But never fear, the Army is still doggedly trying to recruit them, and of course not dreaming of asking potential recruits a single question about what they think of jihad and Islamic supremacism. That would be "Islamophobic"!
"Fort Hood ups challenge to recruit Muslim, Arab troops," by Kathleen Gray and Donna Leinwand for USA TODAY, December 10
DEARBORN, Mich. -- Army recruiter Sgt. Chris McGarity is on the front lines of the military's effort to add troops who speak Arabic and understand Middle Eastern culture -- a battle that grew more challenging after the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
McGarity says he recently signed up an Arab-American high school student who lacked only her parents' approval to enlist. Then came the Nov. 5 rampage at Fort Hood. The Army has charged Maj. Nidal Hasan, 39, a Muslim and Arab American, with killing 13 people and wounding 32.
The high school student's mother "made her withdraw her application," McGarity says.
Such experiences illustrate heightened fears of discrimination and harassment aimed at Arab-American and Muslim troops since the Fort Hood shooting, says Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force lawyer who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which advocates for separation between church and state in the military.
Muslims in the military experience "horrible" discrimination, he says.
Before the shooting at Fort Hood, the foundation had 80 Muslim clients who had reported instances of discrimination and harassment, Weinstein says. Complaints jumped 20% to 103 in the weeks after the shooting. "We had people almost immediately ... being told 'you people' should not be in the military," he says.
Weinstein says he regularly gets complaints from troops who report name-calling, extra duty on holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, anti-Muslim graffiti scrawled on prayer centers, and officers who encourage their troops to kill Muslims or demand Christian prayer....
"If you don't have a valid green card, you're out. If you can't pass the aptitude test or can't physically qualify, you're out," says McGarity, 31, who served in Iraq early in the war and has recruited in Dearborn for four years. "Then there are the guys who are willing, but their families aren't."
The recruiters recognize that Arab-American enlistees may worry about fitting in with fellow troops or having to fight in Arab or Muslim countries. They work with Arab organizations in the community and attend job fairs to meet potential recruits. They hire Arabic linguists to work in their office, learning about the Middle Eastern cultures themselves.
Sgt. Ian Parker, 27, starts conversations with potential soldiers by asking how they feel about going to Iraq or Afghanistan. "Once you hit an objection to that, you're just wasting your time," Parker says.
Arab Americans and Muslims in the military remain a tiny minority. Of nearly 1.5 million active-duty military, about 3,500 are Arab Americans. The military does not keep full data on the number of Muslim troops.
Jamal Baadani, 45, a Marine reservist living in Virginia, is one of them. He founded the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military and often walked around Arab-American communities in uniform. People would ask why he wanted to serve a government "that's going to kill your own kind," he says.
"The U.S. military did not go over there to 'kill your kind.' They went over there to attack a threat that came to this country to attack us," Baadani would respond. "The U.S. Army really respects our community and goes above and beyond to understand our community."