Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What do you believe in: Sex Scandals and Atheists in NPR's News Coverage

Seaira Christian-Daniels

U.S. Military at Attention

General David Petraeus

Many have heard of the web of political implications connected to retired CIA director General David Petraeus’ extramarital affair. The side-eyes and quizzical looks of skeptics point to the timing of the resignation; why did the FBI fail to notify Congress and the President of Patraeus’ affair until after elections?

America’s capital city is no stranger scandal and salacious slip-ups; politicians frequently shirk under the bulb of media and public criticism. However, one political group has managed to remain relatively unscathed from the bright lights of public mistrust: the military.

It may seem difficult to think of uniformed men as political beings, but that is what they are. Their movements are determined by suited men in elected offices far from the battle lines. Patraeus belonged to this high-ranking social class. NPR discussed the demoralization of the military as a result of Petraeus’ resignation.

Americans laud the bravery and sacrifice of our military men. But, if they are analyzed simply as a group of fighting beings, a question surfaces:

Should an organization that consistently practices the art of killing and habitually engages in the practices of war be placed on a higher moral plane, than, say, the politicians who dictate their courses of action? Should a former military general’s mistake predicate a public indictment of America’s golden group?

NPR reports Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sites at nearly 19,000 cases of sexual misconduct in the military in the past year alone that have gone unnoticed. By no means should any American take for granted the lethal costs of democracy and freedom; however, perhaps the time has come for a more probing public eye with regard to the military.

Passing the Religion Test

The military is not completely exempt from public scrutiny. Following the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Law’s ascent into limelight, Americans of all sexualities rallied until the 1993 law was repealed in 2011. 

Watch this video of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta thanking LGBT service members following the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The public moral correctness meter seems to trump anti-conservative ills of society, not only in the military but concerning elected officials as well. Professor Tania Lombrozo of the University of California, Berkeley, explored another taboo group in American political society: atheists.

Stastics show, Americans do not want to elect an Atheist public official.  Pollsters ranked Atheists as the least trusted members of society. 

Even Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who openly expresses that she does not believe in God, would not succumb to being labeled an “Atheist.”

In a Congress filled with self-proclaimed believers, it is not difficult to understand why. Perhaps in the future, voters will see a campaign defending an openly atheistic politician fighting against discrimination on the road to Capitol Hill.

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