US Army Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan

by Zoe Pollock

Marcia Coyle reports that "for the first time in more than 30 years, the U.S. military has allowed an enlisted Sikh soldier to maintain his religiously-mandated turban, beard and hair while serving in the Army." James Joyner reacts:

The ultimate objection, really, is cultural.  As Nick Tankersley puts it, “Turbans and beards? Not in my military.” I was part of that culture long enough to share that visceral reaction.  But my rationality allows me to see it for what it is and understand that it makes no sense to deny highly qualified individuals the right to serve in uniform while practicing their faith without more serious conflicts than the uniform regs.  And, goodness knows, we need more soldiers with South Asian language proficiency.

The Army wants everyone to look the same hence the uniforms and conform to an image.   Men in beards, long hair, and turbans don’t fit that image.    Then again, neither do women.   Yet, while they wear essentially the same uniforms, they’re allowed to wear their hair at a reasonable length far shorter than the tight taper mandated for male soldiers.  And, frankly, long hair looks  funny under a beret.  Somehow, we’ve managed to adapt.

(Image: AP)

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