Home/Rod Dreher/US Military: Social Justice Warriors

US Military: Social Justice Warriors

'Pregnant women are going to fight our wars' -- Tucker Carlson, appalled (Fox News)

I still struggle to process the meaning of the Pentagon’s propaganda blitzkrieg against Tucker Carlson. Even if you think Carlson is wrong in his criticism of the woke military (see here for some of it), the fact that the Defense Department has reacted so aggressively is extraordinarily troubling. I would have been troubled by it had the DoD hit out at left-wing media critics like this. But to my knowledge, they never have. They reserved this kind of response for a conservative media figure who questioned the military’s new wokeness. This tells us something.

I’ve been hearing from a number of you since I first posted about it the other day. A pastor I know personally told me that one of his congregation is in a service academy, and sends him photographs of assignments and readings they are given. The young person asks the pastor for advice on how to navigate all this as a Christian. The pastor said he — the pastor — is a conservative, but the things that the new woke military is putting into the heads of our young people are shocking. Let me be clear: the pastor is not hearing about this second-hand; he’s seeing photos of the actual documents. I have asked him to share them with me so I can pass them on to you. I’m waiting to hear back.

A reader writes:

You need to see this. This has gone way overboard. Now, it’s the II Marine Expeditionary Force’s (II MEF) Information Group getting into the fray with Tucker Carlson. Just so you and readers who might be unaware understand, the II MEF is a three-star command, roughly equivalent to a corps in the Army, and is a major warfighting unit.

https://twitter.com/iimigofficial/status/1370373548045430786

[This tweet has since been deleted, but I think this was it: — RD]

This one really takes the cake:

https://twitter.com/iimigofficial/status/1370377174277050375

[This one too — I wasn’t able to see it before it was taken down, but I think this was it. — RD]

Then they realized they overstepped and began to walk it back:

…before owing it to their “aggressive nature:”

https://twitter.com/iimigofficial/status/1370423764299710467

[This tweet has also been deleted, but this appears to be the one: — RD]

Mind you, this is just a few of the many tweets, posts, and statements made by military personnel in reaction to what Tucker Carlson (hadn’t) said. Once upon a time, the military was called “baby killers” and “military intelligence” was an oxymoron. Did the military lash out like this, uncontrollably, then?

There’s a difference between defending one’s honor and engaging in cultural and political beefs. This is the latter and it’s totally unbecoming of the military. I cannot believe this is being tolerated, but should I really be surprised?

This also proves that there’s no “there” anymore – it’s “here.” The military has become consumed with Wokeism and the Left has fully conquered it. I’ve said before, once the Left subverted the military, then it’s subverted the last institution in America that was truly national and something of a refuge for conservatives. The battle, if not the war, has been lost.

What else is there for the Left to come after?

Sen. Cruz hit the ceiling, appropriately:

The USMC has apologized profusely for the tweets.

Still, this is one of those moments when the veil slipped to reveal what’s really there. Whoever was in charge of the USMC Twitter account got out ahead of his bosses, but not that far ahead. The DoD put out a press release last week trashing Carlson in extraordinary terms. 

Kirby addressed the insults to the entire U.S. military straight on. “I want to be very clear right up front, that the diversity of our military is one of our greatest strengths,” he said. “I’ve seen it for myself in long months at sea and in the combat waged by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve seen it up on Capitol Hill just this past month. And I see it every day here right at the Pentagon.”

More:

No job in the military is barred to women, the press secretary noted. They fly jets, fight in infantry squads, drive tanks, command warships and soon to lead combatant commands — President Joe Biden has nominated Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost to command U.S. Transportation Command and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to command U.S. Southern Command.

“To be sure, we still have a lot of work to do to make our military more inclusive, more respectful of everyone, especially women,” Kirby said.

Back in 2015, the US Marine Corps’ own study found that when it comes to infantry combat, diversity was our weakness:

All-male ground combat teams outperformed their mixed-gender counterparts in nearly every capacity during a recent infantry integration test, Marine Corps officials revealed Thursday.

Data collected during a monthslong experiment showed Marine teams with female members performed at lower overall levels, completed tasks more slowly and fired weapons with less accuracy than their all-male counterparts. In addition, female Marines sustained significantly higher injury rates and demonstrated lower levels of physical performance capacity overall, officials said.

The troubling findings come as Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford prepares to make a crucial decision regarding the integration of female troops into closed combat roles.

Which was precisely Tucker Carlson’s point! He was only stating pretty much what the USMC itself found in 2015. But all that has been memory-holed. If the US military is so confident in its woke policies, why it is so damn touchy when criticized?

Let me share with you something I have learned in the past few days. What follows is a mixture of my own opinion, informed by hearing from someone very much in a position to provided informed background.

That woke culture has overtaken the military at the highest levels should not surprise us. The military does not stand separate from the rest of Western culture. The Tucker Carlson incident highlights what rubes and dupes cultural conservatives have been for quite some time. We on the cultural right have been living under the illusion that the US military is a conservative institution, and that only culturally conservative Americans are drawn to serve in it.

Part of our being duped is our willingness to trust the national security wing of the GOP coalition. We assumed wrongly that because they identified as conservatives, that they were conservatives in all things.

Thomas Donnelly at AEI was one of the top neocon defense hawks:

Now he’s Giselle Donnelly, still employed at AEI as a defense hawk:

In 2018, when Giselle came out as a transwoman, I wrote about the Washington Post’s fawning profile of zir. Excerpt:

This paragraph of the profile jumped out at me. It’s about how Donnelly, having divorced his first wife, met the woman who is now his (her, whatever) second wife: Beth Taylor, a Navy veteran who runs a studio in DC that helps men transition to presenting themselves as female:

Giselle and Beth shared a love of national security, wine, gender fluidity and BDSM. They soon began dating, and last year they were married. Those close to them who missed this time in their lives will soon be able to see it up close and personal. For about two and a half years, a film crew followed them and documented their relationship, along with Giselle’s gender journey.

National security, wine, gender fluidity, and sadomasochism. American as apple pie.

More:

AEI President Arthur Brooks and Vice President for Foreign Policy Danielle Pletka told me their decision to support Giselle was a simple one, since she’s the same person dedicated to the same principles that made her a good fit for the institution all this time. “We are proud that she is part of the AEI family,” they told me.

You cannot get more Establishment Conservative Washington than Arthur Brooks and Danielle Pletka. They are in the Inner Ring. And they ratify Thomas Donnelly having become Giselle Donnelly. You may think this is a wonderful thing, or you may think this is a terrible thing, or you may not know what to think at all. But you must recognize that this event happening at one of the top right-wing institutions in Washington is a very big thing indeed.

Anyway, there is a reason why the national security elites in this country see the culturally conservative governments of the Visegrad countries as … well, if not enemies, then not exactly allies. What we call “wokeness” has now been folded into the American mainstream — and now wokeness is armed. Twenty years ago, these same people took America to war to turn Afghanistan and Iraq into liberal democracies. Having learned nothing, now the newest iteration of the regnant American ideology infuses US warmaking. Never mind that in reality, units that have women in combat roles perform less well than all-male ones, for reasons that are perfectly obvious to anyone not blinded by ideology. But the ideology of the ruling class will not allow reality to intrude.

A US Navy anti-discrimination task force recommended recently that all Naval personnel commit themselves to saying this pledge:

I pledge to advocate for and acknowledge all lived experiences and intersectional identities of every Sailor in the Navy. I pledge to engage in ongoing self-reflection, education and knowledge sharing to better myself and my communities. I pledge to be an example in establishing healthy, inclusive and team-oriented environments. I pledge to constructively share all experiences and information gained from activities above to inform the development of Navywide reforms.

And America’s adversaries be like:

The American Right is, at this moment, powerless to do anything about it. A decade ago, there was a mass movement in France against same-sex marriage. This is not because the French are Gallic Falwells. It’s because for all their liberality and atheism, the French have a strong cultural sense that children need mothers and fathers. Back in 2014, the New Yorker published a piece about the movement, noting how different it is from US opposition to gay marriage (e.g., it’s not an exclusively right-wing movement, and it has resisted tying itself to any political party). This movement produced a mass demonstration in Paris to oppose the proposed gay marriage law. Ultimately, the Manif Pour Tous movement did not prevail, but the fact that they were able to get so many French people out onto the street to take this stand was an incredible thing when you think that the much more religious, much more consciously conservative Americans did nothing like that. The fact is, cultural conservatism in America is dead. When even the US military is woke, it’s over. As the reader above writes, what remains for the cultural Left to conquer? And, if cultural conservatives can’t even keep the US military as a preserve from wokeness, how can they expect to address the threat from Silicon Valley and cancel culture?

Back to the military: the officer corps has become woke because there is every incentive to do so. Almost nobody on the Right will ever oppose whatever the military wants — this is why Tucker Carlson’s objections caused such alarm: he’s a prominent right-wing voice who questions the military — so the generals and the other officer corps know they have nothing to fear from the Right. It’s the same thing with Big Business: corporate leaders know that the right-wing masses are patsies so sold out to free-market fundamentalism that they cannot bring themselves to question anything Big Business does. Both the military and Big Business have learned that if you embrace wokeness and advance progressive goals, you can neutralize the Left’s criticism of the security state, defense spending, American hegemony, corporate power, and so forth.

Ambitious officers understand this, and understand that to oppose wokeness, in all its manifestations, is to jeopardize your career, but to embrace and advocate it is smart. The US might not be able to prevail on battlefields, but our leadership can prevail in the fight for career advancement. What happens when the US has to face a real enemy? The DoD can rally itself behind the “diversity is our strength” slogan, but the Marines’ own experience is that women — no doubt because of their own relative physical weakness — cannot perform in combat as well as men. Think about what happened to the Red Army when Stalin began purging its officer corps according to politics. When the woke Stalinist generals were sent into battle against Finland in 1940 and against the Nazis in 1941, they failed badly. What’s going to happen to us should China force a confrontation?

Take a look at these stories. Seriously, read them:

https://warontherocks.com/2015/11/millennium-challenge-the-real-story-of-a-corrupted-military-exercise-and-its-legacy/

https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/that-time-a-marine-general-led-a-fictional-iran-against-the-us-military-and-won/

https://news.yahoo.com/were-going-to-lose-fast-us-air-force-held-a-war-game-that-started-with-a-chinese-biological-attack-170003936.html

https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-trending/us-losing-simulated-war-games/

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-apparently-gets-its-ass-handed-to-it-in-war-games-2019-3

The US has been losing war games, and losing them badly, for some time. We are a lot weaker than we think. The military’s obsession with wokeness — did you know that the US Navy’s leadership has its sailors reading Ibram X. Kendi, and other radicals? — is doing nothing for helping us win wars. But this is what the leadership says. I have seen with my own eyes how journalism executives talked themselves into believing that “diversity and inclusion” programs that they were eager to advance actually helped make journalism better. When they did not get the results they wanted, they ignored the facts. One liberal assistant editor told me that he asked to go back to reporting, because so much of his time was taken up re-reporting stories badly reported by minority recruits who were given more responsibility than they were ready for, solely because white people higher up in the newsroom wanted to feel that they were champions of Progress by hiring reporters on the basis of skin color. This assistant editor — white, gay, and liberal — told me that he lived in fear that in re-reporting the work of young journalists of color, he was going to miss something, and end up sued for libel. That’s how bad the work was.

Now, to be clear, the idea here isn’t that journalists of color are less talented than white journalists. The problem is that journalism’s obsession with wokeness caused newsroom leaders — white people, mostly — to throw standards overboard for the sake of promoting people who had the right qualifications (skin color, gender), but who were not yet ready to do the jobs in which they were put for the sake of Progress™. But nobody could say so publicly. To notice was to be guilty of bigotry. This is how you end up with The New York Times forcing the resignation of one of its best journalists, on the most important story of this moment, because some pissy rich high school students felt triggered by his using the n-word on a field trip, in a theoretical discussion about whether using the n-word is grounds for cancelling someone.

Journalism is one thing; national security is another.

My younger son is 17, and wants to join the military. I have been writing here about how normally I would have supported that, but my conscience really bothers me about it, most of all because I do not trust the US Government not to waste the lives of our soldiers in stupid, pointless wars, but also, as of late, because I do not want my son to put his life on the line serving an organization that values ideology more than it does the lives of its soldiers. In other words, if my son were to become a Marine, I would be appalled that the USMC would send him out into combat in a half-female platoon, knowing that these platoons, based on the USMC’s own research, do not perform as well as all-male ones. They would be putting the life of my son on the line for woke political ideology, and I cannot stand that thought. Nor do I want my son to have to affirm garbage trans ideology and Kendi Thought as a condition of defending his country. He should not be taught to think by the US military that he is a lesser man because he is white. His mother and I have raised him to deplore racism, and not to judge people on the basis of their skin color, but rather by the content of their character. And I should want him to go into the US military to unlearn that?

A reader who is a veteran and a Catholic told me that he has come to see the state of the institutional Catholic Church and the US military establishment as having a lot in common. The leadership class of both institutions, said the reader, regards the faithful masses as an abstraction, a stepping stone to sustain their own ambitions. This is why the US military can have spent so much blood and treasure in the past 20 years without a solid, sustainable victory, and nobody has to pay a price for it. This is why the Catholic Church can suffer such astounding losses of the faithful, and in moral authority, and the careerists still carry on within the institution. This, said the reader, is what it means for institutions to be decadent. The reader said he would tell anyone planning to enter the military now the same thing he would tell anyone planning to become a Catholic: to separate belief in the truth with the actual corruption and decadence you’re going to encounter. And go in with eyes wide open, setting aside nostalgic illusions about the institution(s). About the military, my reader said that wokeness is an elite phenomenon interested in managing status among the elites. The vast majority of junior officers and enlisted men and women are not caught up in it, but they still have to know that they cannot be seen or heard to dissent from it, at the risk of being targeted by the Thought Police as a threat.

Cultural and religious conservatives need to fight hard to see clearly what is happening. The country is no longer what we thought it was. Take a look at this essay, “No More Cakes And Ale.” Excerpts:

The world we once regarded as normal no longer exists. If certain powerful figures in the political and medical communities have their will, we will never return to the way things were. As Klaus Schwab states in his book,  COVID-19: The Great Reset, “Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never.”

This is surely bad enough. It is perhaps even more alarming that many people don’t seem to care that their world is collapsing, an attitude that only hastens the collapse. They no longer believe in their culture, their nation, and the formative values of the Judeo-Christian West, having succumbed to civilizational fatigue. “A civilization can survive only if its members… believe in its basic values,” writes Joel Kotkin in The Coming of Neo-Feudalism. “Today our key institutions…reject many of the fundamental ideals that have long defined Western culture.”

This is a pan-historical dilemma. As Arthur Bryant points out in his fascinating The Study of England: Makers of the Realm, a major reason for the decay of Rome lay in “a lack of faith and hope,” the gradual demoralization of a people seeing “no purpose either in society or their own lives,” indifferent to their history, disdainful of learning, lacking “individual character,” and recognizing no “ideal strong enough to inspire the masses to perform duty.” The result is despondency and self-despising, and I would hazard the suggestion that, mutatis mutandis, the analogy holds for the contemporary West as well.

Four years ago this week, my bookThe Benedict Option was published, to much controversy. A lot of my fellow conservative Christians thought it was alarmist, and dismissed it. That’s a far less plausible position to defend today. The title of the book came from this final paragraph of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s 1980s book After Virtue:

It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.

The fact that the generals whose sole job it is to shore up the imperium are now fierce advocates of an ideology that weakens it is a sign of the times. The fact that the Pentagon decided to make a prominent conservative commentator its Public Enemy No. 1 is a sign too that they know that Tucker Carlson has the potential to wake people on the Right up to what is being done to our military by these ambitious ideologues, and to end the knee-jerk support for anything the military wants to do that has been common on our side.

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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