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Christian Right Activist Blasts Medal of Honor as 'Feminized,' Sparks Fury

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While a divided nation last Tuesday finally rallied around one bright shining moment of patriotic glory -- President Obama's awarding of the Medal of Honor to Afghan hero Army Sgt. Salvatore Giunta -- a popular right-wing Christian commentator sharply split opinions even within his own camp. He blasted the award as "feminized" because it honors Giunta for saving his comrades rather than killing the enemy.

The Army's official citation details how Giunta "exposed himself to withering enemy fire" during a daring effort to engage the enemy and extract his wounded comrades from an ambush. But Bryan Fischer, a columnist for the American Family Association who has often provoked headlines and consternation with his commentaries, read the narrative as hardly the sort of thing American soldiers were once known for.

President Obama awards Medal of Honor to Army Sgt. Salvatore Giunta"When we think of heroism in battle, we used the think of our boys storming the beaches of Normandy under withering fire, climbing the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc while enemy soldiers fired straight down on them, and tossing grenades into pill boxes to take out gun emplacements," wrote Fischer, director of issue analysis for the AFA, a longtime lobby on the Christian right. "That kind of heroism has apparently become passé when it comes to awarding the Medal of Honor. We now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them."

"So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things, so our families can sleep safely at night?" he asked.

Fischer based his claim on a line in a column in The Wall Street Journal by William McGurn, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. In the midst of his high praise for Giunta's heroism, McGurn noted that rather than "Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy," every Medal of Honor awarded from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "has been for an effort to save life."

In fact, that's not exactly the case. The official account of the first Medal of Honor given for service in Iraq, to Army Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, shows how, among other courageous acts, Smith "braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons," losing his life in the process."

But such details didn't stop Fischer from asserting that "We have feminized the Medal of Honor" -- a claim that sparked a string of fierce criticisms on the blog post that are continuing.

"Your artciles [sic] reek of ignorance and evangelical stupidity," said one of the first commenters.

"What utterly disgusting, false and un-Christian drivel," said one of the most recent.

Fischer is hardly one to slink away under hostile fire, as he told me after a post last month in which he said that the firefighters in South Fulton, Tennessee did "the Christian thing" by letting a family's house burn because they were delinquent on their $75 annual fire protection fee.

That was the column that had generated the most outrage among all of Fischer's writings, until the Medal of Honor article. But in characteristic fashion, Fischer wasn't retreating. In two follow-up posts he pointed out that he believed Giunta did deserve the award, and that the media "so badly twisted and distorted my words that they are accusing me of saying the exact opposite of what I actually said."

My point in all this is that we appear to have reached a point in awarding the MOH that we are squeamish about awarding to those who "take the hill" as well as awarding to those who throw themselves on a grenade to save their comrades.

Fischer reiterated his central criticism that "our culture has become so feminized that we have become squeamish at the thought of the valor that is expressed in killing enemy soldiers through acts of bravery."

Indeed, while Fischer's column irked many of his allies, his views are in keeping with a strain of conservative American Christianity that frets about the "feminization" of the faith as evidenced by the widespread emphasis on God's love and mercy rather than his anger and punishment, for example. And some such Christian conservatives are also concerned about efforts to accept gay clergy and to portray Jesus as a passive, wimpy victim rather than a tough-guy martyr like the Messiah portrayed in Mel Gibson's movie, "Passion of the Christ."

"Jesus' act of self-sacrifice would ultimately have been meaningless -- yes, meaningless -- if he had not inflicted a mortal wound on the enemy while giving up his own life," Fischer wrote in his original column on Giunta's Medal of Honor. "The cross represented a cosmic showdown between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, and our commanding general claimed the ultimate prize by defeating our unseen enemy and liberating an entire planet from his bondage."

With repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy still possible during the lame duck session of Congress after Thanksgiving, it's likely that Fischer -- and others -- will have plenty of other opportunities to make their point, and perhaps with more support from their own troops on the religious right.

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221 Comments

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Dear MoonWolf

So, now KILLING someone is what a Christian commentator calls a rewardable behavior. Let me think about this... Jesus... Compassion... Murder... Hmmm... Who Would Jesus Kill? Hmmm...

February 23 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
marymoore1949

It seems that in order for one to be worthy of receiving the Medal of Honor anymore, he or she must be a killer. Killing an enemy is held by some as the criteria for selecting Medal of Honor recipients. It is too bad that some Conservatives try to tie Jesus into their mindset of war-mongering. Jesus never advocated war. He never claimed ownership of the idea of war that taints this kingdom (and its war treasures and trophies). For those who care what he said, he said that his kingdom is NOT of this world. He also said if his kingdom were of this world, his disciples would fight. Further, if this gentleman would only look up a little higher, he would see that he does a grave disservice to the Man he uses as an example of, or excuse for, killing enemies versus savings comrades or others who need help. He claims Jesus acted on behalf of the PLANET. This little insignificant globe down here is not the only Creation. In other words, the Creation is infinite; therefore, the planet is not the entire interest Christ came down to bring Light to.

December 04 2010 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
silphsalander

This is just too exaggeratedly ridiculous. I'm calling troll on this one.

November 29 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
girvan1234

I think the expression is - trash mouth. He's a typical example of our media today. Blame it on the education system we see going down the drain in our once great country.

November 28 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
schumanl

One must wonder if Mr. Fischer himself has ever served in the military, or whether the most dangerous thing he's ever faced personally is a computer keyboard? Because unless he's actually been in combat, he's got absolutely zero basis - factual, moral, or "faith-based" - to make such a perverse and ridiculous assertion.

November 28 2010 at 8:18 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
jwalk2235

Fischer, I am waiting for you to go to the front lines and show us how it should be done. If hot air was lethal you would definitely be an asset.

November 28 2010 at 7:57 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
Colin Janus

Can u say Anti American.

November 28 2010 at 7:04 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
terezib

""Jesus' act of self-sacrifice would ultimately have been meaningless -- yes, meaningless -- if he had not inflicted a mortal wound on the enemy while giving up his own life," Fischer wrote". From the context, it would appear he means LITERALLY, not figuratively. Sgt Giunta, aiding his OWN fellow soldiers, inflicted a FIGURATIVE blow to the enemy, not a literal blow, but that doesn't seem to count in Mr. Fischer's eyes. So I ask - how many Romans and/or Jews did Jesus kill, LITERALLY? I just can't find that statistic in the Bible I own. Maybe mine (King James version) is a censored version? Wondering where he got that info. Please, Mr. Fischer, show me the Biblical quote on how many Jesus literally killed. Admittedly, many have been killed IN the name of Jesus, long after he died. But Jesus himself? Boy, Mr Fischer must have inside info that I never heard!

November 28 2010 at 6:12 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
enpassant44

This guy is no Christian. Maybe he's the devil.

November 28 2010 at 1:08 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
RICHARD

I wonder if Mr.Fischer had a son or daughter serving in Iraq or Afganistan and they were wounded, and another soldier saved their lives, would he speak such a callous statement.

November 27 2010 at 7:46 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

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