Last week, veterans with the Warrior Beach Retreat converged with members of the University of Florida’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at the Laketown Wharf Resort. The veterans were there for an annual retreat meant to honor their service, and the fraternity had a “social function.”
More like “anti-social” function.
As the Orlando Sentinel reports:
Linda Cope, founder of the warrior group, says the frat members were urinating on flags and verbally abusive.
“They were urinating off of balconies, vomiting off of balconies. They could see the men and women below were there with the retreat. They had on hats and shirts with logos,” Cope said.
About 60 veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan were attending a retreat that has been held twice a year for the past six years at the resort.
Cope started the event in honor of her son Joshua, who lost both legs in Baghdad in 2006 when a roadside bomb exploded under his Humvee.
After the incident, Cope sent a letter to University of Florida President Ken Fuchs and described students spitting on veterans, throwing beer bottles over a balcony and ripping flags off their cars.
On Friday the University said it had suspended the fraternity and is charging Zeta Beta Tau with obscene behavior, public intoxication, theft, causing physical or other harm, and damage to property.
How did the organization fall so far from grace?
Zeta Beta Tau was founded in 1898 as the nation’s first Jewish fraternity, although it is no longer sectarian. The organization was inspired by Dr. Richard J. H. Gottheil, a professor of languages at Columbia University and a Zionist. On December 29, 1898, he formed a Zionist youth society with a group of students from several New York City universities. Its motto is “A Powerhouse of Excellence.”
In fact on its website, there’s this:
“ZBT prides itself on being an inclusive organization welcoming of any college man who understands and appreciates our mission. With more than 140,000 initiated men ZBT’s can be found in all aspects of life: business, entertainment, media, politics, and much more. In 1989, ZBT became the first fraternity to abolish pledging from its organization and, in its place, created a brotherhood program that focuses on equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities for all members.”
So much for that…
I know, from my stint as a professor, that a level of “group think” can be involved with this incident, with one person trying to out-do the other and the group acting in a manner that they would not normally do individually.
But this type of behavior has a beginning point and that point begins with the disrespect for veterans (and others) and the belief that they are “superior” to those who volunteer their service and sometimes their lives in sacrifice for OUR freedoms.
At some point these frat boys were fed a load of garbage that manifested itself in their brains that they were higher and far above these “dumb saps” who had no other choice than to become “cannon fodder.” I have heard this talk before and even from someone who I previously respected who stated she hates the military and denigrates her own son for serving because “he has education and can do better.” She, herself, would have benefitted from the self-discipline and personal ambition she would have obtained from the service, since she has very little that can be considered “honorable” to show for her 56 years on earth. But I digress.
Once in every generation we disgrace ourselves with this type of disrespect. I hope it’s not epidemic as it was during the Vietnam era.
But back to the fraternity. The original message of the ZBT phrase (Zion Bemishpat Tipadeh), is the passage from Isaiah 1:27 : God will redeem those who repent.
In this situation, the message of a loving God is clear: “If you will acknowledge your evil sin and turn to God to experience His grace, you will be redeemed, saved forever.”
I am certain that, religious or not, these “men of good character” would not like to recount to their children and grandchildren the day they spat in the face of a veteran or urinated on his flag. At least I don’t think they would.