On Memorial Day weekend, our president gave a flowery, superficially presidential speech about sacrifice and expressed his concern that our soldiers weren’t fully appreciated by the public at large, and yet, in the days previous, he and his defense secretary made sure to remind everyone that our servicemen and women are really nothing more than a government-funded group of sex offenders. Perhaps I’m just paying more attention to it than I was before, but I’ve been hearing a lot about the sexual integrity of the military in the last four or five months.
Oh, and there’s this.
I’m not maintaining that our current military doesn’t have its problems. Hardly. Sex scandals are always tres magnifique, and military sex scandals seem to capture our imagination a bit more, with the power and corruption running deeper and for higher stakes in a somewhat mysterious branch of the governmental bureaucracy. Should it be cleaned up? Yeah. Should we encourage our servicemen and women to practice restraint and decorum, holding them to a higher standard than the undisciplined idiots who are out here, not even living their lives but just bumping into things in the civilian world? Absolutely.
But is a commencement speech at the Naval Academy on Memorial Day weekend the appropriate place to lecture on the subject? It seems… insulting. And inappropriate. And in line with this administration’s ongoing attempt to diminish the reputation of the military in the mind of the civilian. Why respect an organization that apparently sanctions rape and harassment and general nastiness? It should be no secret that this president does not hold our fighting men and women in high regard, even while he is their commander in chief. Chipping away at the respect we civilians have for our soldiers is essential for his ongoing assault against the military. Civilians won’t protest the shrinking of a military they despise and distrust, will they?
Our president is a part of an academic community that sees our military superiority — and by extension, the military itself — as something shameful, something that must be completely done away with. Each and every reminder of its failures, faults and scandals will be used to accomplish this.
We must in turn remember that though there are assholes aplenty in the military, there are thousands of men and women of integrity who do this country proud. There are men and women who live up to and surpass the standards set for them by their predecessors and make this country’s military one of the most decent, restrained, disciplined and humane in history. Of the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that I know personally, I can name more than a handful of exemplary human beings. People who impress me with their strength of character and faith. Painting these people with the broad brush of sexual predator would be neither fair nor accurate.