As our “Art of the Deal” administration worsens this ****-measuring contest with Tehran, conversation inevitably returns to the prospect of military intervention. Whatever the likelihood, it stirs some thoughts on the US military that I would like to share.
As a boy, my primary career goal was to centre the top line for the Philadelphia Flyers. I loved hockey and that was my team.
My backup plan was to be a solider. As a child, at least in the US, one may not see much downside. The US military were the baddest m-fers on the planet. Other people did horrible things, and then these awesome folks, almost living superheroes, would show up to correct the situation. Captain America – “I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”
As a boy, these Others were unreasonable and would resort to violence without provocation. Responding with force was the only way to protect innocent people. It was honourable, and contained little risk. We were stronger – US soldiers didn’t die in battle anymore. One US soldier could take down an entire base of anonymous enemy soldiers because they were trained and fighting on the side of what was right. It was on television and in movies.
By the time I reached high school, it was clear that my future in the NHL had slipped away. I moved on to the military plan. Enlist once I was old enough, do my college studies through them, and then I would transition back to civilian life once I finally retired from a patriotic life as a soldier.
That thinking reached a fever pitch in 2001. I was outside participating in gym class when it happened. By the time I arrived at my next class, both towers in New York had been hit and news broke about the Pentagon. That hit me harder. The WTC towers were one thing – that was a tragedy, but they were vulnerable civilian targets in the heart of a metropolis. The Pentagon was the heart of the US defence. Had the strikes not hit the Pentagon, I feel my response might have been, “We figure out who did this and bring them to justice” like the Oklahoma City bombing years earlier.
But they did hit the Pentagon, so my feeling was, “We’re at war with someone. I don’t know who, but we’re now at war. This is a Pearl Harbor moment.”
I took the entrance exam for the military as soon as I could at my school, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. I dominated the test – 99th percentile across the board. Recruiters salivated because, as I would later learn, that 99th percentile meant across the entire population. The entire population does not take the ASVAB or pursue a military career though. Actual ASVAB scores among those enlisting are generally far lower (there is a minimum score required for each branch – anyone serving attains at least that level). Scores on that exam also determine for which careers one qualifies in the various branches.
For a military recruiter, I was the goose that laid the golden eggs. I went to one of the wealthier schools in the area, from which they often received few recruits, and achieved the highest score – I was qualified to do whatever I wanted pending a physical (and, as I have the ears of a moth and the eyes of a hawk, that only solidified my range of choices). Recruiters have quotas and I would be quite a feather in anyone’s cap.
This is when I learned of the friendly rivalry among the branches. They have stereotypes (with which anyone might be familiar). The Marine Corps were the tough ones who rode everywhere in Navy equipment (per some Navy candidates, “Marines” stood for “My ass rides in Navy equipment, sir.” ) The Navy and Air Force (or Chair Force) were the intellectuals afraid of getting their hands dirty. They sat in the air conditioning and pushed buttons. The Army were tough, but not Marines tough. They were smarter than the Marines, but not as smart as the Navy or Air Force who had to “Army-proof” designs.
Most of it was friendly ragging. Some seemed to take it too seriously. It may even sound more severe per my description than it was. Chicagoans might liken it to the feud between Cubs and White Sox fans, or New Yorkers to the Mets and Yankees. It gets out of hand and includes a lot of stereotyping, but at the end of the day it’s not the Cubs-Cardinals or Yankees-Red Sox.
I focused on the Air Force. They had a higher minimum ASVAB requirement and higher scores for many of their positions. Not only could I serve, I could serve in positions that many applications were not allowed to touch. It was not about being better than other candidates, but about identifying a clear need and purpose for myself. That Marine candidate could tear me in two and I do not think I would do well in a live-fire situation (a la Black Hawk Down), but I could do the sort of intelligence analysis many of the other candidates could not. We needed each other. I saw my place.
At 17 I convinced my parents to sign consent for me to enlist. But here’s the way this works (this is important a little later): I went to Maguire AFB/Fort Dix in New Jersey for MEPS – Military Entrance Processing Station. This is where they conduct the physical part of the entrance screening. Step 1 is passing the ASVAB, Step 2 is MEPS.
My recruiter took care of his golden goose. “No music, no loud television the night before. Do not stay up reading or watching TV. Protect your eyes, protect your ears. No drinking.”
When I arrived at the hotel the night before, several of the other candidates were at the hotel bar drinking together. I went to my room and went to sleep in a dark silence.
The next morning we all arrived at MEPS. We had about 80 candidates all together, mostly Marine Corps and Army. I was alone for the Air Force, with a pair of Coast Guard candidates and a handful of Navy recruits. They sat us down in a briefing room to explain the day’s events. The morning began with a breathalyzer exam. Several candidates who had spent the evening drinking before the government physical seemed to disappear immediately after that test.
What followed is no government secret. It’s a rather standard physical. Visual examination, blood work, urinalysis, had us dead lift weight on a machine (no real requirement for this test, but the amount one could lift counted towards qualification for certain career paths). We did a vision and hearing test – the reason I was meant to protect my eyes and ears in the hours beforehand.
One of the things that stood out to me was that the number of candidates appeared to drop throughout the day. I figured anyone could serve in the US military, but that is not true. Between the aptitude test and physical exam, quite a few people did not qualify for any position. I also learned that recruiters help prepare recruits for the exams, so for some of those who did make it through this was a second, third, or nth attempt.
In fact, I shuddered to discuss this part of the process while at MEPS. The other candidates, not yet in the branches for which they were enlisting, were already engaging in that inter-branch banter. I was in a severe minority with the brainy administrative types. Most of the recruits were rowdy, frat boy personalities. They talked about their ASVAB scores in the 50s and 60s. Some rattled off an enviable score in the 70s that impressed the others.
What was I supposed to say if asked? “I scored 99, guys. In fact, the questions did not feel particularly hard. I’m understand it’s a percentile thing, but how did you walk out of that exam with a score in the 40s?”
I know – I apologise to any readers who took the ASVAB and the results were 54th percentile or whatever. I know this comes across as elitist and condescending. Emotionally, I understand that side of it, which is why I stayed quiet. Cognitively, this is what I was thinking. You know how you’re a fan of something and someone is ignorant to its basics, like every time I say, “Who’s that?” in reference to some young musical act? I’m not saying these people are stupid – I’m saying it came so naturally to me that I cognitively struggle with understanding how anyone could.
I applied for a top tier career path. Few people had the aptitude (per the ASVAB) to qualify, and those who did often lacked some of the physical requirement for the position; namely, hearing and vision. Slight inadequacy or requiring aid (such as glasses) in these areas made the job impossible to do well for many.
The trouble was, the position was so rare that career training did not occur as often for those in the field. If one were to enlist in the Army and become a member of the infantry, for example, one could ship out to basic training and then begin the technical training immediately thereafter. Many recruits enter that pipeline, so it occurs with frequency.
I was a 17-year-old on parental consent in a unique position, so I did not enlist into active duty but into the Air Force Delayed Entry Program (DEP). I would attend my final year of high school before deploying to basic training in the summer after, with the technical training following after that. That meant almost a year of waiting for everyone.
My parents hoped I would change my mind. I waited tirelessly, as did my recruiter – like an Ahab who had finally hooked his great white whale but had to keep him on the line for a period before help arrived to finish the catch.
Piercing the Veil
Quite a lot unfolded in the months between my DEP enlistment and my actual enlistment date. For one, the recruiter wanted to keep my engagement level high, so he escorted me to Maguire AFB with some regularity to meet other Airmen and see them at work. I supported the USAF at air shows in my area. When they learned about my career path, they responded with interest and excitement – the position might not have been as typically cool as some of theirs, but it was rare. I received attention from others because they felt fascination at meeting someone who would be doing this thing they knew existed despite never meeting someone who did it.
Unfortunately, it also meant continuing to meet people in service. It also meant watching world events continue to unfold for another several months. Afghanistan. Iraq. Talk of North Korea and Iran.
First – those in service. I realise I open myself up to scrutiny and the dreaded social media ratio here. We have this tendency in the United States, I believe mostly as a response to Vietnam, to hoist members of the armed services to the heights of praise along with first responders. If one is a veteran or active member of the US armed services, society means for civilians to treat that person with a degree of reverence for what they do.
In cases, their efforts warrant such a response. The US military consists of many wonderful people who are in service out of civic duty and family tradition. They do not want to harm others, but they want to serve their country and its citizens. That is unequivocally true.
This is also true: the US military consists of white supremacists, a staggering amount of sexual assault cases, inadequate care for service people who return from active duty, suicide rates, and a general boorishness among its population that I likened to a high school visit to the country jail. It makes sense. At the time I felt like an adult, but I was 17. Many of them were 17, 18, 19 years old. We were young and inexperienced, thrust into unimaginable circumstances. Some of them were, frankly, bad people. Others were normal people thrown into bad circumstances who behaved in an understandable (at least in the sense of predictable) way that one still cannot condone.
A big part of the reason I accept the idea of toxic masculinity so readily today is my experience with those in service back then. Again (I must reiterate because we all know if it’s not 100% clear this is not universal that the response will focus on that), this is not every person in the armed services. I will not even say that it was most or many. It was too many. They were insecure and fragile. They had to be tough, unafraid, and masculine at all times – at least, they felt the pressure to be those things at all times. It results in the things described earlier: sexual harassment, sexual assault, mental health issues, suicide, fighting, substance abuse issues.
Some of these things made victims of other service people. All of these things made victims of the service person.
That piece aside, it broke the veil of knightly heroism and honour that I felt about military service. They were boys and girls trying to make the best of a crazy situation.
People’s History of the United States
The other side of the equation was world news. It was around the same time that my views on the United States itself began to shift. My knowledge of American history, courtesy of the liberal school system that some love to attack, was the greatest hits: Columbus discovers America, winning independence from the tyrannical English, Manifest Destiny, Civil War to end slavery (okay, this experience sounds different in certain parts of the country), involvement to end a World War, overcoming the Great Depression, crushing fascism and liberating Jewish people from anti-Semites in World War II, and resisting Communism up to present day – resistance to the threat of Islamic extremism.
Things became more nuanced for me. Things like, Columbus discovering some places in the Caribbean and then systemically eliminated entire populations. Then the idea that the Civil War was to preserve states’ rights rather than slavery – which is incorrect, but at least I gained insight into why so many people seemed to embrace the Confederacy still. I came to question the response of Allied powers after World War I, including ways in which the Great Depression was self-inflicted. I learned about the Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden and wide presence of anti-Semitism among Allied nations during World War II. I learned about the Soviet role in that war and ways in which the United States and United Kingdom set the stage for some of the strained relations we see today.
More importantly, I saw a chain of events unfold. I didn’t start the fire – it was always burning. The clarity began to fail under the weight of the nuance.
I was in the DEP program at a time the United States was in Afghanistan looking for Bin Laden and in Iraq looking for Hussein. They were bad dudes. I knew Hussein somewhat from my childhood – the villain on the television during the Gulf War. I did not know that the United States backed both of them in earlier conflicts. They existed in these positions because we put them there.
That is itself a simplistic take on history. At the time, the United States had justification for supporting Hussein and Bin Laden. Hussein was helped to authority during a period of revolution in the Middle East, and decades later the US helped finance the Taliban against Soviet moves in the region. Their interest aligned with ours…until they didn’t because these are sovereign nations and these are the absolutely powerful people that power corrupts absolutely.
I am not placing the blame at the feet of the United States. Hussein and Bin Laden were terrible. I am placing some of the blame at our feet though, just as I see the fingerprints of the United States all over Africa, Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia. One could fill volumes with the specifics of each of these things – it’s beyond the scope here and I urge readers to historians who have the receipts to support these conclusions.
The point in this piece is that it became clear the United States was not the shining city on the hill, the beacon of democracy for the rest of the world. I saw corruption and private interest here for the first time – not to the extent of other places for which there is no moral equivalency, but certainly more than the average American student would like to believe.
Don’t believe me? Ask the average American when World War II began. I would all but guarantee that from most respondents one would not hear a response earlier than 1941. America is right, and America is exceptional. Look at her black eyes, like slavery, racism, and misogyny. To some Americans, sure, these were unfortunate things in our history – a product of the times. We solved them and moved forward.
It ignores the evidence that these things persist today (including slavery in the form of human trafficking and, perhaps more cynically, the nature of some internship programs). It ignores the fact that world history indicates these things were not a product of their time, as other cultures show evidence of having progressed in these areas well before the United States.
I became shocked by other domestic truths, such as the one alluded to earlier about anti-Semitism in the United States during World War II. We learned about the Civil War so we knew the South had a history of racism – slavery, the KKK. It creates the idea that the South was racist and the North progressive. Nope. Plenty of racism to spread around in the North, and plenty of examples of states South and West forming progressive policies for women and minorities well ahead of the “liberal” Northeast.
I do not, however, hate the United States. I am embarrassed and ashamed in a general sense by the United States on a regular basis, just as I am by white people, straight people, and men. No, it’s not all of them or even most of them. It’s too many of them. I hate feeling the understandable prejudice of other people who look at me and see an American, a white man, a straight person, or a man and feel reminded of injustices they or those they love suffered at the hands of members of that group because of these groups.
It’s not identity politics. I understand that impulse to dismiss this as such. It’s not that I am white or that they are not. It’s that we have a long history of white people doing horrible things to them specifically because they are not white people. No, that is not right, nor is it right for someone to look at me and generalise who I am because I am white. We are individuals. The simple fact though is that not everyone thinks that way. They treat people as groups and then the members of the dominant group punishes members of the minority groups simply because they are (perceived) members of that group.
When I stand up for feminism, for example, it’s not because I value women because they are women. It’s not because I feel that we need to punish men because of a history of misogyny. It’s because a way-too-large segment of our population continues to treat women poorly because they are women.
“You can’t treat them as a group. I hate identity politics and this collectivist thinking.”
That idea – the focus is not on taking women collectively as a group. The focus is on providing social remedy to the individuals being punished by individuals who are taking women collectively as a group and treating them poorly for it.
That’s why feminism.
That’s why Black Lives Matter. Not only Black Lives – all lives do matter – but specifically black lives because we have people who are killing, marginalising, and punishing people because they are black. It’s a simple litmus test: same situation with a white person, far more pleasant outcome. It’s the reason a white mass shooter gets taken alive by police but a black family has multiple guns drawn on them because their 4-year-old walked out of the store with a Barbie.
I came to know this as my country. That’s why, when I was 18 and still awaiting my deployment date, I withdrew my enlistment. I did not deploy to my basic training, technical training, or first assignment. I never filled that unique position. I signed up to serve principles, principles I specifically thought my country (i.e. my government) also held. I no longer thought that. The right thing to do, as hard as it was, was to say no.
I feel some judgement over this decision, even before I publish this piece. Oddly, I feel it from supporters of President Bone Spurs.
In the words of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, “I’m not a coward, I’ve just never been tested. I’d like to think that if I was I would pass. Look at the tested and think there but for the grace go I, might be a coward, I’m afraid of what I might find out.”
This is something personal discussed in the area of gun control. I detest violence. I am, in fact, a pacifist. The idea of pointing a firearm at another human being, of pushing a button or breaking a code that results in the death of someone else, or even of causing non-lethal harm to someone bothers me. In the situation, I’d like to think my focus would be on the person next to me and getting them out of that situation alive. That is, if I were in a trench with you, my focus would not be on killing the enemy but on making sure that you and I get home safe.
The reason for withdrawing the enlistment was not fear of being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Those realities were present before I made the initial decision. In fact, those realities compelled me more enthusiastically into that decision.
What had changed was my perspective of patriotism and the application of principle to that patriotism.
How did we arrive at the situation with Iraq and Afghanistan? What did we stand to gain from those situations? One might say the liberation of their people and the installation of democracy – to which I reply, liberated? Democracy? I also saw other situations around the world like humanitarian concerns in Sudan (now South Sudan), Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Why involve ourselves in these situations and not others if principle was the reason?
The receipts that historians bring forth reveal a track record of greed and private interest that I cannot ignore. One might regard it as cynicism. I regard it as scepticism at worst. The decisions have a clear advantage to the United States in political and commercial senses. The other situations do not. This is not a uniquely United States thing. I look at English attitudes throughout history, moves made, for example, by Churchill to preserve British political and commercial interests, particularly against the Soviets, rather than to further the war effort.
One might favour that. “I’m English. English political and commercial interest is of personal interest.” “I’m American. American political and commercial interest is of personal interest. Why do I care about spending money to help Bolivia, the Central African Republic, or Palau when I could make things better here for myself and for other Americans?”
Principle. Principle is my answer. It’s the same collectivist attitude against which we just argued. The United States, at the end of the day, is a series of political lines drawn on a map. One degree too far north and one is Canadian. One degree south and one is Mexican.
This is true all over the world, but, I think, more in the United States than anywhere. In France one might be able to point at a culture that is somewhat uniquely French (I don’t believe so, but to a greater extent than the United States). Native American populations were the only ones here. The predominantly white population of today are European immigrants bringing various ethnic and cultural backgrounds to bear. The heart of the American identity is the cooperation of other identities.
Again, this is true everywhere on this planet. I am not saying that most places have a rightful claim to an ethno-state but the United States does not. Nobody does. We are all humans and all equal in that respect.
What I am saying is the America First attitude that we somehow deserve to take care of this person over here because they are American rather than that person because they are not is as ridiculous a notion to principle as “we should help this person over here because he’s white rather than that person because they are not.”
There is nothing exceptional about being an American except the promise of what America might be – the premier example of humanitarian principle and governance done right in the history of civilisation. That is not what we are. American exceptionalism is a tranquilizer we receive to stop from rocking the boat.
In the sense of international relations and the military, it drives home a deeper point about conflict. I do not not hate Iran, no matter what comes out of that nation. I dislike a handful of powerful people in Tehran, and I am not going to bring harm to any Iranian citizen in the interest of preserving the interest of a handful of powerful people in Washington against those in Tehran.
This is true anywhere in the world. I will have no part in action that brings direct harm to citizens of some other nation, even if the justification is that it’s bringing some benefit back to other Americans. What I seek is to work with the citizens of that nation to bring benefit to everyone.
Some people may distrust the Others. “They hate America. They would never cooperate with us.” In some cases they probably do hate the United States. But “the United States” is not me. They hate the actions and consequences of decisions implemented by a handful of people in Washington, same as literally every single one of us does. Everybody. Yes, you might think Trump can walk on water, but I guarantee you dislike/distrust those Democrats in Congress, right? Hated the Obama years? It works the other way, too. Maybe you thought Obama was infallible, but you despise the Trump administration. We all look at the governance with disappointment.
The idea of a “real America” is a fantasy. The real America is that collectively – people who hated Clinton, liked Bush, despised Obama, and adore Trump; people who were the precise opposite; people in between who have a far more nuanced take on all of them (which, I believe, is the majority of Americans).
That’s the point here. The reason for stepping away from a career in the military was principle. Congresspersons do not serve their party, they serve the country. The country is supposed to serve principles – “these truths we hold self-evident,” “all men are created equal.” All of that wonderful stuff.
When one group, such as the Democrats or Republicans have control and do not seem to share those principles, that is not “not my country.” It’s still one’s country just as one cannot change skin colour or ethnicity. It’s a poor reason for division as well. The answer is not blind faith to the opposing side. The answer is adherence to principle. Democrats serve Democrats. Republicans serve Republicans. It’s collectivist thinking, yes, on both sides.
No, I’m not taking a middle ground – I do not see a moral equivalence. The Republicans are worse. What I am saying is that the response to that is not praising the Democrats, who are also not pushing the principles, who are also part of the process that moved the United States away from being the shining city on a hill to the one I see today.
I see the Pax American about which Kennedy warned.
I see the military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned.
By all means, be a Republican. Demand better from them. Be a Democrat. Demand better from them. Keep the focus on principle. Do things that promote those principles. Make your elected officials promote those principles. “Better than the other option” is not enough.
And they are worse because it comes from a position of power.
Sure, drink a Pepsi and then do the responsible thing and recycle the bottle. That’s great that you are doing your part to live green. Companies and industries are doing the real damage to the environment. They lobby and have protections in place that either expressly allow them to do those things or, at minimum, create a situation in which it is cost effective for them to do it the wrong way.
You don’t like racism or sexism? Great. One must understand that racism and sexism are systemic, institutional problems in the United States. Yes, even today. These things are enshrined by generations of law and policy. Maybe the current policy does not seek to discriminate, but understand the history. Most of the policy history traces to an egregiously discriminatory practice whose impact is still felt today.
First responders are amazing, brave individuals. Like the military, it also includes its share of racism and sexism. The police services of this country do not respond to all people equally, and, at a minimum, have a track record of doing it enough that trust does not exist even if they are. One can honour first responders for their work while being critical of these aspects and holding them accountable. Like politicians, they are civil servants. They are authorities in society, but authority vested by the people they serve. One is not only allowed to hold them accountable, one is compelled by principle to hold them accountable.
It’s not collectivist. We’re talking about individuals – far too many individuals – doing inappropriate things in society that insulates them from responsibility.
People put too much faith in the institutions to uphold the principles. They won’t. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the people with power in institutions across time will corrupt the system to their personal gain. In the United States we are looking at 250 years of people facing injustices and abuses because a handful of people in control implemented things that specifically or collaterally hurt them just for being members of that group. Meanwhile, far too many people not in control, because they were not members of the affected group (or because they likewise hated the members of that group), did not stop it, did not undo it.
I am not speaking for anyone other than myself specifically, but I know that I am speaking for others. This is the criticism of the United States (and, I imagine, other countries as well).
“If you hate the US so much, just move.”
I don’t hate the US. I have done rather well for myself here. I also recognise that being a heterosexual white male helped in that respect. Since day one this country was meant for me. I did not have to achieve suffrage or civil rights. They existed. Other people are not so lucky and my principles, the same principles upon which the US was allegedly founded, compel me to help them as equals to achieve that equality in civil rights. That is being an American per my grade school understanding.
I am one person. Another person stands there. I am taller. They are more handsome. I am better when it comes to writing. They are better at maths. I could beat them in a game of chess, but they would beat me on the basketball court. We are not equal. We are individuals with strengths and weaknesses. As people though, we are equal. Their belonging to a particular class does not make them inferior or superior to me. If they have less civil rights than me, principle demands that I work on their team to achieve it.
Okay. One might read that last paragraph and then scroll back 5,500 words to “I wanted to be a professional hockey player” and think, “How the hell did we get here? Wasn’t this a story about his military experience or lack thereof?”
Yes, because the story is about collectivist thinking. It’s about patriotism and the evils of it. People who disagree with me about various subjects, such as feminism, often toss out this idea of collectivist thinking as a criticism. They feel people are hurting America with political correctness and collectivist thinking.
That is how we got from an anecdote about joining the military to a broad appeal about civil rights. That very idea that “America is this and your liberal attitude about this topic is collectivist thinking that is harmful to that” is collectivist thinking that is harmful to America.
There is no “real America.” It’s a set of political lines drawn on a map and the collection of individuals who reside within. Lumping people together in groups and then treating the group better or worse than the others is the problem at the heart of everything, that is the problem America itself was supposed to solve. That is the promise of economic and social mobility that is life in the United States.
“Everywhere else has this social hierarchy where the powerful will oppress the powerless and one becomes stuck in some pre-determined social position. America has opportunity, freedom, and liberty to overcome that.”
It should. It does, if you belong to the right group. For many Americans that is not the reality because systemic and institutional obstacles (yes, read: white men) prevent that. It creates unequal starting points on the basis of perceived group membership. It places obstacles. It creates unique expectations.
No, a lot of it is not explicit discrimination, which is probably why so many people insist they are not racist, are not sexist while resisting the call to change things. There is a legacy of discrimination present though because this country originated with the idea that white men were equal. Women could not vote, were relegated to domestic roles. Ethnic minorities faced even more intense discrimination. We made progress on all of these fronts, but we have not erased their fingerprints from our modern society. It all exists as threads in that fabric. Policy 3,495 exists today in a way that is inherently discriminatory because one day, perhaps long ago, policy 45 was explicitly racist and we never addressed that. We just piled new policy on top and pretended it was better, no regard paid to the harm it did.
This, by the way, is why representation is important. Yes, suffrage is important. Representation is as well. Forty-four American Presidents. Forty-three white men. We do not have the perspective of the populations who are dealing with the systemic, institutional impacts of these policies in the representation. So when Congressman White looks at the policy he sees equality and fairness. Congresswoman Black, on the other hand, has lived that policy. She knows what her parents and grandparents experienced. She understands the evolution of that policy and the inequity it created specifically for black people in that area – because that was its original purpose.
We cannot be blindly patriotic or blindly partisan. Salute the troops and work to ensure greater care for service persons. I also ask that you recognise the horrible truths about the US military. We can do both at the same time. That’s the nuance. Support first responders but also recognise the horrible truths about the relationship between law enforcement and certain populations. We can do both at the same time. Support women’s rights, men’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights while recognising the harms the gender expectations cause (again, this is not meant as a moderate stance – this is feminism, this is why I am #HeForShe – I do not care for the vilification of feminism as a matter of misandry because feminism is about the nuanced position that understands the harm gender expectations cause for men and heterosexual people, too).
It’s about principle first, even when, especially when those closest stand against it. We need to muster the courage to face our allies with the readiness we do to face our supposed enemies.