, 2004


There are plenty of Special Forces/Special Ops guys at my church. Anything you would like me to ask them?
posted by konolia at 11:07 AM on October 18, 2004


troutfishing, Godwin Godwin Godwin and thpppbbbbt!

No, I'm conflating intelligence and creativity with skepticism, which seems remarkably scarce in any MeFi thread having to do with fundies. It's laughable to see SS troops mentioned in comparison with US special operators. You probably don't know much about either group.

konolia, ask 'em if they've heard of or been approached by any of these Dominion/Kingdom Warrior folks and if so, what their reaction has been.
posted by alumshubby at 11:41 AM on October 18, 2004


On preview: second alumshubby re konolia asking the soldiers.

Godwin Schmodwin. That historical period is the clearest example of what happens when freaks like this take over. Stop dismissing it and wake the hell up.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:45 AM on October 18, 2004


Gotta be a Baptist to teach ESL at public college in TX

That link is pretty weak, friend of a cousin stuff. Anyone have any stronger data to support this?
posted by rushmc at 11:55 AM on October 18, 2004


alumshubby - Although I do know some special forces members, I only know what I read about the SS from history books. I know that the US Special Forces are among the most critically thinking of the world's special forces (rivalled, no doubt, by Israeli special forces). My point was this (you can acknowledge it or not) - high levels of training, capability and intelligence do not immunize against ideological extremism.

Konolia - Now that you ask, yes there is : I'm curious about whether any of them hold overt Dominionist beliefs and also whether they have been approached by a group (or groups) such as FORCE Ministries.

Also - if they do hold Dominionist beliefs, I'd be curious about their response to theological questions such as 1) why presuming to know the will of God does not amount to blasphemy, as a type of idolatry (as the quasi-deification of individual humans) and 2) how they would propose to determine which humans are more (rather than less) tuned in to the will of God - especially given the numerous warnings in the Bible concerning the dangers of false prophets (such as the following) :

Mat 7:15 - "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

Mat 24:11  "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."

2 Pet 2:1 [NIV] "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves."

2 Pet 2:2 [NIV] "Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute."

1 John 4:1  "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

More of that at : "The Bible on False Prophets"

(but you know the scriptures - that's for those reading this who do not)

So - again - how could followers possibly distinguish between false and true prophets, or false teachings and true, except by way of reference to the core messages of the Gospels ?

I come from a Christian background (my father and his brother were both ministers, and my brother is a Born-Again Baptist and, very probably, a Dominionist - I need to ask him about that), and my instinct is to bring it all back to the core messages of Jesus - did Jesus advocate love, or did he preach a Gospel of violence and bloodshed ?

And - insofar as Jesus preached a Gospel of peace (which some might disagree on) - are Jesus' teachings then unrealistic ?

Those are questions I would ask you to ask your friends in church - but that, I know, is a tall order.
________________

Some class Christan Reconstructionism and Dominionism under the term "The Preterist Apostasy", while others use other terms :

"I never thought I would live long enough to see the revival of the thoroughly discredited doctrine of postmillennialism. But it has occurred, and it has happened quickly.

The doctrine is sweeping through Christendom today, and strangely enough, it is appealing primarily to two segments at opposite ends of the spectrum — namely, the Charismatics and those with a heritage of Reformed theology.

The doctrine is being presented in new clothes. Although it appears under many different names — Restoration, Reconstruction, New Wave, Latter Rain, and Manifest Sons of God — the two most frequently used titles are Kingdom Now Theology and Dominion Theology.

....Every time the Church has sought political power, it has ended up being corrupted by the political system. This happened when the Church was wed with the Roman Empire, leading to the spiritual darkness of the Middle Ages.

The deadest churches in the world today are the political, state churches of Europe. They have the form of religion, but they have denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5). They have political power, but they do not have the power of God's Spirit.

Do not be deceived by those who urge the Church to change the world through the pursuit of political power. It is true that a day will come when the Church will reign over all the world, but that reign will be conducted in person by Jesus through His glorified saints. A perfect kingdom requires a perfect king ruling through perfected subjects."
- another view on Dominion Theology
posted by troutfishing at 11:59 AM on October 18, 2004


About Godwin's Law -- it doesn't apply when the content of the discussion is a bunch of racist militants who want to dominate the world.

Sorry, it just doesn't apply to ALL internet threads. I admit that many conversations break down into useless rhetorical braying round about the 30th posting as "hitler" and Nazi" arguments are brought to bear.

HOWEVER: if the topic is a bunch of X-ian fanatics who aim to form a new Amerikkka smacked together around "dominion" and "the will to power" and all the rest -- well, call it like you see it.

If you can't see it, perhaps you are not part of the "reality-based community".
posted by mooncrow at 12:07 PM on October 18, 2004


Oh and - alumshubby - I've asked my brother about some interesting theological questions such as this one addressed by Pat Robertson, on the 700 Club :

"Now you say, " God told the Israelites to kill them all: men, women and children; to destroy them." And that seems like a terrible thing to do. Is it or isn't it? Well, let us assume that there were two thousand of them or ten thousand of them living in the land, or whatever number [note: there were more like 100,000] I don't have the exact number, but pick a number. And God said "Kill 'em' all." Well, that would seem hard, wouldn't it? But that would be 10,000 people who probably would go to hell. But if they stayed and reproduced, in thirty, forty or fifty or sixty or a
hundred more years there could conceivably be ... ten thousand would grow to a hundred [thousand], a hundred thousand conceivably could grow to a million, and there would be a million people who would have to spend an
eternity in Hell. And it is far more merciful to take away a few than to see in the future a hundred years down the road, and say, "Well, I'll have to take away a million people, that will be forever apart from God because the abomination is there." It's like a contagion. God saw that there was no cure for it. It wasn't going to change."


NOTE : "take away", here is Pat Robertson's euphemism for "slaughter". I do not, however, recall the teachings of Jesus to contain any exhortations to such mass slaughter. Or did I miss that ? My biblical knowledge is spotty. I tend to remember best what I think of as core Gospel messages - of love, charity, forgiveness, redemption, selflessness....

Now, when I asked my brother about this difficult theological territory his answer was identical to Pat Robertson's, and my brother has listened to Robertson for many years - and so I have to wonder if he subscribes to this program espused by Robertson :

[ in Germany, such speech is classed as hate-speech and is illegal : Germans have seen where such speech, the demonization and dehumanization of whole classes of people, can lead. For more, see : Becoming Evil ]

"It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation."--Pat Robertson, New York Magazine, Page 24., August 18, 1986

So I have to assume that my brother may be somewhat in sympathy with these sentiments....what do they, in his mind - I wonder, translate into ? And is he aware of the uses to which the rhetoric of dehumanizing an enemy can be put ?

I doubt that. Nonetheless, I'm forced because of my new knowledge, to put these questions to him - and to watch his eyes as he responds.

That will not be pleasant.
posted by troutfishing at 12:17 PM on October 18, 2004


[ In fact, termites build amazingly complicated structures. ]
posted by troutfishing at 12:20 PM on October 18, 2004


In regards to the SS, I had allways read that the regular army hated the SS because they were largely incompetent, under-trained and tactically foolish leeches draining off the best supplies. The SS were the political officers, the ones with the ear of command, selected more for loyalty than for competence. The SS were feared more than respected, and wielded power primarily because your position in the battle and your supply lines depended on how well you sucked up to them.

Which is something I don't see in today's American armed forces. The U.S. armed forces don't have an inquisition with its own separate chain of command that exists to enforce ideological purity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:40 PM on October 18, 2004


KirkJobSluder - ( " its own separate chain of command that exists to enforce ideological purity." ) - No, although there's a weird Dominionist connection in this : Boykin/Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib.

"....There can be ittle doubt that he [Boykin] envisages the global war on terror as a crusade. With the Geneva conventions apparently suspended, international law is supplanted by biblical law. Boykin is in God's chain of command. President Bush, he told an Oregon congregation last June, is "a man who prays in the Oval Office". And the president, too, is on a divine mission. "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the US. He was appointed by God."

Boykin is not unique in his belief that Bush is God's anointed against evildoers. Before his 2000 campaign, Bush confided to a leader of the religious right: "I feel like God wants me to run for president ... I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen."
[ UK Guardian ]

As for the efficacy of the SS, well....my mistake : I should have said the Waffen SS
posted by troutfishing at 2:19 PM on October 18, 2004


KirkJobSluder: In regards to the SS ... Which is something I don't see in today's American armed forces. The U.S. armed forces don't have an inquisition with its own separate chain of command that exists to enforce ideological purity.
No, but this strikes me as a scarily apt description of the relationship between the Bush Administration and US government departments. Homeland Security and Justice, for example.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:20 PM on October 18, 2004


It's a common misconception among more liberally minded types to view military folks as some sort of ideologically pure robots like in A Few Good Men, but the fact of the matter is, they're people, and while a small minority might be susceptible to this sort of power trip, they could probably be talked into anything of a similar "we're better than they are" bent.

Special-operations troops are very focused on carrying out missions they're given, hold one another in high esteem, and don't have a lot of use for average people, whom they view as background noise or hangers-on. They tend to be indpendent thinkers who have no use for indoctrination that doesn't have anything to do with their jobs. They're all about teamwork and tend to view divisive stuff like far-right Christian membership campaigns as a distraction at best and an irritant at worst. They typically are patriotic but from what I've seen, rarely ideological about it -- they make good trigger pullers but would be lousy pundits.

The SEALs, Rangers, Airborne, Special Forces and Spetznaz I've known were all, to whatever degrees, students of history and well aware of how the Holocaust got started. Some of them, almost wistfully, wish that there could be a Starship Troopers-type society wherein the only people eligible to vote and legislate on behalf of it would be those who've sacrificed for it, but the ones I've been able to reach to ask say they get approached about this kind of thing, and the militia movement, and some crypto-Fascist stuff, and just ignore it as fringe bullshit, people trying to appeal to their sense of order and their baser instincts toward those whom they regard as lesser. The retired SF major knew some Bosnia stories, so he's hip to where this kind of stuff can lead. The Russian guy I know is especially dismissive about being told, as he put it, what to think and how to think it -- "Beel, I sick of this bullsheet!" I can still hear him say. He couldn't stand to hear about the US Civil War because he was usually approached about it by white-supremacist "The South Was Right" types.

Anybody who would even bring up the SS in a discussion of special-operations forces doesn't know dick about special operators or really about the SS -- they're totally different. And there's no reason to bring up the SS in a discussion of this type that doesn't richly deserve to be Godwin-slapped for the horsehit it is.
posted by alumshubby at 5:08 PM on October 18, 2004


Oh, I don't know -- I mean, the SS do make a great negative example in this context. They were ideologically pure (at least in the beginning) and well-equipped, but that ideological purity came at a great price: They were effectively alienated from the Wehrmacht's deep pool of experience and tradition. Modern special operations forces are much more akin to, say, the German airborne units, who had great discipline and a history of very effective action at remove from the chain of command.

Anyway, all these different types of "special operators" have different missions and so tend to attract different types of people. I wouldn't be at all surprised if folks like Boykin could find a lot of recruits in a Ranger unit.

That said, I think they'd find a lot more recruits in a Guard unit, serving under fire a long way from home in a place where everyone hates them. That's really the kind of person who first populated the SA after all: People who were scared for the future and didn't know where to go. In a way, I'm a lot more scared of them than I would be of someone who's done a full hitch in special ops.
posted by lodurr at 6:22 PM on October 18, 2004


alumshubby, the bar you set for escaping Godwin is too high. Do you think that each individual member of the SS was ideologically persuaded to the party's way of thinking? Most of them were merely team-players who valued following orders and executing missions. If you've got a dominionist commander in chief and secretary of defense, you don't need every single soldier to be a dominionist; he need only be willing to follow orders. Your Godwin-shrieking is more reactionary than any SS comparison in this thread.
posted by squirrel at 6:31 PM on October 18, 2004


alumshubby, re : "Anybody who would even bring up the SS in a discussion of special-operations forces doesn't know dick about special operators or really about the SS" - And do you call that Christian language or those Christian sentiments ?

I do not make presumptions as to what you do - or do not - know.

As far as the SS goes - as I noted earlier, I should have made this distinction : between the Allgemeine-SS, the SS-Totenkopfverbande, and the Waffen SS. I was thinking explicitly of the Waffen SS :

"the Waffen-SS would become an elite military formation of nearly 600,000 men by the time WWII was over. Its units would spearhead some of the most crucial battles of WWII while its men would shoulder some of the most difficult and daunting combat operations of all the units in the German military."

And the infamous Totenkopf "Death's Head" division formed, initially, from SS concentration camp guards : "by 1942 what had been the SS-Totenkopfverbände had rapidly developed into a combat division in its own right, the 3rd Waffen-SS Panzerdivision"

As I said, I think that - at the very highest levels maybe ( maybe ) - ideology can perhaps cloud effectiveness. But that's an open question, and - in that vein - this 1977 academic treatment of the Totenkpfdivision (which seems to be the benchmark treatment of the subject), sheds some historical light on the proposition - the approach of elite US military units notwithstanding - that ideology is complementary to the most brutal sort of combat effectiveness :

[ reviews of the aforementioned book, from Amazon.com ] " "....guard duty in the camps was no less soldierly or important than service in the front lines. The SS Totenkopf units guarding and running the camps were depicted as heroic detachments filled with exemplary SS men performing an invaluable service by protecting Germany from the internal enemies" behind the wire (see footnote p 324). For the SS the fanatical enemy faced in Russia which supposedly hoped to destroy Germany was the same as the helpless inmates being driven to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, killing either in as great of numbers as possible guaranteed not only Nazi victory, but the physical survival of the German race in its death struggle with the "Jewish-Bolsheviks". ....Today such simplistic thinking seems ludicrous, but we should not underestimate the effect of racist or other type of exclusionist ideology on young minds that are indoctrinated over a period of years from figures in authority.....The second point, which comes out in the book was the wastefulness of such units as SSTK for the German war effort. The author mentions repeated complaints of German Army commanders as to the high battle casualty rates among the SSTK, rates due in many cases to incompetent officers. Also due to the stringent selection process that Eicke maintained men who could have served as officers or NCOs in other formations, served as privates in the SSTK. This was a trait common to all the Waffen SS formations"
__________

"...Syndor captures the facts regarding the effect that Theodor Eicke had on creating the division from his hand picked staffs in the concentration system. Thus creating a combat division led and manned by individuals already hardened to cruelty to the "enemy behind the wire"....

The author is clearly impressed by the combat performance of the Waffen SS and the Totenkopf division in particular; however, he presents facts and adequate footnotes for anyone to investigate. The truth speaks for itself, the Waffen SS, with the esprit of the troops and the political indoctrination, were elite combat units. They fought at times to the last man and withstood hardships and casualty rates beyond what most other troops would endure. They also committed acts that carried the political will of the Fuhrer and the Reichsfuhrer SS to the occupied territories and the front.

This is NOT an apologist's book about the Waffen SS, nor does it state that every SS trooper was a criminal. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between."


The overall consensus seems to be that The SSTK was an elite combat division, known both for severe discipline and ideological extremism, of unusual combat effectiveness. The SSTK also, clearly, committed more actrocities than the Waffen SS overall. As noted in one of the comments above, the division was also likely counterproductive for the overall German war effort - many of it's individual privates would have been capable of leadership positions within the Wermacht, and their lives were often squandered through leadership incompetence at the higher levels.
________________

And will you permit me, in your superior knowledge of such affairs, to bring up the Delta Force in this context ? (see William Boykin quote, below)

I agree with lodurr's observation - and yours when you are not heaping scorn and insults - that ideology may detract, for clouding clear thinking, from the highest levels of military effectiveness which come from truly independent thought.

Still, I don't make the mistake of disregarding or discounting the effectivenss of those who hold deep faiths or strong ideologies - of whatever sort, and I would even say that there is a considerable body of scientific research that points to the power of belief, faith - and even ideological extremity, in and of themselves to enhance human performance - whether in combat, in sports, or any other realm of human endeavor, and William Boykin is a case study in this :

""the enemy is a guy named Satan." He continued to say that "our spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus".

Boykin, a 30-year veteran of the US Army's Delta Force, the Central Intelligence Agency and Army Special Forces, told another audience, in reference to operations he was involved in in Somalia in 1993, that "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Arkin further reports that Boykin believes that President George W Bush was not elected to the White House by mere mortals, but chosen by God, and that he himself received his orders from God"

"Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin is a devout Christian who has probably seen as much combat as anyone in uniform. " - Boykin's combat experience, his patriotism, and his faith are ALL unquestionable. He fought, in Mogadishu, through the middle of the "Black Hawk Down" incident [ “We brought a truck outta that city and brought it back home to that air field. A 5-ton truck, and we had it stacked with bodies, dead and wounded,” said Boykin in a speech. “My soldiers. And we dropped the tail on that truck and the blood poured out the back of it, like water.” ] , and he was in the failed rescue attempt, during the Iranian hostage crisis. He also has said this "....He tells church audiences in one speech that the devil showed up in a photo he took in Somalia: “It is a demonic spirit over the city of Mogadishu. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s not a fake, that’s not a farce.” " - And who knows, I can't gainsay him there.

But I think he's on shaky ground here :

"I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol." -- Boykin, referring to the Mogadishu battle, at a Jan. 2003 church event.

Don't misunderstand me - from what I've read, I have a deep sympathy and respect for Boykin.
______________

Moving right along, the Christian Right has long been invoking the Nazi spectre :

"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."
-- Pat Robertson, interview with Molly Ivins, 1993

And also encouraging - in it's rhetoric - projects which sound plainly genocidal :

"God told the Israelites to kill them all: men, women and children; to destroy them. And that seems like a terrible thing to do. Is it or isn't it? Well, let us assume that there were two thousand of them or ten thousand of them living in the land, or whatever number, I don't have the exact number, but pick a number. And God said, "Kill them all." Well, that would seem hard, wouldn't it? But that would be 10,000 people who probably would go to hell. But if they stayed and reproduced, in thirty, forty or fifty or sixty or a hundred more years there could conceivably be ... ten thousand would grow to a hundred, a hundred thousand conceivably could grow to a million, and there would be a million people who would have to spend an eternity in Hell! And it is far more merciful to take away a few than to see in the future a hundred years down the road, and say, "Well, I'll have to take away a million people, that will be forever apart from God because the abomination is there." It's like a contagion. God saw that there was no cure for it. " - Pat Robertson, 700 Club.

"It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into [our] institutions [today] are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation."-- Pat Robertson, New York Magazine, page 24. August 18, 1986
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 AM on October 19, 2004


All this talk of domionism and Holy Warriors is making me seriously want to re-read some Phillip K. Dick, as it sounds like the buggy sorta dystopian LSD-Burnt out/neonazi-christian scenario/narrative he was playing with in Ubik or Radio Free Azimuth or was it the Man in the High Castle? What an amazing and prescient writer. It also reminds me of John Shirley's cyberpunk (very PKD-like in the best way) Eclipse trilogy. My 2 cents.
posted by Skygazer at 2:13 PM on October 19, 2004


The night this thread came out, I met with our school's philosophy club lead in discussion by an active Navy SEAL. We study Camus and others' works.

On average, the SEALS I have met tended not to be ideological at all, and many of them rather philosophical (though not all would be the type to teach it) and thoughtful. Sure, some of them are jerks and some don't agree with me at all, but most are the type that don't trust the man. They work for him, but decernment seems to be a skill all of them have in spades.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:35 PM on October 19, 2004


Let me pop in here and ask yall to differentiate between physical war against human enemies and spiritual warfare, which in the Christian faith is waged against spiritual enemies (Satan and his demons) and waged by prayer, worship and such. Sometimes when we get to speaking in Christianese people can misunderstand which war we are talking about.

In our church we do talk about the spiritual powers located in what used to be ancient Babylon. This is different from talking about fighting insurgents or terrorists on the ground...but on the other hand we do believe that evil forces can and do direct evil men. I think Hitler makes a perfect example. I personally think he was as good as possessed.
posted by konolia at 6:30 PM on October 19, 2004


I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but there is a Christian society that is explicitly adopted the discipline and symbolism of the military, complete with ranks and uniforms. They've existed in our midst for 126 years, have outposts in 102 countries, and have an annual operating budget of $1.5 billion. Although they have 40,000 members who are paid, they have, chillingly, recruited 1.5 million volunteers, who have been known to do their work in disguise. They publish a periodical called The War Cry and have a second targeting children. Someone you know could very well be one of them.

I'm talking, of course, about this looming religious threat to our country.
posted by kindall at 8:20 PM on October 19, 2004


The Salvation Army sucks.
posted by rushmc at 8:34 PM on October 19, 2004


kindall - I am aware of that and, in fact, my father remembers hearing conversations - as a child - between his father and the founder of the Salvation Army : concerning that organization's inception.

But, the Salvation Army did - does not - talk, as Pat Robertson has, of "fumigation".

I think you are in denial of the rhetoric of hatred coming from the religious right : or you are complicit.

James Waller's groundbreaking study, "Becoming Evil" shows where such rhetoric leads.

Do you agree with the rhetoric of hatred coming from the religous right ?

This question is a deeply personal one for me - it concerns my immediate family.
posted by troutfishing at 8:47 PM on October 19, 2004


Further - the Salvation Army has not stated, as one of it's explicit intentions, the takeover of the US Government.

That would be a Dominionist project.
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 PM on October 19, 2004


"on the other hand we do believe that evil forces can and do direct evil men." - konolia, so do I : women too.

But, my question to you is :

How do you differentiate between men and women directed by good and men and women directed by evil ?

Before you answer, stop and consider this - there is a war in your deepest soul and mine, and at all times, between good and evil. Sometimes, though, those influences are subtle.

You know where that goes. I know the territory as well.

I am saying that such certitudes - those leading to bright and hard distinctions between "good" and "evil" elements of humanity - are themselves suspect.

I could quote Biblical text, but I won't so insult your intelligence. You know the scriptures.

So, what do you say ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:01 PM on October 19, 2004


And do you think that I - as an asker of questions, as was Satan - am demonic ?

If so, I send you this challenge, as well :


Give me the word, and I'll be on a plane to your church - where I will learn to speak in tongues.

You, and your church members, will teach me to do this.

I neither fear your faith nor deny it : I've seen demons and angels, and Holy Fire - and these experiences do not refute any church of yours or mine.

They are beyond explanation.

But, they do command me to not hate, they do implore me to love, and they - and all that which lies beyond - do humble me.
posted by troutfishing at 9:23 PM on October 19, 2004


How do you differentiate between men and women directed by good and men and women directed by evil ?

By their fruits ye shall know them...
posted by weston at 9:47 PM on October 19, 2004


Do you agree with the rhetoric of hatred coming from the religous right ?

I can't even begin to take it seriously, as you've seen, so I guess the answer to that would have to be "no."
posted by kindall at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2004


So, what do you say ?


We both know evil when we see it. Hitler, as I said before...Pol Pot....People who would blow up innocent women and children....people who would fly hijacked airlines into buildings...child pornographers, etc etc....


And yes, a great deal of warfare goes on in individual minds. Battles are lost and won between the ears....

Give me the word, and I'll be on a plane to your church - where I will learn to speak in tongues

You don't have to fly anywhere or go anywhere for that. But He has some prerequisites for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Of course you are welcome to come here for any reason, should you wish.
posted by konolia at 12:42 PM on October 20, 2004


konolia - you're unfailingly polite. I thank you.
posted by troutfishing at 3:41 PM on October 20, 2004


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