Tomorrow, Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, one of the few Sikh Americans who has received an exemption to serve in the US military with his articles of faith intact, will be testifying in support of allowing Sikhs to serve in the US military without requiring a special exception to grooming requirements. From the Sikh Coalition:
This Friday, May 31, at 1:30 EST, Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, will testify before the United States Commission on Civil Rights on the right of Sikhs to serve in the US military without giving up their Sikh articles of faith. The United States Commission on Civil Rights has set up a teleconference number for Sikhs and members of the public to both listen to Major Kalsi’s testimony LIVE. To hear Major Kalsi’s testimony live and to show your support, at 1:30 pm EST this Friday, May 31, please dial the following toll-free number 1 (888) 819-8046 and enter the participant code 311 765.
See additional photos here. Previous posts on this blog about Sikhs serving in the US Army are available here.
Other than a symbolic significance, I really don’t see why Sikhs should be so keen to join the US military. As it struggles to find recruits to fight controversial and unnecessary wars in third world countries, the US will be increasingly happy to make concessions to those willing to stake their lives for an imperial country.
There is certainly a valid discussion to be had about US military engagements abroad. However, I don’t think we should allow that conversation to cloud the civil rights issue around discrimination against Sikhs on the part of one of the country’s largest employers. It’s one thing to take a stance against joining the military on a conscientious basis, but we should also not surrender our civil rights in doing so.
Point well taken !