I had a great, even inspiring, short trip to Denver late last week. I’ll be writing more about the good news I found there later this week, but a private exchange I just had with a reader prompted me to post this.
I spoke at a fundraiser for a classical Christian school. There was a nice crowd there, and it turned out that some of them had no connection to the school, but just came out because they are fans of Live Not By Lies. I was able to have a few conversations after the speech.
One thing I picked up is that these people — all of whom seemed to be conservative Evangelicals — are hearing the same thing that I am, over and over: that the US military is no longer a place for political, social, and/or religious conservatives. That wokeness is driving people like us out. I mentioned in these conversations that I have been hearing via e-mail and in personal conversations from active-duty or recently retired armed forces members (including officers), all saying the same thing. Many of the Coloradans with whom I spoke said yes, they are hearing the same thing too, and that they are discouraging their kids from considering military service until and unless the military returns to what it was before wokeness conquered the Pentagon.
Granted, the kind of people who reach out to me, or who come hear me speak, are probably not representative of broader conservatism, but trust me, I’m hearing this a lot. How widespread is this view in our country? More and more I am hearing from the kind of people who would have been the last ones in America to look skeptically on the US military and serving the country in its ranks, all saying, “No more.”
Earlier today I was talking with a friend who is an Afghanistan vet. I told him what I had heard from the folks in Colorado, and he said yes, we should not be at all surprised. The messaging that the American people have been getting from the ruling class — including within the military — is that conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, are kulaks. Kulaks were prosperous farmers whom the early Soviet regime regarded as Enemies Of The People, and demonized. My veteran friend said that it is perfectly reasonable for political and religious conservatives to shun the military now, and not just because it is going woke. He said that in the absence of any deeper and broader unifying principle (e.g., shared religion, or a shared sense of nationhood), why should these people be willing to send their sons to die for a regime that holds them, their way of life, and the things they value, in contempt?
He went on to say that the fact that America lost Afghanistan, that we know from the Afghanistan papers that the generals lied to Congress and to the American people for years about what was going on there, and that none of them have been punished or otherwise held accountable for their failure, it also makes sense for potential soldiers to question whether or not they should put their lives behind the leadership of this senior officer class. Our civilian leadership — the President and Congress — has not held the senior military leadership to account for its lies and failures. Why should the American people trust these elites on matters of war? They got so much wrong in Afghanistan, and lied about it for years, and now we are expected to forget all that and consider the possibility of sending our soldiers to fight and die for Ukraine?
My friend said that the leaders of America’s institutions can’t say enough about how much they hate people like him and wants his rights restricted and views suppressed as much as possible. Where is the incentive to fight and possibly die to defend an order that wants people like him crushed? This is the fruit of the divisive culture-war policies that the US government, corporations, media, universities, and other leading institutions have been practicing.
He’s right. Why has it never occurred to the people who make military and national security policy that wokeness is a brilliant strategy to demoralize and weaken America? “Hey bigots, when you can tear yourselves away from your bitter-clinging to God, your disgusting patriarchal ideas about family, your supremacist fear of Critical Race Theory, and your cishetero privilege, put on your uniforms and get ready to deploy to Utopistan to defend democracy!”
I repeat what one active-duty service member told me not long ago, paraphrased: “The Pentagon doesn’t know how to win a real war against America’s enemies, so it’s focusing on winning the culture war against conservatives in the ranks.”
Again, I have no data on this at all. It’s entirely anecdotal. But I have spoken to or received correspondence from active-duty or retired military from nearly all ranks, testifying that something seriously bad is happening.
You’ve probably seen these side-by-side comparisons of recent military recruitment ads for the Chinese, Russian, and American militaries. You don’t have to speak Chinese or Russian to understand what’s being communicated here.