Phi Beta Cons

Women in the Military: Untouchable?

I am sorry to see the George Allen Senate campaign trying to turn opponent James Webb’s critical comments about women in the military and in the service academies against him.  I like Allen generally, but Webb has been good in the past on cautioning about the integration of women in military training, in combat units, and at Annapolis.  One could agree or disagree but the issue deserved to be aired.  Do we want it to go on record that any questioning of the wholesale egalitarianism being pushed in every corner of the culture and in the military must arise from prejudice against women?  Some of Webb’s opinions appeared in respectable, conservative- leaning journals and were based on his experience and observation, and even back when he expressed them in 1979 carried some risk of censure.  Aren’t we glad that there were some who were willing to speak out?  Do we want to convey the idea that people had better not speak out because their opinions may one day be held against them if the PC atmosphere grows more severe?  Do we want to squelch all debate about the question of women in the military and in the service academies?  Hasn’t Elaine Donnelly striven to force attention to just such questions and issues? 
Here are some of the things Webb has written: 
–“The men [at Annapolis] are essentially the same; it is the institution that has changed. It has changed primarily because of female midshipmen.” (pg. 273, “Women Can’t Fight,” Washingtonian Magazine, November 1979)  
–”What are the other alternatives? We could stop allowing women to attend the academies at all…Or, if it is the consensus of Congress that the service academies no longer perform their historic function of preparing men to lead in combat, but are now primarily mere academic institutions, it would be logical and cost effective to close them down.” (pg. 282, “Women Can’t Fight,” Washingtonian Magazine, November 1979)
–”And I have never met a woman, including the dozens of female midshipmen I encountered during my recent semester as a professor at the Naval Academy, whom I would trust to provide those men with combat leadership.” (pg. 148, “Women Can’t Fight,” Washingtonian Magazine, November 1979)  
–“If Congress had considered these realities when it debated whether to open the service academies to women, and approached this as a national defense rather than a women’s issue, it may have voted differently.” (pg. 148, “Women Can’t Fight,” Washingtonian Magazine, November 1979)  


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