Driving off base today I saw a protest. There were a bunch of protesters waving signs. Chanting. Yelling at cars going by. People honked to show support in response to some of the signs (“honk to show your support,” etc), and the protesters all went “Wooooo!”
* THE PROTEST WAS ON BASE. *
There were people in uniform in the crowd, along with people in civilian clothes, children, etc.
I was going to turn right and leave base until I saw this thing, but I got a power surge in my WTF circuit, and drove about a block up the road and into a parking lot, throwing the van around a little until I could get lined up to return on the proper side and pull up at the protest.
The whole time, I growled soft obscenities about a protest ON a military base.
The signs made it clear that it was a demonstration in favor of not committing sexual assault on other servicemembers. No doubt that really extends to everybody, but some of the signs couched it as a force protection measure.
I pulled up, got out of my vee-hickle and smiled. My clothing marked me as someone who might, in the proper context, be mildly influential. spread my hands and asked politely, “What is this?”
I was friendly — they were friendly. Heck, they were positively giddy. I mean, who says “woo”? “Oh, it’s a SAPR event,” a bunch of the said.
SAPR (pronounced “sapper”) stands for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, and it is of course a good thing. It must be — just listen to the name. Who’s not for preventing sexual assault? Or against responding to incidents? Not only can I recognize the correct answer when the dictator stamps his foot, I also genuinely believe that there is a problem with sexual assault that needs to be corrected. I just don’t think that we’re going about it the right way. But more on that some other time.
I asked a couple of questions, and said that this was the first time I had ever seen a protest *on* a military base. “It’s not a protest, really. We’re just raising awareness.” I asked what that meant, ‘raising awareness’. I said that there were plenty of good causes that the military supports, and people die for them, but I couldn’t recall seeing a bunch of people massed on a streetcorner waving signs, chanting, and so forth. And the signs, let me tell you, were the usual childish magic marker on garish neon posterboard stuff.
I asked if anybody was in charge, and a person was propelled to my end of the gathering. I asked if the event was sanctioned, or sponsored. The leader said that it was, and named a large and official organization on base under whose auspices the thing was being done. I asked if they thought they were at any risk of being told to knock it off and “go about their business”. “No, we cleared it with base security.” Oh, good.
I said to the leader (who had not been there when I said this earlier) that I was just not familiar, in all my years, with anybody holding a protest on base. The leader cheerfully replied, using a tagline from the SAPR training events that we all perform about twice a year, “We’re changing the culture!”
And that’s where this really bothers me. Now everybody I spoke with was perfectly pleasant, and I hope that I remained pleasant even in my militarily flabberghasted state. Close to the end of the exchange, I said I hoped that I could agree with the cause while disagreeing about the propriety of a protest, without becoming Satan incarnate to them. But at the moment, I said (and I am sure that I expressed it poorly, so allow me to revise and shorten my remarks here): That’s the thing about setting off to “change the culture” It starts with “Don’t commit sexual assault,” and has progressed so far to staging protests on base.
Naturally, they don;t like the term protest, saying anstead that they were “showing support”, and I asked if they would agree that it was certainly a demonstration. They agreed and I dropped the use of the term protest.
So this demonstration happened on a US military base. For all the right reasons. But at a great cost, too.
It is not as though the military has some sort of rape culture, sexual assault culture, or corruption culture which is somehow more pronounced than in the civilian worlkd. Coleges — rape culture. Hollywood — Sexual assault culture. Business — corruption culture. And you can probably interchange all of those. But the military is the one which always has a camera on it, and quite rightly so.
WE SHOULD HOLD OUR MILTARY TO A HIGHER STANDARD THAN OUR CIVILIAN COUNTERPARTS.
We are not above the law, but subject to even MORE laws. We are not better than our civilians, but might be tasked to wield uniquiely militarty responsibility at a momenht’s notice — be mentally, morally, and physically prepared. We should have higher standards than the civilian world. AND WE DO.
Much of the focus for easily two decades of SAPR (and its preceding acronyms) in the military has been on “fixing the broken military culture”, and this has not beenin an absolute vein, but relative to humanity. I would be hard-pressed to ciute a sourcem but I think a majority of people who have been in since the erarly 2000s at least would agree that for easily a decade, the training sounded remarkably accusatory of the military in particular, and let’s face it, a predatory military patriarchy.
I agree that preventing and responding to sexual assault is the right thing to do. I agree that the military should be held to a higher standard. I submit that the military is already meeting a higher standard, and fails only to meet the greatest standard of all — zero sexual assaults.
Anybody can conduct a sexual assault, and anybody can be assaulted. But let us admit that the problem is OVERWHELMINGLY a male-to-female crime. This makes it a highly correlated demographic issue. SAPR and a variety of other demographically split training areas of interest are making steady inroads to what was once a military culture. We used to address discipline problems with punishment. The punishment was severe and public enough that it helped serve as training. Now the military hires dance troupes and facilitators to conduct interactive workshops, education through theater (to “teach the teacher”, seeding all-military propaganda drama outfits throughout the force), poster art contests, a profusion of awards and ceremonies — and now street demonstrations. Very polite, pleasant, sweetly motivated shows of support, but still demonstrations. Well, sidewalk technically. I was the only one in the street.
How do you argue with this stuff? How do you say “I of course agree with your point, but you active-duty hippies turn my stomach?” Even our military is falling to a ceaselessly gnawing cultural Marxism, and not just the recipients of the training, of course, I mean, somebody is approving these events. Has been for years. We’re probably on our third generation (in career terms) of military leaders who have bought into a great levelling of the military. Some of this is simply reflective of a changing American culture, and some of that is magnificent – while some of it is disastrous. However, a random walk in a beeline is not random. Some of this is undoubtedly the same sort of long-term, visionary, manifestly “change the culture” long march through the institutions which has bedeviled our schools and government. In this, the military is just one more institution getting Mao-Maoed, so to speak.
I got back in my van, put on my blinker to re-enter a long line of traffic backed up waiting for the light to change at the gate — opened a sandwich I had left in the car from the morning . It was a busy day. The Western Pacific is a busy place — lots to do in the office. I eased into traffic, and as I rolled by, smiled and gave them “shave and a haircut” on the car horn. They responded “Woo Woo!”
I don’t want my culture changed.