In the penultimate chapter of Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, our narrator is reviewing a list of the ships mustered in orbit around his base planet preparatory to a major assault:
Big ships—the new Valley Forge and the new Ypres, Marathon, El Alamein, Iwo, Gallipoli, Leyte, Marne, Tours, Gettysburg, Hastings, Alamo, Waterloo—all places where mud feet had made their names to shine.
If the starship fleet included a vessel named Guadalete, Heinlein’s hero missed it. That battle was fought between the Visigoth king Roderic and the Arab general Tariq ibn Ziyad on July 19 of 711 AD, a few miles inland from Cadiz. Says historian Hugh Kennedy: “Tariq and his men inflicted a massive defeat on the Visigothic army; the king was killed and the rest of the army dispersed in disarray.” Within five years of Guadalete, most of Spain was under Muslim rule.
Heinlein was an odd bird with something of a multicultural bent, a thing much more pardonable in 1959 than now. That narrator, we learn on the very next page, is a Filipino; and one of the final chapter’s three epigraphs is taken from the Koran (Sura 5:32). Still, even Heinlein would have been dismayed to hear that VMI, the Virginia Military Institute, is planning to celebrate the Muslim victory. Guadalete, you see, was precisely 1,300 years ago this year. VMI has organized a celebratory conference with the title 711-2011: East Meets West.
You might think that “meets” is not quite the mot juste for an event at which several thousand Muslims and several thousand Christians set about each other with swords, axes, and spears in a screaming homicidal meleé. I can’t help you; I had no input to the VMI’s wording.
You might also have trouble locating the word “celebrate” in the VMI Web page for that conference. Here I can help. VMI removed the word “celebrate” in response to protests not much less furious and frenzied than the meeting at the Guadalete River that long-ago summer Sunday. The original wording is preserved here. (An indignant, doth-protest-too-much response to all the criticism is here.)
VMI is not the most surprising place to find holding a conference that may as well be entitled Hey Hey Ho Ho, Western Civ Has Got To Go! This was the institution that was formally castrated by a 1996 US Supreme Court Ruling. The VMI website does not yet list an LGBT support group among the school’s extracurricular attractions, but no doubt they’re working on it. They’d better be if they don’t want to get bitch-slapped by Ruth Bader Ginsburg again.
Our nation’s actual military is ahead of VMI in these matters. They are aiming for an organization that exists not to fight wars, still less—heaven forbid!—to win them, but to celebrate diversity.
Most Americans first heard news of this development on November 8, 2009, when General George Casey, reacting to the Fort Hood shooting, told a TV interviewer: “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” We were further enlightened shortly afterward on learning that Fort Hood, like most US military bases, is a gun-free zone.
(That would at least differentiate them from our railroad stations. In my frequent visits to New York City’s Penn Station—“lead us not into Penn Station…”—I often see soldiers and soldierettes in combat fatigues wielding big, mean-looking guns patrolling the concourses. “Patrolling” doesn’t quite give the right idea: “waddling” would be closer—fitness standards in the military seem to have gone the way of courts-martial for buggery. My reaction on encountering these guardians of my commuting security is always and precisely the one voiced by the Duke of Wellington: “By God, they terrify me.”)
Turning military bases into gun-free zones is merely a rest stop along the road to making them testosterone-free zones. That in turn appears to be part of a scheme to fold the military into our culture of grievance, complaint, “rights,” and teeming swarms of lawyers stripping all the sense and virtue from the populace like locusts on wheat. A correspondent who knows the territory tells me: “Guys who served a single tour will get out and join the post office where veterans get very preferential treatment. Then they retire from the post office and head over to the VA claiming service-related handicaps.”
Soldierettes can claim a service-related handicap all their own: pregnancy. Following 1991’s USS Acadia scandal—ten percent of the female crew complement of 360 were pregnant on the ship’s return to home port—all branches of the service have worked hard to conceal and deny the problem, but it is large and inevitable. They are working hard to make the problem worse, most recently by putting women on submarines. Quem di volunt perdere dementant prius.
Homosexuals don’t have the pregnancy ticket to get them out of the combat zone and onto the benefits gravy train, but they have other options, as Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha’s case illustrates. The whole sorry story is here; its bottom line (so to speak) is that any kind of allegation by a member of a Designated Victim Group will be believed by our thoroughly PC-compliant military brass regardless of its evidentiary weight. The DVG allegator…no, wait a minute…alleger will be extravagantly compensated and may even, like P. O. Rocha, get invited to the White House; the allegee will be eased out of the service under a cloud, even if he has heroic combat deeds on his record.
There are still a few corners of our armed services holding on to traditional martial virtues: honor, duty, sacrifice, small-group loyalty. Most of our military, though, might as well be hived off from the Defense Department and given to Health and Human Services—or perhaps to Eric Holder’s Justice Department, where the lawyers and “rights” activists could work their will on the troops without impediment. It is a good thing that we shall never have to fight a real, existential war!
We won’t, will we?
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