Letting people serve in the military is not “wokeness”

Republicans have proposed a bill to restore Trump’s ban on transgender military service. At the link, Marco Rubio explains our military has to win wars, not be woke, much as Ted Cruz whined about how the daughter of two lesbians couldn’t be man enough to serve.

Letting people serve in the military if they choose isn’t woke, it’s how the military works. Unless trans people are unable to meet their duties — and I’ve never heard anyone argue that — there’s no reason not to let them serve. Except that doesn’t fit the right-wing belief that fighting is a manly thing that should only be done by men, and that we need our military, like our men, to be more brutal, not less.

While they sometimes claim to oppose “politicization” of the military, what they actually want is for their cultural and political agenda to prevail there. They want the military to be a bulwark against progressive social change, where traditional gender norms are reinforced and reproduced.

As Paul Waldman puts it in the WaPo, “When the wokeness panic is aimed at the military, it isn’t about the military at all. In a world where most men are unable to demonstrate that their upper-body strength justifies their superior social status, some are desperate to defend a physical hierarchy wherever it can be found. But if women can do nearly all military jobs just as well as men, then what’s left?”

Plus a military that doesn’t officially discriminate (there’s definitely plenty of discrimination but it’s not policy) is less likely to support their white supremacist misogynist vision of America. And serving helps normalize trans people and get more cis people used to them, just as they’ve gotten used to working with blacks, gays and women. The right wing is constantly working to “other” people like that; having people who aren’t straight, cis WASP men is the last thing they want.

And as Waldman, again, says there’s no evidence the military is any less capable, Whining Cruz to the contrary: “Lacking from any of this bloviation is evidence that the various things conservatives call wokeness, from trying to prevent extremism in the ranks to designing body armor that fits female soldiers, have harmed the military’s mission in any way. Have there been attacks on the United States that weren’t stopped because soldiers were being forced to read books on critical race theory? What exactly can’t our military do that it used to be capable of, now that gay soldiers don’t have to stay in the closet? The critics can’t quite say.

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