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Home/Rod Dreher/Social Justice Warriors, For Real

Social Justice Warriors, For Real

Screen grab from new US Army recruiting ad (Source)

Hello all, I was away at the dentist for much of the day. After a decade of non-dentist-going (because I hate going to the dentist), I finally had to give up my cowardice-related boycott — this after suffering some unpleasantry resulting from biting down on a popcorn kernel. Turns out that I chipped a filling, which will need to be replaced, but they promised to sedate me heavily, because I’m Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man when it comes to all things dental. Wonder of wonders, they told me that my teeth were in really good shape after a decade. Of course, I said; if you’re afraid of the dentist, you don’t miss brushing and flossing.

Anyway, all of that is to explain why I’ve been away from the keys today. We also had a pipe burst in the house last evening, which flooded the back end of the house. The good news is that we probably won’t have to take out the drywall, but the man came today and said the baseboards are shot. We have to keep the monster humidifiers running through the weekend, then he’ll come back to test for moisture in the walls on Monday to see if we’re okay. Merry Christmas! As if that weren’t enough, all the alarms in the house went off this morning at 4:30, for no discernible reason. We got them all off except the fire alarm in our bedroom. The alarm company lady told us there was nothing she could do. Nothing worked, except my 16-year-old son bashing it into silent submission.

It’s been quite a day, I tell you.

So, I am happy to hand over this post to a reader, who sends in a disturbing letter:

A few weeks ago, you mentioned a Twitter contrasting the styles of a Chinese military propaganda video and a U.S. Army recruiting advertisement.

Well, Tucker Carlson addressed the elephant in the room. His entire monologue is worth watching, but below are the key points:

What are the consequences of this kind of thinking? Over time, identity politics will destroy our country. No nation can remain unified for long if people are encouraged to think of themselves as members of competing ethnic groups first and citizens second. Countries need a reason to hang together; unity doesn’t happen by accident. The fixation on race that has seized our leadership class guarantees permanent disunity. It’s terrifying if you think about it, but it could be much worse.

The hatred for Tucker Carlson is mystifying. Is it because he’s really a spiteful demagogue? Or is it, I think, because he’s willing to point out distressing, yet blatantly obvious truths about our world? The fact is, America’s already at the stage described by Carlson, it’s just that most people are in denial. I love what he said about needing reason to hang together, because it’s so true. This country can remain a nation only so long as the number of people who think it’s worth fighting for and, if necessary, dying or killing for, outnumber those who either don’t care one way or the other or seek to dismantle and “transform” it.

[Carlson:] The U.S. military, for the record, has a very long history of treating everyone with respect and dignity because it was a meritocracy and a meritocracy is designed to treat people with respect and dignity on the basis of how they behave, not on the basis of how they look.

I’ll push back on this slightly, because the military is far from a perfect institution. It didn’t always treat everyone with respect and dignity and it still fails to do so today. However, it’s probably done as good a job as any institution out there could’ve done. This is beyond the scope of what we’re talking about here, but the U.S. military is somewhat unusual in its development compared to the professional militaries of say, Europe. But, I can attest from personal experience, that the military is by-and-large a meritocracy and that veterans themselves are largely proud of their service and say that it’s given them a leg up on life.

Part of the reason why the U.S. military is imperfect, however, is that it’s increasingly become a battlefield for the culture wars. Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. military is often at the forefront of social change in this country and, in many ways, it’s true – Blacks and other racial minorities achieved equality in the services long before they achieved true equality in society. Unfortunately, this has translated into more radically-inclined forces into using the military almost exclusively as a vehicle for social change. I say exclusively, because they’re not in the least bit willing to entertain any other points of view or consider that the military may not be the best place for such practices. Unfortunately, many of these radicals serve in uniform or in a civilian capacity in national security. Perhaps they target the military because, unlike the rest of us, the military can’t really say, “no.”

In an essay for the Army War College in 1992, an Air Force lawyer named Charles Dunlap (you can read his blog here) wrote a controversial paper in which he described America 20 years from then as under the control of a military junta, but the military, ironically, “can’t fight,” in his words. This wasn’t a prediction on his part, but merely a crafty way of arguing against diverting the armed forces from its primary area of competency, which is warfighting, towards civilian functions better suited for non-martial institutions.

If only Charles Dunlap knew then that Wokeness, not civilian duties, would be what ailed the military over two decades down the road. While I don’t want to go as far as to say the military has lost all capability to fulfill its primary task (I have no way of knowing that), I can’t imagine that it’d be an effective fighting force if the same level of demoralization which ails American society afflicted the armed services also. Not only would the military be unable to fight, it’d be incapable of even enforcing a military dictatorship! Like the militaries of the ex-Communist countries, it’d collapse like a house of cards.

The conspiracy theorist in me says this is exactly what’s intended – weaken the institutions that defend and legitimize the country and make it easier to take down the country. But the more likely answer is that the Woke are merely doing what they feel to be justice. Once they take down the military or take over it, there isn’t much left for them to go after, except maybe religious institutions.

I encourage you to watch Tucker Carlson’s monologue, or at least to read the modified transcript.Here’s more from it:

This summer, the U.S. Army’s so-called Operation Inclusion instructed soldiers that the phrase “Make America Great Again” was a form of socially acceptable “covert White supremacy.” According to the Army, a presidential campaign slogan was White supremacy. No one did anything about that.

Now, according to the Army’s Equity and Inclusion Agency (yes, they have one), the phrase, “all lives matter”, American exceptionalism, and the celebration of Columbus Day are racist. Over the summer, the now-retired head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, encouraged his employees to read the lunatic tract “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, a book that is both inherently bigoted and very stupid. Over the summer, Kaleth Wright, then the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, proclaimed on Twitter that his greatest fear was that one of his airmen might be killed by a racist cop. Not killed by the Chinese military, but by American racism.

You don’t see it in the adapted transcript, but in the broadcast, Carlson airs a clip from a US Air Force psychologist complaining about the threat from microaggressions. Think about that: an Air Force officer, whose mission it is to lay his life on the line fighting for this country, complained publicly about the pain of microaggressions. I don’t get that.

In the adapted transcript, Carlson links to a Department of Defense report stating that the Trump-appointed Acting Secretary has accepted the recommendations by a Diversity & Inclusion board set up by his Trump-appointed predecessor, Mark Esper. Among them (this is from the DOD release):

The board calls for a thorough review of DOD aptitude tests to ensure they do not adversely impact diversity. The DOD will develop plans for a rigorous and thorough assessment of all aptitude tests currently administered. The goal of this assessment will be to analyze, identify and remove — as applicable — “barriers that adversely impact diversity while retaining rigorous screening processes necessary to access a high-quality force,” the board recommendation states.

Note the Human Resources gobbledygook. “To ensure they do not adversely impact diversity” means “to protect the military from test results that reveal troop capabilities that violate diversity dogma.” But the military is still going to maintain the standards “necessary to access a high-quality force.” I’m guessing that the verb “access” there means “build.” How is it possible to throw out aptitude tests that do not give you a predetermined ideological result, but still expect them to measure real abilities? You can’t. But the US military can’t very well admit that it can’t have both quotas and the best possible fighting force, so it is simply declaring that it will.

It’s not that only white people (or people of any race) are best at combat. Of course that’s not true. My point is that you can’t have an accurate understanding of who is best at various combat-related tasks if you have to weight the test to achieve social-engineering goals. If the NBA, NFL, or Major League Baseball adopted the same standard, they would field politically correct teams that were mediocre on the field. They don’t do that, because those teams understand that the goal is to win games, period, and they will do whatever it takes to field a team that wins games, no matter what the color of the players. But the US military, whose mission is rather more important than that of the New York Yankees or the Kansas City Chiefs, won’t hold itself to the same realistic standards as professional sports teams.

Don’t think for a second that the Chinese and the Russians will be fooled by this. But we will be. That’s the ideology of the ruling class now. If a manager doesn’t buy into the diversity and equity ideology, he or she will be retired or fired. Don’t think that you can get away with pointing out that the mission will suffer if one prioritizes anything other than competence and quality of the product. The ruling class does not want to hear it.

Don’t forget the story I’ve told here that I heard from a Russian man in Moscow last year. He talked about the time he first knew that the Soviet system was doomed. He was a recent graduate of film school, and assigned to be a production assistant at the broadcast of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He was with the Russian TV crew preparing the VIP box for the opening ceremony. Suddenly some KGB agents burst into the box to check everything out before Secretary Brezhnev and the others showed up. They saw some metal piping, and ordered it removed, saying, “We didn’t agree to that!”

The crew explained that the pipes were needed to hold up the lights for the broadcast, so Brezhnev and the leadership would be visible to television audiences. The KGB insisted that they hadn’t approved the pipes, and that they were the final authority. Down came the pipes.

And here, from the opening ceremony broadcast, was the result: Brezhnev and the Politburo, appearing before the world in the dark. 

The Russian told me that he knew that the Soviet system was doomed when he could see that those who ran it set up structural barriers to prevent them from getting information that they did not want to have — even when something as important to the Soviet Union as the presentation of its leadership to a worldwide audience.

James Damore was fired by Google when he told the company what it didn’t want to hear about diversity in tech. Similarly, you can be very sure that no executive — not in the US military, not in universities, not in corporations, nowhere — will be promoted unless they agree to live by the lies of diversity and equity ideology. The US military may have lost Afghanistan, but its leadership is damn sure going to win the war on common sense.

Do you disagree? Help me see what I’m missing, then. I don’t want to be right about this. The national security of my country depends on a strong military, not a politicized and demoralized one.

One more thing: earlier this year, The New York Times reported on the military’s recruiting crisis. Who is joining the military? Too many white people? You would think so, given the military’s new focus on Diversity & Inclusion. Actually, say the Times (emphasis mine):

The main predictors are not based on class or race. Army data show service spread mostly evenly through middle-class and “downscale” groups. Youth unemployment turns out not to be the prime factor. And the racial makeup of the force is more or less in line with that of young Americans as a whole, though African-Americans are slightly more likely to serve. Instead, the best predictor is a person’s familiarity with the military.

So the military already looks like young America — and in fact is slightly more black than young America as a whole. What is the point of turning our fighting force into Social Justice Warriors, then?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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