The Obama administration continues its assault on America’s conservative institutions. Having gone after religious organizations, it is focusing on the military, attempting to radicalize the armed forces in ways that would have been unthinkable only a short time ago.
Last month, the Pentagon itself hosted, and broadcast to American military bases around the world, a conference celebrating LGBT Pride Month. And a week ago — in an unprecedented move that goes against long-established military protocol — the Pentagon gave permission to servicemen and -women to march in uniform in the San Diego LGBT Pride parade. Soldiers who marched in the parade were also invited to an Official Pride Military Party with the men of Dirty Tony, a group of pornographic filmmakers.
A Department of Defense directive of 2008, which has never been rescinded, makes it clear that members of the U.S. military are not to be seen in uniform endorsing political causes. In fact, whether in uniform or not, they are to avoid any appearance of endorsing partisan causes as representatives of the armed forces, rather than as private citizens. Specifically germane to the San Diego parade, American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are not to “march or ride in a partisan political parade.”
Senator James Inhofe picked up on the DoD’s flouting of its own directive. In a pointed letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the senator stated that the directives and regulations forbidding American military personnel to endorse partisan causes are “unambiguous and straight forward with the intent of preserving the military’s apolitical stance. This apolitical stance has served our military well and earned the respect of not just Americans but nations around the world as being a professional organization, set aside from politics and agendas.”
The DOD may wish to portray the gay-pride parade as merely a community event, but, as the furor over the parading uniformed troops grows, the NavyTimesPrime reports that the Pentagon is “reviewing its policies on whether gay pride parades qualify as political events that are off limits to troops in uniform.”
The fact of the matter is that the LGBT movement is inherently political. It has an express political agenda it is working hard to achieve, including same-sex marriage. Therefore, it is a good thing that the Pentagon has not irrevocably decided that allowing military personnel to march in a gay-pride parade is the equivalent of allowing them to participate in the Tournament of Roses.
While the Pentagon mulls over the explosive effect of giving American troops permission to ignore its own explicit directives, it should be thinking over other consequences of allowing military personnel to march in uniform in an openly partisan parade.
For far more than a single injurious precedent has been set. The San Diego incident indicates that the ethics of military institutions are in danger of collapsing under pressure from a radicalized administration. What amounts to gay liberation theology is being used as a powerful weapon to force the military to accede to the LGBT movement’s political demands.
America has always honored the distinction between the military and civic society for good reason. While there is inevitable overlapping of the two, each has maintained its own individual characteristics, standards, and protocols. Erasure of the distinctions would result in either civilianizing or militarizing all of American society. Civilianization would make America like Europe. Militarization would make our country over into a banana republic.
Keeping military institutions apart from civilian life is an attempt to insulate the military from political forces. It is not just odious organizations like the Ku Klux Klan that American military personnel are not allowed to publicly support. They also may not actively participate — give a speech, carry a placard, conduct a survey — in the political campaign of a candidate belonging to a mainstream party.
The armed forces of the United States have one express reason for their existence, namely, the protection of America from her enemies. That raison d’être transcends any particular political agenda. America’s army, navy, air force, and marines exist to fight the enemies of all Americans, not to promote the agenda of any particular group, be it the LGBT movement or the Christian Coalition.
The case of two Washington Air National Guard soldiers who were photographed in uniform while breastfeeding serves as an example of how strictly the military views broaching the line between military and civilian life. While breastfeeding is a good thing for both mother and child, the women involved were breaking protocol by endorsing a cause while in uniform. Military protocol is very strict for good reason. Recruits vow to defend America, not promote a private agenda.
There are literally thousands of concerns and causes that would like to have the powerful imprimatur of the military uniform. Promoters of walks for the elimination of breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and autism — all worthy causes — would love to see marines in uniform taking part in their walks. But once one cause or political agenda is endorsed by uniformed military personnel, what might be next? Is the American public to be treated to the sight of American troops marching in parades in support of legalizing polygamy, lowering the age for consensual sex, or providing free surgery for gender reassignment?
Worse, there are increasing attempts to silence Christians within the military. Some of the most egregious examples have occurred in the air force. As Representative Randy Forbes has stated: “The Air Force has repeatedly capitulated to demands from groups that seek to remove all traces of faith from the military and the public square. When viewed individually, any of these actions is concerning. But taken together, they highlight an alarming pattern in the Air Force that we do not see in the other branches of the military. Those who sacrifice so much for our nation must be assured that they need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve.”
The fact of the matter is that while uniformed troops were allowed to march in a gay-pride parade, military personnel of faith are denied the privilege of wearing their uniform while speaking in church, as Scotty Smiley, the author of Hope Unseen, can attest. Smiley, who was completely blinded by a suicide bomber in Iraq, stayed on active duty and is still on active duty. He tells his story to rapt congregations. But he is not allowed to wear his uniform. It’s all about regulations, you see. In a “thee but not me” double standard, regulations are for Smiley, but not for marchers in a gay-pride parade.
At the very least, the military could strive for consistency in enforcing its regulatory protocol.
It is an historical truism that triumphant paradigms not only become increasingly shrill, but attempt to conquer every single institution, leaving no room for protest or resistance. The leftist political establishment is no exception to this historical reality.
Academia, the media, and the entertainment industry are already in the thrall of leftist ideology. America’s medical establishment is under attack. Now the Obama administration is targeting the remaining conservative institutions with a vengeance. Religious organizations, the military, and small businesses have all been targets as it seeks to muffle resistance and to further its radical goals.
How will the military respond?
Inevitably, those who resist the civilianization of the military will be characterized as hate-filled, regressive troglodytes who are stonewalling the progress of civil rights. Military personnel who are interested in maintaining the integrity of their institutions must reject such labeling as arrant nonsense and stick to the real issues at hand.
If the U.S. military is to avoid being completely radicalized by the Left, there must be military personnel who will speak up for the integrity of their institutions regardless of the personal risks. Certainly our president, who recently thanked gay pornographer Terry Bean for his support, cannot be counted on to reinforce traditional military values. Reform and resistance must come from within the military itself.
Officers must enforce established protocol and punish those who flout it. Refusing to allow uniformed military to participate in political endeavors would be a start in restoring the integrity of the American military.
Next, servicemen and -women of faith must speak up for their constitutional rights as citizens. They must resist with all their might attempts to silence them and fight against double standards that target the religious while allowing privileges and power to those of leftist persuasion.
In so doing, they will not be encouraging mutiny, but fighting for loyalty toward America’s armed forces as well as for their own constitutionally protected rights. They will be fighting not just for themselves, but for the integrity — indeed, the very survival — of America’s mighty military institutions.
In the long run, they will be fighting for all Americans.
As they have sworn to do.
— Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the Charles Hodge Prize for excellence in systematic theology. She was selected as one of the DelawareGOP’s “Winning Women” of 2008. Her articles have appeared in American Thinker and Delaware Politics.