Notes from Annapolis
How times have changed at the U.S. Naval Academy.
12:00 AM, May 17, 2005 • By CYNTHIA GRENIER
The superintendent came down to our level, pacing back and forth, microphone in hand, inviting questions. One man asked about civilian instructors at the Academy engaging students in discussions about President Bush's policy in the Iraq war. The superintendent smoothly brushed this aside, talking of how wonderfully qualified the civilian instructors were. I then asked the superintendent how he felt about having Muslim services scheduled at the Academy while we were, as it were, at war with countries of that particular faith. Let me be clear that I have nothing against good American citizens who happen to be devout Muslims, but it does make me wonder whether they belong in our service academies at the present time without really extensive clearances.
"Glad you asked," he responded happily and launched into a talk about how splendidly tolerant the USNA is as regards religion. In September, he explained, they are going to inaugurate a special Jewish chapel on Academy grounds. He asked, in what I took as a rather patronizing tone, if I was satisfied. I followed up, asking how the Academy handles Islam's Friday services and whether or not the superintendent had read the Koran.
He asserted that he had and ventured to say how Islam, like all the major religions, is loving, kind, and compassionate. And offered his opinion that it was I who was being "intolerant."
I did not stay for the remaining day and a half, thereby missing the Sunday Protestant service officiated by a young woman, an Academy graduate and an ordained minister.
Interestingly, on Monday I received a number of phone calls from various class members who'd tracked me down to tell me they agreed with my asking about Islam, and also expressing distress about the superintendent's heavy pushing of the feminist agenda. I felt that not only had I been upholding surely what would have been Richard's views but perhaps Mad Jack's as well.
Cynthia Grenier writes the Mag Trade column for the Washington Times.