CAIR says Navy discriminated over enlisted man’s beard – and they may win

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There’s hypocrisy and then there’s just blatant hypocrisy.

Just to set the stage here, when I served in the military, a male could have a beard based on medical reasons — he had to be granted a “profile.”

The condition was normally known with black troops who suffered from severe “razor bumps.” Now, back in the day, stellar troops would buy “magic shave” which was a power-cream application that would draw out the ingrown facial hairs — similar to Nair for women. If you could survive the smell you’d end up with a smooth face. There was also another product called “Black Man Bump Free” which also was used for the severe ingrown facial hair issue.

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However, trying to beat the system and grow a beard without a medical allowance wasn’t tolerated. Currently the only possibility for having a beard in the U.S. military is for mission purposes and normally seen in combat zones on the faces of our Special Operations forces. The main reason why beards weren’t accepted is that you can’t get a proper seal on a gas mask with one — and that could force a trooper to be declared “non-deployable.”

So here we go with the hypocrisy of the day, as reported by, “A Muslim civil rights group has sued the government on behalf of a former Navy enlisted man from Northern California who says he was the target of ethnic slurs, was reassigned to a menial job, and was later denied re-enlistment after seeking permission to wear a beard for religious reasons.”

‘Jonathan Berts of Fairfield applied to wear a beard in January 2011, but Defense Department policy did not allow religious exemptions from grooming requirements. The Pentagon relaxed its policy in January, allowing accommodations for an individual’s religious beliefs, but it came too late to help Berts, said his lawyers at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” (oh, CAIR, what a surprise)

“After his request for a religious accommodation was turned down, Berts, an African American Muslim who had enlisted in 2002, was denied a previously recommended promotion and was subjected to “a barrage of derogatory terms, anti-Islamic slurs, and inappropriate lines of questions about his religious beliefs and loyalty to the United States,” said the lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.”

This is the slippery slope when you relax standards — as the military did in allowing Sikhs to maintain their beards. The U.S military is based on a simple concept — uniformed discipline — hence why you get a buzz cut upon entering basic training. It’s all about understanding that individual behavior is transitioned into the ideal of the unit. It’s why the phalanx was a formidable formation, instead of individual fighters.

When accommodations for external appearance are made based on individual beliefs, religious or otherwise, it breaks down unit cohesion. You don’t have Jewish troops wearing their yarmulkes under our military headgear.

Now, here is the blatant hypocrisy — where is the Freedom from Religion Foundation or Mikey Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation? We just recently shared the story of an Army Chaplain being disciplined by his commander for speaking of his faith during a suicide prevention training session.

So why isn’t ol’ Mikey chiming in on this case? Or is it just Christians who should be court-martialed for professing their faith openly and charged with the crime of sedition?

Let me explain why I believe this case will be won by the plaintiff, Mr. Berts.

The U.S. Army can be blamed for establishing a precedent because it allowed Malik Nidal Hasan to wear his beard while still an active duty officer due to his “religious beliefs” as he underwent trial for the Islamic jihadist attack resulting in the death of 13 and severe wounding of another 31 in December of 2009 at Ft Hood Texas.

As a matter of fact, the original Army judge who ordered Hasan to be shaved was taken off the case and replaced by a female Army judge who allowed Hasan to keep his beard — as it signified his Islamist belief. And if you review this current case, you’ll find Mr. Berts was given allowance for his beard in his first four-year tour in the Navy — due to medical reasons — Berts is black which is why I provided the shaving bump background.

As SF Gate reports, “Berts, who had wanted to stay in the Navy, agreed to an honorable discharge in December 2011 and has applied unsuccessfully for re-enlistment several times since, the suit said. He manages low-income apartment buildings in Fairfield but still serves in the Naval Reserves with high evaluations, said attorney Brice Hamack, the Muslim group’s Northern California civil rights coordinator. Hamack said Berts was allowed to wear a beard during his first four years in the Navy for medical reasons, because of a skin condition, and was turned down only when he later asked to wear one because of his Islamic faith.”

That was the correct assessment but the relaxing of standards created a gap that could be exploited. But there may well be another reason for this folly, willfully championed by the venerable Council for American Islamic Relations — an Islamic terrorist group as designated by the United Arab Emirates and an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Islamic terrorist funding case in the United States.

“We appreciate that the Department of Defense has made strides in updating its stance on religious accommodations,” Hamack said, but it also needs to “remedy the harm caused” to people like Berts under the previous policy. The suit seeks court orders returning Berts to active duty and restoring the losses he suffered to his pension and other benefits because of his discharge.”

So excuse me for believing this isn’t so much about the right to wear a beard as much as bilking the U.S. Navy for money. First of all, Berts did not serve 20 years so he doesn’t qualify for a pension. Second, Berts is serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve after receiving an Honorable Discharge — denied reenlistment into the active duty Navy due to his changed status from a medical exemption to a religious belief for maintaining a beard.

All of this would be easy if our military wasn’t moving towards a “Happyland” of social egalitarianism where definitive and distinguishing standards are dismissed, all for some misguided sense of social justice.

Yes, the military is a discriminatory organization — it has to be, as the profit margin is measured in lives, not dollars and cents. Everyone doesn’t get to have a trophy and we don’t hand out medals based on what we think someone will achieve. It’s a volunteer force and that means the individual conforms to the military – that’s what makes our modern day warriors the best. They want to serve and take a post on that wall.

If Mr. Berts’ beard is more important than this country, I know there are more who are willing to take his place.

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