Tom Cotton Claims Biden Incited Heretofore Unseen Racism, Sexism In The Military
Late last month, Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw announced his creation of a "woke ideology whistleblower" site where military personnel could send him their horror stories of being told that racism and sexism exist and are problems for those who experience them.
On Thursday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas shared some of these findings with the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. With all the heartfelt sincerity in the world, he explained to Lloyd Austin, American's first black Defense Secretary, that racism and sexism were starting to happen in the military for the first time ever. Why? Because military personnel in some areas are being required to learn about these things and find that uncomfortable.
"We're hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone," Cotton said to Sec. Austin, hoping for sympathy.
Via Military Times:
Cotton, a former Army infantry captain, detailed a handful of anonymous submissions to the site, set up in partnership Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a retired SEAL lieutenant commander.
One Marine wrote that his unit's "mandatory military history training was replaced with training on police brutality, white privilege and systemic racism," Cotton said. "He reported several officers are now leaving this unit citing that training."
Of course, while service members regularly rotate in and out of units, and sometimes have opportunities to leave a unit early to pursue another role, they are not able to transfer at will.
Continuing, Cotton spoke of a special operations troop who was told "the special operations community is racist"; a soldier who said a general officer referred to "the entire U.S. as racist"; an airman said his or her unit was forced to conduct a "privilege walk," where troops separated themselves by race and gender to talk about their experiences with privilege; and soldiers "forced to watch videos about systemic racism and "documentaries that rewrite America's history as a fundamentally racist and evil nation."
Cotton also cited a response to his website claiming that a freshly recruited Space Force guardian filed separation paperwork saying that joining the armed services amounted to "indoctrination."
I don't know. I don't think we can trust these delicate flowers on the front lines if they can't handle watching a few documentaries and discussing unearned privileges. They're clearly not psychologically stable enough to handle that kind of pressure. It also seems like they are probably full of shit. As you may recall, no one was required to actually prove that they were in the military in order to fill out this form.
There is, of course, no question that racism and sexism have been very big problems in the military. Notoriously so!
Dog whistles aside, there is plenty of evidence that racism and sexism within the ranks actually predates the Biden administration. Task & Purpose has documented 40 cases since 2016 of service members and veterans participating in extremist organizations, such as white supremacist groups.
The Pentagon tried to bury a 2017 survey that found nearly one-third of Black service members who responded said they had experienced racism. Moreover, 30% of Black respondents and 22% of Asian respondents felt their chances for promotion would be harmed if they reported the racial harassment and discrimination that they endured. [...]
As for sexism within the military, there are many examples from before Biden took office in January of commands failing to protect female service members from sexual harassment. A review following the April 2020 murder of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén also showed that female soldiers at Fort Hood faced an environment so toxic that they constantly lived in "survival mode"
We don't need to pretend we don't know what this is. Racism and sexism are not more rampant now that people have to do diversity training and learn that racism and sexism exist. That is not the issue. The issue is that people who didn't have to worry about whether or not something they said or did was racist or sexist or consider how something they said might make someone else feel now have to worry about that. And they don't like it, because having to think about those things makes them uncomfortable, and then sometimes their discomfort makes everyone uncomfortable.
This is not a social phenomenon that is unique to the military or even to issues of racism and sexism. We all know people who get away with saying horrible things because no one wants to "make things awkward" by acknowledging it, and we know how aghast those people can get when someone finally does. We're socialized to feel that the onus for not making things awkward or uncomfortable is on the oppressed or insulted in practically any situation, and people do get uncomfortable when that script is flipped — even, sometimes, other people who have been oppressed or insulted.
I can only speak to this as a woman, but I know a lot of women who have felt like they had to laugh off sexual harassment, laugh off men groping them or otherwise being grotesque, not only for their own safety, but for everyone's collective comfort. Putting up with that kind of stuff used to be the mark of a "cool girl" and saying anything about it made one a feminist killjoy. I have to say that, unfortunately, there was a time when women were more likely to plead with me to just let it go than men were. This was a fantastic situation for men, because women were largely policing each other. They weren't the ones who had to worry about where the boundaries were.
Things like diversity training take away the "Oh, they just don't know any better" excuse — and with that comes the possibility that people won't just let things go anymore. Because at the end of the day, what woke means is "paying attention." And that's really scary for some people who are used to being able to trust that their comfort will always come first. Because it won't anymore.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse