Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lament of a Liberal Atheist Iraq Veteran

So I’m thinking I might be DONE looking to forums like Facebook or G+ pages catered to Soldiers & Veterans, mostly Iraq & Afghanistan Vets like myself: I know, I know, it’s “social media” and anyone can use it, and I’ve long ago accepted that I can’t control what other people post. But, and it saddens me to admit this publicly, I’m starting to think that my fellow Veterans (mostly those who served in the Middle East like I did) are quite possibly the most easily brain-washed, closed minded & willfully ignorant people I’ve interacted with in recent memory.

OF COURSE THERE ARE GOING TO BE EXCEPTIONS, as at present this mostly seems to happen on forum pages instead of with other people I've served with (I can already see it, “#NotAllVeterans”)

It’s just that lately I’m seeing so goddamn many public military forums break down to Ad-Hom at the drop of a hat, often over minor disagreements like the Flag Code, women in combat, PT standards, many of them will blast each other over anything that upsets them in the slightest. These forums are becoming less and less about community support and camaraderie, as they seem to have all-out turned into social & intellectual war-zones in of themselves.
Fuck forbid you try to explain how and why the Consitution trumps the flag itself, that flag-bearing t-shirts and coffee mugs are also Flag Code violations that no one’s making a fuss about, suddenly everyone and their dog wants to call my Commanding Officer, my Battalion, or just straight up insult & threaten me (which is rare, but it DOES happen from time to time.) Fellow Soldiers also seem convinced that service in our military is somehow de-facto service to a Christian institution, which it is very much NOT: I even gave a pretty lengthy presentation about this very subject at the University of Arkansas earlier this year, but hey, what the fuck do I know, right? I'm just a godless communist because I took the time & spent the effort doing research on something that has directly impacted my military career AND my personal life (to be fair, they got the 'godless' part right) despite the facts happening to be terribly inconvenient, even for ME. Even on the pages made for & made by FEMALE TROOPS, I find rape apologism and internalized misogyny. What the actual fuck, OVER!?!? 

I don't rightly give a flying-lizard-clit who you are or what your rank is: If you're defending rape or shaming a victim, YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THAT UNIFORM AND OUR COUNTRY.

So why do I think this is becoming a problem within our armed forces and surrounding communities? My answer is this: Shortsightedness, basically the reluctance or inability to think beyond the immediate consequences of one's own words or actions to the point that the very concept no longer being in the military completely escapes them. If you're an 11-Bang-Bang who doesn't want to have to serve with women, do you really honestly think that once you hang up that uniform the real world is going to continue to accomodate your willful ignorance? If you can't handle the thought of a woman in your convoy, how do you think you're going to handle having one as your supervisor at the office? If you can't stand the idea that one of your squad-mates might be gay, and have no issue letting them know this, about how well do you expect that to work when you eventually have to go work for a Fortune 500 company with a strict non-discrimination policy? 
Don't get me wrong, I served with a lot of Soldiers who were genuinely decent human beings. I also served with a lot of arrogant shit-heads who's undeserved rank patches on their ACU's are probably going to only ever be their greatest acheivement in their lives, people who are so full of themselves they're no longer fit to shovel shit from one pile to another. There's a term for this in the Army, they call it "Toxic Leadership," and boy-howdy was 40th ESB toxic! When a female E-6 tells you to your face that she hopes someone rapes you just so you learn a lesson, you know your entire Unit is shit. 
A lot of military personnel can't seem to grasp the concept of long-term consequence, that just because you're wearing a flag & uniform like a personal sheild doesn't mean your bad behavior won't follow you after you eventually hang it up & get your DD-214. I have, in my immediate possession, footage of a male E-6 physically striking another male PFC that I sincerely regret NOT releasing to the public; I'm thinking that at some point in the future, I should just go ahead and do it. Fuck it, why not? What are they going to do, come to my apartment and give me a stern talking-to? If they're willing to do anything to me, it'd be quite a bit more than what they did to admonish the soldier who forced his way into my room and physically/sexually assaulted me  in 2011 (and for THAT, they literally did nothing AT ALL.) Really, if cops can be made to wear body-cameras, then, situation depending, why not run-of-the-mill Soldiers? Since corruption, fundamentalism and violence seem so pervasive in military culture anyway, why not encourage Soldiers to film each other? 

Unless there's an immediate issue of security clearance, at present I'm unaware of any pressing reason why this would be impossible or impractical.

And honestly, I think I'm done trying to explain the "freedom" that we claim to defend to people who just aren't interested. If all it gets me is a lot of pissed-off theocrats and flag-fappers sending me nasty comments, then what is this really doing for me? I tried learning how to debate properly like a good atheist so that I could sucessfully challenge bad ideas with logic and reason, but some people just don't wanna hear it. They only want to hear their own opinions & biases echoed back to them, which I admit that I am guilty of from time to time: The difference is that I can disagree with people and still be friends with them, until they give me a concrete reason not to be anymore.
Final note, these are just my thoughts and opinions. I appreciate you taking time to hear me out on this, regardless of wether or not I'm right about any of it: I can only ever be myself, I don't expect or demand people to agree with everything I say.