Monday, January 28, 2013

Welcome to Brave New World

Wesley J. Smith has a piece at First Things that should send chills down the spines of every reader. He argues that the radical environmentalist movement represents an "ongoing convergence of deep misanthropy, radical Malthusianism, and renewed advocacy for wealth redistribution." In other words, a profound contempt for humanity conflated with a fear of dire ecological consequences from overpopulation and a yearning for economic egalitarianism is hurtling us into frightening times.

Radical environmentalists (as opposed to conservationists) see human beings as a blight, a "plague upon the earth" to use David Attenborough's phrase. For many of them we're a toxic bacillus whose numbers need to be severely reduced.

The suggested means for the needed purgation are all, we're assured, non-coercive, but if our presence on the planet is such a cancerous curse why would Darwinian materialists, if given the power, not favor whatever means are necessary to bring about ends they deem so overridingly urgent?

What sort of means might we be hearing about in the not-too-distant future? Forced sterilization, compulsory abortion, elimination of the aged, infirm, and criminal, etc., are no doubt some examples, and why not? Why, given a materialist, naturalistic worldview, would any of these be wrong? Why would it be wrong to kill people if such measures are necessary to save the planet? As atheist superhero Richard Dawkins put it, "What's to prevent us from saying that Hitler was right?"

All that stands in the way, in a secular society unmoored from the belief of earlier generations that every person is created in the image of God and is precious to God, is the task of acquiring sufficient media and political influence to legislate those kinds of policies into law. A culture which no longer values life will have no difficulty finding ways to promote death.

Women in Combat

Ryan Smith is an attorney who was also a combat Marine veteran of the Iraq War. He points to a little commented upon aspect of the Obama administration's decision to allow women in combat. It's a consideration that causes one to wonder, after reading Smith's column in the Wall Street Journal, whether anyone in the Pentagon thought about or cared about it. Here's the heart of his essay:
Many articles have been written regarding the relative strength of women and the possible effects on morale of introducing women into all-male units. Less attention has been paid to another aspect: the absolutely dreadful conditions under which grunts live during war.

Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.
Read the whole article at the link, particularly Smith's last paragraph, and ask yourself whether you think it's wise to throw men and women together into these kinds of situations.