I do my best to avoid being demeaning toward individuals. As someone has said, we should be tolerant of people, but intolerant of bad ideas. So it is with great sincerity that I want to be clear about the purpose of this post -- it is the utter stupidity of the ideas I want to address here that is important. The fact that there are specific, well-known, and influential leaders of the U.S. Army that have been articulating these ideas, though relevant, is not the point. It is the ideas themselves that sicken me.
I also want to be clear about my obvious respect for the U.S. military and those who serve in it. This topic hits very close to home for me as a former Marine, the son of a retired Marine, and as part of a family of current and former career members of the U.S. Army. I mean no disrespect toward the men and women who currently serve our country, especially since two of my sons are included in that group. But when the leadership of that military becomes so obviously idiotic; when they begin to promote ideas that will serve to put those who serve beneath them in mortal danger, I am compelled to weigh in, no matter whose feelings might get hurt.
A little over a year ago, while talking with a well-placed source at a noted institution of higher learning, I asked him about absentee voter registration for the upcoming 2008 General Election. He answered, "Many of us don't believe we should vote ... as members of the profession of arms, we feel that it is inconsistent with our commitment to attempt to choose our Commander-in-Chief."
Where on earth had he come up with such an idea? Cal-Berkeley? Columbia University? Yale? Harvard? Wellesley? None of the above ...
This is an idea he received from individuals in positions of leadership at the number one college in America (Forbes, 2009) and one of the finest (if not the finest) leadership training institutions on the planet: The United States Military Academy at West Point.
He continued, " ... there's actually a large sized portion of the officer corps that feels the same way ... [We] can't choose whether or not to follow [the Commander-in-Chief's] orders once he's in office so it kind of defeats the idea of 'selfless service' to attempt to have any voice in that decision ... If we signed up to do whatever he said, no matter what, then trying to effect that lessens the value of what we swore to do."
Let me say that the heart of this guy's motivation is undeniably honorable. It amazes me that he would be compelled to think so selflessly about the oath he took to serve this nation. But the reasoning he has been given by the leadership at West Point is seriously flawed.
A citizen's right to vote is one of the core principles on which this nation was founded. Ironically, it is a right for which those who serve so honorably in the military, risk their lives to defend. How could any "leader" worth his salt ever be compelled to promote the idea that those who defend that right should not be able to exercise it?
These have taken an oath to defend the Constitution which grants them that right. And yes, they are sworn to follow the orders of their Commander-in-Chief. That they will always do. But it seems to me that simple logic entails that if they vote for a candidate who loses the election, the fact that they subsequently submit to the President for whom they did not vote, is an even more honorable demonstration of their loyalty.
This is especially relevant when those two aspects of the oath come in conflict. For instance, suppose one candidate for President is an avowed Marxist whose policies would, by definition, undermine the Constitution of the United States. The serviceman's oath is foremost to defend that Constitution, yet the philosophy being promoted would not allow him to vote against a candidate whose policies would undermine that Constitution and thereby violate that oath. This is lunacy.
This is nothing more than politically correctness (PC) run amok -- an idea that aims to negate the political influence of the very people who would suffer most by its imposition. At the time, what bothered me most about it was that this PC view was "prevalent" among the West Point leadership -- that some hideously high percentage of our military leadership has bought into this philosophical position and begun to pass it on to the next generation of leaders. When I heard this, I contacted a civilian leader at West Point who assured me that "it could not be true" but that she would bring it up with the Dean in an upcoming meeting she was having with him. She promised to share his response. But after repeated efforts to elicit that response, nothing has been forthcoming. The leadership simply ignores the question.
The support for this kind of PC in the military is sickening -- and frightening -- to me. And it just got worse.
After the senseless murder of 13 unarmed servicemen and women at Fort Hood last month; after it was learned that the spineless shooter screamed "Allahu akbar" ("Allah is Great") before beginning his rampage; after it was learned that this Islamist fanatic was in "contact with a man of known Islamist views, whose mosque he had once attended, whose sermons were eloquently bloodthirsty and for whom the shedding of blood was religious duty;"* after all that and more, the Army's Chief of Staff, General George Casey, weighed in on the matter.
"What happened at Fort Hood is a tragedy, and I believe it would be a greater tragedy if diversity became a casualty here."
Let those words sink in. They were spoken by the highest ranking General in the United States Army and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the most powerful nation on Earth. Make no mistake, his motivation is to divert the religious nature of this horrendous act away from its source and pretend it does not exist -- all for the sake of avoiding any hint of "intolerance" toward those who hold, and act on, equally murderous ideas. This general believes that some abstract, PC notion of "diversity" holds a higher value than the lives of the young men and women who were murdered at Fort Hood..
Talk about PC run amok. Apparently, West Point just represents the tip of the military leadership iceberg.
If the acceptance of dumb ideas were the end of it, it would simply be laughable. But it's not. These ideas have infiltrated the minds and philosophies of those who are training and leading our sons and daughters in combat. The stakes there are higher and the implications more critical than the outcome of the vacuous Washington D.C. posturing in which they are engaged. They are the blood and treasure of our nation and our families. The leaders who push these PC doctrines are more worried about the political ramifications for their own careers than they are about the lives that are wasted as a result of a misguided adherence to them.
No wonder they don't want our kids to vote.
* Theodore Dalrymple, National Review, December 7, 2009, p. 18