|In the U.S. military, "bureaucratic progressivism has hardened into iron-fisted wokeism."|
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From soft liberalism to iron-fisted Leftism in today's U.S. military | Opinion
Aaron Reitz On 3/19/21 at 8:00 AM EDT
"In the Marine Corps, we don't have quotas, but we do have goals. And Marines accomplish goals," my officer-in-charge told me and a few other brand-new second lieutenants, each of us assigned to temporary recruiting duty while awaiting orders to Quantico. The captain then told us we had to sign up a certain number of college-enrolled racial minorities and females. No need to be too strict on physical fitness or academics, he said. Just bring them in.
That was in 2009. Discrimination of this sort has been an ingrained yet lamentable part of the military's recruitment, retention and promotion practices for many years. But my fellow officers and I couldn't have imagined that, 12 years later, our disagreement with these policies would get us labeled "racist," "sexist," "bigoted" or "extremists" worthy of "eradication" and "elimination" from the USMC. Yet the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps said as much in his February 22 "core values" memo.
I'm now a major in the Marine Corps Reserve and a member of a formerly all-male infantry battalion.* This past weekend we had our monthly drill period. A few days before drill, the command told us that all scheduled training on Sunday morning was canceled and replaced with a "stand-down to address extremism in the ranks."
It was left-wing political programming, as direct as it sounds.
We were instructed that there is a Taliban-like threat in the United States called "domestic terrorism." These terrorists are characterized in part by "anti-government," "anti-authority" or "abortion-related" extremism and various "supremacist" ideas. None of these terms are defined. The Marine Corps entrusts the government's HR department to figure that out.
Reporting requirements are key. Do you suspect someone supports an "extremist ideology?" Alert the chain of command. Have you heard a Marine express "contempt toward officials?" Notify the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Don't handle anything on your own. Just rat them out. After all, "service is a privilege" and it'd be a shame to lose that privilege for failing to do your part to stamp out "extremists." One PowerPoint slide posed this imperative in stark terms: "Do you want to be a Marine or do you want to be part of an organization that sows disunity and hate. You cannot have divided loyalties."
Where did all this come from? Soft liberalism has taken root in the military over several decades. These alarming trends are already well documented in James Hasson's book Stand Down: How Social Justice Warriors Are Sabotaging America's Military. But in the wake of President Joe Biden's election—and more precipitously since the January 6 "insurrection"—bureaucratic progressivism has hardened into iron-fisted wokeism.
January 6 provided the pretext that the government, media and Democratic Party needed to drum up paranoia about white-nationalist domestic terrorism. A month later, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo to all Pentagon leadership laying the groundwork for my unit's Sunday morning indoctrination.
In his memo, Austin announced that the Department of Defense "will not tolerate...actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies" and ordered all 1.4 million personnel to receive "extremism" training. And he promised it was just the beginning: the "stand-down is just the first initiative of what I believe must be a concerted effort to...eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and conduct have on the workforce."
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker followed with his own memo. He announced the objective for the entire Navy Department: nothing short of "eradicating extremism." How? By rooting out "actions that betray our oaths" like promoting "ideology" or "doctrine" that challenges the "gender identity and sexual orientation" agenda or advancing efforts that allegedly "deprive individuals of their civil rights."
In other words, advocating for the Biblical view of sex and marriage in law and policy is, according to today's armed forces, tantamount to oath betrayal.
Then came the Marine Corps' turn to mouth the right things about "extremism." In late February, the highest-ranking enlisted Marine issued a memo to all hands condemning our institutional failure to "completely eliminate," "eradicate," and "conquer" all "racists, bigots, homophobes and bullies." Those people "are not welcome" in the military. "It is impossible," the memo says, "to be both a good Marine and be any one of those things at the same time." Again, specifics of "those things" are undefined. The author of the memo and the four-star Commandant leave that to the military's Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
Finally, on March 5, the Marine Corps released an official directive: no later than April 2, all "commanders and supervisors at all levels will conduct and document a leadership stand-down in order to address issues of extremism in the ranks." The commandant included a video with the directive, saying, "We must continuously strive to eliminate any division in our ranks."
We all know what that means: any dissension on any issue that Biden-appointed top brass says is racist, sexist or homophobic will not be tolerated.
There is no doubt as to where all this is headed. The Pentagon's swift and coordinated "smiting" of Tucker Carlson, who had the gall to "diss" the idea of sending pregnant women to war—an obviously absurd idea to all but the most politically correct officers grasping for a promotion—makes it very clear.
How did we get here? The truth is that today's military is running on the fumes of our vastly superior forefathers and the ever-shrinking proportion of each branch that still does truly heroic work and accomplishes truly extraordinary feats. The rest is a bloated military-industrial complex given over to Fortune 500-style corporate progressivism.
And if it's bad in the Marine Corps, imagine how much worse it is in the other services.
America's enemies are laughing at us. Frankly, we deserve it. But it doesn't need to be this way. To get back on top, our military must reject "extremism" training, reverse all the progressive policies enacted over the past several years, return to a true meritocracy and focus exclusively on the only thing that matters: winning wars.
We need a military fit for real warriors—not the social justice kind.
Aaron Reitz is a Major in the USMC Reserve, an Afghanistan War veteran and the Texas Deputy Attorney General for Legal Strategy.
* I prepared this article off-duty and in my personal capacity. The views I express here are solely mine and do not reflect those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy or the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.
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