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Old Man with Head in His Hands by Vincent Van Gogh

In college fifty years ago my psychology professor told us that there were more people in insane asylums due to religion than any other cause. She explained that what drove these people insane seemed to have been the presence of two powerful and conflicting thoughts within their minds; two opposing thoughts that were so powerful and inescapable that they were incapable of either reconciling the differences or of choosing one and discarding the other. The mental stress that resulted from fighting this mental battle, after a period of time caused their minds to retreat to a safe place where they would not have to make a choice.

I have witnessed the manifestation of this theory more than once during my military career; situations where fanatic religious training clashed with reality and caused a person’s conscience to run amuck. The best example of this was a young Muslim man (a boy really) who worked for me in Iran as my plane captain. He had been raised in a strict eighteenth century Muslim culture and then, too suddenly and without preparation, exposed to me, other Americans, our lifestyle, and the activities of a modern Western society. While I was in Iran, I met several young Muslim men, like my plane captain, who found out that they liked to drink, dance, and chase available American and French women and go to American movies; some of these men were tormented by the fact that they really enjoyed these activities. While they believed that they were good Muslims they were convinced that if they were really good Muslims they would not actually enjoy doing what they were doing; therefore, they were tormented by the thought that (because they enjoyed these activities) they obviously could not be good Muslims. My young plane captain ran amuck one Friday evening, after attending his mosque, to the point that he joined a civil terrorist group and burned down a theater that was showing an American film; they burned this theater after barring all the exit doors with all the women and children trapped inside. He believed that this horrific act exonerated him from his past sins against Allah.

To live and function successfully in a society one needs a conscience; however, to survive, you need to exercise control over your conscience. A conscience that is driven out of control by any form of fanatical training will only lead to a ruined life. I am sorry for Muslims because there is no help available for them; Muslims are trapped, they are chained to Islam and will be killed if they leave Islam or even question Islam’s ways. Islamic religious leaders refuse to make the necessary updates and changes to keep pace with modern society because they know any change in Islam will cause them to lose the power the system gives them over the people.


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

John Simpson

During my twelve-year navy career I served as an electronics instructor and flight crew member tracking NASA manned apace shots. I took the first pictures of the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin as it traveled south along the coast of Norway; one of the photographs I took was on the front page of the New York Times. I was a member of the navy’s Operation Deep Freeze in New Zealand and the Antarctic. During President Johnson’s South East Asia tour, I was assigned to President Johnson’s White House staff in Wellington, New Zealand and served as a security team leader. In 1967 I switched to the army and trained young army officers to be avionics maintenance officers. I was recruited by the Green Berets and assigned to jump school. After my airborne training, I was assigned to the 46th Special Forces Company in Thailand where I traveled from Malaysia to Burma installing and upgrading communication sites. On one occasion, I provided support for Special Forces operations in Laos. I was also an instructor for small weapons, jungle survival, physical security and combat-in-cities. In 1970 I graduated from primary flight school and Cobra attack-helicopter training; then went directly to Vietnam and the 25th Infantry Division just outside of Saigon. After six months, I was reassigned to the 101st Airborne Division just south of the dividing line between North and South Vietnam. I received nine air medals, two bronze stars and one army commendation medal in Vietnam. My next assignment was in Munich, Germany where I flew the border between East and West Germany. While stationed in Germany I was recruited by the Criminal Investigation Division and later Military Intelligence to track military drug dealers; my investigation led me to a French Communist woman who was supporting an underground newspaper that was providing instructions on how to sabotage military aircraft, vehicles and generators. While serving with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany I also trained the unit's Aero Rifle Platoon in combat-in-cities and combat-in-forest techniques. During my long military career I was trained in and pursued independent studies in special warfare, psychological warfare, and physical security. My presentations on the military prove that I understand the difference between the problems inherent to war and problems caused by poor military planning, leadership, and management. I have lived and worked in a number of Muslim countries and have studied Islamic culture and religion for more than twenty years. My presentations on the Middle East and Islam provide insight into current world events and our relationships with the Middle Eastern countries of Iran and Iraq. After retirement, I worked for Bell Helicopter and was assigned to Isfahan, Iran as a Cobra test pilot. I enjoyed Iran until the terrorism started. They blew up my favorite Korean restaurant just moments after I had walked out. I escaped from Iran just prior to the overthrow of the government. Upon returning home to Ohio, I learned from the evening news that some of the Iranian military officers I had worked with had been executed (murdered) under orders from Ayatollah Khomeini. Since leaving Bell Helicopter, I have had three novels published and have worked as a technical writer, publications consultant, and engineer for Siemens, IBM, Motorola, and Dresser Industries. I have written more than 300 technical manuals on computers, computer controlled equipment, central-office telephone equipment, pagers, robots, hydraulics, pneumatics, diesel engines, jet engines, helicopters, and mining equipment. Today, I am employed as a research and development engineer for a South Florida Aerospace company; I also continue to do public speaking and radio appearances. I live in Florida with my wife JoAnn and my four-pound Chihuahua named Chiquita.


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