The Corner

Women in Combat

Philip Gold and Erin Solaro have an op-ed arguing for it. I don’t know whether to trust their judgments on the empirical points they raise, but their conclusion certainly seems questionable: “But there is an issue at stake here greater than military necessity. The issue is citizenship, and it is the same issue behind gay marriage. Are all citizens subject to the same rights and responsibilities? Are some citizens more equal than others? Shall we treat each other as citizens or as members of groups, some of whom may be excluded from full rights and responsibilities simply because others don’t like them? For decades, conservatism has argued, vehemently, against ‘group politics.’ Who’s practicing it now?”

This follows a complaint about conservatives going with “theory” and “emotion” rather than “facts.” The argument they’re making here is as much a “theory” or “ideology” as anything these conservatives have said–and it’s a weak theory. We aren’t saying that disabled citizens are lesser citizens when we exclude them from military service. Whether it’s rational to exclude women from combat is, of course, a contested issue. But the Gold/Solaro formulation just begs the question and hides the fact that it is doing so in rhetoric designed to appeal to the emotions. (Not that I object to such rhetoric, but they’ve just given us their spiel about emotion being beside the point.) And the “simply because others don’t like them” ought to have been beneath them.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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