Troops, Military Leaders Say Discrimination is Prohibited. They’re Wrong.
The “failure” by President Trump to issue a Presidential Proclamation celebrating homosexual behavior in June, as well as the angst over whether the current Administration will reverse transgender “gains” in the US military, has boiled over into military training sessions and “pride” events. Within these discussions a recurring theme has arisen for which Capt Nathaniel Lee, 50th Operations group executive officer at Schriever Air Force Base, provides a relevant example. At a recent transgender panel discussion, Lee said [emphasis added]:
“Our core values are very clear; and they are not consistent with discrimination of any kind. If anyone feels they are being discriminated against in any way, it is important to know the Air Force is here to support them…”
The problem is that Capt Lee is wrong.
When the gate guards only allow people to enter the military base if they have an ID, they are discriminating on the basis of status. When a commander discharges a subordinate for being overweight, he is discriminating on the basis of physical traits. When the US military academies refuse to accept an applicant who is married, they are discriminating on the basis of familial status. When the military refuses to allow a Sikh to enter the military while adhering to his faith, it discriminates on the basis of religion. When MEPS refuses to inprocess an enlistee who is above the maximum allowable age, or who has a disability, or who has a criminal history, the military is discriminating.
The US military and the personnel within it absolutely discriminate. To say otherwise, or to claim that discrimination is inherently wrong, is simply not true. To use modern phrasing: The military discriminates. Every. Single. Day.
In an effort to be more accurate, some will say the military prohibits unlawful discrimination. But even then, the US military has its own definition enabling it to legally discriminate even when the public or the government may not be able to do so, and even with regard to constitutionally-protected rights.
Try DoDD 1350.2:
E2.1.16. Unlawful Discrimination. Includes discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, race, religion, or sex that is not otherwise authorized by law or regulation.
Notice the definition includes religion — yet, even so, the military discriminates on the basis of religion when it refuses to allow certain religions to serve, or when it allows religious exemption to people who do not want to serve.
Notice, too, the definition does not include homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, bestiality, polyamory, etc. Just a few years ago the military was able to discriminate on the basis of sexual behavior even without violating its own policies because discriminating on the basis of sexual behavior was not “unlawful discrimination.”
So what has changed?
Policy. As it can, the DoD chose to re-interpret its own words to mean whatever it wanted.
For example, the DoD simply redefined “unlawful discrimination” to include homosexuality and bisexuality. The long-predicted “next step” on the slippery slope, the re-definition regarding transgenderism, is a work in progress. (As the slope becomes a cliff, polyamorists have occasionally clamored for recognition of their sexual “rights”.)
So those in the US military who say discrimination “of any kind” goes against “our core values” or that the military has a “zero tolerance” policy against discrimination are simply wrong. The US military allows, permits, and even encourages discrimination — though generally not certain kinds of discrimination. Which kinds are prohibited? Whichever ones it decides, for the most part.
For example, if the DoD tomorrow decided it wanted to “discriminate” against homosexuals and transgenders, it could. (In fact, it already does, though some people don’t seem to realize it.) Because discrimination within the military is based on policy, it can change from one day to the next. The military has no consistent, overarching, foundational, or moral basis for decisions about “discrimination.”
It sounds noble to say discrimination is “bad”, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, while some treat “discrimination” as if it is a four-letter word (not that four-letter words are considered bad anymore), most people probably want the US military to discriminate. Those are the people who want competence, character, and integrity to define the men and women tasked with the undesirable but necessary job of executing violence upon the enemy. They do not believe the US military should be treated like a game where everyone gets a turn and a participation ribbon.
Yet, in the officially amoral military society, some members of the military are trying to speak about discrimination from a moral point of view. That is, these troops are trying to say — and may mistakenly believe — that discrimination is inherently wrong. Their own Service disagrees with them.
As much as they may want it, within the US military there is no moral or absolute standard that defines what is or is not legitimate discrimination. It’s simply whatever the military can justify in terms of national security — at the time, given whatever current social construct exists.
Should there be a moral standard by which such discrimination is judged? That’s an excellent topic for debate — but it is one that is debatable. Until then, simply claiming someone must be allowed to serve despite apparent rules or laws (or common sense) to the contrary “because discrimination” remains a feeble — and illogical — argument. (The equally illogical — yet successful — arguments include (1) willingness to die for one’s country and (2) “they’ve always been there anyway.”)
The military discriminates, as it should, to protect its ranks from physical, moral, ethical or other shortcomings. Sometimes it gets that discrimination wrong. Sometimes it gets it right.
If there’s a message that Capt Lee and those like him should be communicating, it’s that the military needs to do discrimination right, and that sometimes requires improvements to which all can contribute. One way to improve: The military should protect the human liberties of its troops while focusing on accomplishing its mission, rather than prioritizing the protection of personal choices in behavior.
Think about it: This is a world in which the government protects and celebrates how people have sex, but not how a person expresses deference to God, a complete reversal of how this Nation was founded. How far we have fallen in just a few hundred years.