Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flag-Folding Followup

Mass hysteria! Logic felled by punches below the belt! And a perplexing revelation. Just one more day in the most recent flag kerfuffle to strike our great nation. On Monday the papers carried the story of the Veterans' Adminstration deciding to ban a commonly used "Meaning of the 13 Folds" script from the funerals of military personnel and veterans at the 150 National Cemeteries across the country in response to one person's complaint about one line in the script referencing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Christian persecution complex, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

House Republicans responded predictably on Tuesday, introducing a resolution condemning the VA's condemnation of the script, with several legislators writing outraged letters to the VA demanding the return of the ceremony.
"The VA is being manipulated by out-of-control secularists," said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.
Deep breaths, people. What the VA directive actually does:
In a memo last month to directors of the agency's 125 cemeteries, a senior VA official said they should not distribute or post non-government handouts on "The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag."

The memo said the handout and its religious references shouldn't be used as a script at committal services unless the next-of-kin requests it.

House Republicans? There's really nothing to see here. The VA correctly recognized that while explicitly religious texts are permissible when delivered by private parties in national cemeteries, they cannot be mandated in official military regulations. All these legislators saw was single atheist bitches and brings military funerals to screeching halt, spits on God for good measure, and leapt into condemnation mode. Little problem there. About that single complaint? It turns out that the complainant wasn't offended by the reference to God, but by the mangling of the line from glorifies in the Hebrews' eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to glorifies in the Hebrews' eyes, the gods Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Given that... uh, major misunderstanding, the VA eyeballed the whole script and figured out that it might be problematic in a lot of ways should it be construed as an official government-issued ceremony.

The complaint prompted the VA to focus on the recital and determine that it shouldn't be used by VA employees or honor guard volunteers from the American Legion or other veterans organizations unless specifically requested by family members. [VA spokeswoman Lisette] Mondello stressed that honor guards would also honor requests from families of any religion to recite texts of their choosing.

"The key is that the family has to request this, and we would acquiesce to any family's particular religious views and/or traditions," Mondello said. "I would describe it as a clarification of a policy so that we make sure that everyone throughout our system knows that there is consistency."

The policy was not clear to lawmakers Tuesday who interpreted comments from VA officials to mean the 13-fold recital could no longer be recited at all by cemetery workers or volunteers.

(for a fine discussion of the misconceptions surrounding the flag and the inane folding script in question, please see this post at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub)

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