Last week, Fox News rock star Tucker Carlson launched into criticism of the U.S. military for, in his terms, prioritizing “diversity” over its mission. He said in part,
“So we’ve got new hairstyles and new maternity flight suits, pregnant women are going to fight our wars.It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine as it assembles the world’s largest Navy, our military needs to become more feminine, whatever feminine means anymore because men and women no longer exist. The bottom line is it’s out of control. And the Pentagon’s going along with this. This is a mockery of the U.S. Military and its core mission which is winning wars.”
The ethical issue here does not require debating Carlson’s point, but for the record, the mission is what matters, not who performs it or what group they “identify” with. If the nation would be best defended by an all-female armed forces, then all-female armed forces is what we should have. If all-trans would do the trick, great; I’m on board. If clinical schizophrenics were found to be the best soldiers, draft them all, I say, and make sanity a disqualifying feature for volunteers. Prioritizing demographics over efficiency and effectiveness is incompetent and irresponsible, and while the U.S. can survive incompetence in all other aspects of our government, and does, we cannot tolerate it in the military.
But I digress. The ethical issue here is that someone at the Pentagon (or <cough> elsewhere) told the military to attack Carlson, a civilian commentator giving his opinion, for his criticism.
US Space Command’s Senior Enlisted Leader, Marine Corps Mastery Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker responded in an angry video condemning Tucker Carlson for his remarks. A press release headline from the Pentagon read, “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military.” US Marines II MEF Information Group also condemned Carlson with a photograph of a female soldier lifting another trooper on her back. “What it looks like in today’s armed forces @TuckerCarlson,” stated the official government account. “Get it right before you get left, boomer”
Wait, what? The military isn’t supposed to be attacking civilians who criticize it. Conservative pundit Jim Teacher wrote, amusingly,
And doesn’t the military have regulations about uniformed personnel making political statements? Isn’t that one of the things you give up when you join? Isn’t that the whole point of having civilian oversight of the military? Aren’t taxpayers allowed to speak up about where their money is going?I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s nuts. Can you imagine if somebody did this while Trump was president? Just picture a uniformed military officer calling out Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow. Every newspaper in the country would be $#!++ing bricks directly onto the front page. Brian Stelter’s head would explode like somebody forgot to poke holes in it before putting it in the microwave. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria. If Tucker wanted to prove that today’s armed forces need a priority check, he couldn’t have written a better script than this
Sen. Ted Cruz, properly alarmed, wrote to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin noting that the military’s use of official Armed Forces’ communication channels for this purpose was not permitted. He pointed out that military members are prohibited from using their official capacities to engage in partisan politics, yet they used public attacks on Carlson “for the sake of left wing ideology and political expediency.” Military officials saying, as in one of the broadsides at Carlson, civilians are not allowed to criticize the Armed Forces unless they themselves have served, Cruz said, “weaponizes” the military and breaks generations of tradition:
“This spectacle risks politicizing the military after several centuries of efforts to keep military officials out of domestic affairs, undermining civil-military relations by having the military take a side in a contentious cultural dispute, and the perception that military leaders are happily weaponizing the institution against political critics of the sitting administration.”
The Pentagon has backed down, apologized, and promised to “do better.” In a series of tweets, II MEF Information Group said,
We are human and we messed up. We intended to speak up for female Marines and it was an effort to support them. They are a crucial part to our corps and we need them to know that. We will adjust fire and ensure the utmost professionalism in our tweets….We’ve strayed away from our brand and realize that. Our standard practices will be in effect and you can count on us to correct our mistake going forward….We are here to train, fight and win. That tweet was intended to defend our women in uniform. We understand it was aggressive and we will reflect and do better.
Too late. This is one more institution that can no longer be trusted. As Mollie Hemingway, Federalist editor, tweeted,
“Military was last institution with credibility. Even after decades of mismanaged wars. 50 days of Biden, they’re completely destroying their credibility, going to war against and lying about a journalist who said Biden was too focused on identity politics instead of China. Scary.”